DESTINATION: Salt Lake City
Long before we ever made it to the Utah parks, we had plenty of adventure. We had just spent a week exploring the northwest corner of Wyoming including 2 amazing National Parks.....The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Both were very different from each other but stunning to see and explore. What a terrific week!
On our last day of 'winter' vacation in June, we got up early and left Jackson Hole Wyoming headed southwest in seas of the dry desert heat of Utah and more exciting parks and adventures.
It was about a 5 hour drive and Salt Lake City seemed like a great place for a nightly layover. Even though Al lived there in the late 80s and early 90s, I had never been there. We met in 1992. For most of the drive out of Wyoming and into Idaho we had no signal, so we used old fashioned maps to mark our route and spy out lunch. I noticed we would be driving through a town called Lava Hot Springs (population 407). Sounded interesting...... I was excited to get into internet range so we could check it out and start thinking about lunch. This was mostly our scenery on this long drive. Nice, but definitely not exciting.
Love the blue green contrast.
What a gorgeous day for a road trip.
Occasionally we saw something entertaining and occasionally we took a wrong turn and had to back track. Not all the roads out here are labeled.
We did really appreciate the speed limit!
As luck would have it, not only was Lava Hot Springs a quaint little town for lunch, it was well known in these parts. It was actually home to a natural hot lava spring. Well, we had to try it out. While viewing the hot springs in Yellowstone, we really wanted to get in one, but they are 188 to 192 degrees - YIKES! I think we made the right decision waiting.
We just needed to find our swimsuits. We were still wearing winter hiking boots and our warm clothes from our drive from the frozen tundra also known as Wyoming. We started sorting through our many suitcases right in the parking lot. Lots of stares of course. You can rent suits and towels, but while we were okay with renting the towels, something about renting a swim suit didn't feel right. Finally, we had them.....3 personal swim suits.
The place was pretty nice. Not at all what we expected. It had about 5 or 6 different pools ranging from 102 to 112 degrees. The closer the location to the spring, the warmer the water.
There is a small opening to see where the spring actually lets the water into the park/pools. The natural underground springs pushes over 2.5 million gallons of hot mineral water through the pools each day before entering the Portneuf River. Bonus, the hot springs are laden with minerals, but lack sulfur so no yucky rotten egg smell.
The first pool, the one with the warmest water, 112 degrees, was pretty large and no one was in it. I can understand why. We put our feet in and I thought mine were going to bubble up in boiling water! We decided to try a cooler pond.
The crazier pair actually made it in a little later. I only dipped my feet. We really enjoyed the 102 - 105 pool. We fully emerged.
After trying out some of the medium pools, Al was ready to test the hot one again. Still no one else there.
Back to the 112 degrees. I'll just view from above.
The water was clean and clear and it was it so quiet and peaceful. I guess we picked just the right time to visit.
They even had an old fashioned wringer for our swim suits.
What a fun unexpected stop along the way.
On to Utah.
Our first stop was the state capital building. It was beautiful, inside and out. Huge too!
We were actually allowed to go in as well and we stayed longer than we expected because there was so much to see and we got separated from each other and I left my phone in the car. How did that happen? It's always attached to me.
The view looking southeast.....I think.
The grounds were very nice too.
There was lots of marble, murals, and even hand painted ceilings. Just beautiful!
Our next stop was downtown Salt Lake City. I was definitely surprised by how large this city is. It is long and fairly narrow with the mountains bordering the east side and the Great Salt Lake bordering the west side.
After walking around the town for a bit, we decided to check out the Mormon Tabernacle. Non members are not allowed inside the church, but a member can escort you around the grounds. Al and Abby decided to get some information about joining. I was getting a little nervous. Utah is cold you know!
This was one of the buildings we were not allowed to enter or even to look in, but the reflection pond was cool.
More lovely flowers. June is a great month to visit Utah.
The grounds surrounding the church, the tabernacle, and the convention center are huge, very well kept, and very busy with members and spectators. This just happened to be one of the quieter places.
We were allowed in this building, the elongated dome building known as the world famous Mormon Tabernacle which was constructed between 1864 and 1867. The roof was designed in a lattice-truss arch system and has lasted over a century without any structural problems. The shingles were replaced with aluminum in 1947. That's pretty impressive.
This tabernacle was built to hold 7000 people and all were to have an unobstructed view which meant no interior pillars or posts to support the massive dome roof which is supported by 44 sandstone piers. It's so amazing to think that all of this was engineered and constructed 150 years ago! Let that sink in.
Even though we missed the noon practice for the Tabernacle Choir, the large organ was playing a programmed song when we arrived. The sound quality was terrific! The original organ was crafted in 1867 and had 700 pipes. It has been rebuilt several times over the years and currently has an astounding 11,623 pipes, making it one of the largest organs in the world. One? Where is the largest and how large is it?
The pipe organ is just WOW! Our guide explained some of the technical acoustics to us, which was way above my pay grade, but what I did hear was that this building was built for perfection. If a pin was dropped or a paper was torn at the pulpit, it could be heard throughout the building.
Across the street is the large conference center. It is 1.4 million square feet! To tour/visit this building also requires a guide. Our lady was very friendly and super informative. Too bad I am writing this blog 9 months after visiting. Not sure how much I still remember after not thinking about this place for that long.
Not all that impressive from the outside, but a definite WOW factor on the inside. The organ and pipes were again spectacular! 7708 Pipes! This room holds 21,000 people and has no center supports so that everyone has a good seat with no obstruction. This auditorium can hold two Boeing 747s, side by side.
Click the above image for a look at the unobstructed view of the conference center.
OK. I had to look it up. I thought the largest pipe organ in the world would be in Europe, but it's not. It's in Atlantic City, NJ......over 33,0000 pipes. WHAT?
This image was taken at ground level looking up to the ceiling and out to the sky! NICE!
The rooftop was pretty impressive too....another reflecting pond and acres of landscaping.
More rooftop views. The skylights were covered the day we were there because they were setting up for an event and couldn't let any light in.
The etched stone Murial is supposed to represent every walk of life - every ethnicity, every race, every class.......
All in all it was a great day exploring a new city. It seemed very clean and safe. We didn't see one scary area our entire time driving around. We decided to do one more adventure on our way out. Let's try the scooters, said one......
Here we go!
Click the above image for a video clip.
The charge on my scooter only lasted for about a 5 minute ride even though the battery indicator showed 100% charged. I contacted Bird and they refunded my ride. Thanks!
Goodbye Salt Lake City.....until we see you next week for our flight home.
Just 4 hours stand between us and Arches National Park......well 4 hours after a good night's sleep.