"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
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
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.
During our visit to Salt Lake City we stayed with the Rao
Family who were very hospitable and made our stay very pleasant.
Some pictures from Antelope Island which is located in the
great Salt Lake.
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.
Some places from Puneet's childhood. He used to have
several friends that lived on Fort Douglas, which now houses many UofU
Puneet at his elementary school. Wasatch Elementary. Sadly
much of the school was undergoing "renovation" during our visit. sigh.
Sadly, our only picture of Temple Square. This is a
picture of the Mormon temple.
Cottonwood canyon offers a very scenic drive near Salt