Tuesday, July 12, 2011

GAWA2011, Day Ten: Jumping with the Mormons

We arrived in Salt Lake City around noon, just in time to locate a Chick-fil-A and tank up on our first good chicken since leaving the Southeast. All morning long during the drive, Alissa had been obsessing about snowy mountains, and from where we sat at a window booth, we were afforded a tantalizing glimpse of the snow-capped peaks surrounding the city. "I want to go up into the snowy mountains," she repeated dreamily for the umpteenth time that day.

The girls in the booth behind us, obviously oblivious that they could be overheard, carried on a loud-toned conversation about their personal lives, which included this tantalizing exchange:

"What ever happened to Mark?"

"Oh, you know."

"I thought he was really into you!"

"Me too! And then he hooked up with a dude."

And then this gem:

"I just need to stop dating Mormon missionaries. Like, seriously."

Speaking of Mormons, since it's impossible to turn around in Salt Lake City without bumping into one, we figured that it would be silly of us to visit the area without checking out the Mormon Temple downtown. We parked a few blocks away, fed change into the meter, and strolled up clean streets toward Temple Square. Along the way we observed outdoor speed chess matches, carried on a lively exchange with some construction works (who offered us their helmets for our protection), and attempted to give directions to some other tourists. (Seriously, I get asked for directional help all the time when I'm traveling. I shudder to think how many people I have inadvertently misdirected.)

In due time, we arrived at our destination.

Salt Lake Temple

We ambled through the peaceful, well-appointed grounds, enjoying the sun on our shoulders while witnessing the spectacle of dozens of wedding parties waiting for their turn in the Temple.

Temple Square

Temple Square

We also took self-guided tours of the various welcome centers. I've never seen more Brigham Young University apparel in one place as I did on the Temple campus!

Suffer the Little Children

On our walk back to the car, we stopped in at a local coffee and used-book shop that we'd passed earlier in the day. Although I'd committed myself to buy nothing on the trip, I still enjoyed a quick wander amongst the well stocked shelves. There may or may not have been some coveting taking place in the rare book room, but in due time we exited the shop and arrived back at the little red Beetle with a few minutes to spare on the meter.

Our lodgings for the night--another Motel 6--was a complete dump just off a freeway. When we stopped in at a sketchy Rite-Aid down the road to purchase shampoo, we were just in time to witness the store clerk calling the cops on a customer. "I'm so glad we're staying in the good part of town," one of us commented dryly.

Back at the hotel, we showered up (hooray, shampoo!) and got ready to meet our hosts for the evening: Rick and his family.

I don't remember when Rick and I started being Flickr buddies, but I do know what brought us together: a mutual love of jump shots! After a year or two of favoriting each other's jumping pictures, I knew that a visit to Salt Lake would not be complete without some jumping with Rick! The only problem was that not only had we never met in person, but I had no contact with anybody else who had ever met him. Generally when I meet up with people from online, we already have mutual friends who can confirm that the party in question is reasonably sane and safe.

Furthermore, Rick had hospitably offered to pick us up at our hotel, take us out to dinner, and then drive us somewhere for jump shots afterward. However, I haven't read tons of true crime books for nothing: "He says he's bringing his wife," I told Alissa. "If he shows up alone, we're not getting in the car."

He didn't show up alone: he showed up with his wife and two fresh-faced college-aged kids, grinning happily at us from the back seat of the family SUV. Surely they're not all in on it, I assured myself as I tripped climbed up into their vehicle and buckled my safety belt.

It turns out that we had a lot more in common to talk about than jumping. Over a delicious Chinese dinner, we discussed photography, travel, culture, education, and mutual jumping friends. The entire family was well-spoken, fun, and full of good conversation. We probably would have sat for hours talking if we hadn't been so concerned with losing the evening light. As it was, we packed down dinner, trotted back out to the parking lot, and took off for the hills.

"I want to take you guys up the mountains into the snow for some jumps," Rick glanced into the rear-view mirror at us as he gunned it through a yellow light. Alissa's eyes got big with excitement. My eyes got big because the voice of Ann Rule whispered in the back of my mind that perhaps they were all in on it and had just been fattening us up before driving us out of town to--

*ahem*

At any rate, we zoomed up the mountain quickly, chatting and fighting car-sickness (although that last one may just have been me). Along the way, we screeched to a halt in the middle of the road so that Alissa and I could gawk at a mangy moose ambling through the trees along the side of the road.

Soon we were jumping!

We jumped so high our heads are out of the frame!

I'm not sure what to call this!

Shazaam!

Alissa silhouette jump

In addition to jumping, we decided that Alissa and I--who both currently live in Florida--needed some pictures in the snow. What followed was predictably awkward. Alissa, with feet clad in flimsy flip-flops, went slipping around in the snow while I apparently had a moment in which I was convinced that I was a fashion model.

I never knew standing still for a photo would be so hard!

Work It

As the sun came down over the mountains and the night air chilled, we piled back into the truck and made our way back down into Salt Lake. Along the way, we discussed history, travel, and religion. Rick's family also very graciously answered some questions and elaborated on the finer points of Mormonism. Once back at the Motel 6, we said fond goodbyes to our new friends and attempted to lock ourselves safely in for the night.

As we climbed into bed, we could hear the floorboards above us creaking ominously every time our upstairs neighbors made a move. "What if their entire bed comes crashing down and kills us in the middle of the night?" Alissa asked me just before we dropped off to sleep.

"Then it's been nice knowing you," I told her.

* * * *

Incidentally, it is down to Rick and AKB and I finally have a decent picture together. Thanks, buddy! Remember what we said about Florida! You're welcome any time.

Alissa and Ruth

2 comments:

  1. I love you Ruth :)I'm so glad you are brave, hahaha, look at the fun we would have missed if you'd have known about my creepy side!! I'm happy to be your token Mormon friend, and I sure hope we can do this again either here or in Florida!! You and Alissa were a hit with the family too. The only thing that makes me sad is we only got a handful of photos and only a couple "babe" shots of you two! Thank you for taking the time to spend an evening with us!!

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  2. I had to be very careful not to spell it "moron"!!

    Rick, seriously... it was fun.

    Fun things to do near my house: go to the beach, take an air boat ride in the everglades, theme parks in Orlando, take the tri-rail down to shop in Miami, jump off my apartment, etc.

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