After dropping Chloe off at the airport, I met up with my cousin, Travis, in southeast SLC for Vietnamese food. This was a great transition into my time in Salt Lake City. I hadn’t been to his hometown since I was only two years old, so arriving at their house was really cool. The house itself was phenomenal, and it’s location even better. They’re right at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon, which leads east toward popular ski resorts, Snow Bird and Alta. The weather in late September there was phenomenal for almost anything you could want, save riding snow. Met my Uncle Tommy’s girlfriend and hung out for a bit, talking and hanging out. All-around stoke for the 5 days ahead!
That night, Travis and I smoked a bit and drank a few beers while playing darts and catching up on life. Which was great. Just chillin’ with family. By the way, the liquor stores in Utah were surprisingly interesting and unique, in a good way. My first night, I went to one to buy a six-pack. Each bottle (of wine, liquor, or beer) is sold individually, which was awesome, because everything there was to offer was available for addition to your pick-your-own personal variety pack.
The next morning, I got some much-needed work done at my uncle’s house before going out in the late afternoon to meet with my Aunt Diana with Travis, and his girlfriend Anna. It was my aunt’s boyfriend’s birthday, which was a cool excuse to go to a party, drink beer and eat great food together. My Aunt Diana was behind the operations of making food for the party, and each and every item on the table was delicious! We met at her place to finalize the food arrangements and head north into the mountains to the small house gathering.
At the party, I met Howard’s (my aunt’s boyfriend’s) daughter and her boyfriend, who live in LA. It was refreshing to meet people based there, since that was essentially the final stop on my cross-country trip. I had questions for them as well as stories. We all enjoyed a good time. Mostly older people populated the party, which was also cool. I don’t remember the last time when I was at a party consisting of only 10% under-30-year-olds. We rounded out the night with Cards Against Humanity with my Aunt Diana, Howard, and the “kids”. Which was hilarious. But I digress.
Really cool shit, Uncle Tom.
After checking out the space, I went to a skatepark for a bit, because, well, duh. It was super fun. It’s always good to skate a new park and meet some new people who grew up skating a different area of the country. Culture experience through the stories of skate rats. Later on, I met up with Travis and Anna at an indoor climbing gym nearby. Climbing has become a “thing” for me again, and I’m really stoked on it! Gym climbing, however, seems so much more exhausting to me, if not only for the reason that there are more options at everyone’s disposal. I think I prefer natural bouldering, because an entire crew of people will solve a (much harder) problem together, solve one problem more deliberately, and bond throughout that process. Climbing at a gym is really sick for other reasons, though. There is a community there, there are people that can advise you on routes they already have experience with, and it’s a GREAT place to meet new friends.
I’ve never met a climber that’s a real dick. Just my experience...
After the climbing gym, the three of us walked to a nearby pizza joint, Spadelli’s, which is run by skaters and snow bums. It’s a cool vibe, and they have tasty beer and pizza, So fuck yeah, it was enjoyable. Glad to spend quality time before heading back to my uncle’s house for more of it. This was a Friday night, so we proceeded to sit around the fire in a(n) (awesome) fire pit in the backyard, drink whiskey, and share stories. It was all of us (my uncle, his girlfriend, my cousin, his girlfriend, and myself). Definitely a great night, to make a long story shorter, and I ended up sleeping on an air mattress in the backyard, under the stars and in the cool breeze of Utah’s autumn.
The next morning, I was interested in doing some outdoorsy things, in pure interest and because I hadn’t done that since in the SLC area. Travis has just started driving for Lyft, so he wanted to make some money (I back it) and went driving. Meanwhile, my uncle and Christine, his girlfriend, went out with me for a nice hike to a good view (the city on one direction and the towering mountain and lake at its base on the other). Afterward, Christine brought us (as guests, thanks Christine!) to the spa she goes to. The main reason for this was that it has a rooftop pool, directly at the base of Alta resort’s mountain. The leaves were almost all yellow at that point, so wading through the (heated) pool and lounging in a hot tub on the (5th floor) rooftop of this building was amazing. The fall colors, sheer granite mountain faces, and bare ski slopes made for a great combination of views and a serene experience for a casual Saturday.
We then went back to the house again, from where Uncle Tom and Christine went to dinner and I went to the nearby skatepark in Sandy, UT. I met some really cool dudes there, one originally from the northeast US and one from northeast Europe. The session was fun, despite the majority being scooters (don’t get me started). Lots of bowls that were really too mellow to shred (you have to see this place), but a pretty fun park nonetheless. That night, I went back to the house to have a really chill time, just catching up on skate videos, reading my book and smoking and drinking (just a bit) with family. Another beautiful night with family in Utah.
I was late for meeting Travis and Anna. Shit. On the way south and uphill to some mountain peaks near Park City. From there, the plan was to watch the “Super Moon” that was happening that night, from high altitude. And we were hoping for clear skies, which were looking questionable. The “Super Moon,” it turns out, is when a red moon overlaps with a full eclipse (in this case, lunar eclipse). The east coast got a better view of it, but it was possible to see where we were. As the sun was rising, clouds were still clearing out, so we unfortunately missed the red moon rise. After that though, the moon had risen to a decent height when the clouds cleared out, and we saw a beautiful orange moon.
The traffic to the peaks of the mountains was hellacious, and so I was not able to meet with Anna and Travis. We were parked in far-away, different lots and on separate adventures/experiences. I found a group of people my age that were Park City locals and having a small mountain-top party for the Super Moon. I gladly joined them for a beer and some smoke while watching a natural wonder on a wonderful road trip. I found out from the one of the friends there that almost the entire group p had moved together from Vermont and had gone to St. Michael’s College in Burlington, VT - where my cousin Ben went for his undergraduate degree. Good times, good conversations, good people.
Then started the half-hour drive back west to Granite. got there to join Anna and Trav in watching a few shows on Netflix while having a smoke and some food. Chill night. Leaving in the morning. Bittersweet.
I was surprised at how much I thoroughly enjoyed Salt Lake City. As an area of our country, it has so much to offer, and I feel that the Mormon culture, its presence, and its stereotype has completely negated any good reputation that it should or would have to outsiders. But then again, good for them. Well kept secret. Sorry for sharing…
The next morning, I would be departing solo from Salt Lake City to Capitol Reef State Park for a night of camping and a morning of exploration of even more beautiful red rock formations.
Loving life in that moment. I again slept outside under the starry night and full moon.