Blue skies, bright sun, light occasional breezes, and a city with lots of unexpected discoveries - - we're having fun learning about Salt Lake City. The Great Salt Lake
We have taken several walks in city parks. Early we discovered Hidden Hollow Park, the small stretch along a stream which was restored by school children. We prefer a larger park just a couple of blocks farther away, where the geese and ducks swim in a large lake, and old trees shade the lawns and the walks. But the area is filled with parks; we won't be able to sample them all!
In other cities, in bad weather, we have enjoyed mall-walking, where we're amused to spot others striding along briskly. We have found several outdoor malls to explore in this lovely weather; we suspect that they are the result of city beautification for last year's Winter Olympics -- we say Hooray! because they now provide pleasant spots for walking and just taking a break during the day.
The Gateway mall area begins just behind the old railroad station, which hasn't yet found its role. Perhaps its restoration is coming. The Gateway itself features a delightful water fountain which sends jets of water unexpectedly from the sidewalk area, drenching bold children. It's a two-level outdoor walk, along a path which bends in several places, providing a rather European-movie-set look to the street. A movie theater, shops and restaurants are open, with lots of out-door tables (post-Olympics, some stores have left, others are still settling in). We had lunch at the Samba Grill, a Brazilian-style restaurant featuring servers who pass from table to table with a large piece of meat on a thick skewer. They will slice a piece, which the diner plucks off the roast with a pair of tongs. The rest of the meal comes from the salad bar which offers both standard and exotic (fried banana, palm salad) dishes. It is an unusual and highly interactive method of dining. Old Spring House
Our server told us that the large number of Brazilians in Salt Lake City is partly due to the fact that Brazil is the largest Mormon mission in South America; they come to visit the temple, like the city, and tell their friends.
From time to time we find ourselves inside the Hard Rock Cafe, since we pick up souvenirs for a collector friend. Here it is located in Trolley Square, another well-designed mall built into the old huge brick trolley-car repair barn. We learned that in Utah, in order to buy a collector shot glass, you actually have to go to the restaurant and buy a shot of whiskey. The other shops in Trolley Square are mostly the typical Talbot's, Brookstone, and galleries; the mall is multilevel with stores hiding around corners, great for browsing, a little confusing for mall-walking. There must be some specialized architects involved!
A drive outside the city landed us on Antelope Island, the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. The lake got very low in the fifties and sixties, then began getting highter, until in 1982 they built some water engineering facilities lest it overflow Salt Lake City, but now it is getting lower again; mudflats and some brackish water are evident, but that doesn't seem to bother the thousands of earless grebes floating near the causeway. In its saltiest places, the salt precipitates out onto the lake bottom, where it is mined. Antelope Island. fifteen miles long, four miles wide, was used for about forty years by the Mormon Church as a ranch for the community's cattle, which were transported from the mainland by barge. Fielding Garr built his first ranch house in 1848. The enterprise grew, passed into private hands in the mid 1870's, and remained a cattle ranch until 1981. The Littlest Cowboy
Now the island is a state park, with a herd of bison and a herd of reintroduced antelope, plus other wildlife (including the earless grebes). On the Sunday of our visit we found hikers, mountain bikers, walkers, and motorcyclists exploring the Garr ranch buildings. With its low-slung flora - - the only trees are along the springs near the ranch house - - the island has a high-desert look, with short grasses, rock outcrops, and great sweeps of open land. But of course it is surrounded by the mysterious Salt Lake with its rocky shoreline.
We thought we'd had a wonderful variety of sights that day, but just as we re-entered Salt Lake City we found our favorite:a teeny-tiny cowboy, clutching his six-shooter, perched high on the back of his father's horse.