I arrived in Reno late this morning after a very delayed train, so I’m wrapping up my stay in Salt Lake City in this post before moving on to adventures in Reno.
The first thing to notice about Salt Lake City is the view. From pretty much anywhere, including the outskirts of the city, you have a view of mountain ranges in the distance (see the above photo for example.) Aside from the nice views this also provides a convenient way to figure out which direction you’re facing as the mountains look fairly different.
There’s a noticeably large population of homeless people in Salt Lake City. To discourage others from donating to panhandlers, the city has specially marked “parking meters” they’d like you to donate to instead for homeless services.
This idea seems curious to me — someone gets paid to go around and empty these things, right? — but I do think it’s commendable that Salt Lake City is trying their own approach to tackling homelessness.
Utah is a very backward state in many ways, one of which is the sale of alcohol. Mormons aren’t supposed to take any non-prescription drugs including caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol. Their influence in the state is enormous, including restrictions on alcohol sales. Outside of bars and restaurants if you wish to purchase alcohol you have to go to a “State Wine Store.” This is similar to what I found in Stockholm, Sweden as well as Oslo, Norway during my trip last year.
It’s not even legal to bring alcohol into Utah, but scofflaw that I am I accidentally found a workaround. I purchased a (wildly overpriced) bottle of wine on Amtrak, put it in my backpack, and consumed it at my Airbnb in Salt Lake City. In other words I committed a state crime with the assistance of the federal government. Come at me, Utah, you ain’t got nothing.
One of the most unexpected things I found in Salt Lake City was a tiny park called Artesian Well Park. This “park” is really just a free water supply, with water flowing from an underground spring to a pipe above where locals fill up water bottles.
Like the continuously flowing fountains in Rome the water is supposedly clean and drinkable. Can’t say I tried it myself though if I were thirsty enough I would have given it a shot.
The people of Salt Lake City seem at odds with the anti-gay stance of the Mormon church. I noticed a series of billboards downtown with personal stories from survivors of anti-gay conversion “therapy.”
But really nothing could be more of a condemnation of Mormonism’s stance toward homosexuality than Salt Lake City renaming 900 South Street after gay civil rights icon/martyr Harvey Milk. The context is interesting here because Milk had no personal connection to Utah or Salt Lake City as far as I know; he grew up in New York and moved to San Francisco as an adult. So this is more of a matter of honoring an important American historical figure, and one who irritates certain Mormons in particular.
That sums up Salt Lake City; next up I’ll post about my last stop before heading home: Reno, Nevada.