Friday, May 22, 2009

Utah 2009 (Part One)

The fam and I are now back in Tallahassee, our trip to Utah having come to an end. It was a great experience. Unlike the feelings I expressed in December, I am already looking forward to our next visit to Utah—bearing in mind that we now plan to visit the Beehive State only in the late spring or during the summer. That made all the difference in the world with this trip. In fact, I forgot—or perhaps never even realized—just how beautiful a place Utah really is. This was the first time in at least a few years that I have been to Utah without it being covered in snow. It felt like an entirely different place, and I even found myself thinking, “Wow, I wouldn't mind living here again!” I know I felt the exact opposite of this when I visited in December, so these positive feelings should be taken with a grain of salt—no Salt Lake City-related pun intended. Still, I felt much fonder of Utah than I have in a long, long time.

Naturally, I thought I would chronicle our Utah adventures. Having returned to Florida and uploaded the pictures we took onto our computer hard drive, however, I am sad to learn we snapped far fewer photos than I had realized. Nevertheless, I’ll give a brief rundown of how we spent our time and supplement with photos where possible. For my ease as well as the reader’s, I will here present only the first half of our trip, sharing the rest of our Utah vacation in a subsequent and soon-to-follow post. Enjoy!

Monday, May 11th (Day One)

We arrive in Salt Lake City just a few minutes before midnight, or 2 a.m. on our biological clocks, which are still set to Eastern Time. The kids did a decent job sleeping on the plane, so the hubbub of the airport is enough to stir them up into full-blown wakefulness. We will not be asleep until at least three hours later, thereby obliterating any sort of schedule to which we are used to adhering. Ultimately, this will prove profitable for adapting to the two-hour time shift. During the trip, we generally found ourselves sleeping until almost 8 a.m. Mountain Time, a fantastic feat even if it had been Eastern Time. As is customary, my family stays at Melanie’s parents’ house in Sandy, a suburb located about 15 minutes south of Salt Lake.

Tuesday, May 12th

After a surprisingly restful night in new beds and new surroundings, Melanie and I head to my parents’ house to visit my little sister on her 21st birthday. On the way, we stop at Taco Time, which as a fast-food Mexican restaurant remains unrivaled in my book. The nearest Taco Time location to Tallahassee is in Goshen, Indiana, approximately 766 miles away, whereas the nearest location to Melanie’s parents’ house is just a few blocks away. Sadly, the hard shell tacos don’t live up to my fond memories, seeming light on both meat and seasoning—perhaps a fluke, but disappointing nonetheless. The disappointment then continues: Melanie and I had expected to meet our new niece, Rayne, who had come into the world less than a week earlier and was supposedly staying (along with my sister / her mother) at my parents’ house. Turns out there was a change of plans, and so we had to take a Raynecheck on that one. (Ha!) Still, it was nice to visit with Mother and Khrys, and Eddie even got comfortable enough with my mom to play around with her and sing her various tunes (such as Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” and Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”)

Wednesday, May 13th

Melanie has plans to visit with a couple of Utah friends during the morning hours, so I take off and visit my sister JoAnna and meet Rayne all by my dang self. Rayne is adorable, though somehow I manage never to take a picture of her during our entire visit! Don’t ask me what I was thinking—apparently I wasn’t. The initial visit with JoAnna and Rayne is sweet but short, and I head back to pick up Melanie so we can return to her parents’ house and meet with her maternal grandmother, who is set to arrive shortly. After visiting with the elderly for a couple of hours, we take off for Bountiful, a city located about ten to fifteen minutes north of downtown Salt Lake City. Upon arrival in Bountiful, we head to our favorite of all Chinese restaurants, China Star. We are the only ones in the establishment, and the food is perfect. Delicious, and a great value to boot—we got two combination platters and two drinks for less than it cost us to get subpar Chinese take-out without beverages here in Tally. Fortunately, I was wise enough to capture some photos of this important event.
Welcome to China Star!

Peter checks out his surroundings. Notice the empty dining room.

Clockwise from Bottom Left: Ham Fried Rice, General Tao's Chicken, Crab Rangoon, Egg Roll, and Fantail Shrimp. All this plus a bowl of soup for less than $10!

Eddie enjoys the large fish housed in the fish tank in the entryway of China Star

After stuffing ourselves on both sesame and General Tao’s chicken, we drive up the hillside to the Bountiful Temple, where Melanie and I got married in the fall of 2005. Eddie loves running around the building and playing on all the steps, ledges, etc. The landscaping is gorgeous. We get a few more photos and eventually head back “home” for the night, stopping at the Utah-based fast-food chain Arctic Circle to pick up a couple of raspberry cheesecake shakes. It gives us something to snack on as we arrive at Melanie’s parents’ and realize we don’t have a key to get inside and nobody is home.

Thursday, May 14th

Melanie’s brother, Mark, is scheduled to get married the next afternoon. Before that happens, he wants us to come see the house he and his then fiancée purchased a few weeks earlier. Serendipitously, my sister, JoAnna, and her baby, Rayne, live only a couple of blocks from Mark’s new home. We decide to visit them back to back. On the way to visit JoAnna and Rayne, we stop by 7-Eleven, which is also absent from the Tallahassee scene, and pick up some snacks that, in my experience, are unique to Utah 7-Elevens—most notably chocolate frosted chocolate cake donuts. We then visit JoAnna, and Melanie, Edison, and Peter have the chance to meet Rayne (and the various dogs living with her) for the first time. I again neglect to take any photos. We then head to Mark’s new house, which is a beauty, and Peter climbs stairs for the first time in his life. Having consumed a Mountain Dew Big Gulp and a bottle of water within a two hour timeframe, I have several opportunities to check out Mark’s guest bathroom.

On our way back to Melanie’s parents’, we stop at Sconecutter, a Utah-based scone sandwich shop with a surprisingly risqué (by Utah’s standards) slogan—“everybody get sconed.” And did we ever. Not only did we enjoy scones topped with turkey, avocados, sprouts, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, etc., but we also indulged in scones slathered in melted honey-butter and sprinkled in cinnamon. Yum.

For Thursday night, I was scheduled to meet with some of my own Utah friends. Some ill-planning and poor communication on my part led to some misunderstandings, and not everyone was available to get together at the same time. Graciously, our good friends Chad and Crystal (and their two boys) offered to drive all the way from their home in Bountiful to Sandy and meet with my family at Maggie Moo’s for ice cream. Ice cream fills our bellies and stains our shirts, then I take Melanie and the kids back “home,” and then I head out to meet another good friend who lives on the west side of Salt Lake City and had work commitments until 9 p.m. I meet him at his house, meet his wife (whom I’ve never met), and also meet up with another friend I haven’t seen in years. All of us head to Red Iguana, one of the best Mexican restaurants I know of (though I prefer the downtown version, Blue Iguana, whose food and ambience varies slightly—regardless, both restaurants have photos of celebrities, from Carlos Santana to Britney Spears, hanging on the walls and singing the respective restaurant’s praises). Sadly, I am too full from my earlier gorging to order any food, but I do enjoy a few bites at the generous insistence of my friends. I stay out until 2 a.m. (4 a.m. Eastern!) laughing harder than I have in quite some time.

Friday, May 15th

Wedding day. Having pushed the kids enough for a few days, we let them spend the first part of the day taking it easy and playing around. In the afternoon, we head to The Woods on Ninth and enjoy watching Mark and Trina enter into matrimony. I get choked up when I see how emotional Mark gets as he takes his vows. He is a gentle and incredibly caring person, and this is the happiest I have probably ever seen him. It’s neat to be there. Traditional wedding day activities follow—dinner, cake, dancing, etc. I spend a bit more time chasing Eddie around the reception center than I’d prefer, yet I manage to snap a few worthwhile photos while on the scene. I'll share just two of them here.

To be continued…

1 comment:

  1. Fun pictures and it sounds like you had a fun vacation.
    So, um, you went to China Star? Yeah, you should have called us :) I don't get why that place is often empty. It's great food.