Trans Can HWY #23: Mormon buffalo

Nearly three years ago, my mother and I ventured on a cross country trek in my brother’s Jeep across Canada. We drove west from southwestern Ontario to Vancouver, BC over the course of two weeks, and then down to northern California to meet up with the men in our family. The following are taken from emails I wrote to family and friends.

Day 23: Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Today was a fun day. Well, the last 2 hours of it and some bits in the middle I enjoyed, the rest, I could have done without. Let me elaborate.

Slept in, this I approve of, and somewhere in Utah County we saw our fourth Bridal Veil Falls on this trip. I fed some fish for a quarter and watched the most adorable golden lab puppy. The waterfall was a’ight.

Le sigh. Another Bridal Veil

Le sigh. Another Bridal Veil

Driving along we happened on a sign for the Sundance exit. Knowing of the Sundance Film Festival we decided to go have a look-see. The festival used to be held here, in this idyllic, little resort/ski area, however, since it has grown so much it now takes place in Park City, while some of the screenings are still held here in Sundance. We bought some hot beverages and walked around. I learned that Robert Redford bought the land, 5000 acres of it, from the original owners, the Stewart clan, back in 1961 (this is more or less accurate). He wanted to preserve the area and keep it as au naturel as possible. Et voila, some history.

Redford scrawl

Redford scrawl

Driving further up the narrow incline, we decided to meander through Uinta National Park and take the Alpine Loop. So many Aspens. Wasn’t really familiar with said tree prior to this jaunt. They’re quite lovely.

Aspens.

Aspens.

Now for the part I wasn’t so keen on. I wanted to see Salt Lake City, didn’t really care to see the Temple Square, but it has much to do with the history of the city and Utah, so really, upon reflection, I’m glad we walked the complex. Learned about the beginnings of Mormonism and how it works today. Their buildings in this square are opulent. And everyone visiting or going to temple are immaculately dressed. It was quite hot, and knowing a little about the religion and being modest, the dress I foolishly chose to wear today I had to pair with my heavy jersey circle scarf to cover my chest area. It was sunny and way hot. Not exactly comfortable. Fun interaction: I held a door open for an older gentleman, and he says, “Indonesia?” It took me a minute to realize he was referring to my dress and not to my ethnicity. “Yes, Bali actually, how did you know? You’ve seen this pattern before?” He lived there for four years. Pretty neat.

Joseph Smith and The Book

Joseph Smith and The Book

Not allowed in #MormonsOnly

Not allowed in #MormonsOnly

Saw their conference centre – has 21,000 seats and is an engineering marvel as there aren’t any pillars to hold up the weight of the floors… They brought in steel trusses from Belgium. It was a big deal. And it was impressive.

An engineering marvel

An engineering marvel

Had a very late lunch at the much talked about Red Iguana. I cannot express enough how fabulous this place was. I have never had such great Mexican… or rather, a variation of Mexican. Executive Chef, Stefanos (from Palermo, Sicily), came out a couple times to talk to us about his use of fresh ingredients and the experimenting that goes on to create all the flavours. If ever you are in Utah, eat at Red Iguana and ask to sample all seven of their moles. Amazing. Also, have as an app, Hongos al Ajillo (for mushroom and garlic lovers).

Non-descript, but fabuloso

Non-descript, but fabuloso

With full bellies, we drove in search of Antelope Island, in the middle of Salt Lake. The seven-mile causeway leading to the island is littered with seabirds on either side and the air was quite thick with the smell of… salt. Smelly in-a-not-good-way salt.

Views along the causeway

Views along the causeway

First things first. Get into our swim suits and go for a float. Dad and I waded out for a while through the gazillions of Brine shrimp. Itty bitty saltwater shrimp. And Brine flies. They were everywhere (and are the seabird’s diet) and are probably still in my hair right now. Getting past the fact that the water was just “dirty” with these lifeforms, I went for a float. Lots of fun. Feels like having invisible Noodles under your legs. Quite lovely.

Singular Brine Shrimp

Singular Brine shrimp

IMG_4657

Invisible Noodles!

As we’re making the long walk from the beach to the showers, we noticed, Biff the buffalo hanging out eating some tall grass. He was about 30 feet away, I walked a little closer, and got scared. Are buffalo like rhinos and charge? I don’t know, but this thought went through my head. I have seen many a stuffed buffalo back in Alberta, and some on ranches, but seen only by way of drive-by in the Jeep. So seeing him up close and in the open was quite impressive. HUGE. And woolly. And cute in a big lug kinda way. Buffalo were introduced to the island in 1893 and because they don’t have any natural predators on the island they thrive well. The island breeds them and sells them to other state parks and ranchers that want to start up herds… and maybe some restaurants. We also snapped a lot of pics of mule and pronghorn deer. Nature does well here.

Biff giving me the cold shoulder

Biff giving me the cold shoulder

The sun set and we made our way a little east and to our hotel.

One sunset view

One sunset view

The sun setting and Pronghorns

Another sun set view and Pronghorns

The people that we have met all up in this area are incredibly nice, they give Canadians a bad rap.

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