Salt Lake City, UT

The last time I was in Salt Lake City, I must have been 12 or 13 years old. My father took us there on vacation, I don’t remember much about that vacation other than swimming in the Salt Lake. We went to a touristy beach area, which seemed a bit desolate, probably because the day felt sort of gloomy.

I remember the weather being warm despite the sky being overcast. The water wasn’t necessarily warm, but swim-able. We could walk distances from shore and the water never came above our waists. Brittany taught me how to make a flotation device out of my shirt by tying the bottom and sleeves in knots and holding the neckline tight, trapping a small pillow of air inside (if, in case, I was stranded overboard and needed this survival tip in the future one day).

We played at the edge of the lake as preteens do. I cupped water in my hands and brought it up to my face. My father told me the only living organism able to survive in the lake is a certain type of brine shrimp, because the water is so salty, nothing else is able to thrive as they do. When I looked closely, I saw them, little red creatures swimming – literally – in the palm of my hands! Brine shrimp are interesting lil buggars; I believe they’re the same creature dubbed as “sea-monkeys,” but if you’ve never seen one, they’ve got a flexible spine, thin as a line, with a feather-like body, the entire being no larger than a grain of rice.

And that was the extent of my memory of Salt Lake City. Until last weekend.

I happened to be in town for a music festival, which allowed us to do some exploring during the day, since the show was during night (feel free to read about my festival escapade)! The only fact I remember about Utah from American history class in high school is the state is majority Mormon, since that’s where all the Mormons migrated (for a reason I can’t remember, but historical enough to end up in high school history textbooks, I guess).

jFaull travel tip #11: Using rideshare allows you brief periods of time with locals to get the inside scoop of the land, while getting where you need to go.

One of my bestfriends, Malyks, and I met in Salt Lake, our planes landing within five minutes of each other. We didn’t rent a car, so we took Uber everywhere, which I almost prefer. JFaull travel tip #11: Using rideshare allows you brief periods of time with locals to get the inside scoop of the land, while getting where you need to go (find my first 10 silly travel tips here). Why is this ideal for traveling? You get answers to causal questions, or The Know on local secrets and hidden gems, without having to spend too much time with strangers. Using rideshare is private transportation and better-than-traditional-travel-research bundled in one.

One of our first Uber drivers suggested hiking since there are loads of trails on the surrounding mountains. I looked out the backseat window to the hills on the edge of town. I speculated the low lying mountains would require an hour or 2 to summit (at my current fitness level haha). Unfortunately, Malyks and I were prepared for the festival, not to hike; thus, didn’t pack any sort of workout attire.

Another Uber driver suggested we visit the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, which has a fine dining buffet on the 10th floor and a 360 view of the city. I absolutely love restaurants on top floors and who doesn’t appreciate a good view?! However, the restaurant opened at 5:00 pm, the same time as the festival grounds. We decided The Roof would be top of our list the next time we were in town.

Speaking of restaurants, I believe it was the same Uber driver who also told us about Lion House Pantry. The story goes something like this: Brigham Young was a famous guy (Mormon, no doubt), who also happened to be the governor of Utah. He had a lot of wives and a lot of children and they all cooked and ate in the same place. This place was known as The Cafeteria. So, this is sort of a historical landmark, which had been preserved, and is now – ironically – a restaurant for the public! I found this to be so incredibly fascinating that I was actually really bummed we didn’t have a chance to eat there. If you wanna check it out, you can visit their website here.

Now, I know you’re wondering, if I didn’t do any of the things I just mentioned, what the fuck did i do? LOL. Let me tell you. We did visit Temple Square, gorgeous place really. There’s a temple in the middle of town that’s beautifully detailed, surrounded by an open garden. We weren’t the only ones. There were countless families there, dressed in their best, taking photos in groups and in couples, because each family was celebrating a wedding.

After walking around Temple Square with our jaws dragging along the ground from witnessing the beauty, we went to the Saturday Market downtown, which was quite impressive. Vendors were selling almost everything imaginable: jewelry, knives, art, honey, trinkets, you know, the usual commodities you see at street fairs. We bought essential oils, homemade lip balms and lotions. There was a stand with peach samples, we couldn’t resist. The sliver of peach we tasted was so sweet and juicy, we picked out 2 for breakfast the following day.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on an outdoor patio of a cute bar called Lake Effect. We sipped sophisticated cocktails and caught up on life. See, Malyks recently moved out of state and there’s so much to converse about, as we’ve been getting used to this time apart, growing older, and adjusting to the transitions in our lives. It’s an interesting feeling, the one where your close friends are no longer is close vicinities and accepting that, as we age, we separate physically, as our lives lead us in different directions, down roads alone or with the company of significant others.

Sunday morning we took our time packing up, preparing for our separation and departure. Malyks was flying back to Colorado and I was flying back to Cali, it felt like our last supper. We headed to Gracie’s to get a drink (or 3) and some food. Gracie’s is a dope joint, with a second floor balcony, to soak up some vitamin D and booze. I suppose we ended up dining roof top, didn’t we?

I know there are other cool spots in Salt Lake City we didn’t have a chance to hit, but with the brief period of time we had, I’m stoked we saw what we did! I’ll have to make another trip out there to experience the rest the city has to offer.

What awesome or unique things have you done in Salt Lake City, UT?

Colors of Healing

IMG_8078This is the view from Little O’Malley. 3258 feet above sea level. Anchorage, Alaska.

Somewhere near the top, the trail ends and you’re forced to wriggle up vegetation, jumping dirt patches littered with sharp rocks, all the while hitting at least a 50° – 60° incline (I’m inclined to say 90 because it felt so steep! But that’s more than an exaggeration – it’s flat out lie). It took 2 bug bites, 1.5 hours, and 1 can of unused bear repellant to climb to the top, which peaks, by far, the most strenuous and dangerous hike (considering the bear attack possibility) I’ve ever summited. For this reason, I feel as if the view was that more beautiful – reveling in the glory of exhaustion to get to the top. Side note: my sister, Brittany, and I were at Fred Meyer an hour prior to this hike, asking the clerk if bear repellant was really necessary for this area.

“Oh yeah, you’ll want bear spray…or a firearm,” was his response.

Brittany and I had planned for a “long hike” which usually means 3-4 hours, but our itinerary on this trip to Alaska (more to come) was rather tight. We were able to fit in a short hike before dinner, which allotted 2 hours to climb a mountain. I summit at 5-something and the reservation was at 7 pm. We agreed to be back at the trailhead by 6, giving us 30 minutes to drive to the vacation rental, 10 minutes each to shower & whatever remaining time to dress and look presentable for a decent restaurant.

“I want to go to the end of the ridge but we have to get back to the trailhead” Brittany said.

“We should just go to the end of the ridge”

“We don’t have time”

“We’re never coming back here to do this hike again,” I said with enthusiastic urgency, “it’s now or never!”

Little O'Malley Ridge

We jogged down the ridge and took these amazing shots of the view. Brittany really wanted a picture laying in the snow, with the peak of O’Malley in the background. It was 5:24 pm. We were supposed to be on the trail heading back but I formed a small snowball and threw it at Brittany, which missed her by 2 feet. I blame my uncoordinated subordinate left hand, even though my intention wasn’t to hit her in the first place. I threw the snowball so I could write the folks back home to let them know Alaska is where to go for snowball fights in the heat of summer.

As we began our descent, two very athletic young men jogged passed me. I tucked my elbows in and took short, quick steps down the mountain.

“What are you doing?” Brittany called out.

“Jogging like those guys were”

“You look funny!”

Down the hill I went in zig-zag formation. Here’s the thing about jogging down a hill: eventually you pick up some momentum which makes it difficult to slow down (mega duh, physics genius). My left foot couldn’t grip a pile of rocks, sliding into the dirt, jagged rock edges sliced into my shin. I remember screaming but standing as quickly as possible, distracting myself by continuing with the hike, tricking my brain into eliminating whatever pain I felt (or fucken tryin’ to). Brittany couldn’t see me at that that point, but thought I broke my leg because she heard me shrill in horror hahah. Luckily, I didn’t (rolled out of that like a Ninja).

Fall on Little O'Malley

Not long after my fall, and a very rigorous jog down a fucken hill, we hit the valley floor. There was about a half mile between us a the trailhead, a small river in between. I filled my empty bottle with the rushing melted glacier water and cleansed my filthy leg of the bug spray, dirt, sweat, and blood. We arrived at the trailhead by 6:03 p.m. practically on fucken time.

Colors of Healing

I took this picture a couple days after I got back to California. The swelling in my thigh subsided and the bruises began to show. Another side note: I’m a weird person and man enough to admit it. One of the things I think makes me weird is my likeness to getting bruises. No, I don’t like getting hurt. I don’t purposefully throw myself against walls (or in this case, down steep mountains) on purpose to form bruises.

I like bruises because they come with phases. You see them pass through each stage until they finally disappear, the pain is gone, and the only thing that remains is the memory and the smile on your face from reminiscing the stupid idea that formed the bruise. In a couple days, a week would have passed since that hike and the bruises are already less visible than when I took this picture.

There’s a unique joy that awaits me at the sight of healing bruises. I find a small pleasure in knowing that my body is working properly, that all functions to heal bruises are at full capacity, that I’m (for the most) part “healthy” in that sense. What I enjoy more is  the progression, with each passing day, as the bruise changes from hues of dark blue and purple to faded greens and yellows, eventually matching my natural skin tone. The colors of healing are, of course, interesting to witness, I mean, the human body is pretty flippin’ incredible…but I appreciate knowing that pain is temporary.

Watching bruises heal is physical evidence that what we go through is what makes us who we are. We absorb experiences, trauma, hardships. Even if bruises fade, we’re still continuing to heal inside, in unseen ways. Physically. Mentally.  Emotionally. All of  the above. We don’t choose our scars, sometimes they’re not inflicted by our own selves, but perhaps by others. Some scars may not even be visible the naked eye. Maybe they’re metaphorical for the emotional and/or mental pain we’ve endured. Either way, we must adjust. Our bodies must function at whatever capacity we can, to soak in pain, to digest and molt, to transform and restructure. To heal.

I don’t mind the scar on my shin, in fact, my sister’s boyfriend calls it “punk rock” lmfao.  It’s times like these I look at bruises on my legs and know this is another experience that shapes my foundation, shifts my perspective on the world, and reminds me to slow the fuck down on treacherous mountainsides.