Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Winter Wonderlands: UT

Now that it is Spring (Summer?? 80 degree weather in April is confusing), I figure it’s time to write about my Winter travels. Not that anyone wants to hear about the long cold winter, but oh well. Also, because I was lazy and didn’t finish the started fragments of blogs until recently, now it’s fun to recount and relive some fond memories. This is the first of a three part series: Winter Wonderlands 1Q2008.

I went to Utah. Seemingly ages ago, but it was merely January.

In short, Utah was amazing. I was out visiting my friend Maren, a girl who is arguably more impulsive than I, and yet altogether more down to earth than I could ever hope to be. So, I will give a top ten list that will help you understand why I love Utah (other than the fact that my favorite blogger lives there) and why I almost just dropped everything in my life to be a ski bum and just… chill.

In no particular order (other than the order in which I thought of them):

1) On our day of touring downtown Salt Lake City we did what all good tourists do- the Temple Square Area. Maren and I met up with my friend Dan (who happens to be engaged to my wonderful friend Preethi, and they have a blog too!). Dan is from SLC and happens to be a Mormon (Shocking, I know, a Mormon from SLC), so he gave us the inside look at all things Mormon. When two girls approached us as we were nearing the Temple, I assumed they were Dan’s friends we were supposed to meet. Once I realized this was not the case, and once they realized that Dan was Mormon and we were not, the following conversation ensued:
Missionary #1: So where are you two from?
Maren: I live here now but grew up in Park City. I just love it here.
Missionary #1: Great. How about you?
Me: I live in New York
Missionary #2: Ohhhhhhhh that makes so much sense (looking at the M#1), because you’re so SHEEK.

Of course you have no visual of this situation, but many people who know me don’t even need the particulars to find this amusing. Because people who know me know I’m about as sheek as an armadillo. But just imagine me wearing Asics sneakers (European style, not running-sneakers), American Eagle Jeans, a houndstooth jacket and sunglasses. In Manhattan this would be considered casual. Like uber casual. The irony of the whole situation was just too much for me- Aside from the fact that “sheek” is never a word I have ever heard used to describe me, and aside from the fact that in the context of New York I would actually be far from it, these girls were so genuine and friendly (and they’re all friendly out there), I just had to accept the compliment graciously (and I mean, who DOESN’T want to be called sheek every now and again??). So I love Utah because out there I am sheek. Woh.

2) Almost getting kicked out of a bowling alley. How, you may ask, do you get kicked out of a bowling alley? Well, I decided that I was going to be, uhm, how shall I say this, TOTALLY ABSURD, and throw my ball slightly higher than normal just to see what would happen. Except there wasn’t so much forward motion to my throw as there was vertical motion, and the ball literally came straight back down, bounced in my lane and then happily bounced itself over to the neighboring lane. Where it sat. Conspicuously. Let’s just say that I didn’t so much knock down any pins in either lane. I turned around to face my friends, hands over my mouth, not quite sure what the protocol was for “idiotic East Coasters” at the bowling alley. Apparently this kind of thing doesn’t happen too often (shocker), because the bowling alley attendant looked particularly perplexed when he came over to rescue my ball. Joining him was a friendly rent-a-cop, who stood at the back of our lane for a good 5 minutes. Conspicuously. Watching. After that I was all of a sudden better able to work with the whole forward motion concept rather than try to play with gravity. Miraculous.

3) Caloric decimation. This is a phrase that was uttered many a time as we schlepped around the (extra wide) streets of Salt Lake on our night of bar hopping. So, the problem was this: unlike New York, there are not many cabs (read: like, none). Also unlike New York, the bars are few(er) and far between. However, like most places, the whole Drinking and Driving thing is not looked upon so fondly by authority figures (which are in abundance in Utah) or the public in general. So, as good mature adults, we were walking for our evening festivities. Apparently Nick (Maren’s boyfriend’s best friend) wasn’t used to walking that much and felt that the “caloric decimation” that was occurring with all the walking was just outrageous. It was one of those “you had to be there” moments, I suppose, but when he said it, there literally was no end to my laughter. Which, compounded by the beer and the lack of oxygen that was coursing through my body, had me doubled over, unable to continue our forward march of caloric decimationdom.

4) Dueling piano bar. Uh.May.Zing. I had never been to a dueling piano bar but heard that A) they were awesome and B) I would love them. So we did it. And it was seriously a great time. To the point that when I got back to New York the first thing I did was try to track down a dueling piano bar in the city. In the city with EVERYTHING, you would think there would be a few dueling piano bars. But alas, there is only one. And it’s in Times Square, increasingly the likelihood that it’s some trashy tourist dive, i.e., someplace loathsome and painful to enter. But then again, the absolute coolness of dueling pianodom may even trump the tourist factor. Yes, yes, I said it.

5) Not sweating. I am a sweater. Not like the wool garments you wear in winter. But like pigs, which supposedly sweat a whole lot, though I doubt the actual validity of that. I am a sweater to the point that I have to seriously consider the color and material of shirts that I buy and the likelihood that I will be embarrassed by a large pit stain while wearing said shirt. No matter how cute/sexy/slimming the shirt is, that is all trumped by a big ‘ole wet stain stretching from spine to sternum. It’s a delicate art, and those of you who are one with me in this special circumstance are nodding your heads. The rest of you are disgusted. But I have a solution. Just move all of us sweaters West. It’s dry. It’s remarkably a sweat-free zone. Where I could carelessly bust out even my gray shirts (notoriously bad for sweaters), my spandexy thin tissue-paper shirts (also up there in the notoriety column) and be SURE, rather than UNSURE.

Good skin. Again, maybe a little too personal, but New York has been a disastrous place for me and my skin. With my McGee blood, bad skin is a God-given unavoidable curse, but alas, something about my city (Stress? Dirty subways? Humidity?) made it particularly bad until I found a really great derm who helped me immensely. But in Utah, it was like my bad genes were long gone. Left back in the flight over the middle part of the country to dwell with some pre-pubescent Iowan. It wasn’t too oily. It didn’t get all dry and flakey. It was just… dare I say it? Normal. Again, I very strongly considered my choice of habitation.

7) Mountains. Like, real ones. I grew up calling these little rolling bunny hills around me mountains. But, quite frankly, if the Rockies and Appalachians were humans, the Rockies would be Shaq and the Appalachians would be Gary Coleman. They are just in different stratospheres. And oh, the beauty of a perpetual view of snowcapped mountains. There are no words. I wanted to bring one home with me, situated it outside my window (nevermind the other building 7 feet away) and enjoy for all of my life.

8) Ski Bunny. Growing up, my parents never let me ski. Fully convinced that I would break one or more legs, arms, or otherwise be severely maimed, they made me sit at home on the weekends while all the other 8th graders went to Killington. Then welcome to adulthood and the reality of being surrounded by people who ski. For fun weekend trips. For corporate events. For family trips. It’s just what people do. But not me. So, while in Utah visiting a friend who works at a ski resort, I thought perhaps at long last I would try this great outdoor activity. And I have to say, the rush (Adrenaline? Endorphin?) was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. My instructor had trouble believing that I had never set foot in a ski before, but I assured him it was probably just beginners luck and that surely my inner clutz would rear its head soon enough. He even took me up to the “real” mountain after the other two people in our lesson group got tired to watch me do a run all the way down (don’t get too excited, it was just on greens). I literally was so excited and thrilled that I decided there was no way I could go home having only skied one day. So I changed my flight from a late morning to a late afternoon one and spent another day playing with my new-found passion.
And come on now, any culture that promotes being in spandex and sweats all day and then in a hot tub or lodge all night is totally fine by me. I could definitely get used to that lifestyle.

9) Andy's Bar. This was basically the sweetest bestest dive bar I’ve ever been to. At this particular dive bar they sold one thing. Beer. And we’re not talking about high-brow German beers. We’re talking Coors Lite, Bud Lite and Miller Lite. Take your pick. Run by a wonderful man name named Bruce who had a handle-bar mustache and his name on a duct-tape name-tag, it was perhaps one of the most memorable parts of my trip. We also met a really special guy named Dave. Who started his communication with us by laughing at us for playing cards. Until we explained the reason we were playing cards. Then he thought we were the coolest people he had met in recent memory.

10) Local Flare. I would not go so far as to say that I would have thought Utah was lacking in culture, but I certainly had no idea that I would find so many great little gems waiting for me. One of my favorites was definitely Jack Mormon Coffee Shop. So, as you know, Salt Lake City is predominantly Mormon. What you may not know is that if you are a practicing Mormon, you are not supposed to consume such body-altering substances as caffeine and alcohol. Given that caffeine is a major component of coffee, not so many coffee shops there. "Jack Mormon" is the term given to those lapsed members of the faith who consume these substances. Hence, the Jack Mormon Coffee Shop. Personally, I think it’s pretty hysterical. But then again, I also find the movie Saved! laugh out loud funny. Anyhow, I got myself a darn tootin good cup ‘o joe and also a wonderful coffee mug that I now use every day at work for my daily morning tea consumption. I also wandered into many of the shops along the main street of Park City and found unique jewelry, cute stationary (I'm a sucker for stationary), and a great new journal, among other things that I did not allow myself to buy. Good finds.

This is merely a Top Ten. I could certainly go on and on (and I have gone on for quite some time) about the wonders of Salt Lake City, but this captures the best of the best. Now I understand why people go out for a brief trip and just… stay. It’s kind of addicting. And I hope to get back very very soon.

1 comment:

preethi said...

YAY for Utah! Love the "sheek"-ness. And lack of humidity. And MOUNTAINS!

Tangentially, just as an fyi, it's not the caffeine (soda/chocolate are fine), but specifically coffee and tea (though herbal is fine, since it doesn't actually have "tea" in it). And SLC is a mere 40% Mormon, compared to Utah Valley, which is approximately 99.97% Mormon. :)