A weekend trip to Salt Lake City

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The danger of reading travel websites such as flyertalk.com is that they inspire me to spend money on airplane tickets, hotels, and rental cars when I really shouldn’t. I’ve been saving money very aggressively for the past six months or so in order to put a down payment on a condo (and to pay off my damn car), and I’m really proud to say that I’ve been doing a great job of keeping my money in my wallet.

Except for this weekend trip to Salt Lake City. Yeah, I blame flyertalk for this one. It was late one evening in mid-April, I was bored and sitting in front of my computer wearing nothing but my underwear (not uncommon), and I was glued to the screen reading some really awesome trip reports. That’s a dangerous thing to do for a guy like me with weak willpower who is trying to save as much as possible, and long story short, the very next day I had booked my very first trip to Utah. I think I need to work on my impulsiveness.

In my defense, Salt Lake City is a low-key destination compared to the trip reports I had just been reading about from places like Hong Kong and Dubai. So at least I had the smarts to keep things sensible, right? I thought so. As a matter of fact, the reason for choosing Salt Lake City was simply because 1). airline tickets were super cheap, and 2). I had never been there before. Jetting off to Asia or the Middle East in first class would have certainly have been more fun, but this was designed to be a quick trip on a shoestring budget for the sole purpose of quenching my need to travel. That’s it. Nothing more. Traveling to a small town in Iowa would have made me just as happy.

Here’s the itinerary I ended up with:

May 7, 2005: SAN-SLC Delta Airlines 737-800 economy class
May 8, 2005: SLC-SAN Delta Connection (SkyWest) CRJ-200 economy class

san slc route map

Route map from San Diego (SAN / KSAN) to Salt Lake City (SLC / KSLC)

Since I was only on the ground for less than 24 hours, I don’t really have much to say that couldn’t be better explained in pictures. Let’s start with the flights:

Frontier A319 N935FR SAN

While I was waiting for my flight, I took this pic of a Frontier Airlines A319 sitting at gate 28.

Departing out of SAN

Departing out of SAN

Delta airlines N385DN

Wing shot of large puffy clouds hanging over San Diego moments after departure enroute SAN-SLC

overflying san diego

Looking down on San Diego as we turn east and head for SLC

southwest US desert

The terrain quickly turns rugged when flying east from California

flying over utah

Getting closer to Salt Lake City now!

It was about 9am by the time I got my rental car and made my way out of the airport, and the first stop was the Great Salt Lake.

great salt lake boats

Getting my first look at the Great Salt Lake.

The Great Salt Lake dock

The Great Salt Lake dock

great salt lake dock

I had no idea that there was a dock here – I was fully expecting a rugged beach and nothing else.

great salt lake selfie

That’s me (SANspotter) striking a pose next to the Great Salt Lake

After that, I drove up to Park City, had lunch, then came back down out of the mountains and decided to stroll around downtown SLC for a bit.

park city utah springtime

Green spring colors around Park City. Beautiful!

salt lake city skyline

Really great views of the Salt Lake City skyline from up here.

After lunch, I went back up into the mountains to the Alta ski area. It was a quick drive up and down, and being that I had some time to kill, I decided to check into the hotel. I dumped my bags, hopped back in the car, and drove out to the Salt Lake again for more pictures.

utah mountain stream

I ended up standing in the middle of this stream (near the Alta ski resort) for a while. One of the most zen experiences of my life.

great salt lake

I’m not sure what it was about the Great Salt Lake that captivated me so much, but I found it interesting enough to visit twice in one day.

great salt lake utah

When the sun comes out, the lake sparkles beautifully.

It was a LONG day…but it was lots of fun.

The rain was really heavy at times (and my rental car had nearly bald tires!), but overall, the weather was pretty good. The highlight of the whole trip had to be the drive up to Alta. I drove through some of the most beautiful country I have ever been in, and it was a trip to see that there were people still skiing up there this late in the season. It didn’t matter that it was so cold and I was completely underdressed – the scenery was downright spectacular.

So the question is: did this cheap 24 trip quench my travel bug? Absolutely! It was good to be back in an airport and on airplanes again, and having a bit of time to explore a new city was just the icing on the cake. Salt Lake City is a beautiful place surrounded by some of the most rugged terrain I have ever seen. The only problem is that it might have been too short of a trip and I’m feeling a pretty strong desire to keep moving and book another one. I really can’t though – so I’m just going to have to wait until my trip to Florida to visit family in July. Being responsible is such a drag…