Daughter and I went to Salt Lake City for her Spring Break. Five days in a nice hotel, with nothing to do but the fun things we planned ourselves. Or rather, that she planned. I let her take the lead on these trips, since this is our third annual trip to what she calls "Mormon Disneyland."
We took our time getting on the road that first day. A stop at Walmart for snacks and drinks. Breakfast with Ranger. Put all of our potential destinations in the GPS's "favorites" menu. Point the car west, and off we go!
Note: I say "Off we go!" a lot. My daughter thinks it sounds like Spanish, so now she says, "Afuego!" (which really is a Spanish word) whenever we go some place. Silly girl.
As we entered tiny little Wellington, Utah, she noticed that the itsy tiny town actually has two Mormon church buildings, or "meetinghouses." See, you get a new church building when you have enough people to fill it. It says something about the LDS population there that a little town has as many meetinghouses as Lubbock, Texas - population 200,000-ish.
So, Daughter made up a new game for traveling in Utah. Instead of Slug Bug, we now have Slug-a-Meetinghouse. We spent the rest of the drive irreverently looking for the distinctive LDS steeples, so we could (softly) punch each other in the arm.
I recently got a Palm Pre. Daughter found a free app for keeping score in Slug Bug games, but we now use it for meetinghouses. How fun is that?
Finally, we arrived in Salt Lake City, at our favorite hotel. It's located on the same street as Temple Square and the Gateway Mall area, equal distance from each. How much more convenient can you get, when those two locations are Daughter's biggest priorities? It is also a block from the theater where we were going to see comedian Brian Regan perform. If you haven't seen him, you must go straight to YouTube and have a look! Good, clean humor, suitable for my daughter. And she just loves him.
Dinner was at the hotel, where they serve a kind of rustic-nouveau cuisine. Daughter had a Caesar salad that didn't quite turn out as she imagined. Long leaves of lettuce, wrapped in fried-to-a-crisp cheese thing, with a mountain of tomatoes, and a drizzle of dressing. We had a tiny table that ended up filled like a puzzle with square and rectangular dishes. Even the manager commented on our "very full table top."
The room was heaven. A lovely view of the city at night. Sleep Number beds, which were a riot to play with. Each morning, we had a good laugh at the Mommy- and Daughter-shaped crevasses we left in our beds.
Daughter had planned many sights to see. Temple Square, shopping at the Gateway Mall (namely, Build-a-Bear Workshop), Hogle Zoo, the Children's Museum, the planetarium, Heritage Park, Pioneer History Museum, and dinner at the Mayan Adventure, with all the hot divers jumping into the water before you, as you have dinner. Yeah, she's not old enough to date, but is gaining an appreciation for quality man-flesh. The Twilight series and their ripped actors have done this for her.
However, a pattern emerged as the trip actually got underway. Not much of this agenda proved to be a big priority. Each day, she's wake up about 10:00-11:00 and start talking. She'd get ready and talk until 1:00 or later. It was like she had stored up all these things to say and discuss when we were alone, without being surrounded by a houseful of prying eyes and ears. It was painfully obvious to me that she felt we had no private place or uninterupted time at home, where she could speak freely, and I could respond freely.
She talked about school, church, friends, family, home, and all of the ups and downs of her daily life. She just talked and talked. Sitting in the hotel room, facing each other on our respective cushy beds, I couldn't think of anything better I'd rather do. I didn't care one bit about what we were missing or what we could be doing out in the city. My teenage daughter wanted to talk to me, and no one else.
How huge of a treasure is that? And I'll always cherish that memory, of just sitting peacefully and listening to her, my lovely daughter. I couldn't be more proud of her.
When we finally left the hotel, we'd look for food first. She had a list of restaurants we simply had to go to, and what she wanted there. We found a new one, though. And it's now on her "have to" list.
It's a wonderful sushi restaurant we found around the corner. She became sushi-obsessed! We ate there twice. Some of it had to do with this delightful thing they had called Ramune soda. It has a marble in it. When you get it, you press on the top and it shoots this glass marble into the bottle, where it's helpd in a chamber that keeps you from swallowing it. It's a light, refreshing soda, too. Are we suckers for marketing or what?
Then, we headed to the Children's museum, which was really meant for small children to pass many hours in hands-on learning play. A friend recommended it to Daughter. She enjoyed it, anyhow, and made her first stop-motion animated film there! It's about three seconds long and ends with a blood-curdling scream. Gotta love it.
Of course, she had to make a stop at Build-a-Bear, and...uh...build a bear. These stuffed animals have become her souvenier of choice when we travel. We sat on a patio and had Ben and Jerry's ice cream, and watched the water feature they have in the Gateway plaza, with Olympic music playing. The water feature is built on the logo from the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake. Kinda fun.
The Mayan Adventure was as fun as ever. Entering this place feels like you're going into a ride at Disneyland. Daughter got a spectacular dessert that actually has fireworks on top. It spews brilliantly for about a minute. It's the only thing that distracted her from the divers.... She took a lot of pictures.
Besides shopping and eating, our sightseeing ended up being Temple Square. That's all, but we spent hours there. Daughter took 79 pictures in that area alone.
Something is very spiritually-nourishing to her, just being there. We like to lay our hands on the temple itself and talk about our ancestors, who helped build it so long ago. And the trouble they went through to be there, and work on it.
Watching her take her pictures, she seemed so small beside this grand structure. I took the one to the right, standing at the base. It's an awesome perspective to me. Oh, I could go on....
Saturday was our big day. She was so excited to go see Brian Regan at Abravanel Hall. So, we woke up slowly that morning. I noticed that it was getting late in the morning, but the usual bright sunshine wasn't peeking through the curtains. So, I opened them. And saw this....
No, not fog. That's snow. You should be able to see tall buildings in this shot. But no....there's snow.
We wandered down the street for lunch, at a cafe by Temple Square. It looked link this:
Again, you should see buildings behind the temple. But it's snow. We just couldn't believe it! We'd had such bright sunshine before that day! And we were to head into the mountains, going home the next day. It was a little worrisome.
That night, after the hilarity of the comedy show, we had dinner at the Garden Restaurant. It's at the top of the building beside Temple Square, and had the creme brullee thatwas on Daughter's list. The dining room has huge windows, overlooking the temple. As darkness fell, the spires of the temple were lit. One at a time, the lights on each spire would gradually start to glow and gain brightness in the dark and fog. When all six spires were lit, I realized again that the fog was snow, as the large flakes were silhouetted against the glow. It was a breathtaking sight.
We took our time leaving the next day, giving Soldier Pass a chance to thaw a little. I'd tried to check the highway cam online to see the conditions, but the camera's lense was covered with snow. That alone told me something.
Finally, we made our way home. Back to the chaos that we call home, anyhow. Daughter was a little quieter on the drive back. But we each carry brilliant memories of our time together. Our special time each year, that I'll treasure always.
12 hours ago