Thursday, October 23, 2008

I love this city. I could relocate here and be happy, despite the fact that I'm not a Mormon. Everyone is friendly and polite and gives money to their homeless people. And their public transportation is free within in the confines of downtown, which is fantastic for me.

I got to the airport in Charlottesville yesterday, and for once, everything went fine. Minus the weird guy I sat next to on the flight from C-ville to Atlanta. But I got seated next to a mom and her adorable baby girl on the 3 1/2 hour flight to Utah. The mom was my age and Mormon, and therefore had 100 different suggestions on places to go and things to see that tourists might miss. She even recommended I make the drive down to Provo and come out to photograph the gardens by her. She said if I missed all the autumn stuff I used to do in Michigan, I should come out and do the corn maze in Lehi.

Usually I hate being seated next to moms and their little kids when they're traveling in lap. It's always squished and no baby can be happy for that long on a plane. Hell, I tend to get cranky myself. But we were in the very back, and this woman was supermom. She brought her daughter on the plane in a baby sling (like me, she thinks strollers the size of Jeeps are just a pain), and brought this neat cover so she could breastfeed and no one would know. Well, I knew, but the woman was next to me and did all her maneuvering undercover. Never saw a thing. We were also lucky enough to have the center seat between us empty, and her adorable little girl fell asleep for a big chunk of the journey. Of course there was fussing. But not a whole lot of it. I had a blast playing peek-a-boo, and everytime I giggled, she'd giggle. It was a riot!

I picked up my rental car, and, lucky me, they were out of compacts. I am rollin' in some sort of SUV with enormous blind spots. And since I picked it up at night, when I got to the hotel and couldn't locate the trunk button in the dark. So I had to drag my suitcase out through the backseat. Checking in was fine, my room is huge for a standard. Room service rocked because they brought me two cans of soda instead of just one. And yes, it is soda in Utah.

I woke up this morning way too early. My hotel has a Starbucks, so I got a latte and tried to plan out my day. But I couldn't figure out where I was on all my maps, so I got dressed, grabbed my coffee, and went to guest services. Five minutes and a marked up street map later, I walked downtown. It took me almost a half hour, but I meandered and enjoyed my coffee. It was so breathtaking to cross the street and see the Mormon Temple come into view. If you look at the rest of Salt Lake City, you wouldn't guess it's there.

After wandering around the square a little, I took the advice of the nice woman on the plane and headed to the conference center. When she said they gave guided tours, I thought I'd be with a group of people at a set time. But when I walked in, I was greeted by this nice older woman who asked how much time I had, and since I was in no hurry, she took me on the long tour. Just me.

The conference center was finished in 2000, and can seat 21,000 people on three different levels. There is a massive organ with almost 8,000 pipes. They were building stage risers during my tour, and everytime a hammer hit a nail, you could hear the phenomenal acoustics. I got to go up in the balcony, and I can confirm there isn't a bad seat in the house. And on the roof they have a garden. I don't mean a little garden. I mean with trees and fountains and a field. The sweet guide and I chit chatted for awhile and she hugged me when I left.

The next stop was the church office building. This is not some little office in a corner of a basement, like in so many churches. This is its own building, and it's 28 floors. The secret is the observation deck on the 26th floor. Ok, so it's not a secret, but you'd never know if someone didn't tell you. Security there was tighter than at the Pentagon (and they laughed at the information desk when I told them so, explaining that it wasn't for any other reason than the security of the employees in the building, like many other businesses....I guess that makes sense). You could see everything from the deck, and I got some really fantastic pictures.

On the recommendation of the guest services guy at my hotel, I caught the Trax train over to the planetarium and the outdoor mall across the street from it. I toured the planetarium and saw a show, then went shopping. I've known for awhile now my wardrobe needs serious updating. And the Ann Taylor I went to had a stellar petites section. I came out with skirts and tops and jackets and tights and even some new shoes. (Note to Sara: remember all those jackets I tried on out there, the ones that looked great except for the sleeves? I found one with the same shape and much smaller sleeves. You'd be so proud!) The store had some really great deals, and I got 15% off my whole purchase. And did I mention the skirts were all size 8? And I no longer wear a large in shirts or jackets? That's what I call progress. I even got a cap sleeve top because my push-up toned arms are looking awesome.

At this point, I was loaded down with a bag half my size from the planetarium gift shop with a huge and heavy puzzle in it, and three bags from Ann Taylor. I was headed toward the Trax stop when I saw a Victoria's Secret and decided to pop in. Can't do any harm, right?

It's been a long time since I lingerie shopped. As many of you might recall, the last trip bra shopping was to Penney's, and I dragged my husband with me to hold the stack of potential undergarments while I stood there and swore because they weren't fitting. I ended up with a couple that fit ok, but I've lost 17 pounds since then, and nothing fits anymore. And the sexy stuff? It hasn't really been necessary for a long, LONG time. Two husbands in a row who deployed means I have no clue how to shop for all those little lacy things. Yeah. Me. Clueless. I know, who'd have thought?

For those women who haven't gone to Victoria's Secret for a bra fitting, and can afford to invest in bras, I highly recommend you stop in. Honestly, there have been many years where I couldn't afford their bras and made do with what was within my price range. While I was standing there clueless, a nice woman came up and asked if she could help. I explained that Jere was going to be home on R&R, and she told the sizing specialist exactly what I wanted and why I wanted it. So the sweet lady sized me (17 pounds, I haven't lost a bit of cup size, hooray, because I thought they shrunk a lot, but it turns out I just lost a couple band sizes), and what they do is hand you a box of all the different bras they carry and send you in to try them on. You take out what you like, they write it down along with your size, and then they take you out to the store, find the bras in the right size, help you pick out a color and matching panties if you'd like them, and take you to checkout. There was no hunting, no frustration, and I came out with some really cute matching bras and panties that FIT! I walked away so happy. And the best part is now that I know what I like, I can go to their website and reorder anything I want. Until I lose 30 more pounds, that is.

I'm back at the hotel now, after having dinner at the restaurant downstairs. Duck breast with fig and mushroom sauce, yum. And I got another latte to take back to my room for dessert. Tomrrow is another day, and I should probably map out a plan. So excited, but a little afraid of getting back in that SUV.

Today's lesson: You don't have to leave the country to enter another world. You may just have to explore a new city to learn about different cultures and enjoy someone else's history.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

im glad you're having such a blast! totally jealous!!! hurry home!