Friday, August 4, 2017

Day 16: Arts and Culture

After our day of chill we were determined to get some work done, and I knew exactly were to go.

Earlier, during the school year, I had learned about Spiral Jetty, an earthwork sculpture created by Robert Smithson. It was about 100 miles from our hotel to the location, but that two hour drive was short compared to the absurd distances we had been driving back to back to back just a few days before.

 It's easier to show you what it is like that explain, so here is a flurry of pictures.

There is not any particular order to these photos, but I'll break it down for y'all. So the jetty is meant to jut out into the water of the Great Salt Lake, but as you can see the water in the lake currently is not enough to create the desired effect, or submerge the jetty (as it has been known to do from time to time).
-It was not very well pointed out. There was hardly any signal so our GPS was failing but there was only a single trail heading in this particular direction so we were able to assume that if we continued long enough we would get there. There wasn't even a parking lot per se, just a little clearing from the shrubbery where we saw a few other cars parked.
-It was super dusty, and our car could have certainly used a wash afterwards.
-I took pictures from various angles, at level with the jetty, from the jetty, and from an elevated position after a little hike up the small mountain behind it.
-Hiking down the mountain my father slipped and cut his hand a bit (he's ok).
-We left our own temporary mark on the spot.

While we were there we ran into some dude from Arizona that apparently was really down for some small talk. He asked us about who we are, where we came from, what we were doing there, etc. He stressed that my father had an accent and emphasized that he should have brought up that he was from Congo when the guy initially asked where we were from, and saying that I should be the only one claiming I come from Los Angeles. Something about this stuck with me, it was weird. I understand that it was said in jest but it came across as anti-assimilation into American culture, like we need to maintain our cultural boundaries and there's no chance from an immigrated person to truly be "American."

Anyways, we did not stay very long--including the hike we probably only spent 45 minutes there--, and were back on the road back to SLC around 3pm.

On the way back we stopped by the Golden Spike National Historic Site, where the last spike in the Transcontinental Railroad was placed. I really just wanted to go there to use the restroom but I ended up reading through the exhibits--it was not that large-- and even getting an interview!

I really enjoyed this interview because the guy seemed almost excited to be interviewed by me, some random kid, and that really touched me, it reinforced the fact that I am someone with something to say and people are actually willing to listen. He spoke a lot about nature and just being outdoors, how it can help with confidence and really put things into perspective--certain social situations pale in comparison to living in the wild for an extended period of time--, and how he is trying to teach similar lessons and values of nature to his children in a similar way. He also made me think about what the young woman I interviewed in Denver had said about getting those from underprivileged communities involved more in the outdoors, so that they great powers they harness aren't exclusively allocated to the white or affluent. He also spoke about his community, a small, conservative area. He stressed that they mean well, and are really welcoming once they get to know you as a neighbor, but it is so homogeneous and religious that they are consistently reinforcing their own potentially dangerous ideas, which really affect the young people. This is where nature could be of help, for it keeps young people occupied and out of trouble along with giving them essential skills for survival and respecting the environment.

They also had a display train that departed (just to go over the mountain to another station where it spent the nights) that we go to see. It was an interesting, cute place with so many friendly park rangers. Undeniably one of the hidden, unexpected gems of Utah and this trip.

Then we were off again.
We had skipped breakfast so we were pretty hungry at this point, but the dude form earlier in the day had mentioned that we should go to the Mormon temple in downtown to get food as well as for sightseeing, so we figured we might as well.
It was actually between the Cheesecake Factory and a restaurant in the temple, but we could get Cheesecake Factory back home.

The views and meal made for a wonderful experience, and the people there were very welcoming, letting the general public just walk in and through most of the building, along with being willing to talk to us about their some of their practices and history. The people were informative but not pushy about their beliefs, which really worked in their favor because I would really enjoy going back and learning more about Mormonism, maybe it is a strategy of theirs.

After a long day of taking in the culture, my father and I were ready for rest (and we still needed to get that dust off of us!) so we headed back to the hotel, packed for our flight the following morning, and called it a day.

Day 14 and 15: En Route to Utah and a Day of Chill

So, funny story, apparently the quickest way to get from Denver, CO, to Salt Lake City, UT, is to go north from Denver into Wyoming, go west through Wyoming, then come down south through Utah.


But far easier said than done.

Roughly an eight hour drive, my father and I had just enough time to be able to get to the comedy show on time, even after our gun show detour.

I decided I would cover our the first 300 miles of the trip, roughly a tank of gas, and then fill up for gas and let my father take over.

Wyoming, by the way, is lovely.

So we pull over in Rock Springs to use the restroom/fill up on gas/get some snacks. I know my time is short so I decide to conduct a really quick interview with someone working at the gas station. Not a good idea. I was not able to explain to her what I was doing and her answers were pretty vague. All that I really got from it was that Rock Springs was pretty suburban and small, not very diverse, and there is an issue with upward social mobility and job prospects.

But Wyoming is still a breathtaking, albeit long, drive. At this point in time my father and I start to venture into that obscure territory that many call "bonding", and the number of revelations we had in that car made us closer than we had ever been in my entire life. It was great to talk to my father straight up as a human being, not having to go to the social formalities that come with speaking to your parent. I was so pleased with the breakthroughs we made in our relationship that day, in fact, that I was not even upset when I missed our comedy show for that day.

Wait, what? But I thought the only reason you went to three states in three days was because you wanted to go to be able to make it to the show in Utah?

Correct. But the issue that arose was that I bought tickets for the Wiseguys Comedy Club in Ogden, Utah, instead of Salt Lake City, where I was, and the two are a 40 minute drive apart. This was a larger issue because we had arrived just in time for the show in Salt Lake City, which was the same time as the show in Ogden, but also the SLC location had a full bar, so their club was 21 and over and I would not be allowed inside. The drive to Ogden was too long for us to be able to cover it and make it in time to catch enough of the show, so we decided to just check into our hotel.

And I was not even mad. What transpired in the car between my father and I emotionally was more meaningful and useful than anything that could have happened in that comedy club, and if I had the choice I would not have it any other way.

We checked into the hotel and were so tired we just decided to eat at a nearby spot, but nearly everything was closed at 10pm so we just ordered a pizza.

The small, yellow box was the pizza and the large, red box was the garlic bread, it was upsetting to say the least.

That night the conversations continued, and we stayed up into the wee hours of the morn just learning more and more about each other, like we were becoming friends. It was wonderful.

So the following day we did not get up and at them until the afternoon, and even then we had to shake the rust off of our boots (metaphorically) before we could be ready to take on the world that is Utah, but by then it was already evening time on a Sunday.

So we just decided to go out into the downtown area and have dinner there.
We found a really nice restaurant that had amazing food and even better ambiance. The place is Caffe Molise, if you're ever in the area.

After our lovely meals we were about ready to head back to the hotel, but not before a bit more sightseeing.

We were there, and it was one of the coziest spots we had hit up yet.