Salt Lake City Trip

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One of the things I was looking forward to as I started off 2016 was a work trip to Salt Lake City. My boss and I got approved to go to a conference by Ragan called The Role of Communications in Creating an Engaged and Collaborative Workforce on Feb. 11-12. It was right up our alley and we were thrilled to be able to go.

After doing some research, I decided to extend my trip a few days. Salt Lake City is only a short drive to a number of ski resorts. I love skiing and it’d been a few years since I’d been out west to ski. I have no idea when I’ll get back so I really couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Plus, I hadn’t skied in Utah yet so it was a perfect opportunity to experience it.

Because we live in a small city, our airport is small so there are limited flights each day. We got lucky and were able to get on the first flight out on Wednesday, Feb. 10 so we arrived in SLC at 10:30 a.m. This left us the entire day to explore.

After stopping at a highly recommended Mexican restaurant called Red Iguana…seriously, if you’re ever there make sure you eat there…we headed downtown to check out Temple Square.

Temple Square is a large square where the Mormon Temple, the Tabernacle, two visitors centers, and more are located. Across the streets from the square you can find the Latter Day Saints Conference Center, Family History Library, museums, and other related buildings.

My boss and I decided to check out the visitors center. The North Visitors Center is dedicated mostly to the story of Jesus and the history of how the LDS church came to be. The South Visitors Center is dedicated mostly to how the Mormons made their way to SLC and built the temple, as well as a basic look into family history. After exploring both of those, we checked out the Temple and Tabernacle.

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While you’re not allowed in the Temple, unless of course you’re Mormon and have prepared, the outside is breathtaking to view. Inside one of the visitor’s centers they also have a scale model with a cut away so you can get an idea of what the inside is like. One fascinating detail is that the walls at the base of the Temple are 9 feet thick and thin to 6 feet at the top. Incredible!

From there we decided to head in the direction of our hotel in the Cottonwood Heights area. As you can see from the Temple photo, it appears to be a rather cloudy day. At the time the city was dealing with an inversion, which is something they only deal with during the winter months. They last for a few days at a time before a storm comes in and dissipates the smog. You can read more about this issue thanks to Powder magazine. Despite that, I still found myself falling in love with SLC and the surrounding area.

We still couldn’t check in so we decided to drive up into Cottonwood Canyon and see where the one of the ski resorts was that I planned to visit over the weekend. The road is two lanes and it winds up through the canyon. What was interesting, was as soon as we made one or two turns, we were out of the smog and had blue sky and sunshine. The drive was incredibly beautiful and the canyon walls are right on top of the road.

At the end of the road, we decided to check out Gardner’s Pass, which was closed, but you could drive up about 1/4 mile. Check out the view!

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There was soo much snow! I was in heaven.

After we meandered back down the canyon and checked into the hotel, I dozed off for a little bit. Our hotel was literally across the street from the base of the mountains, but when we first arrived you couldn’t even see them. After my quick nap, I looked out the window and there they were!

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That evening we enjoyed dinner at another highly recommended restaurant downtown called Takashi. The drinks were delicious and so was the sushi.

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Thursday we spent the day at the conference, which was hosted by CHG Health Services. They’re a healthcare staffing firm with several offices around the country and a Forbes Best Company to Work For. Their offices were really nice and it was evident they really care about their employees.

After a happy hour with some of the other conference attendees, my boss, the communications director from WestJet and myself headed downtown to see the Thursday night open rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was incredible and at times I got chills listening to them. The Tabernacle is also an amazing building. It doesn’t matter where you sit, the choir sounds the same. It’s just how the acoustics work. Not bad for a building as old as it is! You can hear them sing in some short clips on my Instagram.

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What an amazing choir and check out that organ!

The Temple was also quite the sight at night too.

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For dinner we headed to Whiskey Bar on Main Street. It had delicious drinks and the food was also quite yummy. I seriously did not have a one bad meal in SLC.

After another full day of conference activities on Friday, a group of us met to head downtown for dinner and drinks. One of the CHG staff members took us to Finca, a tapas restaurant. We ordered way too much food, but it was all so delicious. Everyone also loved the restaurant’s take on a Moscow Mule.

Saturday morning I got up early and hit the road to Park City for my first of 2 days spent skiing. The trip was maybe 30 minutes and the drive was beautiful. Lots of beautiful mountain views the entire way. I rented some demo skis and hit the slopes right at 9 am when the lifts opened.

The groomed surface of many of the trails was incredible. The snow is definitely different than back east, even though they groom back here too. For slopes that weren’t groomed, the snow was a bit hard in the morning but as the sun warmed it the snow softened and was wonderful.

I couldn’t get over the views. It was a beautiful sight in every direction I looked.

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That last photo is from the top…photos just don’t do it justice. After I finished skiing, I hopped the bus to Main Street to check out the shops. The town really still has the feel of an old western town. It also reminded me a bit of Breckenridge.

Once I got back to my car, I drove over to the Utah Olympic Center. They were getting ready to close, but I ran around the museum quickly and then stopped on the road to take a picture of the view. Again, stunning.

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Sunday I spent the day at Solitude Ski Resort. While Park City boasts more than 400 slopes and trails, Solitude is on the smaller end with 70+ slopes and trails. What attracted me to this one was the description on their website:

“Up here it’s quiet. You hear the light thrum of the chairlift at your back, a slight breeze wisps by, cold and clear. It carries the tinkle of laughter from a pack of kids down below. It’s sunny and crystal clear today, and before you drop in, you take a moment to breathe, to hear the quiet. You needed this.

“You need Solitude.”

I knew it would be different from the grandness of Park City, but it sounded like a special place. It was.

While it was not sunny and crystal clear since it snowed quite heavily all day, it was wonderful just the same. I often found myself alone on the chairlift and even on the slopes. That tinkle of laughter? I heard that too.

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It was a wonderful day on the slopes. I wished I’d had a few more days, but that just means I need to get back there sooner rather than later.

A lot of people thought it was odd that I would go skiing alone. I know it’s often a group activity, but you’d be surprised at how many people were out on the slopes alone, like me, or they were with groups but had split off to do their own thing. I didn’t mind it one bit, especially out there with the long slopes and trails. In addition, everyone was really nice so I often found myself chatting with people on the lifts.

Yesterday a friend of mine posted the picture below. I found it really rang true for me, especially the part where it says, “It is a sport that brings escape from the cares and tensions of daily life. Skiing brings an awareness of the grandeur of nature…”

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What a great trip it was! I really loved Utah, SLC and the mountains. I can’t wait to find myself back there again.

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