We had a great weekend celebrating our anniversary in Flagstaff, despite the hail that scared me to death and damaged our car. I definitely want to return to do more exploring. Plus, I loved the hotel the Little America. We stayed at a Little America in Salt Lake City for all the swim meets during my daughter’s college years at “the U.” Go UTES!
We visited a meteor crater, the hotel had two and half miles of hiking trails, I swam in the pool, the food was great. Here are some pics from our trip:
Friday we left for a two-hour drive to celebrate our anniversary in the cool mountain town of Flagstaff, Ariz. We were looking forward to getting out of the heat, exploring a new area, hiking, dining, and staying at our favorite hotel brand, Little America.
Halfway to Flagstaff, we were entranced with big dark clouds that had long threads of rain hanging from them. Then there was a thunderclap and it started to rain. The rain turned into hail within minutes. It sounded like our car was being hit by golf balls. I was scared out of my mind.
My husband asked me to turn on the hazard flashers. My hands shook so badly I couldn’t do it. I began praying the Hail Mary!
We saw cars pull over on the right shoulder of the two-lane highway. But there was a cliff on that side and the visibility was getting awful. We were in the left lane where there wasn’t room to pull over, just a ditch.
Visibility went to zero. My husband drove at one mile per hour, completely blind to what lie ahead. He said he didn’t want to stop in case someone barreled into us.
The hail turned back into rain and when we made it to Flagstaff it was sunny and close to 100 degrees. What a July.
At the hotel, shaken and exhausted, we inspected the car. It’s dented all over the hood, roof and trunk.
What type of freak weather have you experienced? I thought our snow when we first moved to Scottsdale was odd.
After four years of visiting our daughter at the University of Utah, my love affair with Salt Lake City is sadly over. She left the great state of Utah to start a career in Arizona. Although my husband said we can always go back, I wonder, how often will we? My bet is that on a rare occasion we will trek up to see our friends the McKinneys or maybe go to an alumni swim meet. But, other than that, I will miss the gorgeous city surrounded by mountain peaks. Salt Lake City is a vibrant, clean, friendly yet small city.
Another thing that is amazing is the community spirit of rooting for the Utes. Everywhere you see “Go Utes!” murals, flags and signs. The football stadium is always sold out–rain or shine. The gymnastics team is the most attended women’s sport in the country with more than 15,000 fans in the Huntsman Dome.
A friend asked my daughter and me to put together a list of things to do in SLC for her niece who’s a freshman at the University of Utah. Most of our things to do revolved around food. But, all in all it’s a list of our favorite memories during four years of being Ute fans. Here’s our Salt Lake City guide for UTE students, parents and visitors:
A view of the Grand America from the pool deck of the Little America Hotel.
The Grand America Hotel — nicest in SLC, fun to walk through, even if you don’t stay there. I never made it to Sunday Brunch, but it’s supposed to be amazing.
The Little America — same company, Sun Valley Company, owns both the Little and Grand America hotels. It’s very nice but a little more low key than the Grand America. Restaurants are great, try the Coffee Shop for comfort food and amazing hot rolls with butter. I loved the gym and pool and big rooms at a great price. Our home away from home in Salt Lake City.
A sandwich and salad at Les Madeleines.
Valter’s Osteria — fine Italian, special occasion, delicious and great atmosphere. The owner Valter is so personable!
Market Street Grill — Pacific Northwest seafood flown in daily. Great for big parties or family lunch and dinner.
Takashi My favorite sushi restaurant. They have an excellent menu with many hot dishes, too.
Sapa My daughter’s favorite sushi restaurant. I think she and her friends liked the “all you can eat” special. Plus it was exciting because you aren’t allowed in unless you’re with someone 21 years old or older.
Les Madeleines — small Parisian bakery/cafe for breakfast and lunch. I love the tomato basil soup with salad!
Freshies Lobster Co. — Park City must! Casual restaurant that started as a food truck serving lobster rolls and lobster salad, amazing! The best meal I ever had in Utah! So simple but delicious. Here’s a review by the Salt Lake Tribune which says they opened a Salt Lake City restaurant blocks away from my daughter’s former house! No way! Not FAIR!
Italian — Antica Sicilia and Doce Sicilia. Recommended by Matteo Songe, swimmer from Italy on the Utah Swim team. He said this was authentic Sicilian. The Carbonara pasta is prepared with flames in a cheese wheel table side!
Aristo’s — family-operated Greek. Delicious. Outdoor seating on the patio in the summer.
Sports at UTAH — go to football, gymnastics, basketball, swimming, etc. The crowds at football and student MUSS section are so enthusiastic. Red Rocks Gymnastics is a top five NCAA team consistently and they have 15,000 plus in attendance — the most attended Olympic sport for collegiate women in the U.S.
Church — CenterPoint in Orem. Pastor Scott McKinney. Scott and my husband were best friends from grade school through high school. It was so nice to reconnect with Scott and his wife Sara. They provided our daughter with a home away from home.
Downtown Salt Lake City, UT
Where your favorite places to visit and do you have any recommendations?
Today while packing up after a fun weekend in Salt Lake City, where we went to two meets to watch my daughter swim and hang out with friends, I realized this part of my life is almost over. I checked the swim schedule to see what meets she has left and we’re down to only a few.
This weekend, I reconnected with a swim mom dear friend who has a son starting his freshman year. It was like no time has passed since we last sat together at a meet — rather than six or seven years. We also visited my husband’s best childhood friend, Pastor Scott McKinney and his wife Sara, who have made this area their home and founded a church, Centerpoint Church in Orem. After his powerful service, we sat together at lunch laughing so hard we cried as well as solemnly discussing the world’s problems. It’s been a highlight to reconnect with these friends, visit our daughter — and enjoy this part of the country.
I felt more than a little sentimental this morning. I like it here. I like the hotel we stay in, the Little America, like it’s a second home. I like their coffee shop because it brings back memories of my childhood with their comfort food of open-faced turkey and roast beef sandwiches with mashed potatoes and gravy and their weekend prime rib specials. I like the cool crisp weather, the spectacular views and changing fall colors of the leaves. I like the tall buildings downtown, where you’ll find the City Creek Center with its glass ceilings. I like the friendliness of the people and the clean bright city, which has a small town feel.
Beautiful views from City Creek Center.
It seems like we just moved our daughter in for her freshman year. She got a notice Friday that she’s been accepted to study abroad for her last bit of school, so we’re already thinking about moving her stuff out and driving her car home. How weird is that? Especially when I say we just moved her up here! At least it feels like that.
When my kids were toddlers, older women would stop me at the mall or on the street and say, “Enjoy it while you can, because the time flies by.” Knee deep in the daily grind of bottles, baby food, diapers, laundry, endless picking up toys and chasing little ones, I couldn’t relate. Now I believe it and understand. Enjoy the swim team or whatever activities your child is in like it’s their last meet. Enjoy the visits to their college town. It’s over in a blink of an eye. And will you really go back without them there?
It’s not like I thought it would last forever, I just thought four years would take a bigger chunk of time.