From the great state of Colorado, we made our way to Park City, Utah in one long and uneventful drive. We left Fort Collins in the morning and drove over the plains through Wyoming and down into Utah to Steven’s sister’s house. Heidie and Trent actually live just outside Park City, where there’s a bit more breathing room. We had a good time with them and their Alaskan husky Pascha while we were there. We couldn’t get our bus up their driveway, so upon arriving they helped us find a spot to park off the road at the bottom of the hill. That led to an interesting time trying to leave, as we already mentioned. So our time there will now always be recalled at that time we got stuck in the mud. Fine with us, it all turned out well and makes a good story.
Utah offers many outdoor recreational activities, and we tried our best to take advantage of them. But to get the week started off right, we had to try the local beer. After getting settled, we went to Squatters for beers and snacks. Utah has some unique liquor laws, due to the large mormon presence. They have everything you’d want, but draft pours are only available for beers rated at a 3.2% alcohol content or lower. Any more than that, and it must be served in a bottle. The beer culture also seems to poke a bit of fun at the mormon culture with their beer names and labels. Nothing like some good sibling rivalry, I suppose. Bottle or not, the Squatters beer was great! And Steven and I tried fried pickles for the first time at the insistence of our hosts, and we loved them! We followed that up with a nice dinner at the whiskey distillery in Park City, High West.
In the morning we had to work off some of that dinner with a hike. We put the dog in the jeep (her favorite place in the world) and went into the nearby Uinta Mountains to find Shingle Creek. The weather had uncharacteristically turned cold and damp, and we hiked in a fog. The air felt great, all chilly and fresh. We all felt like we had been transported to Oregon. On the way back down, the clouds got thicker and as we neared the car, a light rain began to fall. About as soon as we had all gotten back in the car, the sky really opened up and we drove back in a downpour. Lucky timing! We stopped to get a pizza on the way home and spent a lazy rainy afternoon at the house.
When the rained stopped, we set off to explore Park City a bit more. Trent drove us up to look at the Olympic ski jumps built for the 2002 winter games. The view was great from there, and the ski jumps built into the side of a mountain looked extremely intimidating. We walked around to the pool, where some smaller jumps are set up to train young athletes for aerial jumps. After some gawking we headed into downtown to stroll Main Street. Park City is a fun resort town full of art galleries, nice restaurants and laid back bars. It’s home to the only resort with an in-town ski lift which picks you up right off of Main Street. It’s also home the the Sundance Film Festival, and fills up with celebrities and paparazzi each January. We had to stop for a drink at the No Name Saloon, the most famous bar in town. They have a rooftop patio with a nice view of the street below.
On Wednesday the storms continued, but the internet assured us it was very localized. So we decided to visit some hot springs about an hour south near Provo, Utah. On the way out we stopped down the road at the Gold Creek Creamery, an amazing place that is quickly gaining wide recognition. When we went inside, the only staff member there was the head cheese maker, and fortunately he had time in-between batches to come out and chat with us. They make all kinds of award winning cow cheeses and also have started selling butter due to popular demand. We got a quick peek into the operation before buying some cheese curds for the road.
Since we were in a Jeep, we wanted to try taking the back roads all the way to the springs and see how long it took us. We maybe got a little lost, but we made our way down some single lane dirt roads, dodging the free range cattle and finally made it to our destination. The springs are a 2.5 mile hike from the small parking lot, but they are so worth the trek. The water was beautiful, and we hiked a bit farther beyond the first pools and came to a lesser known smaller area where we found some shade. The pools in the river were constructed by hand twenty years ago, we actually met one of the guys that worked on it. It was amazing the difference in temperature between the river and the pools. I’m not so savvy with geology, so I can’t tell you how it works but I can tell you it’s incredible.
On the way back we stopped at Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort. It’s a beautiful place in the mountains where you can stay and ski in the winter or enjoy a summer evening play at the outdoor amphitheater. We had some food and drink in the Owl Bar, which sports an impressive turn of the century bar made of ornate dark wood and a large mirror. It was fun to walk around the buildings and see old photos of famous actors that have stayed at the resort.
We were due to leave the following day and do some camping down in the canyon lands, but that’s when we discovered that after all the heavy rainfall we were stuck in the mud. We scratched our heads a bit but didn’t get too discouraged since we were in good company and had a place to stay if we couldn’t leave as planned. After some unsuccessful attempts to remove our bus from the side of the road, we let it sit so the sun could dry out the ground. Finally in the afternoon, the ground was more solid and we were able to get out with the help of a good samaritan. By now it was real late to be leaving, and we were also coming to the realization that camping in the desert in our tin can, without AC, might not be so fun anyway. So we were able to get our campsite reservation refunded, and we stayed to enjoy one more night with Heidie and Trent. It turned out for the better I think, and we all sat out in the back yard with glasses of cava and watched the sun set over the valley. It was the perfect ending to an amazing visit in Utah.