We’ve been in the red state of Utah for almost two weeks and we’ve learned a few things. First, the natural beauty and abundance of National Parks make this state a great place to spend lots of time. Second, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) is the underlying drone to nearly all of the harmonies that play out across this land. And third, the Church was very much involved in the economic history and settlement of the state and subsequently continues to have difficulties with the Federal government over many things. Historically, the church lost out on the subject of marriage equality ( ie. polygamy) but currently fights over Federal lands are alive and well. It seems pretty clear why the overpowering lyrics here contain the lines, “Don’t tread on me”. That being said, we have had nothing but gracious interactions with practically everyone we met.
|Rehearsal of Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra|
To get better acquainted we conducted a serious immersion program in Salt Lake City by accepting the LDS-sponsored shuttle from the KOA campground, which included a drive-by tour of Temple Square, suggestions for our visit, and a ride home at day’s end. We followed some of their advice and toured the visitor’s center, where we were squired around by a couple of sweet Mormon Sisters, who, like young male missionaries who come to your door, were giving a year of service to share their faith with folks like us who are polite enough to listen. We also looked up our long -dead ancestors at the Family History Library, and very much enjoyed a rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Straying from the program, we also enjoyed a visit to the public library and a stroll through downtown. It appeared to us there were unusually high numbers of folks asking for handouts and sleeping on the streets in the area surrounding the opulent walled-in Temple Square which occupies several blocks in the center of town. This was similar to our experience at the edge of town where we had considered boondocking at the Wal-Mart. We had been quite excited about the covered 13- foot-high garage and the warm welcome from the management, but soon found there were a number of very decrepit vehicles and unhappy people hanging around the premises. Our discomfort resulted in a move to the KOA.
|Fall Roundup on Utah State Route 89|
|Antelope Canyon (near Page, AZ) was breathtaking|
|All American Road Utah SR 12 starts in Red Canyon|
Another interesting stop along the way was Angel Canyon, home of Best Friends Animal Society. Janna had time to practice her new musical instrument, while Liz toured the 4000-acre center, home to over 1500 animals, including many dogs, cats, horses, parrots, rabbits and wild animals as well. We enjoyed the $5 vegetarian buffet at their Angel Café, a nice surprise and well-kept secret.
|Colorado River near Moab, at sunset|