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Porchfest

September 25, 2013

Utah – Saturday, September 14

It was another gray, rainy morning, but I headed into downtown Salt Lake City anyway. All the addresses in Utah are a little strange at first – they all have 2 sets of numbers and 2 of the 4 directions (either north, south, east or west). But it does actually make sense. The numbers start at a central point in any given town (in Salt Lake City it’s the Mormon Temple) and streets are laid out in a grid, and the numbers simply increase the farther away one gets from the center, and the 2 directional words let you know what directions to go in.

Tula and I took a short walk downtown, then it began to rain. I drove up the hill to the visitor information building across from the capitol and got some information. Even though it was raining, I set off down the hill to Temple Square, but I didn’t get too far. It was raining hard, and it was so windy I was battling with the umbrella. I decided to just go back to the van and wait out the storm, since I had things I could do while I was waiting. After a half hour or so, it began to let up a bit and the wind seemed to calm down, so I tried again. This time I went over by the Capitol building, which is a big majestic building with the typical dome, and there was a landscaped walkway all around the grounds and I covered a mile without getting too wet.

Then I drove down to the Temple Square area, and Tula and I walked all through that. It’s more than just the temple – it’s a whole complex encompassing many acres. The temple itself is huge, and there are lots of big Mormon buildings in the complex. There’s a many-storied office/building building, a large conference center, statues and monuments, and 2 elegant visitor centers, with large paintings depicting their religious story that one walks by even to get to the restrooms. The grounds are all landscaped and there were lots of pretty flower gardens. This is the world headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the long name for the Mormons!). The Mormon library and museum are also nearby. There seemed to be a lot of young men and women around, in addition to the few older ones – the guys were all in white dress shirts and dark dress slacks and the young ladies were all in demure below-the-knee skirts and blouses with tidy hair. They all seem eager to share the story of their religion, and I heard many different languages being spoken. There was at least one wedding going on, and I saw another bridal couple taking photos out on the beautiful grounds. After walking all around the whole area, Tula and I crossed the streets and walked through quite a bit of the rest of downtown Salt Lake City, including an outdoor shopping center with a creek and fountains and all. We covered a good 3 miles there. Salt Lake City was on the Pony Express route and there was a statue commemorating that era too.

Then I set off to a southside neighborhood to go to a fundraising event called Porchfest. A couple days ago I had talked with an old high school friend, Perrine, who has lived in Salt Lake City ever since we graduated almost 40 years ago. She had a couple good donation suggestions and had told me about Porchfest, which is an annual gathering of 25 bands, and they all set up on the porches (or in driveways if the musicians don’t all fit on the porch) of numerous houses in one of the neighborhoods. The event goes on for several hours, and people can wander from porch to porch to listen to the music – the bands were spaced far enough apart so they didn’t try to play over each other. There was a whole variety of music – country, blue grass, big band, contemporary etc. The visitors could buy raffle tickets for a lot of prizes, and I think there was a silent auction as well. All the proceeds go to Heart and Soul, which is an organization which sends music groups (including the bands who were performing this afternoon) into long-term care facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. to provide uplifting music free of charge to all the residents. I loved the idea – music can really help to raise the spirits! So I was happy to come to the event to both listen to the music and support the cause. I met up with my friend Perrine – we had only seen each other once in the last 40 years, and it was fun to meet up again and get a little caught up – we enjoyed our time together! She introduced me to some of her friends who were there, and we finally tracked down her friend who is the organizing force behind Heart and Soul, and I gave her my donation. I haven’t made a donation like this on my journey, and I just thought the whole idea was a lot of fun – fun for musicians, the neighbors and visitors wandering around, and good for the residents who ultimately benefit from the free mini-concerts that they get.

I left in time to try to get out to the Great Salt Lake – I couldn’t leave town without seeing that. The lake is huge, but Perrine gave me good directions how to get out to part of it. She cautioned me that the lake is very low, and the the water has receded way out from the normal shoreline. I got out there, and the sun had just set, but it was still light out. And it did seem kind of strange – all I could see at first was mud flats extending way out. It just looked like a dried-up lake. But I could indeed see water way out in the distance, and there were a couple people walking out on the sands, so I headed down there too. I had to walk a long ways out there, and in the fading light the whole place began to have kind of an eerie feel to it. I was walking on the sand, and there were small puddles of water in places, and dried up weeds, and even clumps of bird feathers like the birds had all died. There was a bad sulfur-like smell in the air, and these mud flats just kind of stretched out as far as I could see. There was no sign of life, and it was almost like I was the sole survivor of some catastrophic event – I think it was the clumps of bird feathers that did it. And to add to the unreal sense, the way the lighting was in the west almost made it appear like there were 2 suns setting simultaneously, which I sort of caught in my last photo that I attached. I did finally reach the edge of the water, but everything was so still and calm it was hard to see where the water ended and the sky began, especially in the evening light. It was hard to believe this was the Great Salt Lake. I hurried back in – I didn’t want to be out there in the total dark! I headed back to Midvale at the end of another full, busy day.

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