Thursday, February 28, 2013

Out 'n About in SLC

Kim and I had nearly a full day to kill before our evening flight home.  Since we'd spent most of our vacation skiing, this was our opportunity to check out the sights in Salt Lake City.

Size matters!  Click on any photo to enjoy a larger version.

The site of the 2002 Olympics!

First up - a visit to the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Cauldron Park.  A huge fan of the Olympics, I was super-excited to see the very stadium that held the XIX Olympic Winter Games opening and closing ceremonies.

(And you finally get to see a photo of me without my blue ski coat and helmet!  You now know what I normally look like).

The Olympic Cauldron

The Olympic Cauldron Park is located next to the Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus.  The main attraction, of course, is the cauldron, lit for the duration of the 2002 winter games.  It was designed to look like an icicle to compliment the motto of the 2002 Olympics, Light the Fire Within, and its Fire and Ice theme.

Channeling my inner freestyle skier

A fence encircles one end of the stadium, decorated with colorful panels.  I later learned (thanks to Wikipedia) that there are 17 panels on this fence, one for each day of the Olympics.  The interior sides of the panels describe the highlights of each particular day, and the outer images are the same ones that adorned buildings in Salt Lake City during the games.

Colorful images decorated the fence

Of course, I only took photos of the panels with skiers. :)  (Not really, these two just turned out the best).

Another fence view

At the fence's far end, stood a intricate sculpture.  I later learned that this beautiful artwork, known as the Hoberman Arch, was originally located in the Olympics Medal Plaza downtown.  It was used as a backdrop for the Olympic medal ceremonies, and also as a concert venue.  After the Olympics ended, it was moved to this present location.

The Hoberman Arch

After walking the length of the fence, and peering at the cauldron through its bars, Kim and I decided to check out the visitor center.  The place was deserted.  As a matter of fact, we startled the one man working there when he walked out of a store room and saw us.  We got the impression this place doesn't see many visitors anymore (well, the SLC games were over 10 years ago).

There really wasn't much to see.  The only things on display were a collection of photographs from the 2002 games, and a torch in a glass case.  Supposedly, you could watch a movie, but the theater was roped off, and didn't look like it had seen recent use.

Snowy day at the Cauldron Park

Kim spotted a set of doors that opened to the courtyard where the cauldron resided.  She asked the visitor center host if we could go outside, and the man seemed surprised at our request.  He made the comment that almost nobody ever wanted to go out there.  But he was fine with us exploring the plaza.  Out we went again, into the snow (no one had bothered to shovel the walks, probably due to the lack of visitors).  Kim joked about us making "first tracks."

Not much happening today

The cauldron's base was fenced off, so we weren't able to get very close.  It was surrounded by some sort of concrete wall.  Everything was covered in snow, so I wasn't able to tell what it was.  Later (again via research on Wikipedia) I learned that this is supposed to be a plaza with a reflecting pool.  The names of all the 2002 medalists are engraved in stones at its base.

The cauldron looked shabby and dirty.  It didn't appear to get much use anymore.  I suppose interest has waned, since its been many years since the 2002 games.  Still, it was very cool to see an actual Olympic cauldron, live and in person.

Fountain in City Creek Center

Our Olympic quest complete, Kim and I hopped on the TRAX light rail train and headed for downtown.  Both being nerdy transportation engineers, we had a field day checking out all the light rail infrastructure, and comparing it to Portland's system.  Of course, we also took note of the curb ramps, sidewalks, and street paving (we're such geeks!)

Retractable roof in City Creek Shopping Center

Downtown SLC has a fabulous new shopping center, called City Creek.  It takes up nearly four blocks, and is interconnected through skybridges.  The ceiling boasts a retractable roof, that I'm assuming is opened on beautiful summer days.  There are fountains in two plazas, and an actual rock-lined creek trickles through the center.  Kim and wandered the many levels of this mall, admiring the beautiful decor.

Salt Lake LDS Temple

Directly across the street from City Creek, was Temple Square, world HQ of the LDS church.  Although neither of us are Mormon, Kim and I were still interested in checking it out.  Having visited SLC as a teenager, I recalled that the Salt Lake Temple was a stunningly beautiful building. 

Close up of intricate details

Temple Square was a lovely place.  Although the dead of winter, the grounds were immaculately maintained, every walk shoveled.  And the temple was just as breathtaking as I remembered.

Golden angel Moroni on top

The temple was encircled with a fence.  Only LDS members are allowed inside.  Kim and I went into one of the visitor centers, and it had a interesting set of exhibits that described the temple construction.  Being nerdy civil engineers, Kim and I ate that up. 

An impressive building!

This magnificent building took 40 years to complete.  Starting in 1853, granite stone for the temple was mined from nearby Little Cottonwood Canyon.  It was constructed by church members.  Imagine building such a large intricate structure without the modern tools and equipment we have today.  An impressive feat!

Kin checks out the founders statues

Back outside, Kim and I wandered the nearby plazas, stopping to read inscriptions on a statue or two.

Smaller church building

I thought this smaller church building especially pretty.  Not sure what it's used for, though.  We were kind of hoping to catch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in rehearsal, but no such luck.

Pano view of Temple Square

I was kind of glad to be here in wintertime.  With leafless trees, you could see all the buildings through the bare branches.  But I'm sure this place is especially beautiful in the spring and summer when flowers and plants are in full bloom.

Angel glimpse through the branches

Heading to the airport later in the day, Kim and I reminisced about our successful trip.  Although not the abundance of fresh powder we'd hoped for, the skiing was still loads of fun.  The people of Utah were wonderful - extremely friendly and helpful.  Nothing but excellent service everywhere we went.  And our motel staff were amazing; I highly recommend the Crystal Inn at Midvale.  The people who work here totally rock!

I hope to return again and ski more of Utah's resorts.  Maybe next time I'll get lucky and hit the powder jackpot. 

Linking to:  Sunny Simple Sunday.


  1. That was fun! I have seen Temple Square (and was lucky to catch a choir rehearsal or performance there...amazing acoustics). Can't remember the name of the small church either, but maybe a LDS member can help you with that. Loved the Olympic cauldron...I didn't see that, but pretty sure I've been to the Medal Plaza about a year or so after the 2002 Olympics. Also really loved the huge family history library and Red Rock Gardens...and.I am pretty sure we the Crystal Inn in SLC :-)
    I am making my 'to see' list...
    Blessings, Aimee

  2. When we were in SLC the whole area around the temple was under heavy road construction so we didn't get to explore. Thanks for the tour!

  3. Loved my tour of SLC. This is a capital which we have not yet visited, so was especially curious about the things you chose to do. Being an Olympics nut myself, we'd for sure visit those sights. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. BTW, I get excited every month when I turn over to a new page in my calendar. It is so beautiful and I'm glad that I won it!! Shouldn't previous winners automatically receive subsequent year calendars??? LOL!

  4. Great photos and sure sounds like it was an amazing trip!

  5. Great post on SLC - I really enjoyed getting to see it. Beautiful photos.

  6. I seem to think we walked around the temple are in September and it was very beutifully kept. It is a nice little town. Did you make it to the great salt lake? We had never done that the last time we were there, so we was not what we thought it would be at all.

  7. How neat! It looks like a fun place to visit with lots to see. I love the photo of you channeling your inner freestyle skier :)

  8. Looks like fun. Only been there for brief visits the temple area is awesome


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