A New Chapter...for awhile travel blog

The Utah State Capitol building in Salt Lake City

Inside the main corridor

A view of The Great Salt Lake from the Antelope Island State...

Looking out at The Great Salt Lake

The Salt Lake Temple from the observation level of the Joseph Smith...

The tabernacle, home to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

The pipe organ with it's over 11,000 pipes. Can you count them?

With the choir and orchestra during rehearsal

Michele took this neat shot of the temple at night

Some snow at the Alta ski resort


After we got set up at the mediocre Salt Lake City KOA we headed downtown for a late lunch then to the grocery store. Always better to do it in that order as my impulse buying kicks into high gear if I’m hungry.

Monday morning was set aside to make about a bazillion phone calls. I scheduled the house for service at the local Freightliner shop, booked the Jeep for some work on Thursday, spoke to our RV sales dude and then a cabinet guy in Red Bay about some future work. And Michele did her share of calls too, then about noon we moved to another campground – a nicer, quieter one – about 15 minutes away.

After getting that done we were off to visit the Utah State Capitol about 15 minutes away. The tour was pretty standard; built in the early 1900’s, restored a few years ago, has a lot of paintings depicting the state’s history, built from marble from all over the world and so on. But it is a pretty nice building and the complex sits on a hill overlooking the city so the view was pretty cool. After some pork roast and mashed taters and a stroll around the park a couple times, we called it a night. Our appointment at Freightliner is at 8:00 so it looks like wakey-wakey will be at 6:30.

And it was. A very windy and damp wakey-wakey I might add. The drive to Freightliner was only supposed to be about 15 minutes but thanks to the rain and the Salt Lake City traffic it took almost exactly twice that. We wheeled into the Warner Truck Center right at 8:00, checked in, grabbed some breakfast at their surprisingly good cafeteria and then Michele took off to run about 34 errands while I sat around patiently waiting for the house to get it’s oil and filters changed, the radiator steam cleaned and the pesky “CHECK ENGINE” light investigated – which of course did not illuminate this morning because it knew it was going to the shop. Finally, just about 4:00 they said they were done except that they needed to do more research on the light issue, but couldn’t do that until tomorrow morning. I told them to skip it and give me my house back.

Since VISA still had money I was able to pay them and get on the road back to the campground by 4:30, get set up then about 5:15 we were on our way north about 10 minutes for some Chinese food...breakfast was at 8:30 and a growing boy like me needed to eat...and quickly. That was enough fun for one day and I think bedtime will be a bit earlier than usual.

Wednesday was forecast to be our last day of good weather – more on that later – so we headed north on I-15 then west to Antelope Island State Park in The Great Salt Lake https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/antelope-island/. If you look at the map it doesn’t really look like an island, but when you are headed across the causeway you realize that it kind of is, depending on the level of the lake. Today, it’s an island...mostly.

We got to the Visitor's Center and snooped around a bit, passing some bison – they were brought to the island in the late 1800’s – on the way in and spotting a family of mule deer just down from the VC then drove up to Buffalo Point to see the view...and some more bison. We opted not to drive the whole island and headed back east across the causeway and pointed the jeepster back south toward downtown SLC.

We headed downtown and found a place to park adjacent to Temple Square, the complex that is home to the Mormon church https://www.templesquare.com/. We walked into the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, which in 1911 opened as the Hotel Utah https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Smith_Memorial_Building. It now houses some church offices, conference rooms, restaurants and a chapel. We got some directions from the information lady then headed into the square to do a walking tour.

The tour took us into the Assembly Hall, which was built in 1882 and now serves as a concert and recital hall, then into the tabernacle – which celebrates it’s 150th anniversary this year – and is the home of the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We got to hear the organist practice for a bit and gawk at the pipe organ with it’s staggering 11,623 pipes, most of which are not visible from the seating.

They don’t do tours of the Salt Lake Temple itself; it is considered a sacred site and only used for baptisms and weddings. It is not used for regular church services as it doesn’t have a chapel area...they said it is actually a series of smaller rooms though from the outside it really looks like a church. When we got done touring we went in one of the 2 Visitor's Centers to take a peek, then back to the Smith Building for a late lunch and then back north toward home.

Now about the weather forecasting. I had a 9:00 appointment Thursday morning, 37 miles south of the campground at a highly rated Jeep dealer to hopefully resolve the rattle that 2 shops have been unable to find. According to the local talking weather heads, the – and I quote - “Morning commute is going to be miserable” so I allowed what I figured would be sufficient time to get there in the rain and traffic. I got there in 40 minutes with nary a slowdown, not a drop of rain and sunglasses on to shield my tender eyes from the blazing orange orb. Their “miserable” was only off by about 12 hours as about 6:30 – in time to catch the tail end of the afternoon commute – it started raining...and did so for about 5 hours. The good news though? The dealer fixed the rattle and a couple other problems, I had In-N-Out Burger for lunch, got a haircut and was home by 12:30. And the mostly dependable jeepster with almost 98,000 miles on it is now back in ultra-quiet stealth mode...well, mostly.

While I was out and about, the lovely wife was working on some insurance things for her parents, booking us at a campground in Nevada for the weekend and doing some laundry. Since she was working so hard, I took a little nap, then made some appetizers, took a shower, then made dinner before our rainy jaunt back downtown.

On Thursday nights at 7:30, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearses and it is open to the public. So, we figured we would shoot back downtown, park, walk in, grab a seat, listen for a bit then head home. And, I had surmised that with the inclement weather, there would be almost no crowd. I was way wrong. When we got there the line – in the cold rain – was a couple hundred people long and not moving as they had not opened the doors yet. It took us about 30 minutes from the time we got on line till we got inside and even with the hundreds of people in line, the tabernacle was only about half full...but dry and warm.

We watched and listened for a little over an hour as the full choir and orchestra practiced a handful of songs, starting and stopping when they weren’t up to the directors standards, and finally got to hear 2 or 3 songs all the way through. The building is supposed to be known for it’s acoustics, but we were both surprised at how difficult it was to understand any of the words of the songs. Maybe it’s better when the hall is full, but tonight we were both a little dumbfounded. But hey, we can say we have heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in person. And here's a short video of part of the rehearsal https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzNgnx7qTzITNVNQSzg0b3E5Rlk. Oh, and a little trivia...Since July of 1929, the choir has performed a weekly radio broadcast called “Music and the Spoken Word” and is the longest-running continuous network radio broadcast in the world. If you’re ever on Jeopardy and they ask, you’ll know.

Our last full day in SLC started a bit late. The not-to-be-believed weather folks were saying that by noon it would be partly cloudy and improving as the day progressed so we wheeled out of the campground about 11:30 and headed up to the Alta and Snowbird ski areas about 30 minutes southeast of SLC in the hopes of catching the improving skies. Not.

There were fleeting glances of blue skies but in reality it was mostly gray. They had gotten about 4-5” of snow overnight but a lot of it had melted by the time we got up there, so it was mildly picturesque but nothing spectacular. We did go into the Cliff Lodge in the hopes of getting some lunch but obviously until the ski season starts, things are in summer mode. We wandered the lodge and couldn’t find an open place for grub so we saddled up and headed back down the mountain to Cottonwood Heights where we found a decent Italian place for some early afternoon pizza. We headed north from there to grab a Jeep part, hit up Costco and then the grocery store for some things before we head into the wilds of eastern Nevada tomorrow.

We are headed to Baker, NV as a base to explore the small and almost unknown Great Basin National Park. We haven’t talked to anyone who has ever been there so we aren’t sure what to expect though I suspect it will be a really good basin. From there we will slowly be working our way eastish. We have to be in Albuquerque on October 11th to attend the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta for a few days but where we will end up between Great Basin and Albuquerque is anyone’s guess. Ours included.



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