As I mentioned briefly, I was out of town meeting my Mum in Salt Lake City, an approximate halfway point between where she was and where I was. We had done some research about the city before we had gone (see entry for “Under the Banner of Heaven”), plus a lot of on-line digging and two guidebooks as I have found that the more I know about a new place when I visit, the more fun the trip is. (Learned this from the visit to New Orleans last year.)
So I felt we had a fairly good understanding of the philosophy of the Mormon/LDS religion and the history of the city. It was a lovely city – extremely clean with no litter anywhere and a bit clinical in a way. Very few sirens, no cops anywhere, just a few homeless (and they were fairly clean!). :-}
SLC takes prides in its dedication to the arts, and this was obvious in the many public art displays that were up and down the main streets. The beehive is the state symbol (since bees are industrious, group-oriented and thrifty) and was chosen by Brigham Young, the founder of the modern day LDS church. (The LDS just sort of gloss over the fact that the hive is ruled by a Queen. haha.) Utah, as a state, is very enmeshed with the LDS church (obviously since they were the original founders), and so there is evidence of this religious belief everywhere you look. Very little edgy art work, lots of women and girls in sensible skirts, boys in nice shirts and trousers being very polite and
quiet, lots of white people.
The whole city seems a bit Stepford Wife in some ways as there was so little of what happens in a typical city – the traffic noise, the shouting, the sirens, the dogs… None of that was there. In fact, it was a lot like being on a movie set of a “perfect American town” from the 1950’s.
But people were extremely nice to us, especially our tour guide at the Temple Conference Center who took ages with us and answered our (endless) inquisitive questions about LDS and modern issues (e.g. gay marriage, people of color, gender relations etc.) Apparently, this tour guide had been a very higher up in the women’s organization and now just did tours because she was (a) very understanding of non-believers, and (b) patient enough to answer ALL our questions. She really was a good rep for the church.
We also saw the Mormon Tabernacle Choice practicing (amazing sound) and wandered around the campus of University of Utah (pretty and historical). Weather was nice too – eighties so not too hot (when compared to Texas’ summer of more than one hundred nearly every day).
I forced my mum to go miles out of our way to visit a famous independent book shop called “The King’s English” which I had heard about before. On the outside, it’s very unassuming and looks tiny, but once you are inside it, it is a winding labyrinth of different rooms and areas and the selection of books is superb. It was like visiting my very own TBR pile except the titles were on the shelves instead of in a notebook. The staff were excellent as well – helpful without being intrusive. Highly recommend a visit there if you end up in the area. (Don’t forget to buy something – support an independent bookshop today!)