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Honeymoon V: Salt Lake City

Posted by on August 9, 2010

Midnight in Salt Lake City. Gene realized he needed his phone charger from the car and went out for it. When he got back in, he said “You need to come see this.”

Incidentally: Salt Lake City? Not what you’d expect. Sure, they’ve got the giant Mormon temple compound at Temple Square, with dozens of well-sleeved Mormon brides and their fellas posed by every fountain to take pictures, but the city itself is less than fifty percent Mormon. And the non-Mormon counter-culture takes pains to really announce itself. You see a lot of tattoos and facial piercings, a lot of big loud I AM NOT A MORMON declarations. And yes, there are plenty of places to get alcohol: our hotel was in walking distance of three brewpubs and countless bars.

But back to that midnight. We were staying downtown, where the streets are about seven lanes wide, but at that time of night there was almost no traffic, barring an occasional taxi or cop car. The air was bathwater warm. And across the street from our hotel, something very strange was going on.

I have to say, I wasn’t expecting to find cool things to do in Salt Lake City, but I was so wrong. We found a museum a few blocks from our hotel that had asked local artists to create fantastical mini-golf holes, and they’d built a course you could play on for free. There were sculptures to golf through, and fabrics, and little cities. Several holes had moving parts, and one was hooked up to an old Donkey Kong arcade game that played a fun little graphic if you got a hole in one. It was ridiculously fun.

But I was telling you about this midnight experience. Across the street, a man was playing piano on the corner. He’d welded himself a little trailer which held an upright piano, and he’d towed this piano with his bicycle all the way to this corner. We came and sat down with a few other people who were there, and listened to this guy and his friend play Debussy and Chopin and Beethoven with remarkable skill, as well as some original stuff. Just us, the moon, the midnight and a little flutter of piano keys. It was surreal and wonderful, and then Gene told the guy to come to the Bay Area and play live on KALX, which always makes me feel like a big shot record executive, or at least a big shot record executive’s wife.

We didn’t take many pictures in Salt Lake City — too busy having fun and drinking a lot — but what pictures we did take are here. You can also see pictures from our drive out of Yellowstone past the Grand Tetons and along the National Parks Highway.

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