America Through My Eyes

Yellowstone -2 Salt Lake City

Telugu Original : Dr K.Geeta 

English Translation: V.Vijaya Kumar

          Although there was a great deal of hubbub since our departure, we were glad that we had the chance to have dinner in San Jose because the flight was delayed by an hour. We learned only after arriving at Salt Lake City that the one hour late, made us suffer a lot there. Our flight was supposed to reach Salt Lake City at eleven, but due to the delay, it arrived at twelve. 

The trouble with the rental car

          We were the last to get off the plane. And we had to wait for the baby car seat and stroller to arrive. We failed to find the rental car that we booked online at that airport booking center. There were up to 10 counters from various rental companies except for the one we booked. There was no one at the counter to ask for the details. When we called the toll-free number in our booking center, after ten minutes, a person came on the line and told us that there must have been someone at the counter, but they did not know what happened. Half an hour later we realized that their closing time was mid-noon. That’s it! Even if there was a delay in the flight, they closed the counter, not bothering the booked customers, considering it unnecessary. The only option for us there is to book another rental car. So we both stood in the other two centers open for that booking. On the other hand, the kids were asleep. They told us coolly after standing for an hour that we should book the cars online before, otherwise their system will not be updated!  If we book now, they told us that they will inform us whether the cars are available or not, only after waiting another hour and a half, after the system has been updated. 

          By then, we had exhausted our patience. We took a taxi first and went to the hotels we booked, thinking that we could come early and take care of this car. We took the luggage and the children and left, as our hotel was so close to the airport. We got the taxi for $10. For a rental taxi, we walked between the terminals out of the airport. The hot weather outside was scorching. Varu said, “Mother! Why is it like Singapore? The only hot country she figures out is Singapore! So she refers to Singapore for any hot climate!

          Salt Lake City is a place covered in snow during winter. But it is so hot in summer.  We thought everything was extreme about it.

          At two and a half in the morning, we reached the hotel and fell into our beds. We got ready early at 8 in the morning and came back to the airport by taxi, hoping that our rental car counter would be open in the morning. We inquired in advance if we could find anywhere around. When we were told in the hotel reception that the rental car facilities were available only in the surrounding airport we proceeded there. 

          There were about 25 people in the line already and not a single soul was in the night.  I’m running out of patience. I walked briskly to the line and told the person about our trouble at night and asked him to allow me to go ahead of him in the line. Luckily he accepted. Only one girl was working at all three counters.  And that’s a great irksome business of intolerance.  When it was my turn, I said to the girl at the counter that I wanted to speak to the manager.  I told him about our problem that night and questioned him about how they closed the counter and left without knowing the details of the flight delay while all the other counters were open. Even though I was talking in a normal voice, as if she was afraid of the seriousness on my face, she immediately cooled me down and said, “Sorry, sorry, I will give you the vehicle you have booked as soon as possible” and started preparing the papers.  From there, I have to call Satya and hand over the work. I didn’t bring my purse then.When I looked around for him, he saw me at the end of the line. I called him to come closer. He  came and said, “Let’s go back, let’s get in line again, it’s not good to make a fuss like this.”  Since our papers were already ready at the counter, he started collecting them without saying a word. We waited for another 45 minutes to get our turn.  Even before they gave the keys, the cars lined up at the counter, and we had to wait until the car was ready at the counter, where the cars were lined up.  They handed over the jeep we booked at 10 o’clock.  We liked the vehicle very much. I said I would drive first.  There is no food for us since morning. We went back to the hotel. The breakfast session was already over. So the children ordered hot chocolate.

Salt Lake City Tour

          We preferred a full-day tour of Salt Lake City. So we got prepared with the bags we needed for the trip. New car, new place, going in search of everything…things that I love the most, but make Satya nervous.

          It was half past eleven by the time we got everything ready, so we decided to have lunch together, and first, we went to an Indian restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City. We parked in a nearby alley and walked. It’s a buffet system. So we ate pleasingly to our stomachs and everyone was happy with the meal. Children demanded that they sit on the rocking tables inside the hotel. The owner of the hotel invited them and encouraged them by saying, “sit down” as you wished, for courtesy’s sake. When we went outside to take photos, the sun was so hot that it scorched our scalp and we felt thirsty.

          Even before the city tour started, the kids started feeling thirsty. I realized that if we don’t buy enough fresh water, juices, cool drinks, and an ice box before we go, we can’t go even a step ahead.

          We searched on the phone if there was any “safe way” nearby. There were none by that name, and a phone search of a couple of California supermarkets that we know of doesn’t turn up anything. Then we could understand that we were in another state a thousand miles away from California.  Well, when we searched for the nearest supermarket that sells groceries, we found “Big Lots” which was about a mile and a half away. Our search began with whether there would be water available or not, and reached there. It looked like a big supermarket.  Not everything of course, but luckily, we got the bare minimum, especially what we needed. We moved forward drinking now and then the drinks we bought from the ice box.

          “Salt Lake City” is the capital of the state of Utah. A beautiful city with tall buildings sprouting between rocky hills with no greenery around.  It is also a very unique city. The graphic art that is drawn criss crossed across the walls of high-rise modern buildings is feasted at every turn. In a way, it can be called “Church City”.  After seeing the premises of the churches here in Temple Square, and knowing that half of the entire population here belongs to that church, that statement seems to be true.

Temple Square

          First we visited the main sightseeing place, Temple Square. We couldn’t find any parking nearby. Beyond two to three traffic lights away we parked and started walking.

          I remember suddenly, as a kid, when we visited Warangal we climbed on the Ekashila in the hot sun in the same way. We walked leisurely looking at beautiful roads, bustling people, and the roadside shopping complexes.  Between the gates of the north and south entrances in the temple square, there were wide church buildings, tall trees, and workers who greet and talk to those who come with a smile. I saw a museum on the right side of the south gate where we entered. I went inside and watched.

          Exhibits detail the expansion of the “Mormon” sect from Temple Square in the 18th century.  And the buildings built in various ways tell the great and beautiful features of every one of those premises. Various prayer halls were there. If a hall is round, a hall is square, whatever hall you go into, there is a wide courtyard, a high stage, and circular seating that can accommodate thousands of people around.  Great sense of quietude as soon as you step on it.

          Though the “Mormon” religion sect started in the 18th century, it was very vigorous.  Temple Square is the main center here.  Activists explaining LDS Church policies around the world are guiding and asking visitors if they have questions.  It took almost an hour to see everything.  I asked for a copy of the “Book of Mormon” as I was curious about it. The day was sunny. The water we brought was depleted and we snatched cold water wherever we found it in the temple square and drank it. We gulped one to two bottles of water in an hour. From there we watched the nearby State Capitol Building and City Hall from the outside. We parked on the side of the Eagle Gate Monument road. Another big park in the city is Liberty Park”, As we could not find a parking spot, we had to leave immediately.

Great Salt Lake

          We preferred leaving the town for a while, to know how the city got its name by visiting the “Great Salt Lake” which gave the town its name.

          The Great Salt Lake is a large saltwater lake 75 miles long and 30 miles wide. It is the largest saltwater lake on the western continent. On the other side of the road leading to the lake, we can see the “Saltaire” concert building from the outside. There were great resorts here in the 19th century with the same name.  “Saltair” which has now been built for the third time continues as a concert building.  It looked like a “gurdwara” from the outside.

          We went to the lake. Before going there, we were misled that it was a beautiful lake, but when we went down towards the lake from the small visiting center, we saw the shore of the salt lake was dirty with thousands of small, tiny, filthy flies. We didn’t quite understand why they left it so carelessly. There was no chance to halt for a minute and have a look at the lake. Some people were walking into the water and swimming. There were dead birds on the shore, smelling rotten grass everywhere. There were swarms of small flies that seemed to get into the ears and noses. We ran back in a blink of an eye to escape from their hunt. The children started playing with the small stones with the demand to stay a little longer.

          We felt that it was not healthy to stay there for a long time, so we left after ten minutes. From there, we saw a salt refinery with big pipes in front of the road. We bought the refined salt found here in small boxes as a  keepsake. We returned downtown in six hours. This time we proceeded to the planetarium to show the children. There were no shows there that day.  Except for the exhibits. However, we enjoyed seeing all the exhibits like children.  In particular, we took photos of the exhibits that give the illusion of going to the moon and Mars. On the way out from there, some machines spray cold raindrops in the narrow alleys of the restaurants. When sprinkled we ran there, crawled, and got up again, laughing and playing hilarious with the children. We walked back through the streets of Salt Lake City until dark and went to a South Indian restaurant 20 miles away for dinner.  We ate idlis and vadas there and reached back to the hotel at 10:00 pm. The next day we had to travel about three or four hundred miles and leave for Yellowstone, which we wanted to see on our journey. Although we wasted a lot of time in the morning waiting for the car, we watched everything we wanted to glimpse and were happy that the day went well.


(Rest in the next part)

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