Salt Lake City, Utah. A beautiful city with so much to offer. I have wanted to explore Salt Lake City and the surrounding area for a while now. I remember the first time I came into the city I was just absolutely stunned by how beautiful it was. It is situated right on the edge of the mountains. And look, I’m a girl from Colorado, born and raised. I know about mountains. I even thought that I was fortunate enough to live in a city that was ridiculously close to the mountains. Shoot, I still am ridiculously grateful, BUT, Salt Lake is EVEN closer. 30 minute drive and you’re right smack dab in the middle of a ski resort.
Now before I even begin to talk about my adventure there, I have to tell you about the adventure that took place before we even left the airport. As we walked to the exit through the airport we were greeted by a group of beautiful dogs. They were all part of the Utah Therapy Dog division to help calm travelers coming or going into the airport, because we all know traveling is stressful. The dogs were absolutely gorgeous, and so friendly and loving. Turns out, the Salt Lake City ABC News was filming a segment on the organization at the airport. We were filmed, but I never found out if we made it on the local news, we got back to the hotel too late to watch it, but what a fun experience to be a part of, and how can your turn down fun puppy play??? You can’t, and I didn’t. I stayed as long as I could with them and eventually we made our way outside to catch the shuttle to our hotel.
This was the first time coming to the city that I actually had time to explore. I was paired with a spectacular crewmate, Chad, who wanted to do the exact same. His family and him take yearly ski trips up to Park City, just 30 minutes away from downtown Salt Lake, so he knew it well and wanted to go back to explore. Being that I had never been there, but really wanted to explore, we rented a super cheap car at Enterprise down the street from our hotel, and headed that direction.
The drive there was spectacular. I love being in the mountains, I always feel just so at peace whenever I’m near them. The mountains in Utah are not as tall as back home, but they were still filled with amazing beauty, and awe. I learned from Chad that Park City is now the largest ski resort in North America, and on top of the awesome trails there for skiing and boarding, it also has a really awesome social scene.
Our first stop was the No Name Saloon, which right now, is the setting for an HBO series called Mosiac. As we wandered around town that day, we saw production crew, after production crew, and I bet we crossed path with many stars and we weren’t even aware of it. On the way to the bar though, we happened to turn down this random alley. I was looking all around at the cute mountain town when on the side of the alley I suddenly see some pretty spectacular graffiti.
Now, I’m a huge graffiti fan. I think it’s a beautiful art form and very expressive. I often seek out areas in new cities that I explore that have areas covered in graffiti. I just think it is a very underrated art form, at least when it is done right. I’m not a big fan of tagging for tagging’s sake, but if the artist has something to say with their art, I’m all for giving the city some more character.
One of my all time favorite graffiti artists is Banksy. He (or possibly she, no one knows their actual identity) is a England based graffiti artist who does some very political graffiti pieces and, as I recently just discovered, has his pieces scattered all over the world, most found in England (that I knew). His pieces speak to the social and political issues going on in everyday society in a comedic way. Very dark humor, but very beautifully put together.
As we were driving down that random alley, and I looked outside my window and saw that awesome piece of art on the wall, I think to myself, “wow, that looks a lot like Banksy’s work,” and upon further inspection I noticed it was covered in plexiglass and had a frame around it. “That’s odd,” I thought, until I read the title at the top. “Banksy” it said. The piece I was looking at was indeed an authentic Banksy painting. I squealed, jumped out of the car, (I’m not even sure it had come to a complete stop), and took in this beautiful moment. Writing this now, I’m still stunned I randomly came upon this magnificent piece of work.
To explain a little more, as to why it was located in Park City, Utah, and why it was covered in plexiglass, you have to understand a little about his work. Banksy is a world renown artist despite no one actually knowing who he is. In fact, the not knowing is what, I think, intrigues so many people about him. Being so famous, and illegally tagging buildings, makes his pieces not only worth a lot of money when people have them because he rarely sells his pieces so people actually cut them out of walls, doors, where ever they are found, but his fame causes a lot of jealousy with other fellow taggers. Most of his art, if not immediately taken down or painted over by building owners, or law personal, is tagged over by other people who despise his fame and work. Therefore if the pieces are not protected immediately upon discovery, they usually do not last very long in the real world. A petition was put out in Park City to raise funds to protect his art on the wall, and the city raised enough to put the plexiglass over the graffiti to save it for all to enjoy. He had at least two other pieces in Park City, that, unfortunately, did not make it that far.
Why was Banksy, a world renown graffiti artist in Park City of all places? Does he like to ski? Well maybe, but the main reason was because a few years ago, at the Sundance Film festival just a few miles away, there was a documentary about Banksy, so naturally, he’d be in the city to check it out!
Now, my excitement was at a whole other level when I saw this piece. In just a few weeks I will be backpacking Europe and planned to do a graffiti hunt in London just to find some Banksy pieces. I own a few of his reprints and it has been a life goal to see a real one in person. When I saw this graffiti on the side of this random alley, I about lost my mind. It was a top ten life moment for me, and I was so grateful for being in that moment and being present. I could have been on my phone, I could have not appreciated the moment, but I did. It was huge.
After that life altering moment, we headed to the No Name Saloon and grabbed a couple local beers and burgers. I would never expect any part of Utah to be known for their beer considering they have strict liquor laws, but in the mountain towns, that is the thing to do. Board or ski all day, and drink at night. Needless to say their beer is great! The burgers are awesome at the Saloon too, but don’t get the turkey burger. It’s awful and tastes nothing like turkey. Do not do it.
Afterwards, we explored Main Street. It is full of art galleries including everything from photography, sculptures, to paintings. It was inspiring and beautiful, and made me fall more in love with the mountain town. I could totally see why Banksy wanted to leave his mark here.
After our wandering was satisfied with art, food, beer and beautiful scenery, we headed back to the car to drive back to Downtown Salt Lake City. On our way back we saw some snow tubing on the side of the road. I had never been, and had always wanted to, Chad had been before, and knew it was a blast. Finding out I had never been, Chad turned the car around, and to the snow hill we went. Neither of us were dressed for the occasion. Most people were decked out in their snow suits, we in our jeans. Chad had a short sleeve shirt on with dress shoes, not exactly the kind of outfit that’s snow play ready, but that’s what made it exciting! It was spur of the moment. We were living in the moment. We purchased just one run for $10, you could do 2 hours for $20, and that would have definitely been our plan had we worn different things. With one run in mind, we got up the hill, giddy and excited to take on this new adventure. We got to the top, went down together, and it was so ridiculously fast and exciting we kept smiling long after it was done. That definitely recharged us for the day!
After our short drive back, and finding some more awesome random zombie graffiti on the way, we made it to Enterprise and returned our car. The Enterprise office had a bell that said “Ring for Excellent Service,” and once we finished checking out, the guys ask if their service was worthy of a bell ring. It was indeed, so me, doing everything very passionately, went to ring the bell and not only broke it, but ripped the damn thing off the wall. Mortified at what I had just done, I bursted out laughing. Chad lost it, and the guys at Enterprise did not seem so amused. They said it happens, but I still couldn’t tell if they were just saying that for my benefit, or if it really is just a crappy bell. Enterprise, your feedback is to invest in a better bell for passionate customers like myself.
Car returned, and bell broken, we headed to Gilgal Sculpture Garden. A garden in the middle of the city that has all kinds of sculptures and stones engraved with various quotes, sayings, and biblical verses. It was interesting to see, but not anything like I expected. I was glad we checked it out, but I would not recommend going out of your way to see it. It’s not that spectacular. On the way though we got to walk through the city, saw the capital and got some yummy coffee. Before we knew it, the day was over and we headed back to the hotel and called it a night.
Now this trip’s moral lesson is this, be present, get off your phone, and be aware of the amazing surroundings around you. So often in today’s society you see so many people consumed with their phones, heads down, aimlessly walking around somewhere, physically being there, but being far from present. Life within that instant is just passing you by, and within seconds you could miss an amazing opportunity that was right in front of you. It was only because we were present that we were able to play with the support animals in the airport, see the Banksy mural, and find the snow tubing. All things that could have been easily missed, and all things that made this trip that much more exciting and fun. So try the next time you’re out, to put your phone down, to be present with those around you, and the things around you, and see how swiftly your life can become an adventure. Life is all around you, it’s whether or not you want to experience it that truly allows you to live it.
That’s all for today my wanderesses and wanderers! Until next time!
Love and hugs,
The World Wanderess