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Published: January 22nd 2018
I determined the drive from Camp N Town in Carson City NV to Park City RV Resort in Park City UT was almost 600 miles and would take over 8 hours, so I decided to break up the trip with a stop in Winnemucca NV. In addition to splitting the trip, the stop gave me an opportunity to visit the Buckaroo Hall of Fame & Heritage Museum
AND would allow me to traverse Salt Lake City UT between rush hours instead of during or after the evening rush. A check on Google Earth showed there was plenty of parking near the downtown Winnemucca facility so I headed there with the Bighorn in tow; however, the doors were secured with posted instructions for the attendees of some development seminar hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. Apparently, the Chamber strolls hand in hand with the museum, so I abandoned the museum visit for this Winnemucca layover but, in spite of a cool, stiff breeze, decided to wander around the downtown area anyway.
One of several street-side placards echoed thoughts I periodically have as I execute The Great Adventure
. It relates the physical parallels of I-80 and the California Trail and contrasts the journey of the travelers of today with
the pioneers of times past. The trials and tribulations of those hearty souls has always amazed me whether crossing a ravine via a modern bridge in Nebraska forty years ago or ascending a hill on horseback in New Mexico ten years ago. Those folks literally had to work for everything they got. Hats off! The drive to Winnemucca had been uneventful, and New Frontier RV Park is a great spot for a one-night stop. The level, pull-through spaces are long enough to accommodate virtually any RV combo. Facing minimal teardown in the morning, I was able to get an early start, to get through Salt Lake City as planned – between the rush hours – and to arrive in Park City without incident. Park City RV Resort is close enough to I-80 to provide easy access yet far enough removed as to minimize annoying traffic noise.
I had a full plate slated for Thursday, October 5, 2017, the only “Salt Lake City” day I had on the agenda – after all, my major quest was viewing the fall foliage! I had found a public parking lot a couple of blocks west of Temple Square. Not having checked Google Earth
beforehand, I learned through the school-of-hard-knocks that the walk of about one mile (to the Utah State Capitol) has an elevation increase of almost 250 feet. That would have made no difference as there really were no other logical parking options but does serve as an FYI for my readers. My first stop, however, was at Pioneer Memorial Museum
. The museum, also known as the DUP (Daughters of Utah Pioneers) Museum, “is noted as the world's largest collection of artifacts on one particular subject, and features displays and collections of memorabilia from the time the earliest settlers entered the Valley of the Great Salt Lake until the joining of the railroads at a location known as Promontory Point, Utah, on May 10, 1869.” Unfortunately, photography is not allowed, but, fortunately, the web site has numerous photographs and stories about the early days of the Mormon pioneers. I found the story of Brigham Young's Wagon
particularly interesting. The museum is, indeed, a vast collection of similar objects and is highly recommended for those who might be aficionados of mid-late 19th
Century memorabilia but is probably overkill for the casual observer. Still, a worthy stop. Mormons
are a religious and cultural group related
This Very Nicely Done Memorial Is Unique in Several Respects
Utah State Vietnam Memorial – Utah State Capitol Grounds – Salt Lake City UT
to Mormonism. Mormonism is the principal branch of the Latter-Day Saint movement of Restorationist Christianity initiated by Joseph Smith in upstate New York during the 1820s. After Smith's death in 1844, the Mormons followed Brigham Young to what would become the Utah Territory. On July 24, 1847, the first company of Mormon pioneers arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake. Those first 148 settlers were later to be followed by some 86,000 people. They came primarily from Nauvoo IL but also from all parts of the eastern United States and from Europe. This was the largest migration of a people in the history of the West. Though the majority of Mormons live outside the United States, Utah is the center of Mormon cultural influence, and more Mormons live in North America than on any other continent. Personally, I find the history, culture and practices of the founding Mormons as well as the differences in the various sects of today quite interesting.
On the way to the capitol building, I made a stop at the Utah State Vietnam Memorial
. The sculpture portrays a young combatant wading through a rice paddy. In front of the statue, a plaque relates the thoughts of
The Long Walk Back to Camp
Utah State Vietnam Memorial – Utah State Capitol Grounds – Salt Lake City UT
the sculptor, Clyde Ross Morgan,“… but not forgotten:”
A soldier of 19 going on 39 returns from a night patrol and fire fight. His nerves, like his ammunition, are spent. He carries the burden of an extra rifle that belongs to a fallen buddy; a burden that is insignificant to the extra baggage of unexpressed feelings that he will most likely carry for life. Feelings that are mirrored in his face and his eyes through what has been termed the "thousand yard stare."
He is alone now even though others are near. Emotionally, he will try to stay alone to avoid the searing pain of losing another friend to a cause that is not very well understood. He is alone with his feelings when he returns home – for no one dares to ask questions, lest they be shaken from their own beliefs or forced to take a side in a controversial, no win war.
He is strong and determined. He did his best, while restrained in his efforts by a confused government, as he waded through the mire. He has quietly gone about his civilian life making contributions to society. He has done his duty at
the request of a few, without the support of a majority. He is an American!
His painful memories are dimmed by time...but not forgotten. His service to his country has been ignored...but not forgotten. Gone are his fellow veterans who are missing or dead...but not forgotten.
Many of my sentiments have never been better-expressed that those scribed by this 1966 Vietnam vet. Thanks Clyde.
The memorial continues in its uniqueness. The Utah veterans killed in action are inscribed chronologically and include the age of the deceased vet. From 1963-1965, only two of the 15 KIAs are less than 20 years old, the oldest being 44. In 1966, the year of Morgan’s service (and the year before I arrived), only eight of the 35 KIAs were over 25. From advisor to combatant – a young man’s war. A third element of distinctiveness is that the memorial honors the 388 men and women from Utah who died or went missing in action in Vietnam as well as in Cambodia and Laos. A final component to the memorial is a map panel (with a key) depicting the location of some 112 passes, battle sites, fire bases, landing zones, base camps
and cities and villages. Every time I see a map of South Vietnam, I am struck by how little of the country I actually saw. This memorial is a “should see” while in Salt Lake City and a “must see” while visiting the capitol.
Just up the hill and a couple of dozen steps, I made my way to the Utah State Capitol
. In 1888, Salt Lake City donated 20 acres of land to the Utah Territory for the construction of a capitol building. Even though Utah became the 45th
state on January 4, 1896, early leaders of the territorial and state governments chose to continue to operate from borrowed rooms and buildings. Finally, in 1909, the state legislature approved the creation of a seven-man Capitol Commission to oversee the design and construction of a state capitol. The budget was set at $2.5 million, but funding remained a problem until 1911. That year the state received nearly $800,000 in inheritance taxes from the estate of Union Pacific Railroad President E. H. Harriman. The legislature responded with a $1 million bond, and the capitol project was underway.
The Capitol Commission authorized a design competition, and eight architects from across Utah and
the U.S. submitted their plans. Utah architect Richard K. A. Kletting won the competition, and construction commenced in 1912 with the building being completed in 1916. A massive renovation project, completed between 2004 and 2008, not only restored the Capitol’s original beauty but also fulfilled many of Kletting’s early visions for Capitol Hill. The building has beautiful artwork and marble throughout but has one feature I don’t remember seeing heretofore – placards explaining the retrofitting of seismic “base isolators” installed during the renovation processes to isolate the building from the shaking ground during an earthquake. State capitols are high on my list, and this particular capitol is well worth the time and effort.
Across the street from the capitol is the Salt Lake City Historic City Hall Building
which now houses the Utah Office of Tourism. The building is interesting, the buffalo statues outside are unique and the stop is worthy while “just across the street.” A short walk DOWN THE HILL brought me to the Beehive House, one of the official residences of Brigham Young. The Beehive House
gets its name from the beehive sculpture atop the house. The Beehive House was constructed in 1854, two years before its neighbor to the west, the Lion House
– also a residence of Brigham Young. Young (just in case one of my readers doesn’t know) was a polygamist, and the Beehive House was designed to accommodate his large family. Upon its completion, Young briefly shared the Beehive House with his senior (and only legally recognized) wife, Mary Ann Angell. Young's first polygamous wife, Lucy Ann Decker Young (possibly due to her seniority) became hostess of the Beehive House and lived there with her nine children.
The Beehive House and the Lion House are connected by a suite of rooms and served, alternately, as Young’s residence and as the executive mansion of Utah Territory. After Young's death in 1877, there was much dispute and some litigation by Young's heirs as to what was Young's property and what was the church's property. The Beehive House was among the properties in contention but title was ultimately awarded to Young's heirs. In 1920, the Young Women Mutual Improvement Association of the LDS Church opened the Beehive House as a boarding home for single women working in Salt Lake City, many of whom were working as secretaries at the adjacent buildings of the LDS Church's headquarters complex. It continued to operate as
a boarding house until the 1950s. The building was restored in 1959-1960 and is now an historic house museum with period furnishings (many original to the house) to depict the Young family's life in the mid-19th
Century. The Beehive House is a cafeteria-style restaurant where I had a decent supper for a reasonable price.
After supper, I made my way to Temple Square and made walk-throughs of the South Visitors Center, the Church History Museum and the Family History Library to acquaint myself with the facilities (particularly the Family History Library) for future reference since I plan to return for some serious genealogy research someday. My final stop was at the Salt Lake Tabernacle to watch a rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. On July 24, 1847, when the first group of Mormon pioneers entered the Great Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young proclaimed, "It is enough. This is the right place." A month later, the Tabernacle Choir had its beginnings.
The Choir has since grown to be “one of the world's most respected musical organizations” and has garnered numerous awards including a Grammy for its rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has
appeared at five presidential inaugurations and in several films as well as performed with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and the Utah Symphony. The Choir made its first phonograph record in 1910 and transmitted its first network radio program in 1929. Comprised of 325 men and women, members of the Choir are selected on the basis of character and musical competence. There are husband-wife combinations; many families boast two or more generations of Choir membership; and a large cross section of occupations is represented, including contractors, secretaries, physicians, homemakers, school teachers, nurses, salesmen and accountants. Some of them commute as far as 164 miles round-trip two or more times weekly, without compensation!
Choir rehearsals are open to the public on Thursday evenings – thus, my planning of the Salt Lake City trip for a Thursday. By the time I got my opportunity to pass through the auditorium doors, practice was underway. I found the mechanics of the practice intriguing. The Choir director would stop a song in mid-verse, demonstrate his preferences, relate a song continuation point and, then, the song would resume
– all within 20-30 seconds, and all, seemingly, without missing a beat. When all the fragments were perfected, the orchestra and the Choir perform the completed song. Then, the focus shifted to song number two. Second verse, same as the first. Sorry!!! I decided to exit the practice session after perfection of the second song was completed and don’t know if additional songs were performed or not. My curiosity had been satisfied. It truly was amazing to watch the evolution of the performances, and I must put the event on my recommended list.
Those who follow my blog know I am a sucker for a scenic or historic byway. Some routes I harvest from my trusty Rand-McNally Road Atlas; while others are found on a state tourism web site or an official state highway map; while yet others have their origins on a National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management web site; and still others are created by special interest groups, most notably motorcycle enthusiasts. If the road is winding and twisting so as to challenge a motorcyclist, it’s probably ascending/descending a mountain or following a canyon and, therefore, scenic. I understand that “scenic” is
a very subjective term, and that what has extremely scenic qualities in the southern Utah desert might have little or no fall color display or that which has numerous challenges for the motorcyclist might be lined by dense conifer forest and have little or no scenic or fall color appeal. One source I used for Utah was Utah Scenic Byways
(as determined by the Utah Office of Tourism). It outlines and names 27 scenic byways and publishes a booklet with route maps and descriptors. I will use that source as my “Scenic Drives Bible” but will include other names for the same or nearly the same itinerary.
I had heard that the Mirror Lake Highway Scenic Byway in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest should be a sure bet for fall colors this time of the year, so I selected a Saturday for a Sunday drive. Irene, my GPS, is an enigma. Regardless of whether I have the settings for the shortest route or the fastest route, she will funnel me onto an Interstate Highway if at all within the province of reasonable UNLESS I have highways selected as an avoidance. She also will have me backtrack to reach an Interstate if at
all within reason. My “workaround,” when travelling remote or secondary roadways, is to use geocoordinates, but I never know how many waypoints I need to enter to overcome her obsession with commanding, “Turn around where possible.”
Saturday, October 7, 2017 began with me entering two geocoordinates along my desired route and heading east on I-80 until I reached Coalville UT where I turned onto East Caulk Creek Road. Fifteen miles or so from Coalville, I reached my first waypoint and was instructed to, “Turn around where possible.” Boys and girls, I’m not going to listen to that every 60 seconds or so until she finally decides the Interstate is no longer a prudent option. I had no idea of how she was planning to get me to the second waypoint, so I stopped the guidance. Where, I ask, was I going to make a wrong turn? That question was answered when I reached a bifurcation for WY 153 and WY 155 (there is no signage – Googles Maps told me those route designations as I was composing this blog). Fortunately, a sign did indicate the road to Evanston WY, but I entered the final pair of geocoordinates just to
The Buildings Are Intriguing …
Uinta County Museum – Evanston WY
make sure Wyoming DOT and Irene weren’t taking me on a “short cut” to the Interstate! Somewhere along the way, I had crossed into Wyoming, but there was no welcome sign with the governor’s name (don’t forget to vote for me) plastered all over it. My guess is that the state line is where East Caulk Creek Road becomes Yellow Creek Road. That’s totally unimportant unless one of my readers is beginning the trip in Evanston.
The scenery on this “open range” portion of my Sunday drive was nondescript, and trees are in short supply; but I had the chance to meet several cows and a few bulls. It just so happened that a cow pie (or perhaps a bull pie, for I cannot tell the difference) was deposited in the middle of the road. Not knowing the history of my previously owned Ram, I decided it was better to KNOW that my truck has been thoroughly initiated into the ways of the rural west. Splat! I felt like a kid playing in a mud puddle! Minute traces remained in the wheel wells after I had returned to the RV park.
In due course, the road improved and
became paved shortly before I reached Evanston. Before I departed Park City, I had decided that since I was making the drive to Evanston anyway and since the total trip would be short per Google Maps (165 miles and 3 hours, 40 minutes), I thought I might as well see what jewels Evanston had in her catalogue. I found two interesting attractions – the Chinese Joss House Museum
and the Uinta County Museum
. Supposedly, the Chinese Joss House Museum tells the story of the Chinese immigrants who lived and worked in Uinta County WY from the 1870s through the 1930s. Supposedly, the collection features a scale model of Evanston's Chinatown, archaeological discoveries from that location, historic photographs and artifacts from the late 19th
and early 20th
Century. Supposedly, the Uinta County Museum contains artifacts that preserve and interpret the history of Uinta County and the surrounding region. I say supposedly because both buildings were secured when I arrived. This surprise happened in spite of the fact that I checked the web site of both facilities only minutes before I left Park City to see if the “off-season hours” fly had landed in the ointment. So much for meticulous planning.
At some point south of
Evanston on WY 150, I joined the Mirror Lake Highway Scenic Byway
(UT 150), the highest paved road in Utah. What's this – one road, two different states, same route number – go figure. After a stop at the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest Ranger Station to assure my America the Beautiful Pass covered my user fee and to get some road recommendations from the ranger, I continued south on UT 150 to the turnoff for Christmas Meadows. This short diversion contained some very nice scenery; however, there were no critters, one of the major reasons for my departure from the paved highway. I made a stop at Pass Lake. A couple about my age were fishing lakeside. The woman was confined to a wheelchair. Fishing success and the weather are always good icebreakers in these situations. We soon began talking about their gratitude that this ADA-accessible location was available for their use. They consented for a photograph and its inclusion in my blog. Their delight with having an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors made my day!
I continued to Mirror Lake where a well-maintained, well-used trail circles the small lake. What a great day for a lakeside walk. I made a stop at
Brilliant Fall Foliage Dotted the Landscape
Along Mirror Lake Scenic Byway - Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest UT
an observation point at 10,715-foot Bald Mountain Pass – the highest point on the Mirror Lake Highway. After a short stop at Provo River Falls, I headed back to Park City and the RV park. It turned out that not spending time at the two Evanston attractions was beneficial, because the sun was very low in the horizon by the time I returned to the RV park. The Ram computer noted that the total drive was 177 miles and 5 ¼ hours. That’s a pretty average scenic drive for Uncle Larry.
My next Sunday drive was on a Sunday – October 8, 2017. My GPS waypoints were pretty straightforward – Hogle Zoo, Little Dell Reservoir, Morgan UT, Ogden UT, Huntsville UT, Woodruff UT, Garden City UT, Brigham City UT and home. I began by heading west into Salt Lake City and the Hogle Zoo so I could take Emigration Canyon Road eastbound through Emigration Canyon
. This scenic drive roughly coincides with 27 Fall Colors Tours - #03
but travels in the opposite direction from that posted on the web site. East Sunnyside Avenue South (the zoo’s street address) becomes Emigration Canyon Road. This is the terminal segment of the path Brigham Young and his followers
Not Looking for Spectacular, Merely Pretty
Scenic Drive – Emigration Canyon to Little Dell Reservoir UT
took as they blazed the Mormon Trail in 1847. Although my eastbound passage didn’t replicate that of Brigham Young’s westbound route, I doubt much of what exists today would be recognizable to him or his followers travelling in either direction! Other names I have found for this byway include Pioneer Memorial Scenic Backway
, Mormon Pioneer Trail
and Big Mountain Highway, presumably so called for the roadway’s route through Big Mountain Pass (elev. 7420 feet).
At the east end of Emigration Canyon, I made a photo stop at Little Dell Reservoir
. Construction of a water storage facility on Dell Creek in Parleys Canyon was first considered in the late 1940s, and interest in the project was rekindled in 1983 when a neighborhood in Salt Lake City was flooded for the second time in 31 years. The 249-acre reservoir was constructed between 1987 and 1993 for drinking water storage and flood control and cost $63,864,932. I turned north on UT 65 and followed it until I had passed East Canyon State Park
and East Canyon Reservoir. There I turned west on UT 66 towards Morgan. Since I was beginning to feel an urge to satisfy my appetite, I stopped in Morgan at a Subway and got a sandwich for future consideration.
Gray Rock, Fall Color, Happy Camper
Scenic Drive – Little Dell Reservoir to Ogden UT
After the Subway stop, I hopped on I-84 for the drive to Ogden and there opted to take the surface streets, US 89 and UT 203, through Ogden.
When I reached UT 39, I turned east and proceeded through Ogden Canyon and along the Ogden River Scenic Byway
and the Monte Cristo Scenic Drive
toward Huntsville and Woodruff. In Woodruff, I turned north on UT 16 toward Garden City and the Bear Lake Scenic Byway
. After cruising along the lake shore and taking a few photographs, I headed west on US 89 toward Logan – the Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway
, which parallels the Logan River through Logan Canyon. From Logan, I proceeded to Brigham City and I-15 where I turned south for my return to Park City. The drive was quite long, even by Uncle Larry’s “scenic drive” standards – 343 miles and just over 7 ½ engine hours, almost 10 clock hours – but, in spite of the cold, windy, dismal day, I got to see some interesting scenery and some gorgeous fall foliage.
In the course of playing around with Google Maps, I discovered a pair of very interesting-looking, serpentine roads that I had not found included in the resources I initially used and, therefore, had not included
Though Not Thick, The Fall Colors Were Quite Enjoyable
Scenic Drive – Guardsman Pass Scenic Backway to Heber City UT
in my Utah attraction database. Again, I used the GPS coordinates I harvested from Google Earth to augment guidance using city or town names, and developed an itinerary – from the RV park to Guardsman Pass Scenic Backway (UT 224) to its intersection with Pine Canyon Drive in Heber Valley to Heber City to the geocoordinates for Stewarts Cascade (waterfall) on UT 92 to I-15 to Alta Ski Area (where the road dead ends and I knowingly had to backtrack) to Guardsman Pass Overlook and then home.
I found out that I had accepted sorely erroneous information about the Guardsman Pass Scenic Backway
at Utah.com under Park City Scenic Drives. “Road signs are posted at all key junctions…” is just plain untrue, and the author makes somewhat of an overstatement by saying, “…there are scenic turnouts around almost every bend;” however, there are very skimpy turnouts without guardrails or other barrier, many of which are located very close to blind curves. The road is paved in most places but is in various stages of decomposition, VERY narrow in places and unmarked throughout. In fact, the road was narrow enough for me to keep my rear views in the retracted position for most
Scenic Drive – Guardsman Pass Scenic Backway to Heber City UT
of the first leg of the journey; HOWEVER, the colors were, as advertised, drop dead gorgeous!
I made a stop in Heber City to refresh the diesel fuel additive and to fill a propane bottle I had brought along before setting my sights on Stewarts Cascade
, a set of five falls along a branch of the North Fork of the Provo River with a total drop of about 300 feet. Irene took me southwest on US 189, the northeastern portion of Provo Canyon Scenic Byway
, past Deer Creek Reservoir and then north on UT 92 through Sundance UT. Some of you might have heard of Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival – yup, that’s the one. In the early 20th
Century, the Stewarts, a family of Scottish immigrants, homesteaded the area. Ya think that might have some kind of a linkage to Stewarts Cascade? In 1969, Robert Redford bought the land now known as Sundance where he “envisioned a community of controlled growth committed to the balance of art, nature and community.” He wanted to “develop a little and to preserve a great deal” and rejected advice from New York investors to “fill the canyon with an explosion of lucrative hotels and condominiums.” Although
the inspiration comes from Sundance, the festival itself happens in Park City. Wouldda, shouldda, couldda bought some acreage there in 1968! Irene faithfully took me to a turnoff for the geocoordinates where I encountered a sign informing me, “Private Property. No Access to Stewarts Falls!” Since I had developed no Plan B to get to the falls, I turned around and continued west on UT 92.
Totally out of character, I intentionally passed Timpanogos Cave National Monument
. My information revealed a) that reaching the cave requires a “short but strenuous hike of 1.5 miles,” b) that the round trip through the cave and back to the trailhead is about 3.5 miles and takes about 3 hours, and c) that the facility is closed October through May. Time constraints make a good excuse for the real reasons, strenuous and 3.5 miles. I didn’t bother to investigate “when in October” since the decision already had been made. Again, faithfully, Irene guided me onto I-15 northbound and then took me to the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon and the Little Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byway
, UT 210. I’m not sure how any reasonable person could ascribe the term scenic to this short, 7-mile stretch of highway that hosts two ski
resorts, Snowbird and Alta, along with all the necessary condo rentals, hotels, restaurants, ski equipment shops, etc. At the mouth of the canyon, however, is the location where Mormon settlers found and quarried the granite used to build Salt Lake Temple. Even though the remaining handful of trees were ablaze, let’s rename this one Little Cottonwood Canyon Probably Once Was a Scenic
I was surprised at what a short drive it was from the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon to the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon and the Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byway
, but Irene got me there easily. Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byway or Big Cottonwood Canyon Road or UT 190 all begin at the mouth of the canyon, but somewhere Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byway ends and Guardsman Pass Scenic Backway begins, and Big Cottonwood Canyon Road becomes South Guardsman Pass Road, and UT 190 ends and UT 224 begins. Maybe the answer can be found in “The Cloud!” Who runs “The Cloud” anyway? Regardless, this big brother of its neighbor to the south IS SCENIC! Shortly after entering the canyon, signs of human habitation diminished and then became almost non-existent. The fall colors were less impressive than those in
its little brother, but the “every season of the year” geologic features are much more congruent with the word scenic.
I was pretty confident that by the time I reached the Guardsman Pass Overlook I had left the Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byway behind and was travelling on the Guardsman Pass Scenic Backway. There is a small parking area at the overlook, but it was so overcrowded that numerous cars were parallel parked on the roadway – totally ignoring the posted signage. The view might be nice, but it can’t be worth a $50 ticket or a wrecked truck. Skipping the Guardsman Pass Overlook stop, I encountered a mile or so stretch of seriously deteriorated roadway that was absolutely the worst segment of the day’s journey. Fortunately, it was brief. Regardless of the name of the road, Irene’s “Go Home” feature worked flawlessly.
My final Park City tourist stop was at the Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center, a portion of which hosted a portion of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The track at the center hosted bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton while ski jumping and the ski jumping portion of the Nordic combined took place on the, ta-dah, ski
jump. Although the center proper was home to only a very small portion of the 2002 events, all the events occurred in or near Salt Lake City. Today, and in addition, the center is home to the Alf Engen Ski Museum and the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museum (say that quickly three times) as well as a freestyle skiing practice facility plus the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame and the Professional Ski Instructor’s Hall of Fame. In 1989, Utah's voters had passed an Olympic referendum, which allowed for taxpayer money to be used to construct a winter sports park to be used in the event Salt Lake City won its bid for either the 1998 or 2002 Winter Olympics. While construction was progressing on the track, Salt Lake City won its bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympics, and plans were developed to expand the park. On October 9, 1997 the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) okayed the plan to spend an additional $48 million to upgrade and expand the recently completed park, and ownership of the Park was transferred to SLOC from the Utah Sports Authority in 1999. Soon after, the
The Start House at the Top of the Sliding Track
Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center - Park City UT
park's name was changed from the Utah Winter Sports Park to the Utah Olympic Park.
First on my agenda was a guided tour of the facility. A mini-bus carried the group around the “same-elevation” facilities and then headed up the hill for a view from the top of the sliding track and from the starting point of the 120-meter ski jump. The tour guide was entertaining and informative, but there was something that just didn’t strike me as awesome. I made my way to the museum facility. Exhibits highlight the history of “all skiing disciplines in the intermountain region” (whatever that means) through interactive touch screen displays, videos, topographical maps, games and a virtual reality ski theater.
A small, free museum presents a limited selection of artifacts from the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and offers a collection of visual highlights. Make no mistake, this is not a 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museum. It is a museum of something, but I’m not totally confident that the curators really know, “of what.” One exhibit, “The Barbara Alley Collection – 30 Years of Ski Fashion” has nothing to do with the Olympics and very little to do with skiing but probably
appeals to the Park City jet set. Hmmm – if one mixes the two entities, does one have a “jet ski set?” Most Olympic winter sports are barely addressed (if at all). Even skiing is shorted with virtually no coverage of downhill skiing, Alpine skiing, cross country skiing, or its first cousin, biathlon. Figure skating, ice hockey and curling are mot even mentioned. On the positive side, there are interesting audience participation events. The virtual reality ski theater allows the visitor to give downhill a try without risking life and limb. The highlight for me was outside where I watch a trio of a freestyle skiers launch themselves from the jump and then practice their twists, turns and summersaults before landing in a water pool. Be advised, however, that these practice sessions are at the discretion of the athlete and may or may not be taking place on any given day. Uncle Larry lucked out! All in all, I was quite disappointed and can hardly suggest the non-skiing public make even a moderate effort to see this facility.
I had a nice week in the Salt Lake City area, spent a day learning a ton about Utah, paid tribute
Preparing to Take the Plunge
Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center - Park City UT
to her fallen Vietnam veterans, attended a practice session of a world-renown Choir and got to see some fantastic scenery all decked out with fall colors. I do hope to return someday to spend time in the Family History Library but really have no other reason to return, save a coincidental pass through the area when the fall foliage is at its peak.
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