Salt Lake City (Day 3-4)

Salt Lake City surprised me. I expected to find masses of 18-year-old males in pairs with parted hair, in black slacks, white dress shirts, and name tags. I expected to see men like Mitt Romney walking wives, in the plural, followed by flocks of blue-eyed, blond-haired kids. I thought the closest thing I'd see to beer would be Ezekial's Root Beer.

And in part, it was true, especially the closer we got to the Temple, which is not situated in any city centre but a site of pilgrimage. (The major thoroughfares in all Utah cities are numbered according to their distance to the Temple - W 200 St., S 1,600 St., etc. - so the Mormonism is baked into the city structure).

My stereotypes were also false. We pulled up hungry, as usual, and found a random park, yanked out our cooler, and sat in the grass to eat. As we ate, a few folks passed us dancing. One guy was doing a very fine job of combing his hair. Another greeted us and cracked a couple decent jokes. "The people are interesting here," says one of my kids.

In the distance we could see there was a fair going on. We finish our sandwiches and head over. A local radio station blasts music and a crowd really gets down. Food is being served for free. A tent offers haircuts. Clothing is distributed. It's a fair for homeless people. A mission and city services are the hosts.     

Scrambling for clothes.

We linger a while and then grab a coffee at a small independent cafe, the kind we need to drive twenty minutes in traffic to reach in SoCal. A few blocks east, we arrive at the Utah Festival of the Arts. I grab the program and recognize a few of the artists, so we decide to go in. It's quite the fair, with multiple music venues, a big kids' zone, and literary workshops of various kinds. We catch an indie rock band and a symphony orchestra, and try out new instruments in a booth operated by a music institute.   

We can't pry the kids out of their area, but then a bunch of dinosaurs on stilts comes in and they scatter screaming. Art should be a little dangerous.

In search of the Temple, we happen upon this installation outside of the Utah Museum of Modern Art.

And this temple, the public library, at least as large as the Toronto Reference, and sleeker.

Meanwhile, we found a plethora of local breweries, all pushing the 4% alcohol ceiling. We also had a few more coffees from independent cafes. We didn't eat empanadas or pad thai or falafal, but they were all there, generally with vegetarian or vegan options. And pride flags? More than I see where I live in California.