Saturday, May 09, 2009

Part III Salt Lake City
March 12-March 16
I had a really early flight out of Dallas to Denver Colorado. Janice an Ty both drove through the morning rush hour traffic of Dallas. I am so grateful to have gotten a closer look at Texas, especially through Ty and Janice’s lenses. It proved to be a state of stark contrasts; Comanche and some close-minded road blocks versus Austin and progressive folks that support the biggest Whole Foods store in the world. Let’s just say that even the contrasts of big city and little town Texas didn’t prepare me for Utah.

My flight out of Dallas was delayed and I was stuck in Denver for a couple hours before I could get on a different connecting flight to Salt Lake City Utah. When I finally arrived, the sun was hanging low on the horizon over the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountains were glowing rosily. Initially, I had booked my flight to Salt Lake City with the intent to go backpacking with my friend Matt, who I worked with in Alaska. Unfortunately for me and fortunately for him, he landed himself a permanent job with the BLM at the Visitor’s Center in Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah. His job started two days after I arrived in SLC and, needless to say he was ensconced in preparing for his departure, saying goodbye family and friends and foreclosing on a house that he was buying in Escalante. Instead of canceling my flight, I just decided that I would spend some time with his family and explore the suburbs of Salt Lake City.
I felt bad about descending upon him during such a stressful and monumentous time, but not too bad. It had, after all, been his idea to do some backpacking in the first place. I had my ticket long before he got this new job and it was going to cost more to cancel it then it had initially to buy it.
We made the best of it though. Matt took some time to hike to the highest peak on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake with me. He also gave me full use of his beloved Toyota Tacoma, Zoe, for a day when he had a bunch of other stuff to do. His brother and sister-in-law also took care of me. In fact, Heather invited me to a monthly Gutsy Gals Adventure group meeting. This month’s topic was cake decorating. I had looked at their website and the pictures from some previous meetings. They had gone snow shoeing, without snowshoes mind you one month, and had talked about how to recycle another month. I was a little ambivalent about the whole ordeal, especially since I knew little to nothing about cake decorating and felt a little out of place in the midst of all these Mormons. However, all my fears were for naught. I was warmly invited into the neatly manicured house in the SLC suburbs despite my dirty Carharts and heathenism.

There were about seven young women, most of whom were married and had kids in tow. The host was quite the cake decorator and she had some juicy little hints and tricks to help us make the most amazingly decorated cake we could muster. For example, you will have a much easier time frosting your cake if you first coat it with a solution of warm water and powdered sugar. You can also make you frosting professionally smooth by lightly placing a napkin or a piece of paper on the frosting and smoothing your finger over the paper. The technique really makes the frosting perfectly smooth and seamless! The host had an array of colored frostings as well as pastry tubes and decorating tips. She also had a nifty little book with laminated pages that you could practice making sweet peas or roses or star patterns with. I actually had a really good time and felt just like I was one of the “gals” stepping out of our comfort zone for a gutsy cake decorating adventure.

I drove Matt’s truck to Ogden to go for a run along the river trail. Then I attempted to find and explore the downtown area. It was a dismal affair with most of the shops closed for the evening or closed for good. The brewery was open but I had been there when mom and I passed through earlier in February. I felt little need to stop in again.

Matt left early Sunday morning. I out of church with Heather and Chad and went for a run instead. When they got back from church, they drove me to the bus stop and I made my way to Salt Lake City. I had several hours to kill before my Greyhound Bus left for Reno at 10:30 pm. I decided to go to a double feature of Bruce Lee movies at a movie theater/pub about a mile away. The establishment was pretty hip. You could order local micro brews and food and then eat and drink them in the theater. There were long shelves attached to the back of the rows of seats to eat off of. The movie started late and I had to leave to walk back to the station before the first movie was over. I was wishing with all my heart that I had a car and I was dreading the night bus and tired of carrying my bag and I especially wanted to finish the Bruce Lee movie. It was captivating.

As I have said before, Nevada is best at night. So I was at least going to do that right and I had a humorous yet no nonsense flight attendant, I mean, bus driver. He actually got on the loud speaker and started into the flight attendant routine, “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. For your safety, we ask that all seat backs and tray tables be in the upward and locked position. Please stow all of your personal items in the safety bins above your head or under the seat in front of you and please keep your seatbelts locked until the captain has turned off the indicator light…oh sorry wrong announcement.” I slept fitfully on the bus and was blurrily awake for some of the stops. I arrive in Reno around 5am.

I had figured out the locations of several libraries, coffee shops and book shops in the vicinity of the Greyhound Bus Station. I had seven hours to fill before my bus to Mammoth Lakes, California in the Eastern Sierra. Unfortunately, I lost the paper with my directions somewhere in transfer and all the phone books in the station had the pertinent pages torn out. Once it became light out, I found my way to a riverside trail and then to a particularly quaint coffee shop. I spent all morning and afternoon there. I read, but mostly, I eavesdropped. There was some really interesting dialogue between some regular patrons. I couldn’t help but write some of them down in the book I was reading.
View from the highest peak on Antelope Island

Buffalo on Antelope Island

My victorious arrival atop the peak

Gutsy Gals cake decorating


Frank Wetzel said...

cool blog! Your travels sound pretty interesting, I just got done exploring Austin, rather like Missoula in my opinion.

Hethrjem said...

Hey Rachel, I'm finally reading your post! Do I have my frosting-smoothing napkin in my mouth or something in your photo?

Since your visit, I've made one more cake and decorating it was like applying Play Dough snakes to the cake surface. So the moral of the story is....aim low. Do not aspire to the greatness that is Visual Improvement of Cake.

Take care!