Ruth left Laramie to fly to Heathrow early in the morning, so I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to her, but that's OK because she will be staying in my house in Thundersley so I'll see her again when we get home!
The drive to Salt Lake City from Laramie began with rather alarming instruction from our sat-nav, as it instructed us to stay on a particular road "for 379 miles". We gaped. There are roads that long?
Well, yes there are, and this one took us over the freezing and windy rocky mountains, over driving snow, counting down the mile markers. One thing I appreciate about the American road system is that the exits are numbered according to the nearest mile marker, so you always know how far it is to your exit. In Britain, motorway exits are numbered consecutively.
There was a whole lot of nothing to see either side of the car for mile upon mile, with the possible exception of the billboards every two miles or so telling us of the wonders of the Little America Hotel and how far until we reached it (250 miles, initially). When we finally did pass it it felt like a real acheivement, and the advertising had worked - I would really like to stay there one day. It appeared to be laid out to look like a traditional American town.
We came to Salt Lake City from the North, through Park City and lots of snow. The views were beautiful, and once we actually arrive at George and Gale Sears' lovely home in Sandy, the views from the valley floor were pretty spectacular too. I've already mentioned that I love how American houses, and thus suburbs, look, and here there is a backdrop of snow-topped mountains in every direction.
Gale was a very gracious hostess, and the girls and I went with her for gelato (Italian ice cream) that evening while Hubby Dearest slept to recover from his marathon drive. Gelato is something else I have never had. Why do all my new food experiences here seem to start with G? Gumbo and grits were nice, but gelato was wonderful.
On Wednesday we went to the Gateway Shopping Centre in Downtown Salt Lake and had a fabulous Mexican lunch. We are so going to miss Mexican food! It just tastes so much better here than the stuff I try to make at home, and I love watching it made before my eyes. After shpping at Dairy Queen (more ice-cream), Hollister, Hot Topic and Barnes & Noble we watched Hari and Ceri playing in the water jets of the 2002 Winter Olympics fountain. They loved it and got absolutely soaked, but since it was about 21 degrees Celsius it really didn't matter.
We then walked two blocks to Temple Square. It was quite surreal to see the iconic spires of the Temple hone into view above trees and construction sites as we walked. Ceri was very thirsty (must be the desert atmosphere) so when we got to Temple Square the first order of business was to find a drinking fountain, which wasn't difficult.
We went to the Tabernacle and listened to the demonstration of the acoustics (we sat at the back, and a sister missionary dropped a pin at the front, and we could hear it) and then we went to the North Visitors Centre which seemed to have similar acoustics thanks to its domed roof. There were Sister missionaries everywhere and we were regularly accosted. Apparently there are about 200 of them on Temple Square, and since conference ended things have got a lot quieter and they are all frankly bored. So we watched the film presentation about families, and we chatted to some for a while before we ran out of time and had to head back to Sandy. We took the TRAX tram system back to the car - it's free in the downtown area - and Ceri enjoyed it so much she didn't want to get off when we got to our stop.
After dinner we headed to Leatherby's Ice Cream Parlour to meet Jennie Hansen, a prolific and much-admired (by me) author who turned out to be very sweet and lovely and not half as intimidating as I'd expected. The ice cream was also very sweet and lovely, and, in some cases, intimidating.