Wow, I needed a vacation! On Tuesday, I flew from Seattle to Salt Lake City; Arlene and the boys flew from Toledo and met me at the airport. We’d reserved a room at the Embassy Suites downtown, which is about a mile from Temple Square. By the time we got to the hotel, it was about 8p, so we just had dinner at the hotel restaurant, the Plum. The food was OK; nothing particularly special, and certainly expensive for what we got.
Wednesday morning we got up and made the trek to Temple Square. We tried to take the TRAX train, but it took me so long to get tickets that I missed the train– it left after Arlene and the boys were aboard. They met me at the next stop, and we walked the rest of the way. Temple Square itself, as always, was great. When we went into the Tabernacle, they were doing an acoustics demo– the presenter drops a couple of straight pins into a wooden box, and, sure enough, you can hear it throughout the building. We had originally planned to see a Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsal, but there were none scheduled.
We met up with a friend of mine who runs the Church’s messaging operations and he gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of the area, including the tunnel system that runs underneath the square. We also got to go on the Conference Center stage, which was really neat. Although I’m comfortable with public speaking, it’s hard to imagine speaking in front of 21,000 people– some of those seats look very, very far away.
Wednesday night we had dinner at Rodizio Grill, a Brazilian churrascaria that’s one of our all-time favorite restaurants. Given that its menu centers on meat, it was a big hit with the boys. Tom and I tried a chilled strawberry soup that was quite good, and Matt (to my surprise) really liked the spicy chicken breast.
Thursday morning we got up and hit the road to see our friends Brandon and Celeste in Vernal, a small town in eastern Utah that’s chiefly famous for being near the Dinosaur National Monument. The drive to Vernal is absolutely stunning, with lots of mountains and beautiful stratified rocks; the route goes through Park City, then on to Heber City, then through the Uinta National Forest. The high point of the drive is at Daniels Summit, 8020 feet above sea level; my favorite was the mesas, some of which have absolutely flat tops. I kept looking for Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, but didn’t see them.
When we got to Vernal, the real fun started.