Postcard: Salt Lake City

Scenes from vacations past

The white pillars of a museum, solid and permanent

Pioneer Memorial Museum, Salt Lake City, Utah. September 2019

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July 28th at 11:47pm

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In September, 2019, we took a trip out west.

Our vacation consisted of stops in: Salt Lake City, UT, Blackfoot, ID, Yellowstone National Park, Idaho Falls, ID, Arco, ID and Craters-of-the-Moon National Monument, Boise, ID, and Twin Falls, ID.

This is a postcard from Salt Lake City.

The hotel

I cashed in several nights from a rewards program so we could stay at The Grand America, one of the most beautiful hotels I've ever been to (Elton John stayed here when his tour was in town - more on that later).

Breakfast in our hotel with morning light, table covered in cereal, oatmeal, fruit, juice, and coffee

Breakfast in our room.

Our room was gorgeous, Francis loved the toy store, and we all appreciated the large, mostly empty pool. It was so nice to come home to.

Temple Square

We put aside our thoughts on religion, Christianity, and Mormons and simply went as no-baggage guests. (Now members of the church say they belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; no nicknames such as "Mormon" or "LDS" are allowed.)

Temple Square was extraordinary. We found our Mormon hosts to be unfailingly pleasant, and the grounds were spotless. Gina checked closely but did not see a weed anywhere. Architecturally, the buildings on the square were unique - especially the temple.

Because iCloud is lamentable, we lost the pictures we took of the tabernacle, the temple, and most of the grounds. We recovered one picture of the temple, but iCloud is still dreadful!

The three tower facade of a stone white building

The Salt Lake Temple and its spotless grounds.

The exterior of a house with a second story balcony and columns

The Beehive House, home and office of Brigham Young.

Slightly off the square, we passed the Lion House and visited the Beehive House. The docent was thrilled that we spoke French to Francis. We showed off a little bit - Où sont tes mains? De quelle couleur est cette chaise? - and then went next door for lunch.

Stately 19th century interior: rugs, chairs, a piano, elaborate lamps

Inside the Beehive House.

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an office building and event space. It also has a gift shop and a casual restaurant called the Nauvoo Cafe, where they serve a delicious turkey pot pie. (Apparently those are a thing in Utah.)

Musicians playing in a foyer with green marble columns, a chandelier, and skylight.

Interior of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

A bird pecking around a garden with a variety of flowers

Temple Square landscaping. Not a weed to be found.

Red Butte Garden

In Columbus, our hometown, the Franklin Park Conservatory has spoiled us - but our visit to Red Butte Garden did not disappoint.

Kid sitting on a larger-than-life lizard

Red Butte Garden.

The theme of one garden was "Cancer Fighting Flora." Francis played in the children's garden, and we all enjoyed the water pavilion garden. A waterfall gurgled softly on the other side of the pavilion lake.

Discovery Gateway Children's Museum

We made sure not to bore Francis with too many attractions for grown-ups, and visited a museum for children. He had a blast playing on construction toys, splashing in water fountains, and shoving plastic colored balls down chutes, as kids do.

Mother and child playing with toys on the floor

Francis is soaked from playing with water toys.

The Utah Capitol

A trifecta conspired to exhaust us prior to our visit to the capitol. Not a single cloud protected us from the sun, our route was a steep climb on foot, and our son was cranky. But we made it.

Elaborate murals ring a large rotunda of gray marble walls and floors.


Looking up to the interior of the capitol dome, which was painted light blue with clouds

The dome.

The Utah capitol is massive. It looks exactly like you would want a statehouse to look. Francis loved running through the enormous routunda and up and down the open marble staircases.

Pioneer Memorial Museum

I was not expecting to like this museum as much as I did.

Imagine a place where almost every possession of Utah pioneer families ended up. Like... everything. Guns, furniture of every type and sort, artwork, bric-à-brac, vehicles. It's all here.

Baby carriages, chairs, chests, spinning wheels, tables - all old

Inside the Pioneer Memorial Museum: baby carriages, spinning wheels, and all kinds of other stuff.

Once again, people were polite and welcoming. The director of the museum greeted us personally and spoke to Francis. She told him about a turn-of-the century fire truck at one end of the museum - which, sadly, he didn't like as much as we hoped he would.

Shotguns and swords in a case

Inside the Pioneer Memorial Museum: weapons.

Elton John

A babysitting service came to the hotel to watch Francis while Gina and I went out.

First, we devoured sushi at Takashi. It was the best either of us has ever had. Then we enjoyed dessert and coffee at the bar of an intimate restaurant called Eva.

Elton John magnified on a video board

Elton John's Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour at Vivint Smart Arena.

After eating, we saw Elton John at Vivint Smart Arena. We splurged on floor seats and sat (well, mostly we stood) about fifteen rows from the stage. The concert was jaw-dropping. If you have a chance to see Sir Elton at all - the tour is winding down a bit and, well... COVID-19 - do it.

Superb Mexican food

The last item to report: excellent Mexican food can be had at The Red Iguana. Rumor has it that if the main store is busy, there's a second one down the street that's always less crowded! I wish I had known before we went - we waited 45 minutes, but it was worth it.

The scoop

We loved Salt Lake City. It was beautiful and clean, there was plenty to do, the food was delectable, and the people were friendly. If we hadn't been so excited about going to Yellowstone, we might have stayed longer.

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