Today we woke up alarmingly early at three in the morning so that we would be able to catch our seven in the morning flight to Salt Lake City. We reached the airport on time and since we had checked in online and had mobile boarding passes we headed straight for security. We were in for quite a surprise. Even though we had reached several hours before the flight we had to face an incredibly long queue for security. We had managed to clear security after an hours wait and we decided to get a spot of breakfast. We had found an Italian place that served a breakfast pizza. I never thought in my life that I would find something so American.
While the breakfast tasted great, we sadly didn’t have all that much time to truly enjoy the food as we had to quickly rush to our Delta Airlines flight. Our Delta flight to Salt Lake City was leaving from a satellite terminal. This meant we had to catch an inter-terminal train which ran underneath the airport. By the time, we made the short journey to the terminal it was time for boarding. We eventually began our short flight into the unknown. While Nalin and I have been to the United States many times we had never been to Utah. I was feeling a sense of excitement and anxiety. The flight time was short but we were able to get some truly fantastic views of the Rocky Mountains.
The views prior to landing
As we were landing we noticed that the weather coming in was cloudy and cold. It would provide for quite the driving experience.
Soon after landing, we headed straight towards the rental car desk. The process of collecting the car would be simple and we even had the option of renting a big SUV. This option would be good for some of the off road tracks near Monument Valley. Unfortunately, we were unable to rent the giant SUV for one simple reason. We would not be returning the car in Salt Lake City but we would be returning it Denver, Colorado. The agency did not allow their big SUVs to be dropped off in a different location. After filling in the paperwork and receiving the extra damage waiver we soon collected the keys to our car. We were given a relatively new car, the 2014 Hyundai Sonata. At the time, I did not know that I would form an attachment to the car.
The car I would eventually form a bond with
After checking out the car for any prior damage we soon headed to our hotel. We would be staying at the Grand America Hotel which, according to the brochure, offers some great views of the Rockies. However, the weather proved to be quite cloudy as we could hardly see anything. The drive to the hotel wasn’t long but it was quite a learning curve for me.
Since I didn't have the opportunity to drive on the other side of the road, I had to adapt quickly to unknown driving rules. Most of these rules are uniquely American. This includes significantly higher speed limits and right turn on red. Nevertheless, we made it in one piece and checked in. The room was quite spacious and had lovely furnishings.
After resting a while and donning a tactical turtleneck or tactleneck as I like to call it, we headed towards an important monument. Utah is the home of the Mormon religion and we were going to its home in Temple Square. Temple Square is a huge and impressive facility complete with massive office buildings and a museum. The museum was a small building but it showcased the religion's history.
In addition to the office buildings and the museum, there were two houses, one of them is the original home of Brigham Young. Brigham Young is one of the founders of the Mormon religion. He brought all the original followers to Salt Lake City to set up the religion.
Brigam Young's house
In the middle of Temple Square was the Salt Lake Temple which is an impressive sight. The size was immense; I had never seen a church that large before.
The main temple
As we walked into the square we were greeted by two Mormon missionaries. They had invited us into the music hall called the Tabernacle. This features the world the famous Tabernacle pipe organ. The Mormon missionaries were quite interested to find out where we were from. When we told them we were from Singapore their eyes opened wide and they were exhibiting wide smiles. They were very happy to see South East Asians as they were from the Philippines. Nalin and I were curious as to why two women from the Philippines decided to join the Mormon church as missionaries. They said that they had found their purpose in life and it was their true calling in life. I felt they were quite polite and weren't forcing this religion upon the two of us. They were simply acting as teachers who wanted to spread more knowledge about this religion. After the short “lesson” in this religion, we headed towards the Tabernacle hall. The hall is home to the Tabernacle organ which is a magnificent pipe organ. It is one of the finest pipe organs in the world and today we got to listen to a short organ performance.
The Tabernacle Hall and organ
The performance was quite the sight and quite the sound. The lighting and music made for a great auditory and visual experience.
After the visit to the square, we decided to have a spot of lunch. However, I ended up choosing a vegetarian restaurant which catered to my inner super health freak. It specialised in vegan cuisine and it was gluten free and carb free. Nalin got himself a vegan mac and cheese which was made with “nut cheese” and Zucchini “pasta”. I got myself savoury pancakes made with chickpeas and with fresh grilled vegetables. To our surprise, it was incredibly tasty and quite filling.
Soon after filling up on the super healthy food we headed to the city’s namesake, the Great Salt Lake. It was a short drive but we had to drive through snow and rather barren conditions. It felt like we were driving through a communist wasteland akin to old movie descriptions of Soviet Russia. We soon reached a small building which showcased a brief history of the Salt Lake. After admiring whatever little view we could get, we headed back to the hotel to rest up before dinner.
The "cold and desolate" lands surrounding the lake
Our "excellent" view of the lake
Before heading to dinner we decided to ask the hotel staff for a recommendation and they gave us one at this New York Style grill. Before heading there, we decided to take a nice long walk around the area just to check out more of the city. It was a shame that we were leaving tomorrow as it was quite a nice city, I wish we explored more of it. We explored the nearby courthouse which showcased similar architecture to the main Mormon Temple. Afterwards, we headed towards the Salt Lake City public library. The style of the library was a strong contrast to the courthouse as it featured a shiny glass structure.
Outside views of our hotel
We headed for dinner where we enjoyed a nice dinner with drinks. I treated myself to a dry martini with dinner while my brother had something different. Since we were at a grill, vegetarian options were few but thankfully they had a decent vegetarian menu. It was a filling meal and I enjoyed it immensely. When we headed back to the hotel, the concierge staff who recommended the restaurant to us wished the two of us a happy valentines day. It gave us the impression that she thought the two of us were dating. This we found to be quite odd as we thought we looked alike so the staff could tell we looked like brothers. After that confusion we took an early night as tomorrow we would be driving 380 miles to Monument Valley. Little did I know that the next two days of driving would be the toughest of my life.