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Friday, 9 July 2010

Day 5: A Day in Salt Lake City

We spent Saturday with our friends the Hellewells, and it was my choice to go Downtown and see the LDS Temple complex. I saw this six years ago on my last visit, but it was a wet day and I didn't have a very good camera, so I wanted to see it again. We all went in their Minivan, which gave Beth and me a welcome break from driving.

Since my last visit a couple of big changes have taken place. Right next to the Temple there used to be a city street, where opponents of the LDS Church demonstrated loudy and obnoxiously.  While not LDS myself, I have many LDS friends and they are the most generous and kind-hearted people I know, and they don't need yobs and louts on their doorstep.

The LDS Church's neat solution was to buy the street from the City (trading a piece of land they owned elsewhere that the City wanted) and turn it into a private pedestrianised concourse, with this oval reflecting pool as its centrepiece. The area is private, open to anyone who is not being a nuisance, but if you choose to make yourself undesireable then you will be escorted swiftly off the property. I'm very much a live-and-let-live person, so I like this solution.

It was a beautiful sunny Saturday, and LDS couples were getting married  here every 20 minutes (it felt like), so we saw several wedding parties, and probably appear in the background of many people's wedding photo albums. The concourse provides a tranquil haven in a busy city, and whatever your religious beliefs a bit of peace and quiet is always to be appreciated.

On the opposite side of the concorse from the Temple is the 27 storey church office building, and this provides a great viewing platform for panoramas of the city. To the North lies the State Capitol building with its dome. Beth thinks that all the State Capitols are built to a similar plan, copying the Capitol Building in Washington DC.

To the South lies the Temple, and behind it the blimp-like roof of the Tabernacle, home to the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir .

The second big change since my last visit is the building of the Conference Centre to the West of the Temple. This houses a 21,000 seat Auditorium, which I believe to be the World's Largest. There are three tiers, each seating 7,000, set in a semi-circle facing the main stage. We tried to sneak in and look but soon got diverted to join a guided tour, which took longer than we planned but I found fascinating. The three younger members of our party soldiered on and were very well behaved, far better than I was at their age I'm sure.

The Conference Centre is mostly sunk underground, so that it doesn't overshadow the much older Temple across the road. This meadow forms part of the roof, and is home to wild flora and fauna. It is mown once a season, but is otherwise untended (it may have sprinklers, I forget). Standing here it is easy to forget that after a metre or so of concrete and steel there is a drop of several hundred feet to the auditorium floor.

The tour concluded, we walked to the Gateway Mall for lunch, and the kids played in the fountains in the Olympic Legacy Plaza therein. This is very popular in the hot weather, and a reward for their patience.

On the way home we had ice cream at Leatherby's, which chilled the kids nicely after their fountain drenching. This is Nia tackling her kid's portion.

After ice cream we returned to the house for a couple of hours. Another friend of Beth's was planning a music session that evening, and all day she'd been trying to get him to text her his address, as he had moved (and got married) since her last visit. I didn't feel sociable enough for a session by the time we got the necessary directions, so Beth went on her own and I stayed with John and Kiirsi and the kids to see the fireworks at a local park.

No pictures of the fireworks, but here's a Policeman standing on a tricycle, which is nearly as good.

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