I was really curious if I would find Salt Lake City to be as cool the second time around as I did the first time.
I did. Wow. I really love this place. I would guess that even before it became the center of Mormonism in the world that it was a spiritual place to the Native Americans. There is just something amazing about this place. It is the outpost of rationality and liberalism in very conservative Utah. It’s a funny thing to say, but in terms of energy and people, SLC reminds me a lot of Granada, Spain. It has the same sort of hippie granola dreadlocked outdoorsy energy.
Before Mormon settlement, the Shoshone, Ute, and Paiute had dwelt in the Salt Lake Valley for thousands of years. However, occupation was seasonal, near streams emptying from Canyons into the Salt Lake Valley. The first US explorer in the Salt Lake area is believed to be Jim Bridger in 1825, although others had been in Utah earlier, some as far north as the nearby Utah Valley (the Dominguez-Escalante expedition of 1776 were undoubtedly cognizant of the Salt Lake valley). U.S. Army officer John C. Frémont surveyed the Great Salt Lake and the Salt Lake Valley in 1843 and 1845. The Donner party, a group of ill-fated pioneers, had traveled through the Great Salt Lake Valley in August 1846.
This time around I arrived at the airport rather than the train station. I caught a $2 city bus rather than a $20 cab to the Gateway Mall where my friend Candice came and picked me up. I met Candace about 7 months ago when I sort of couchsurfed here last time.
Candice has had a very rough couple of months. First she got her wisdom teeth out and had some complications. Then she caught swine flu H1N1, then she got bronchitis, then five days ago, she hit a ditch and did a face plant on the pavement and got massive roadrash on her face and arms. And to top it off, she has another sort of sinus infection going on now. And yet she smiles and remains positive. She’s the first person I’ve met who actually had swine flu. She said the bronchitis was much worse. In the couple of days I’ve been here she has healed an amazing amount. It’s astounding how quickly her wounds are recovering.
Her Dad and sister in law were visiting and they invited me along to eat amazing vegan food at an out of the way cafe, Vertical Diner.
After that we went back in sat in the sun in Candice’s garden and then since it was my other host Cameron’s birthday we ate some of his grandma’s delicious poundcake and caught up on all the adventures we have found since we saw each other last. It was an odd mixture of gay Salt Lake City men and Southern Trout Fishermen. All the men more or less segregated themselves from Candice and Apriel, except for me that is, since I have no interest in playing drinking games in a sausage store. Candice says that all Salt Lake City parties are like that.
The funny thing is that I only spent 5 or 6 hours here the last time I was in SLC. I didn’t even actually surf their couch, but even though that was the only time we’ve ever met before, this felt like I was reconnecting with old friends who I have known for years and years. There is just such an incredible connection with them. This is my first revisit of couchsurfing friends and I am fairly profoundly affected by how before I was a couchsurfer and they were hosts and now we are actually friends. I don’t know if words are expressing this very well.
The next morning (well early afternoon) we got breakfast at a great little cafe across from Liberty Park and then we strolled through the park watching kids with hula hoops, old hippie bums, stone and tie-dye vendors, and every other kind of good natured oddball you can imagine. Of course I didn’t have my camera with me at all, so you will have to trust me when I say the park is a laid back, relaxing, and fun place.
I was going to catch the train to my brother’s in Ogden but realized that it didn’t run on Sunday, Candice said it was no problem if I were to stay another night.
Then I got an acting gig. Candice’s car needed to be repaired and her mechanic friend was willing to fix it but had no tools and he had recently had a falling out with their friend that did have tools. So Candice called and asked if she could borrow the tools from him so her other (imaginary) friend could work on it. The toolman was named Mark and she told him her (fake) mechanic friend was named Mark too. Mark wanted to talk to Mark. Enter me, stage left.
I talked with Mark and sort of explained what Scott, the actual mechanic, had said he would do. Then we went to his jobsite to get the tools. We got the tools and gave them to Scott who fixed her car while getting incredibly oily and dirty while I laid in the grass smoking cigarettes and looking up at the clouds. Then after Scott fixed the car we took the tools back to Mark, who was very impressed that I had fixed her car but didn’t seem to notice I was incredibly clean. Mark bought us burritos and asked my last name. I said Bago.
So really, I was eating Scott’s burrito but since he and Mark don’t get along, there was really nothing else to do.
Last night there was another couchsurfer. Shavani, an artist who has been traveling around the southwest in her truck and painting for the past two and half months. We all sat around (including two new roommates since I was here last, Kate and Apriel- fantastic women) and told funny stories, laughed, and just really enjoyed each other’s company.
Now, with any luck, I will head up to Ogden in a little while but maybe the 4th dimensional beings that seem to control my life will slap a denial down as they did yesterday.