For a while now, I’ve intended to update our post on Salt Lake City. After three years there, we definitely have an updated perspective from our first encounter with the city in 2014.
Our initial impressions of Salt Lake weren’t favorable. We were driving back from Montana and the Salt Lake Valley broadsided us with its population density. To encounter the entire population of Montana in one valley was overwhelming. However, when we returned to visit friends two years later, we were charmed by the city nestled at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains. We were at a different point in our lives, and we were ready for a change. Zach decided to return to school and applied to the University of Utah, and a few months later we were back for his audition with plans to move.
We lucked into renting a sweet 1930s bungalow on Capitol Hill, the same house our friends had occupied before they moved to the East Coast. I’d always wanted to live in a bungalow, and although it had its quirks, it was a cozy place to live. From the top of our driveway we could see the airport and Stansbury Island squatting in the Great Salt Lake. We often had spectacularly fiery sunsets and the view from our front stoop – though obscured by the house in front of us – offered a good seat. We spent a lot of mornings and evenings on that stoop, drinks in hand. The Capitol served as our backyard, and I loved experiencing the change of seasons on the cherry tree-lined walking path. We treasure a lot of memories of that house – shoveling the gargantuan driveway in the winter is not one of them.
While Salt Lake has a growing food and drink scene, and we’ll have fond memories of particular haunts, access to the foothill trail systems and city parks made the city immensely livable. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST) snakes along the foothills of the city tracing the western edge of ancient Lake Bonneville (of which the Great Salt Lake is a remnant). That network of trails granted us an easy escape when we didn’t want to drive to the mountains- particularly in winter and early spring. We even had a trail at the end of our street which was especially nice when we felt lazy or needed a quick dose of the outdoors. Salt Lake and its outdoor ethos has influenced our lives in ways we probably haven’t even recognized yet.
An unexpected benefit of living in Salt Lake was the film scene. Leaving such an active scene in Austin was a struggle, especially in Marfa, but Salt Lake surprised us. We frequented the Salt Lake Film Society theaters – The Broadway and The Tower – which delivered the indie movies we love, and we got to experience the Sundance Film Festival each year! We ventured up to Park City every year for 1-2 films, but I enjoyed screenings in Salt Lake the most. Easy to attend and full of regular movie lovers, the atmosphere always felt genuine. Plus, I could catch a film downtown after work without much effort. The screenings in Salt Lake made the festival feel incredibly accessible. It’s something I’ll really miss.
Most of all, Salt Lake served as a fantastic base for us to explore the rest of the state. We didn’t have a lot of time off, so we had to make the most of the time we had, usually long weekends. Although we didn’t go everywhere we wanted, we left Utah feeling satisfied that we’d attempted to explore each corner, and we’ll certainly return. While we don’t miss everything about Salt Lake… we’ll forever have a special connection to Salt Lake and Utah.