In Mormonland

Our first stop in Utah was Salt Lake City, and that's for two reasons: first of all we wanted to see Antelope Island (as a few people told us it's worth a trip), second of all, a daughter of our hosts from California, Greg and Dianne lives there. They suggested we should stop by at Elicia and Bob's if we're in the area. Third of all, Pawel had this imagine of SLC as a mix of olympic (2002) and Mormon (1846) spirit and as it was really working together, he wanted to calm this unnerving image down.

Salt Lake
Writing about Salt Lake City and state full of Mormons we should add a few smart and not very politically (or religiously) correct anecdotes. Unfortunately, being modern smart people without Wikipedia we don't have too much to say about Book of Mormon. The state of Utah and T-mobile internet don't work together so well. Just after we left SLC we said goodbye to 4G or any G to be honest. That's why we are not so smart anymore... At least we have another reason to become mormons (after perfect clothes, constant smile and financial success, we still can't get to agree on poligamy though). Once we become mormons we'll know so much there will be a lot to joke about (if we are still allowed to joke about it then).

Maciek on the streets of SLC
We got to our hosts in the evening after saying goodbye to waterfalls-less-famous-than-potatos. Our hosts are more or less our age. Elicia loves horses, has seven of them, she gives horse riding classes. They live in a stable just next to our trailer. Bob is in the army, he's been to most of popular military destinations: England, Belgium, Iraq, Turkey and hot last-minute Korea. For now they settled in Utah, as that's what army offered and they liked it. 

As long as there is no war, American army is a great employer. It gives money for education, it can give you green card, additionally, anywhere they send you (for 6 months or longer if both sides like it) you get half a container to pack. As in any civilized country army sends moving company which does all the packing and sends it to the other end of the world. If someone doesn't care so much about, lets say, favourite bed, they can pack a motorcycle instead. That's what Bob did, and that's how he saw a big part of Turkey. Maybe some day army sends him to Germany so they can stop by with Elicia in Warsaw…

Next day we got invited to a small party, but we got to with a huge delay visitng SLC, so we met only last three guests:  Lewis, Brian and Lisa. It's nice to stay up late with people our age. Lewis, Brian and Bob work together.  Lewis is a bit younger than us, he just came back from Korea. Brian has been in the army pretty much as long as Bob, Lisa had some military episodes too. We asked a bit about the reasons they went to army, we joke a little about mormons, we drunk some good, strong beer. We're relieved, we still can talk to young people.

With Lewis
Salt Lake City did not impress us much. It's located in a beautiful place, between mountains and lake, it left us with a feeling of unused potential. Lake is not visible at all, streets are, for us at least, way to wide (they were built this way so long Mormon carriages could turn around easily), besides it doesn't feel cosy at all, and - although it's probably because we were there on Sunday - it was deserted. It was completely out of our feng shui.

We walked a little on those wide avenues, we visited very well stocked visitors center (when we were crossing the state line from Idaho there wasn't any, so this was the first place we could get some information for further planning) and we went to see a main attraction: mormon temple.

Mormons in Poland are those nice, handsome, elegant young men, speaking Polish with a strong foreign accent. Brian who we met at the party was raised as a mormon although even though he is still one of them in the registry, he doesn't feel like one. He told us they pay for their missions to other countries from their own pockets and before they go they spend a year learning the language. He also said that mormons are so desperate to talk to people that they will do anything, like clean the potential interlocutor's house … We don't really know if it's true and we probably won't find out, as Mormons in Poland don't go from house to house (maybe they saw how dirty it is and they got scared).

If they come though, to get rid of them it's enough to say you're Jehova's witness. At the party someone said another good way to get rod of them for good is to tell them: take your pants off and let's go and take a shower, then we can talk! Of course, we don't want to scare anyone of unknown religions. Anyone can talk to Mormons, even without a shower. Who knows, maybe it'll give you ethernal life...

Temple in Salt Lake City is a huge building. It looks more like a palace than a church, plus it has two visitors centers and one building unnervingly reminding of mothership. It's a legitimate comparison. SLC was chosen by Mormons thoughtfully. They lived peacefully in Illinois, but at some point they started drawing too much attention, mostly because of polygamy and they decided to move away from civilization. Especially after they got to know that federal army is planning to ride their settlements. In report from expedition to what's now Utah led by John C. Fremont they read that there is a fertile valely near a salt lake. That's where they headed.

They headed like an army. First wave was divided into squadrons, organizing river crosses, ferries and camps (making money on immigrants going to California and Oregon on Oregon Trail). Then the leader, Brigham Young,  called in all of them - 70 thousand people. But he did not limit his plans to SLC. From his headquarters on a Temple Square he sent more expeditions in a different areas of future Utah to set up settlements. Most of current roads are now covering the trails created by mormon pioneers. Some of them are now "scenic backways". We will check them out for sure.

Main temple is on Temple Square, and unfortunately is closed for non-believers. It's not Vatican, there is no luxury that would take your breath away. There are young girls from all around the world instead, who with peaceful voice talk about the temple and everything in and around it. Exhibition in the visitors center is more about family values than the buildings. The history about leaving Illinois and crossing the Red Sea, eee, not this one, crossing Sandy River, is there too, but it's family that takes the most important place. Becoming a Mormon gives you a warranty for happy and harmonic family life, which modern America has walked so far away from. Tempting. The choice is obvious: either Mormons or super-nanny (Mormons are better, they will clean up too).

Somebody up there clearly didn't like us being on Temple Square and sent down rain so we had to run back to the car (of course it stopped raining the minute we got in, but we weren't in the mood for playing that game with the Somebody). Cold and rain discouraged us from seeing some other attractions of SLC. Well, we chose beginning of May to visit SLC, in the beggining of July it's probably 110 degrees there...

Thanks to the weather we didn't cross any street waving a red flag. Flags are next to some wide streets, they say since they introduced them there are 31% less accidents involvig pedastrians. Or maybe it was just 31% of people that stopped crossing the streets cause they thought they looked stupid waving flags…

We didn't use public transportation, even though trams in downtown SLC are for free. We didn't check if all the strange alcohol related regulations really work (for example you can only drink 1.5 oz at the time but if the other 1.5 oz is with ice it's ok - we're not even trying to understand it). We haven't seen any trails outside the city, we heard they are very picturesque though. And we didn't check if poligamy works, but we'll be in Utah few more weeks…

We liked Antelope Island better. It's the biggest inland island in the west, full of really old rocks. There is a causeway on the Salt Lake to get there. In the past the road was flooded many times. One time, years ago, there was so much water the island was cut off for a few seasons. As there are no outflows they had to wait for overflowing water to vaporize…

Getting to the island
Island was named by Fremont's Expedition in 1845, and 3 years later it had its first inhabitant, guy named Fielding Garr built a ranch there. It was still in use not that long ago, now it is open for visitors. Cattle is still grazing. Island is inhabited by (of course) antelopes (we've seen one) and 500-700 bisons (we've seen a lot, including herd crossing the street in front of our car). There are also - unfortunately - lots and lots of tiny biting insects. We were lucky anyway, there are even more of them when the weather is nice. In general it's nice views, lots of animals, salty water atound...maybe we got too demanding lately. Nice, but to walk 1000 miles all the way here from Illinois we would have to be Mormons...

To sum up, as it was on our way we were happy to see both the city and the island. If we had just one day we would skip the city. But if we were to go extra hundered or two hundered miles just to see Antelope Island, we wouldn't. Just a few hundered miles south there are much better things to see.

We left our hosts without saying goodbye, as they were out (that's why we don't have their picture in "our friends" gallery on facebook). We did say goodbye to Greg instead, who just came to visit his daughter and son in law. We left a note for Elicia and Bob and we headed to the land of canyons, just like thousands of Mormons sent with their carriages south by Brigham Young.

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