Home*ful: adjective: having a place to live, not homeless. 2. enjoying time together in a home.
This word is not quite an official entry in any dictionary, but it suits our experiences in Salt Lake City as well as our visit with family in Caldwell, Idaho.
I’ll start with the beginnings of our adventures in the Mormon holy land. Brad and I went out to dinner at an awesome restaurant in downtown, just ten minutes from our campground. Zest Kitchen and Bar was an excellent choice, all-organic and gluten free. Yum. The tables were quite close to one another, and Brad and I began a conversation with four ladies sitting next to us. We asked the group what they might recommend to do in the area.
Their response? Go to Park City.
As a former employee of the Toledo Convention and Visitors Bureau, it made me sad that a resident of any given city suggests that there was so little to do in their hometown, that they would recommend driving an hour away for entertainment.
It made me reflect on what home really means. And how one should have pride in their hometown.
And it made us bound and determined to discover the best of this city, despite the recommendation to go elsewhere. Here is what we discovered about the area, our home for six days.
We had an amazing time kayaking on the largest salt lake in the western hemisphere. The air temperature was maybe 50 degrees. I’m not sure what the water temperature was, and glad we didn’t find out. We had the lake to ourselves, as we paddled from the marina at the Great Salt Lake State Park out into the open waters. We noticed that kayaking on the water felt more buoyant due to the lake’s composition.
We saw brine shrimp in the lake, which are harvested from October 1st through January 31st. This harvest industry provides anywhere from ten to fifty million dollars to the area. To learn more about the harvests, look here.
I still get chills thinking about our experience in seeing the Tabernacle Choir live, on a chilly, damp Sunday morning. I’d done my research before our visit, and learned that although you can take in organ recital rehearsals and performances throughout the week, the choir concerts are on Sunday mornings. Doors open at 8:30, doors close at 9:15, thirty-minute performance happens at 9:30. Parking is free in downtown on Sundays. Perfect.
When we arrived, several hospitable young Mormon girls greeted and directed us to the balcony for the best acoustics. A staff photographer approached us during the rehearsal session and informed us that we had chosen the absolutely best seats.
The Tabernacle reminds me of something right out of the Wizard of Oz, expecting the wizard to appear from behind the huge pipe organ at any minute. The chorus of 360 voices was indescribable. All of the songs, and the brief message, were about gratitude. Check out the performance of Music & The Spoken Word.
So, while in the Tabernacle, a kind Mormon woman reached out to me and we spoke of our desire to learn more about the city. She didn’t recommend we go to Park City. She suggested we visit the Family Search Library and conduct genealogy research. A young man named Kyle helped me navigate the site, and was incredibly empathetic as I included information on loved ones I’ve lost. Tears came in both our eyes as I included our daughter Claire, my siblings Karen and Kevin, my parents, my beloved Aunt Carol and my special Uncle Leon.
I felt a great sense of home as I discovered relatives I never knew about. I’d highly recommend creating your own account online and learning more about your ancestry.
Two days after arriving in the area, Brigham Young and other leaders hiked up to this peak and envisioned the layout of the city. The drive up steep hills to the peak was a treat, the Capitol Building looming at the top. We timed our visit nearly perfectly, taking in the sunset and afterglow.
We met a young woman, Krista, along with her adorable little husky, Balto at the top. A graduate of The Ohio State University, we learned she moved to California after graduation, working remotely. After sharing common travel experiences, she proclaimed that she felt she should have been born into our family, with our wanderlust.
We’ve since connected on Instagram, and I have a feeling this won’t be the last we see of this young traveler.
Ok, so we figured we had to check Park City out. Unfortunately, the trail we intended to hike on was closed for the season. The holiday skiers had little snow. And the shops were overpriced, with local stores getting pushed out by chains. But, it was quaint, and the Wasatch Mountains were beautiful.
Still not a highlight I would recommend if I lived in Salt Lake City. Just sayin’.
Okay, so this is where we experienced the polar opposite of Homeful.
The Jordan River Trail apparently offers over 60 miles of paved trails in Salt Lake City and beyond. We only witnessed a mile or so, as we attempted to make our way to a dog park to let Luna off-leash. Where we intended to walk was blocked off, due to a number of homeless people. It broke my heart to see the squalor, the trash, the “homes” made out of tarps, grocery carts, anything to provide shelter. More so, it hurt to see young men, unable to even look me in the face, strung out, just waiting for their next fix. Or the woman, who when we politely excused ourselves to pass her on the sidewalk, called out to us as we passed, “Sorry, you get a little slower after 60.”
If she only knew.
Out of respect, I didn’t take any pictures of those we saw in the parks, the streets. But the memories haunt me.
I can’t even imagine not having a home.
So, after feeling a little lost among the homeless, we felt totally embraced by Brad’s stepbrother Michael, and his fiancée, Melissa, at their home in Caldwell, Idaho.
We were blessed to be included in their Friendsgiving celebration. We loved meeting their variety of friends, and enjoyed lively conversations. Michael roasted/smoked the turkey on the outside grill, and we all contributed side dishes to the feast. Their dogs Lucy and McKeever added to the fun throughout the weekend.
Our travels in Salt Lake City and Idaho left us feeling grateful…for new adventures, family, new friends and most of all, HOME.