"Renovated" Homecoming in Salt Lake City (09/10/03)

Last updated 9/29/03                                                                                                                                

The final stop on our cross-country roadtrip before heading home was my former home state of Utah, specifically Salt Lake City (SLC). I spent a good six years of my childhood in this city and it was really interesting for me to see all of the changes in both people and places that had taken place in the last 13 years since I left SLC. I want to thank the Rao family for their generous hospitality in allowing us to stay with them during our visit to SLC. I also wanted to thank the Kumar family, the Bhambri family and the Shah family for welcoming us to their homes during our stop in SLC. Finally, we got a chance to have coffee with Dennis Winge, my dad's former boss at the University of Utah, which brought back fond memories of old times...

Salt Lake City has changed a lot since I left 13 years ago; when I moved from SLC, there was just a single Mexican restaurant that I was aware of in the entire city and I even remember the name: Su Casa ("Your House" in Spanish). From all of our drives through downtown, I could see the remarkable diversity (in foods) that had permeated the city since my departure. Now there were all sorts of ethnic restaurants, and I even saw a rubios, indicating that yuppie Mexican food is now also available in SLC. The city has also sprawled in an incredible fashion: I remember when there was hardly anything in Ogden, but when we stayed there the night before going to SLC I was amazed to find that the city had over 4 exits on I-15 and seemed to be a decent-sized city in its own right, rather than just the tiny suburb of SLC that it was many years ago.

During our visit, we got a chance to visit Antelope Island located in the middle of the Great Salt Lake. Among other things, we had a *very* close encounter with a bison that we initially thought was inside a corral that housed a small group of bison. To our surprise we discovered that it was probably just visiting friends and was not in fact inside the corral, and at that point it slowly turned toward us and started walking... not taking any chances, we both turned and ran back to where ther Vette was parked. It would've been hilarious to have a recording of us running away from this bison which was still over 20 feet away from us, but I guess better safe than sorry. Of course, the rest of the day Daria kept muttering in a rather pitiful tone: "It was my first upclose encounter with a bison, and I just turned around and ran..." -- We both agreed that our actions didn't in any way diminish our overall bravery and courage (um, yeah, so we rationalized.. but who wants to admit that they're a corward?). We also got to see a fairly tame deer that has become a resident of an old farm on the island. Her name's whisper, and you can see pictures of her below.

We also got to visit the Kennecott Copper Mine in Bingham, Utah. This mine, along with the Great Wall of China, are the only 2 man-made objects visible from outerspace. They have a very interesting video at the mine which explains the entire "revolutionary" mining process which allows a profitable mine despite the fact that the copper ore at the mine has less than 1% copper -- their website claims that one ton of ore yields about 12 pounds of refined copper! Overall pretty cool, if you can stomach the ride past the several county (maybe city) dumps that are on the way from SLC to the mine.

We also got to visit the Temple Square, which is the central location for all that is Mormon in Utah. It's here that you'll find a beautiful temple of the Church of LDS (you won't be able to go in though... need to be a member, and have fulfilled several requirements before you're allowed into this holiest of holy sanctuaries), the Seagull Monument (they haven't done much good for me, other than leave "gifts" on my car), a beautiful group of gardens, and a large convention center (i think it could hold over 25,000 people). There's a single picture of the temple below.

Now onto probably the toughest part of the trip for me personally, and that is a visit down memory lane.... I visited Medical Towers apartments, where we lived when in Utah (there were 2 towers, North and South -- we lived in North). Not too much had changed about the buildings themselves, and we were even able to get into the building (security hasn't gotten much tighter) and ride the old (now positively ancient) elevator to the 13th floor to look at the door to our old apartment. However, while the buildings hadn't changed much, the surrounding area had undergone an amazing transformation. The baseball field which which was situated on top of a small hill neighboring the Medical Towers was gone... in fact, the entire hill was gone. I had gone sledding down this hill (which in my memory was quite steep and tall, but couldn't have had a slope that was more than 10 feet high) on numerous winter afternoons during my childhood, and it was hard to believe that it was actually gone. The area had apparently been levelled to make room for student housing facilities. Fort Douglas, which was an active military base during my childhood, had long been closed (since 1991 unless I'm mistaken), and a lot of the base had been converted to student dormitories for the University of Utah (UofU). Some of the older houses had not been demolished, and instead comprised a section labeled "Historic Fort Douglas". This was the only part of the fort which jived with my childhood memories. Gone were most of the roads which criss-crossed the entire Fort and provided ample bike paths for me and my friends. A constant refrain throughout my visit to childhood places was "... and that's where I used to ... but look what they've done to it now!" Poor Daria had to put up with my all of my complaints about all of the changes... which were naturally bound to occur in the 13 years since my departure. You see, up until the moment that I actually saw all of the change, I had naively believed that everything would be just as I had left it... that somehow it would all just be waiting for my return. I guess I now better understand that line about how you can never go home again...

A little aside: after re-reading the last paragraph, I realize that it sounds sooo much like a Kevin voiceover from "The Wonder Years", but it'll have to do.
And that marks the end of the US road-trip blog. Please come back to see how the Mehras fare in Europe.


Gopna auntie and Rao Uncle       Daria with our gracious hosts       During our visit to Salt Lake City we stayed with the Rao Family who were very hospitable and made our stay very pleasant.

The beautiful and stinky Salt Lake       Another shot of the lake       A tame deer called "whisper"       Isn't she cute?       Some pictures from Antelope Island which is located in the great Salt Lake.

A view from the copper mine       Another mine view       Another picture of the mine       A final shot of the mine       That's one BIG tire...     

I bet these are expensive!       Some views of the Kennecott Copper Mine in Bingham, Utah. This mine is one of only 2 man-made structures (the other is the Great Wall) that are viewable from outer space.

Home, sweet home -- at least it was 13 years ago       Puneet's frend Billy Butterfield lived here       Building where Puneet's dad worked       Puneet's mom worked here       Fort Douglas is now a housing area for students       Some places from Puneet's childhood. He used to have several friends that lived on Fort Douglas, which now houses many UofU students.

I used to play basketball here...       I used this tunnel to cross the street to get to the playground       Puneet at his elementary school       Puneet at his elementary school. Wasatch Elementary. Sadly much of the school was undergoing "renovation" during our visit. sigh.

Our only picture of the Mormon Temple at Temple Square       Sadly, our only picture of Temple Square. This is a picture of the Mormon temple.

Leaves are changing colors in Cottonwood Canyon       Leaves are changing colors in Cottonwood Canyon       Cottonwood canyon offers a very scenic drive near Salt Lake City.