Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Salt Lake City

Alena on Antelope Island.My memories of our vacation go more and more out of focus and transform into a beautiful bright cloud of warmth as time passes by.

The desire to keep at least some details sharp propels me to write this post about our Salt Lake City experience.

Utah State Capitol building in Salt Lake City.Salt Lake City was the last stop in our wonderful journey. The city itself has a rather small population of less than 200,000 people, but its metropolitan area is inhabited with a substantially larger population of over a million.

One of the central streets in Salt Lake City.The city center was clean, wide-streeted and empty. Some of the tallest buildings surprisingly belonged to churches. The Capitol was very impressive, although it looked somewhat uninhabited from afar (probably due to lack of tourists and some construction equipment left sitting outside the building).

The corner of 2nd Avenue and U Street in Salt Lake City. Cozy looking street.Houses on smaller streets looked very neat and cared for. Overall the city felt quite friendly, and for some reason reminded me of Toronto.

Looking down from our 8th floor inside Embassy Suites hotel.We stayed at Embassy Suits Hotel — and it was a pleasure. We didn’t have any energy to visit a jacuzzi, but impressive breakfast and manager’s reception, where alcohol and snacks were served, left me very satisfied.

On the day following our arrival to Salt Lake City we went to visit Antelope Island — the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. The island is inhabited by a variety of wildlife, including pronghorn antelopes and bison.

Pronghorn antelope on Antelope Island in the middle of Great Salk Lake.We were lucky enough to see an antelope peacefully resting not too far from the road side. Danya, who originally claimed that it wasn’t an antelope but a rusted bucket, ran closer to the animal and took a couple of decent shots.

We also saw a bunch of American Bison. According to Wikipedia, American and European bison are the largest terrestrial mammals in North America and Europe.

American bison on Antelope Island.To be honest, I imagined bison to be even bigger than they are. They look kind of funny with their big furry heads and patches of naked skin on their massive thighs and backs, which are caused by winter coat shedding. Their somewhat lethargic calmness is deceptive though, since bison can attack if provoked and are able to run as fast as 35 miles/hour.

European Bison (Wisent), which is called Zubr in Russian, is one of the animals that stroke my imagination many years ago. Zubr is one of the symbols of Belarus, and I always wanted to visit Belovezhskaya Pushcha — a national forest where those animals can be viewed in their natural habitat. Now that dream in a way came true.

American bison on Antelope Island.It is almost painful to think of bison’s fate throughout the 19th century, when multi-million bison population was almost driven to extinction by commercial hunting. I can’t fathom what purpose such a brutal extermination could have served.

We also saw a small animal, resembling coyote, and a big brown rabbit. On the lake’s shore numerous little birds fussed around looking for something to eat.

View of Wasatch mountains from Antelope Island.The lake itself was beautiful, and mountain peaks, covered in snow, added a lot to the view.

"Алёнка вертолётчица."Vase filled with sands and stones from different parts of Utah.After our return from Antelope Island, we drove some more around the city, and stumbled upon a military museum. It was rather small, but still interesting.

On our last day we walked around the city again, and then took a shuttle to the airport, which was kindly provided by the hotel. Delta oversold tickets to our flight, but luckily, it did not effect us in any way.

We brought some Utah soil and stones from our trip, and arranged them in a glass vase. This home-made souvenir makes me smile every time I look at it.
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