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Blue Lady in the Red Land

In My Backyard: Five Things to do in Salt Lake City

USA | Saturday, 27 August 2011 | Views [687]

center interior lobby, Main Library, Salt Lake City, Utah

center interior lobby, Main Library, Salt Lake City, Utah

Welcome to Salt Lake City. I understand that you only have a short time here in the city on your way up to the mountains or down to the national parks. I plan to show you a few places in the city that are interesting, maybe unknown to you, and that help make the place a good city to live in.

We'll start in the morning with breakfast. In my neighborhood, close to downtown, there are an amazing number of local coffee shops. I can easily walk to at least 15 different places. Everyone thinks you can't get good coffee here because of, you know, The Church. Church members will go to coffee shops because they all serve more than coffee, but mostly the shops are filled with the Rest of Us.(btw if you want to signal to people that you are a member of The Rest of Us, get yourself a cup of coffee right away.) (A Utah joke: How can you tell a Church member from the Rest of Us? Answer: By the temperature of the caffeine. The Church forbids coffee & tea because the rule was made in the 19th century. Coke, Pepsi and Mountain Dew came later.)  

Here's a short list of my regular places: Cafe Noir, Cafe Niche, Two Creek, Cucina, Salt Lake Roasting Company, Cafe d'Bolla, Coffee Garden, Tulie Bakery, Beans & Brews, The Rose Exchange, Nostalgia, Nobrow, Toasters, Sugarhouse Coffee. Oh, yes, and Starbucks. Because we need breakfast, I'll choose Tulie Bakery today .... pastries to die for, French toast, granola. All good. 

Next we'll need a little walk in the city to get some exercise. We'll walk towards downtown and stop along the way at Gilgal Gardens. This odd little place is not easy to find unless you know it's there. It's a pocket park built by an individual with a unique vision. It's full of sculpture, rocks and enscribed scriptures. It has its own folk art kind of beauty. It won't take us long to check it out, and you will probably be both surprised and delighted about parts of it.

We'll keep walking and end at out new main public library. This is a beautiful building with award winning architecture. It's filled with all kinds of reading and study nooks. The collection is superb. We'll check out each floor, but we'll be heading for the roof. There we will have a great 360 degrees view of the city and the mountains. We'll be able to get our bearings on the whole Salt Lake Valley. I'll point out all kinds of things for you. 

We could go to my home  via walking or public transportation now and get my car because that would be a bit easier to get to the next place, but because we have plenty of time, we'll take the TRAX train which stops right outside the library. We'll go east on the red line (formerly the university line) and get off at the end, the medical center stop. Then we will get the yellow University of Utah shuttle and ask to be taken to Red Butte Botanic Garden. If the driver has time, s/he will take us right up to the main entrance; otherwise s/he will drop us at the bottom of the hill that leads to the entrance. 

As we walk up to the entrance, we'll pass a place where we could get onto the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. At the moment we'll pass this by. Later, if we have the energy, we can get on the trail and walk or run as much as we want. The trail has about 100 miles to it; eventually it will go all the way to the Idaho border. It follows the shoreline ridge of prehistoric Lake Bonneville which covered the entire region in ancient times. You would get great views of the city all along the way as well as a feel or the overall geography of the region.

We will go into the garden. I have a family & friends pass so you will not have to pay the entry fee. I volunteer at the garden, and April through October Red Butte is my virtual second workplace. Mostly I do horticulture work, as much as four mornings per week. I don't work in all the areas or gardens, but I know most of the various areas very well. I am not a horticulturalist, and I don't know all the plants in the garden, but I know many and can point out several interesting ones to you.

We will stroll around the whole garden which will be about a mile. I have a difficult time selecting any one area to be my favorite. I love everything there. If your visit is in spring, we will see 1000's of blooming bulbs (I have planted too many of them to ever count). In summer the roses will be the highlight (during the summer I deadhead roses constantly and I helped to plant out the new rose garden a couple of years ago). In the autumn, my favorite season, there will be grand fall colors (in the autumn I do a lot of cutting back and cleaning up). You will probably take lots of pictures.

Here's a link to my other blog and a recent story about what's blooming in August 2011. You can also find some earlier stories from the spring.

Once we have seen the garden we will walk down the hill and catch the yellow shuttle bus to take us back to the TRAX stop. It's time for lunch now, and I think we need another grand view of the valley. So we will begin to climb a mountain inside a series of buildings. 

We will begin by taking an elevator at the Moran Eye Center, part of the University of Utah Medical Center. We'll get off at the 4th floor, and we will be on a sky bridge that will take us over to the Main University of Utah Hospital. Remember how we started on the 4th floor and just walked on a flat bridge? Well, now we are on the ground floor of the main hospital. We're right at the cafeteria which is a pretty good place to eat, but it's on the ground floor, so we will keep climbing.

Next a hospital elevator to the 3rd floor. We will then easily find signs directing us to another bridge. We'll emerge from that on the first floor of the parking garage at the Huntsman Cancer Center. We'll take the elevator we find there to the 5th floor which will get us to the outside main entrance to the Huntsman buildings. Are you still following along? We have just climbed most of the mountain.

Now we are outside again (if the weather had been bad we could have stopped one level down and used the underground tunnels, but I prefer to go outside). We will head to the building on the right, the Huntsman Cancer Institute, the research and education building. Inside we will take the final elevator to the 6th floor and finally we will be at The Pointe restaurant.

I showed you from the ground outside how the top of the building is a glass point in the northwest corner. Once we are inside, you will see how beautiful the space is ... windows everywhere soaring off into the sky. You'll get an even better view of the whole valley than we had from the library. And if the weather has turned, we'll be able to watch the clouds come in; you'll probably be amazed to watch that.

And, oh by the way, the food is good, has a nice variety including vegetarian or vegan options and doesn't cost that much. I try to bring people from out of town to eat here because it is an amazing little gem of a place. I mean, who thinks to go to lunch in a cancer hospital? 

It's now early afternoon, and we have done our five things. We've had two meals, seen two gardens, had views from two buildings, and have had two nice walks. Time to go home for a bit and take a nap. If you have just come from sea level, you might be feeling a bit peaked at the moment. 

Later we'll go out to supper at one of our local restaurants. I think I will select someplace that specializes in local foods like The Wild Grape. We'll be able to walk there from my home.

Tomorrow we'll walk the trail!

Tags: #blogyourbackyard, salt lake city, usa, utah

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