Day 15

Well, this morning started off with a bang! ha

Kegan got up, flushed the toilet, went about his business and all of a sudden we realized, the toilet is overflowing and still running out into the floor! Kegan rushes in, opens the back tank and holds the fill float up to get it to stop! He first tried the shut off valve, but it was stuck shut… and the flapper stuck open because it was old and in poor repair. So, I called the desk…maintenance wasn’t in yet at 7:20am. So here is Kegan, holding a toilet together in his underwear. haha The desk lady brought us a plunger… and we were able to get it to go down, even though we didn’t do anything to clog it….so we left a wet pile of towels in the floor holding back water in the floor and got our stuff and left. We had some tweaker lady checking us in the night before who was incredibly high…and we weren’t fans all around. We were done with that particular Holiday Inn!

We headed to Delta, Utah to see the Topaz Museum. This was a museum I was really hoping was open for the trip. It is dedicated to preserving the history of the Japanese Internment camps in the United States during World War II. I am a big believer that people who know history and are aware of things that have come before us go forward in the world in a totally different way that people ignorant of our past. I admit I didn’t know a TON about this… I knew we rounded up Japanese Americans- most of them US citizens and forced them to stay in camps for the duration of the war, but the museum did a great job of highlighting the details and educating.

The US Army thought a West coast war was eminent with Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor. They also thought that Japanese ancestry might make it hard to determine loyalties and they would have to worry about spying….so they ordered the evacuation of all persons of Japanese ancestry off the west coast. They had two weeks to evacuate. If they had a place to go East, they could go to family or friends…but if they didn’t have anywhere to go, they had to report to a station in two weeks time to be relocated.

A lot of them were forced to liquidate businesses and overhead…a lot of money was lost by Japanese immigrants and citizens with this order.

Racism and hatred was boiling over at the time, too- so they were getting no sympathy from their neighbors and no help.

The museum was a donation only entry fee and the guy at the front said we could walk through and then pay what we thought it was worth. We started in a small room where we watched 2 films. One was about the city of Topaz that was established near Delta, Utah where over 100,000 Japanese lived from 1942-1945. It showed the remaining site today – where its just a field full of building foundations and some chunks of concrete. They auctioned off all of the buildings years ago. Someone bought the land and preserved the history of what took place there and then they opened up this fantastic museum to really tell the full story.

The 2nd video we watched was a “contraband” home video filmed inside the camp by Dave Tatsuno. It’s one of two home movies in the Library of Congress. They had the actual video camera he used on display, donated by his son.

Also, in this room were some amazing art and jewelry pieces made by people living in the camp. They were all made of found fossillized shells from the Utah desert. They would sneak through the barbed wire and go out hunting for shells, fossils, arrowheads… they would clean and dye the shells and make amazing pieces of jewelry and art.

After the video, we entered the actual curated museum. So many artifacts from family members of the camp. What I admired about this is that even though they had everything taken and were being forced into barracks, they still managed to smile in some photos. They had a school, a hospital, a dental office- all ran by doctors and teacher residents. They planted food that they could… they made art and furniture, they kept living as best they could under the circumstances

They had an actual barrack house that was used by one specific family in the museum. That was eye-opening to see- the lack of space or amenities for a family of 8.

A suitcase of a Japanese Immigrant with characters that say “going to America!” The irony of this just so few years later to be used to pack up to go to a barbed wire encampment that America mandated.

Norah got to pick out a paper origami swan on our way out. Such a good museum. Highly recommend if you are anywhere near the area.

Our next stop was in Provo, Utah for carryout lunch at Black Sheep Cafe.

Kegan had Pork Jowl tacos, I had a bunless burger and Norah had a chicken and goat cheese quesadilla. Very good stuff.

Next up was a stop at Utah Valley University to see the Roots of Knowledge stained glass exhibit.

AMAZING stained glass and art showing the Tree of Life and the progression of humans in the world over the centuries. I could talk about it ad nauseum, but if you have any interest you can go to:

and there is also a UVU Roots of Knowledge iPad app that walks you panel by panel through the project. So cool. So Intricate. So well done.

After trekking it back across campus to the parking garage, we headed to the Museum of Ancient Life in Thanksgiving Point to see some dinosaur bones.

This took us to time to check into the hotel, clean the car… re-organize and shower ourselves(since this morning’s bathroom debacle threw a wrench in that!) and go pick up my mother from the airport. She was estimating getting in at like 7:07p, but it ended up being a bit delayed and then she had a 24 minute walk from where they came into the terminal… we were a little nervous we’d miss our dinner reservations for 8:15.

But, we didn’t. We made it. We reserved Pago even though they had a very small menu because my first choice of the Copper Onion was all booked up. We had a cheese board, Kale caesar salads that had pickled fennel, I had some flank steak and Kegan had a Marionberry cider and pork chop and my mom had scallops with a risotto.

Day 16

Today was a day for exploring Salt Lake City. We started the morning out driving across the city to the Eastern mountains to see the Heritage and Pioneer Park. We started seeing a Pony Express monument.

The Pony Express was a service that ran for less than 2 years (I didn’t know this-it only ran April 1860 to October 1861). It was designed to increase the speed of communication between California and St. Joseph, Missouri before any telegraph lines were ran out to the West.

The way it worked, there were about 190 stations, every 10 or so miles for a 1900 mile journey where riders would ride one horse at a gallop, then hot transfer to a fresh horse to continue riding as fast as possible throughout the day. Each station had an attendant that would feed and water the horses and ready them for the next rider to pass through.

There were about 80 riders…the most famous being Buffalo Bill Cody. (which you’ll see a lot more about in a couple days when we leave Yellowstone and go to Cody, Wyoming.) He joined the riders and famously made the longest ride recorded when we reached a station only to learn his relief rider had been killed. 322 miles in 21 hours 40 minutes using 20 horses.

They made a replica of a Pony Express station house for the 2002 Summer Olympics that were hosted in Salt Lake City to showcase some of the history associated with the area.

In the same area was a monument to the Mormon Volunteer Battalion honoring the 500 soldiers and their families who volunteered to trek west to California as part of the Mexican America war in the 1840s. It’s significant because it’s the only religious battalion ever recruited and labeled as such in the military’s history. It actually was very self-serving…but it was still volunteer military service. At the time, the Mormons were being run out of Nauvoo, Illinois for their “blasphemy” and polygamy. Brigham Young, the Mormon leader at the time, wanted to move the Mormons west…but hadn’t been able to formally start the migration plan yet. So, government-funded Westward movement, with money paid per week to the families and additional tithes to the church… well, this just seemed like a plan from heaven! He encouraged many many men to enlist and volunteer…and migrate west and he began and led the rest of the community westward, eventually landing on Salt Lake City as the chosen and prophesied place.

The migration west for the Mormons was not easy. Most people carried their belongings and walked, or they used handcarts..only some had wagons. Brigham Young had rocky mountain spotted fever at the time they crested the mountains east of the Great Basin. He pulled back the curtains on the wagon he was riding in, said “This is the place, keep going” and they continued on into the Valley to set up their “Zion” city. There is a giant monoment on the high land above the city commemorating this event.

We walked around to other small sculptures and read the plaques.

Seagulls have a funny history with Mormons. The mormons believe that when locusts/grasshopper swarms were killing their crops in 1848, that their prayers were answered because seagulls came out and ate all the grasshoppers, then regurgitated their carcasses and continued eating until they were all gone and saved their crops. So they have lots of monuments and references to seagulls as an answer to the divine prayer to save them.

Once done, we tried to go to the Natural History Museum of Utah…but it turns out you have to book advanced tickets- you cant just walk in! what the heck? ha so… all tickets were booked and we didn’t get to go, so..instead, we headed downtown to see the biggest first temple of Mormons.

Only problem was all the grounds were closed and the building was covered in scaffolding for major repairs.

On our way to our next stop was the old train depot.

The original Union Pacific train depot built in 1908

Next up was a spot for Kegan- the Land Cruiser Museum!

He thought it was a really good museum and way more jammed into it than he expected. Most people around us are Jeep people- but Kegan is a land cruiser person 🙂 He hasn’t sprung for one yet as a driver for himself… because they are SILLY priced haha But maybe one day. If we can decide what country we want to live in forever. haha We gotta know whether to buy right hand or left hand drive! ha

He loved the fact that they had some of the early 20 series that you NEVER see. There are only like 3000 ever made of the MEGA CRUISER (only 133 sold to civilians)…and they have one there. They had Japanese models, Brazilian models, Australian fire trucks. It was super cool.

This one had my favorite paint color (because #girlthings)
This was a custom pop up camper tent added to the top of this one for an Australian model and the very back was outfitted with a custom small kitchenette.
The one Kegan wants to buy for himself.

Next up was the Clark planetarium downtown. A very cool and totally free space museum mostly geared towards kids, but we enjoyed ourselves too. It was fantastic!

We bought tickets there for the IMAX show on Antarctica and while waiting we noticed that at 10:15pm, they were going to be doing a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon Laser show in the planetarium dome theater…so we bought tickets to come back at night!

We ordered Lobster rolls from a place in town called Freshie’s Lobster. Good lobster rolls

We booked 3pm entry tickets into The Leonardo. A small children’s museum based on Leonardo DaVinci’s passions and achievements.

They had a piano that said “Please play”, so she did…
They had an entire C131 aircraft the kids could go up into the cockpit and then slide down the back end.

The museum was cute and fun for Norah for a while… they had a big Lego table that she dug around in for while… but in the lobby on the way out is this cabinet of rare books from a local book seller. And Kegan spotted something he knew I’d have to have. And he was right.

Sitting unassumingly in the case was this signed first edition of Mostly Harmless.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book series is easily my favorite series of books and I love Douglas Adams work. This was a fantastic find!

This led us to our last stop for the day in the Salt Lake area- the Bonneville Salt Flats. They weren’t exactly close… it was over an hour each way… but we had to fit it in. Because I had life changing plans for the little one in the car 🙂

The chariot needed a bath after driving on straight salt.
One happy girl feeling very very grown up. We got her a hat to commemorate the event 🙂

We ordered Red Iguana mexican carryout because they were all booked up for dining and delivery and they were a very highly rated local family restaurant.

I forgot to photograph the food! But we had fish tacos, carnitas and some stuffed jalepenos.

We left my mother and Norah in the hotel and headed back out to the Clark Planetarium for the pink Floyd show. Let me tell you. I am officially old. Everyone there was like 15 years younger than me and on WAY more drugs. ha But I enjoyed myself none the less- even being old and straight edge. I was a nice 30 minutes of kicking back and listening to my favorite album of all time with a trippy 1998 Windows Media Player visual with lasers. ha