Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Riding the Rails -- Salt Lake City and the Journey Back Home

The last major destination on my vacation to "America's Beautiful West" was Salt Lake City.

Bonnieville salt flats
But before arriving in Utah's capital, the tour bus made a stop at Bonnieville salt flats. That's the place where land-speed records are attempted by various racing teams.

We ventured out onto the flats, and sure enough, we were walking on salt. Some of us even tasted the white, salt-encrusted surface. 

Assembly Hall
Then it was on to Salt Lake City, founded by Brigham Young and other Mormon followers in 1847. Needless to say, the Mormons dominate the city with its churches, statues, and other things relating to the religion.

Salt Lake Tabernacle
Temple Square garden
The immaculate grounds at Temple Square were impressive, with the gardens and historic buildings such as the Salt Lake Tabernacle, where the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs, as well as the Assembly Hall and the Salt Lake Temple. 

What impressed me about the capital city of Utah was how clean it is. I'm sure the semi-arid climate is a factor. The tour guide informed us that you won't see any taxis lined on the streets, but that you can call for a taxi. And public transportation is free. 

I also learned that Salt Lake city is most sustainable city in the nation through its conservation and environmental efforts. It's a city with a vision.

Monument at This Is the Place Heritage Park
We toured the main Mormon church grounds and went to the This Is the Place Heritage Park that provided information about the city's rich heritage and history. Lunch was at the modern Gateway District shopping mall.

Utah State Capitol
And we drove through the University of Utah campus, where the guide said the torch from the 2002 Winter Olympics is on display. We didn't get to see it though, which was a minor disappointment to some of my fellow travelers.

A view of Salt Lake City from the bus
From Salt Lake City, we went to Price, where we spent the night. We got up early the next month and headed to Helper, where we boarded Amtrak's California Zephyr for the long, two-day journey back to Chicago, traveling across Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. 

It was time for my wife and I to relax and think about all the wonderful places we had visited: Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, John Muir Woods and Salt Lake City. 

I'm looking forward to hitting the rails again for another adventure.

Until the next time...

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