Day: November 30, 2010

In Defense of Utah

I live in the great state of Utah and people are always ragging on it.  I’m not saying it doesn’t have its flaws and annoyances but it also has some great benefits. Here is a little list:

1. The mountains/outdoor activities- Anyone in need of inspiration? Just look at the mountains surrounding you from all angles ( it’s a valley for goodness sakes!). I admit I don’t hike in them as much as I should, but I hope to improve upon that in future months.  There are tons of outdoors activities to participate in year-round.  Of course, there is skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing and snow shoeing (and sledding!) in the winter, but there is also swimming, tubing, boating, hiking and exploring throughout Utah but especially at its 5 national parks.

2. Amazing local culture- From the moment the pioneers settled in Utah Valley (and even in Nauvoo, Illinois) there was a tradition of theater, music and art in the state.  One of the first buildings dedicated by the Saints was a theater and even Brigham Young acted several times. Now there are local symphonies, theaters, ballets, operas, museums and choirs (including of course the Mormon Tabernacle Choir).  The Shakespeare festival in Cedar City, UT won a tony award for its amazing summer productions. Hale Center Theater is always wonderful (Broadway level performances).  There are great shows by BYU, UVU, and the U.  Plus, the Utah ballet, Utah symphony and Utah opera are all well regarded around the country.  I think a lot of people were surprised when they came for the Olympics by how much culture Utah had to offer. I also appreciate that most of this art, theater and music is low cost and family friendly.

3. Friendly people- I know some criticize Utah for being ‘too Mormon’, and maybe sometimes it is, but being Mormon,  most of time I’m ok with that.  I find people are unfailingly kind, generous and charitable.  Even customer service  is better than anywhere else I’ve lived.  I think a lot of people move here thinking Mormons are going to be a certain way and then are surprised to find us friendly and kind. (All you need for proof is the volunteer response they got for the Olympics- most ever.)

4. Burgeoning food town- By my count Utah has been featured 7 times on food network in recent years.  While Utah County still falls short, Salt Lake and Park City are loaded with great places to eat, farmers markets, bountiful baskets, organic shopping and eclectic stores.  I’ve had delicious Mexican, Italian, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Greek and American. Its not all chains people!

The Lonestar Taqueria profiled on Diners Drive-in’s and Dives is delicious.  Great fish tacos!

5. A heroic past- I like living in a place that is steeped in history.  The Mormon pioneers sacrificed greatly to come here and it is wonderful to learn of their stories.  I love going to Temple Square and the other sites and don’t do it half as much as I should.  There are also lots of smaller sites that are fascinating such as Cove Fort.  I love going down to BYU and walking around campus.  I changed so much there, it moves me feel of its spirit.

6. Personal Gifts- The last item is all the benefits Utah gives that are unique to me.  I love my friends, voice lessons, gym,  apartment and job. I wouldn’t trade those 5 things for all the glamor of living in New York or DC. (my apartment would probably be $2000 a month if I did!)  The other advantage that Utah offers me is that my family comes all the time but they don’t live here.  This allows me to be a part of their lives but still have my independence.  There is nowhere else I could do that.  I love my life here and even with the snow (which we’ve had a lot of lately) and the cold it is far worth it.

So, come out here for a visit!  I have a guest room (and a pull out sofa) so put it to use.  I promise I will show you a good time!  Come and see this state I have grown to love living in. I will be your own personal Utah Chamber of Commerce!