The Great Salt Lake

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Snow coming down over my family’s back yard in Salt Lake City.

For not planning a stop in Salt Lake City in the first place, I sure have stayed longer than I planned.  When I showed up to Salt Lake City on Thursday, I met my aunt and uncle at the local high school gym where my cousin, Kiera, was playing on the varsity volleyball team and my uncle Steve was helping coach.  Eventually my youngest cousins in this family, Alek and Austin, showed up after their football practices.

Uncle Steve is my mom’s brother and in total him and aunt April have six children.  Josh, Aaron, and Mandie are the three oldest.  I haven’t seen most of them for ten years, and I think it’s been longer since I saw Josh; I was 16, Aaron was 22 I think, Mandie was 20, Kiera was 6, Alek was 3, and Austin was 1, so the youngest three didn’t remember me.  I enjoyed spending time with these guys so much that I stayed an extra day, all of Saturday, to see Alek and Austin play, and win, each of their football games.

The funny part about me showing up on Thursday was that uncle Steve forgot to tell everyone that I was coming to visit until that morning.  Kiera’s volleyball team didn’t win, but the community around the team was still friendly and cheerful.  The people surrounding my family in their sports life is very supportive and encouraging; it is a welcoming environment to anyone.

Friday, the kids had the day off and I had to scramble to find a motorcycle place to get me a replacement front tire.  I found a parts dealer that would install the tire for me for a little extra, which was no big deal.  I followed my uncle in the rain to the shop and dropped it off, just before the snow started to fall.  While my bike was at the shop, we all went off to a funeral, the grandmother of my cousin Aaron’s wife, whom the couple had been living with to help her as much as possible.  While it was weird for me to go, no one seemed to mind, and I was happy to get to see Aaron and meet his wife.  I figured the funeral would be dull and sad, but the family did a great job telling the story of the woman’s life and her commitment to her family and personal values – something everyone should strive for.

After the funeral, we visited a friend of the family that just had her gall bladder removed.  What a tough girl!  During this time, the shop called to tell me that my back tire was worse than my front and that I should probably replace both.  I agreed, thinking I could spare no expense to keep me safe during my last legs home.  I know I’ll be hitting rain most of the time, so safety is necessary.

After grabbing dinner to go, the family dropped me off and I followed them home.  The new tires look sweet (see photos below).  I opted for Pilot Road 3s (“PR3s”) By Michelin because of the extra siping on the tires (small cuts), that help to wick away as much rain as possible and improve the traction of the bike in all conditions.  My friend Brian says these tires made him fall in love with his bike all over again.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

Friday night, the high school football team had a home game just around the corner, which none of the kids play on, but is still a good community event to attend.  I hardly watched the first quarter of the game because my aunt and uncle introduced me to homemade scones, not like the kind you buy at the donut shop, with this stuff called honey butter on them.  They were delicious and my fat kid side totally thanked them.  The other big distraction for me was the sun setting on the eastern mountains of the valley.  From the stands, we could see the mountains in all their glory.  Actually, there is hardly a place in Kearns, UT, a suburb of Salt Lake City, where you don’t have a good view of a few of the many mountains.

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Pink skies provide a heavenly backdrop for the mountains east of SLC.

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Another beautiful glimpse of the mountains… and high school football.

The football game was a dramatic game, from being down by three touchdowns, to up by one point with 12 minutes left in the last quarter, then down by six with 3 minutes to go, then up by one again with one minute to go.  It was intense, but so fun to watch!  The temperature in the stands was around 50 degrees and we were all huddled in heavy blankets to keep warm.

Saturday, the forecast was 70 degrees at midday, completely opposite of the night before.  I was planning on watching both boys play each of their football games, then heading out around noon.  The games ran long due to injuries, but both boys won their games by quite a few points.   By 1pm the games were over, but my uncle and I discussed the different options and he said they would be happy to host me for another night.  For me, staying was the easy choice because I love hanging out with these guys and seeing all the kids grown up, it’s an opportunity no one else in my family back home has gotten to enjoy.

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The day time view of the mountains west of SLC from my family’s back yard.

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My new rear tire, siped and ready to go!

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My new front tire. I get to break these babies in today!

Another thing the Perry’s (my family in Salt Lake City) said I needed to do before I left was go to a restaurant called Leatherby’s.  They had wonderful homemade food and enormous dessert orders.  I ordered a bacon cheeseburger and shared a banana split with Mandie – which, even together, we could not finish.

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Bacon cheeseburgers and cheese fries at Leatherby’s, banana split in the background.

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The most intense banana split I’ve ever seen.

Today, the high temperature in Salt Lake City will be 80 degrees, but it’s been raining all night and morning at my destination of Idaho City, Idaho.  I will go there to see my mom’s father, Grandpa Richard, and possibly go hunting with him.  I’m not excited for more rain, but I am excited to break these tires in, finally visit my grandpa after years of telling him I would, and get a little closer to home!

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The Perry’s from left: Mandie, Alek, Uncle Steve, Aunt April, Kiera, and Austin. Yes, they’re all taller than me… even Austin, barely. No, they didn’t dress up just for the picture.

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