Another Olympic city, Salt Lake City became known as the "corruption" games when it became known that the IOC accepted gifts from the local committee in exchange for considering them for approval for the 2002 winter games. Here is a trip we took in 2002.
Arriving in Salt Lake City after a day and a half of driving. We're on our way to Montana and in need of a little break. Our hindquarters will develop calluses soon if we don't stop. We park at an underground structure for a mall downtown. It's quite expensive at a dollar per twenty minutes. Later, we found we could have parked at the curb around the corner for free.
After lunch, we head next door to the Family Records Center, the famous Mormon run genealogical archive. We get a quick lesson on how to look up our family tree and then are ushered into a room where a volunteer gives us a 10-minute Powerpoint presentation on how to use the center's resources.
They used to show a film instead of the presentation. I thought the old film was more interesting, especially how it explained why genealogy was so important to the church. The world's eyes were on Salt Lake City for the Olympics this year and the center felt the film was outdated and created a more modern introduction for the new millennium.
After our brief stay there, we crossed the street to Temple Square, the Vatican of the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints. Try saying that a few times and you see why people just shorten that to the Mormon Church.
The crosswalks here have helpful letters, 6 feet tall, printed on the crosswalk telling you to LOOK both ways before crossing. The walk signs have countdown displays telling you how much time you have left to get to the other side of the street.
In Temple Square, young Mormon volunteers from around the world are everywhere to answer questions, greet visitors, and - if they get a chance- tell you why the Church is the way for them. Most will guide you to the Visitor's Center where you can learn more about the Church's history and message.
We're just passing through, so our hostess tells us the way and we excuse ourselves. We take a quick look in the Tabernacle where you can see the world famous choir perform on Sundays and find that the wheelchair entrance is at door number 10.
Outside, the Tabernacle looks like a big bug but inside it's quite beautiful.
After some shopping in the mall across the street, we retrieve our van and head to our lodging for the night, the Comfort Inn in Layton, Utah just a few miles north of Salt Lake City proper.
It was very easy to find the Comfort Inn as the exit from Interstate 15 practically emptied into its parking lot. I had reserved an accessible room with two queen beds. The room was minimally accessible. It had a very large bathroom with a roll-under sink, a toilet with grab bars, and a bathtub equipped with bars. The bathrooms was so large it cut into the room size leaving us a 1" clearance on each side of the wheelchair to get by the beds in any direction....yes, I measured! It was very limiting but we would be here just one night and not spending any extra amount of time in the room beyond hygiene activities and sleeping so it would do...just barely.
After a delicious dinner at the local Cracker Barrel, we turned in for the night.
The next morning after breakfast at the local IHOP (tasty too!), we headed back in the direction of Salt Lake City to visit the local amusement park, Lagoon, in neighboring Farmington. An empty Coke can granted us a five dollar discount so admission came to just $24.95.
We arrived at Lagoon at 10:00am. just in time for the parking lot to be opened. After scoring the best parking spot...the van-accessible handicapped spot directly adjacent to the ticket booths...we purchased our tickets and waited at the gates. At 10:45am, the gates finally opened and we got to wait a few minutes more in the midway adjacent to the souvenir stands until the ride park opened at 11:00am. There is also a complete water park here that opens at the same time and is included in the price of your ticket.
Ramps are nicely located at each ride for access though, like most parks, you need to bring someone along to help you into the rides. Lagoon has a policy of letting disabled riders stay on rides for two circuits instead of one. This really helps cut down on the lifting your attendant needs to do during the day.
We went on our first ride, an old wooden roller coaster generically named Roller Coaster. It was bumpy with good air time on the first hill after the first drop. After that point, it runs a bit slow but bumpy all the same.
A portable steel double-looping coaster is also here called Colossus (or Fire Dragon depending on which sign you see). A long ramp leads to the platform where we had great fun riding this very smooth coaster.
There's a miniature steam train that makes a circuit around the park's lake (or "lagoon") which is the only way you'll see the park's collection of animals in its zoo.
My wife went on the swinging chair ride and we finished up with a ride on Rattlesnake Rapids, a very good and very wet river raft ride.
After the rides, we stepped over to Pioneer Village, a recreation of an old Utah town, to have some ice cream and see some of the small museums housed there. We also marveled at the beautiful views of the Wasatch mountains directly behind the park.
We didn't hit a lot of the park's attractions such as the giant ferris wheel, the log ride, the water park, or the fun house but we did have a lot of fun and most of the staff was nice although some of the service was a bit on the slow side.
Although not a destination for us on this trip, Salt Lake City did make for a very interesting break from the road. Now it was back in the van where we continued our trek to the big sky country.
NOTES: Salt Lake City and the area has very good accessible public transportation. UTA provides accessible bus and trolley service. The trolley service was put in just in time for the Olympics. If arriving by train, the trolley can be caught directly in front of the station and provides service to all downtown areas, the university, and all the way to Sandy in the suburbs. Many Olympic sites can be reached this way. Buses take up the slack to the airport, Lagoon, and other SLC areas.
Accessible taxis, shuttles and buses are available from the airport. Wheelchair Getaways has an office here if you'd like to rent an accessible van.
Although there are plenty of pay parking lots downtown that will be happy to relieve your wallet of extra cash, we found out there is plenty of street parking available in the area.