So it will be two weeks tomorrow since we arrived in Salt Lake City, and what are my first impressions, you ask? It is really, really beautiful here. We first drove into the city along I-80 heading west from Wyoming, passing by Park City and through the mountains that edge Salt Lake City and I was just awestruck. I have never lived anywhere this gorgeous. We were using the GPS and when it said we were 10 minutes from our house, we were in this lush green canyon with beautiful mountains on either side. I couldn't help but think about where I would be if I drove 10 minutes in any direction from our house in Dallas. Even being in the city is lovely. The mountains are RIGHT THERE, so close to the city, and the valley itself is lovely, with big trees and charming older homes and little neighborhoods with firm identities. (Do you know what I mean? Different neighborhoods here look different from each other.)
We have been spending a lot of time out and about in the city because our moving truck was so, so late and our house was EMPTY and I really like the vibe of the town. Rob and I have looked at each other several times and said, "This is our kind of town." There are lots of little non-chain restaurants staffed with friendly tattooed people serving yummy food (Mexican! Middle Eastern! Breakfast!), and pockets of walkable shops and yoga studios and boutiques. We went to the fabulous farmers market last weekend, and I have been checking out a bunch of the awesome parks to give the girls a chance to run around and have fun.
Speaking of being outside, the weather has been something of a revelation to me. It is dry here and the high temperatures since we've arrived have been between 90 and 95 degrees, but at night it is in the 60s. I have always been rather dismissive of those who claim, "But it's a DRY heat!", saying that 95 degrees is hot no matter how you slice it, but really, it is not too bad. We have eaten lunch outside multiple times and been totally comfortable, and our rental house doesn't have air conditioning and we are coping pretty well despite the fact. Don't get me wrong; I would love to have some AC here because it can get uncomfortable at times, but to give you some context, living in this house with no AC at 95 degrees is way, way better than living in our house in Connecticut with no AC at 85 degrees. Remember how much I complained about that? I now readily admit that humidity does in fact make a difference, not least in the state of my hair. Good hair days, hooray!
There is a certain cultural wackiness due to the influence of the Mormons, I will admit. The majority of people I see around town and have met are not LDS (Salt Lake City proper is about 40% Mormon) but the LDS church has a big impact on the politics and the culture and whatnot here. For example, today is Pioneer Day, which it turns out is a bigger deal here than July 4. There are fireworks and a parade and everything shuts down and so forth. Today some new friends here (the ones who had us over for dinner when we were visiting in April and have the awesome garden and streak of orange hair and adorable 3-year-old daughter and chickens and so forth) invited us to their mimosa-and-bloody-mary-fueled ironic Pioneer Day party where we had a lovely time at their fun house and then walked down to see the parade. There were Mormon-themed floats and a lot of people in from the suburbs (the suburbs ARE dominated by LDS folks) and marching bands with modestly-attired baton twirlers.
So anyway, there is all that Mormon stuff, and then we joined the Jewish Community Center because that is where Grace is going to preschool in the fall, and also what we're going to use as a summertime pool and a gym and all that. We have only been there once so far, but on that visit we got a tour and orientation and everything and it is a very Jewish place-- more Jewish than the YMCA is Christian, for context. Rob and I were talking and we realized that in our first days here it has seemed like everyone here is of a different religion than us and there are different holidays and so much is just DIFFERENT... It's kind of like we moved to a different country. :)
That can be Utah's new slogan-- kind of like a different country.