Tuesday, March 21, 2006

10 Things I Love about Utah

I love being from Salt Lake City. I love the mountains, love the local culture (Utahns have the best sense of humor about our peculiar state), and love the people. When you walk down the street, people smile and say hello, even if they don't know who you are. There's a big emphasis on family togetherness, and while the city is growing (the metro area population is nearing 2 million) it still feels like a small town.

I've lived in the DC area for almost three years now, and I know that I'll never move back to Salt Lake, but in a lot of ways it will always feel like home. These are some of the reasons why:

Reason 1: My Family

I have an awesome family. I can't really describe them in any other way. I'm very close to my parents (they even read this blog) and feel like I can really tell them anything. No matter what, they'll always support me in whatever way they can.

This is me with my mom and my sister because my dad didn't come to lunch with us. His bike ride was clearly much more important than spending time with his favorite daughter. :-P

Like I said, my parents are always there for me, acting in my best interest. Except when it comes to fries, because they'll both unabashedly steal them from me the second my back is turned.

My sister is really cool too. We've both done a lot of growing up in the last couple of years, and we can finally relate to each other as friends rather than just as siblings who don't especially get along.

Reason 2: My Friends

Marcie, Michele, and I have been friends for almost a decade. We went to high school and college together, met and married our husbands at around the same time, and basically have stayed just as close as we were back in high school even though we don't see each other very often anymore.

How could I not stay in touch with these girls? They're so pretty!

Reason 3: The Mountains

Will you look at these things? They're amazing! I think it took moving to an area with no mountains to speak of (Sugar Loaf Bump doesn't count) to make me appreciate how spectacular the Wasatch mountains really are.

Reason 4: My Cat

This is Checkers, who may not be very photogenic, but has been our family's cat for 14 years. She's a little slower now than she used to be, but still comes running when she hears the plastic bag of cat treats opening. She's one of the first pets I ever had, and it always kills me to leave her when I have to go home.

Reason 5: The City

Salt Lake consists of a very small downtown area and sprawling suburbs. When I was growing up, downtown wasn't a very cool place. There was a mall, the Temple, some hotels, and office buildings. Very little in the way of public art or "street culture" that can make a downtown area feel more hip. All that has started to change in the last few years, though.

Cool artistic windmill thingys near the Salt Palace

Kids playing in the in-ground fountain at the Gateway--note the 2002 Olympic Winter logo

Getting the 2002 Olympics was huge for Salt Lake. Not only was it an event that would turn the world's attention to our little city, but it was an opportuinty to make the area (especially downtown) more appealing to visitors. Today, over two years after the Games ended, you can still see the huge impact the Olympics had on the city. We have a new lightrail system, new public art, a citizenry that has now seen what a difference some investment in the downtown area can make, and even relaxed liquor laws. Wine lists are now routinely given to customers when they sit down at restaurants! Amazing! Radical! Plus, the metro population increase has drawn a lot of new developers and retailers to Salt Lake.

This is a trendy new condo building on the West side of town that wouldn't ever, under any circumstances have been built there 5 years ago. These days parts of Salt Lake could be mistaken for Portland or Seattle (or even Washington, DC) if you didn't know where you were. The city is growing and changing, and it's a wonderful thing.

Reason 6: Salt Lakers

As I mentioned before, the people in Utah are terrific. They're so FRIENDLY! It always strikes me how abrupt and rushed people on the East Coast are after I've been back to Salt Lake for a visit, because the contrast is so striking.

Reason 7: HOME

I don't like change very much. I've written before about how I'm a bit of a stick-in-the-mud and dislike trying new things even though they might be good for me. That said, I'm so happy I can go back to the house where I grew up, sleep in my old room (even though it's been painted pink and filled with different furniture), and eat dinner at the same dining room table where I worked on junior high science projects and celebrated holidays for over 20 years. There's something indescribably comforting about knowing that my house is waiting for me anytime I come back to visit.

Reason 8: Green Jell-O

According to some statistic someone once calculated, Utahns consume more green Jell-O per capita than any other state in the nation. We're obsessed with it. What other state has an official flavor of Jell-O?

Reason 9: More Mountains

I just have to bring this up again, LOOK AT THE BEAUTIFUL MOUNTAINS, PEOPLE!!!

Reason 10: Fry Sauce

Admit it, you've been reading this entire entry just to see when I'll get to the damn fry sauce already.

Utahns take fry sauce very seriously. Depending on where you go, fry sauce is a mixture of ketchup, mayonaise, pickle juice, barbeque sauce, and Thousand Island salad dressing. Every burger joint in the state carries it, even McDonalds. My favorite place for fry sauce is a burger joint called Shivers, but it was closed so we went to Crown Burger instead.

Where else can you get a really good burger with fries and a drink for only $6.00 and be surrounded by statues and tapestries?

Let's face it, Salt Lake is kewl.

Tomorrow: 10 Things I Really Don't Love about Utah, or This Sorta Fairytale Gets Political.

Update on my brother-in-law: He came out of sugery yesterday morning, and though he'll probably be in the hospital until Friday or Saturday, he's doing very well. Thanks for the kind thoughts!


Anonymous said...

Very glad to hear about your BIL and YES I wanted to know what the hell fry sauce was!

MJ said...

YaY! I'm a good thing about Utah!!

Fry sauce Rocks!

Kathleen said...

So fun! I love it. It looks like you had a great time and the pics are too cute. I miss mountains, too!

(ps -- which one is Marcie and which one Michele?)

C said...

Marcie's in the middle, Michele is on the end. What, you couldn't tell it was Marcie from her Paint portrait?