And we’re off! Next up: Alaska via Las Vegas, LA, and San Francisco!! It’s been some crazy days of packing and organizing. How in the world did we acquire so much stuff in three months? I made four trips to the thrift store to unload again!
We really enjoyed our time in Salt Lake City. The black car driving job turned out to be very cool. I met lots of nice folks – other employees as well as guests that I drove to their destinations wound up in the beautiful canyons that surround the city. While it was frequently cold and snowy, it was quite pleasant to live in a sunny, mountainous area for the winter. Enough so that SLC has made our short list of places we may return to live in the future. Here’s our top 10 list of what made Salt Lake City an unexpected great place to live:
Super Bikeable. SLC sits in a valley at 4226 feet in elevation, but you would never know it. Within the city, the terrain is flat and extremely bikeable with large dedicated bike lanes thanks to the Mormon leader, Brigham Young, original design of city streets wide enough to allow teams of oxen to turn around in the road. Plus, cool bicycle organizations like the SLC Bicycle Collective exist along with mounds of local riding orgs.
- Oodles of Coffee Shops. SLC has a ridiculous amount of independent coffee shops probably due in some part to proximity of the University of Utah perched on the edge of town. The homemade toast and unique flavored jams at Publik Coffee should not be missed .
- Outstanding Public Library. An impressive five-story, glass-encased library complete with a huge glass atrium, coffee-shop, nifty stores, glass elevators, and fireplaces is located in the heart of the city – it’s where Steve opted most frequently to work remote.
- Cool Film Shenanigans. We totally got our film-fix too while in SLC. A major draw to the area for us was the acclaimed Sundance Film Festival – Robert Redford’s inspired independent film festival – which turns Park City, Utah, into a star-gazing, movie premier extravaganza. Seemingly overnight every nook and cranny turned into a movie or celebratory venue – movies were shown in hotels, the library, local high school, etc. While I was too busy working to experience much of the ten-day festival, I was rewarded by the opportunity to transport and chitchat with many of the directors and others associated with the event. We also caught a couple other flicks a week later when the Banff Mountain film festival came to the University of Utah. We indulged in the weekly free movies and lectures that followed at the library, and took in the new National Park movie at the Imax.
I might add that Brewvies, movie theater/bar/pool hall, was a five minute walk from our home and was where we experienced the new Star Wars with a local brew in hand.
- Proximity to Cool Places for Day Trips. Not only was the city of Salt Lake cool, but we were in close proximity to many beautiful parks and canyons. We did a fair amount of hiking – including many trails nestled into the canyons surrounding SLC – one favorite was a hike amidst the bison on Antelope Island located in the Great Salt Lake.
- Proximity to Amazing National Parks for Weekend Getaways. Utah is the state with the most national parks in the country – five in total. Capital Reef NP is about 2.5 hours away, Arches NP and Canyonlands NP are within a 3.5 hour drive, and Zion and Bryce Canyon are just another hour further. All feasible weekend getaways. Neither of us had been to Capital Reef and not surprisingly, it did not disappoint. In route, we detoured to Mystic Springs hot springs. Upon arriving at night, we soaked under the stars in wacky bathtubs perched on the side of a mountain.We opted to spend the night in an especially authentic Grateful Dead-follower conversion bus.
Our last weekend in Utah we departed on another memorable road trip to the Moab area. Day one, we experienced Canyonlands National Park. The following day we hiked in Arches National Park and then got our mountain biking fix. It’s not really fair, but darned if Steve (on something like his fourth time mountain biking) rode the famous Slickrock trail in Moab. Even for me (given it was my first time riding this season) it was pretty tentative rolling around on the huge red rock rollercoaster. Amazingly, we survived without incident and even took in one other cool fast single-track trail on the other side of town.
- Great Community Center. About that fabulous community center located a three-minute walk from our apartment! For $35 a month for both of us, it offered a great gym and all sorts of classes – which were included in the fee. Hello, courses like yoga and adult tap dancing! I used to travel an hour in Cleveland to find the nearest adult tap class.
- Great Restaurants. Seemingly we could not lose dining out in SLC. My now all time favorite Italian restaurant (short of Italy) is Cannella’s (a dangerous 10 min walk from our home). We also loved Skewered Thai, the Blue Iguana (the infamous Mexican restaurant in town known in part for their plethora of mole sauces), and Bombay House for yummy Indian dishes. It was a toss up for amazing vegetarian cuisine between Sage’s Café and Zest.
Nifty Winter Activities Abound. We only shared one day off together throughout the winter season but we made the most of those. Neither Steve nor I had been skiing in years. We got an action-packed ski day in at Snowbird resort and lived to tell. Steve was itching to try snow mountain biking, so we finally got him on one of those big blown tire bikes and had a ridiculous time exploring snowy cross-country trails – made ever the more ridiculous as the bike I rented had a very untrue front wheel. I was relieved to find out it wasn’t just my ability that made the new endeavor extra challenging. Snow shoeing and cross country skiing were other popular activities amongst the locals too.
- Amazing Sweet Treats. Like the volume of coffee shops, I’m not quite sure why but an unbelievable number of chocolatiers, ice cream/gelato shops, and most importantly…Ruby Snap Cookies exist! Oh my, I’m salivating just thinking about Ruby’s. Seriously, don’t miss the place. Cookies is all they do and they do them well. They totally encourage sampling!!
SLC is sooo under the radar. Shhhhhh…don’t tell. It does have a smog issue (called the inversion) in the winter…so never mind, you don’t want to live there. Okay…you can totally live a little higher up the mountain and then it’s pretty much prefect. I have a sneaky suspicion we’ll be back.
Where to next?? That would be Alaska…via Las Vegas, LA, and San Francisco. Neither Steve nor I have been to Alaska…very exciting.