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Roughing it – My life among the Mormons February 27, 2007

Posted by daveintexas in Current Events.

skinbad asked me for an exposition on my travels among the Utes, and I’m sure none of you will be surprised to see me oblige.

Re-reading my earlier post I see that whole “they got 6 inches” stuff could be misinterpreted, so lest anyone think me a braggart, allow me to revise and extend my remarks to include the phrase “of snow”.  There.

I arrived in Salt Lake City, home of the Great Salt Lake, which incidentally was the original name of the city, it later being abbreviated to just Salt Lake City.  This is the manner of abbreviation for the Latter Day Saints.  If you have a four word name, cut it by 25% and there you have it.  Great Salt Lake City is now tidily abbreviated to Salt Lake City.  Done and done.

I suppose this should not be considered an unusual practice for the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Given the official name of their organized religion, they do seem fond of exposition.  Well, while they may struggle with word conservation, never let it be said you don’t know what they mean.  It isn’t just a Salt Lake.  It is a Great Salt Lake.  Very Great.  Huge in fact. 

I was struck by the size of the airport.  It isn’t terribly large.  I’m sure it suffices, but there are quite a number of ski resorts in the area, and in fact this was the host city for the 2002 Winter Olympics.  My first thought was, what a beautiful wintry setting for the Winter games.  Lovely snow, beautiful mountain ranges.

My second thought was “how in the hell did they get all those people through here”?  Gracious, there are only 5 baggage claim carousels.

more on “My life among the Mormons”

The first Caucasian to visit the area is believed to be the explorer Jim Bridger in 1825.  I’m sure he wondered the same as I, could you handle the Olympic traffic here?  Later U.S. Army officer John C. Frémont surveyed the Great Salt Lake and the Salt Lake Valley in 1843 and 1845.  Someone also told me the Donner party stopped nearby for lunch on their way to California, but I haven’t confirmed that.

Then came the Latter Day Saints, led by their church leader Brigham Young, who upon seeing the location in a vision, declared “Lafayette, we are here”!

The next few decades are a bit of a blur.  The settlers felt that Nevada would be a good addition to the territory, and appealed for statehood.  The Congress replied “perhaps so” but cut the area back down to the size of Utah and declared it a territory in waiting.  All this while waiting for the Saints to come to some middle ground, a compromise if you will, on the issue of how many wives a man might have while still walking the earth.

Frankly I do not understand their thinking in this regard.  If a man chooses to make himself miserable through one marriage, he deserves every bit of grief a second, third or fourth delivers upon him.  I do not see this as an issue of Federalism, so much as some sort of psychotic recidivism.  A man usually learns from his mistakes, but a latter day Saint applies mistakes as self-discipline.

Anyway, President Buchanan got a bee in his bonnet and declared the territory to be in rebellion and for a while it was on beeyotch.  Many unpleasantries were exchanged, some at the point of a gun.  Eventually the issue was resolved and in their 1890 Manifesto, the LDS officially renounced the practice of excessive misery through multiple concurrent marriages.  Peace broke out, and there was much rejoicing.

I traveled south to Orem, home of the great University founded by Mr. Young.  It was a Monday, Presidents Day, and as I wandered and explored I noticed the strong influence of the LDS almost everywhere.  Even at the liquor store.  Yes, Utah has liquor stores.  These are operated by an arm of the state government, and are referred to as “State of Utah Liquor Stores”, which is consistent with their practice of using exactly the number of words you need to understand what this thing is.  The first thing I noticed was that they open at eleven in the morning and close at seven in the evening.

The second thing I noticed was that they are closed on Presidents Day.

Damn it.

I will say that the people of Utah are gracious hosts, very pleasant and helpful.  They are kind and considerate, and very white.  With the exception of the indigenous peoples and Hispanic settlers, they are some of the whitest people I have met since my visit to Vermont or those gardeners in Connecticut; those folks were downright alabaster.

I do not recall seeing a single person of African descent, although I am toying with a theory that the layers of salt one acquires in the winter months might do a little bleaching of the skin.  I will research this further.

After five days my journey came to an end.  The weather had been quite exciting, and upon the day of my departure, it snowed heavily.  Being a Texas boy, this was quite a lovely experience for me, watching the large flakes come flying down from the grey skies, collecting on the buildings, cars and ground.  I sat in the teensy airport awaiting my departure, gazing out at the beautiful scene.  There is something magical about a heavy snowfall, something peaceful and good, and it cheered me so to think I was going to beat it out of here before the rest of these poor souls get snowed in, and my connection through Denver was 6 hours ahead of the storm.

That was quite a comforting thought.

It is a good place, and I’m sure I will return.

With a heavier overcoat.  And shoes that do not have leather soles.  Those are quite useless in Utah in winter.


1. skinbad - February 27, 2007


Twain’s comment on polygamy was similar. He said he had held a negative opinion of the men who practiced it. That is until he actually saw the women. Then he decided that any man that would marry even one of them would go straight to heaven.

“It was on, beeyotch” was the actual heading in my Utah History textbook. You really are good at this history stuff.

I drove past Provo Saturday afternoon after the storm had cleared all the smog out. The mountains were all lit up and the sky was as blue as could be. It’s pretty sometimes.

2. skinbad - February 27, 2007

Oh. And I pushed it up to 70 in the HOV lane. The power of Innocent Bystanders compelled me.

3. Retired Geezer - February 27, 2007

I too, was amazed at the non-hugeness of the SLC airport. I was also amazed at the fact that it was going to cost me $15 to log on to the Airport Wi-Fi, to check my email.
Uh, I think I’ll wait 2 hours until I get home.

They have a great University Hospital there. That’s where Flyin’ Brian received his excellent care after the helicopter crash.

Good post Dave.

4. skinbad - February 27, 2007

I haven’t flown in quite awhile. Delta used to have their own separate terminal that was as big as everything else put together. They’ve had tough times, so I don’t know how the facility is arranged now. But yeah, compared to big city airports, it’s rather quaint.

5. davebones - February 27, 2007

bloody white people. hey you’re a good writer Dave. Here is a nice spliff movie for you, its got me in it and its got new born goats in it. Happy new year and all dat

6. Dave in Texas - February 27, 2007

Hey Dave b.

Long time no see. You still crack my shit up.



7. geoff - February 28, 2007

That was great, davebones. But why’d you have to blow smoke after playing that flute-pipe-thing?

I’m pro-legalization, by the way. [ducks to avoid stones]

8. This is the right place « Innocent Bystanders - February 28, 2007

[…] of pimping himself, but he hinted that he could use a hand. In the spirit of ecumenical outreach, Dave braved a week in the hinterlands of Utah. He was in Utah County, which makes Salt Lake City (and county) look like San Francisco. Go. Read […]

9. BrewFan - February 28, 2007

I had a few business trips to SLC. It was about 1994 and I remember being taken to a ‘club’ which I had to ‘join’ so I could have a cocktail.

10. daveintexas - February 28, 2007

That’s common in Texas too. Liquor laws in general are kinda goofy, because the state and the counties subordinate themselves to local communities. So a county, which under state law has the jurisdiction, can be “dry”, but towns can trump them with local ordinances. Some towns are what we call “semi-dry” which means you can join a “club” and buy a drink.

11. Enas Yorl - February 28, 2007

Liquor laws in general are kinda goofy

A long time ago, in a Texas far, far away…

My parental units told me that in some places, bars didn’t actually sell liquor – you had to bring your own and they sold you “set ups”: the glass, ice, & mixer (if necessary) and the service of the mixing of your drink. Do they still do it this way?

12. Dave in Texas - March 1, 2007

Yes. Places that don’t have their liquor license (waiting on it, or it got yanked) can do that – and some sleazy strip clubs who can’t get a license.

I read somewhere.

Texas is dotted with these old dance halls – very popular places. Lots of musicians cut their teeth in places like Star Hall, Sefcik Hall, Gruene.. they also sell set ups cause they typically can’t get a license (the farmers and ranchers who all drink there won’t vote yes cause it would make momma mad).

13. DarElvis - March 1, 2007

The real size of the GSLC Airport will not be revealed to you until you have traversed the inner-circle of true knowledge and understanding. I think that can be achieved by gargling the lake’s water. Besides, most visitors to SLC are traveling via space saucer, so there is really no need for tarmacs or luggage carrousels. Nanu, Nanu.

14. davebones - March 5, 2007

I got to come to Texas. I’ve heard its heaven for all sorts of live music.

15. Ed Darrell - December 8, 2007

The university founded by Brigham Young is in Salt Lake City, and now known as the University of Utah.

Brigham Young University came later. Much later.

When I left Salt Lake City, I thought as I drove up Parley’s Canyon that never again would I live in a place where it was so hard to get a drink.

Then, a few years later, I found myself in Dallas.

Utah has it’s weird liquor laws, but you can get a drink there. That’s not true in much of Texas.

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