#Sundance – 10 Days of Right Turns 

It’s that time of year again when Park City, a town of around 10,000 year-round residents grows four-fold to accommodate movie enthusiasts, film industry professionals, celebrities, and those on the brink of celebrity. And truth be told, not everyone’s happy about it.

The idea of it’s lovely, and there’s no doubt that it brings a boost to our local economy that doesn’t depend on Mother Nature the way the ski industry does; but it also means that everyday activities can become anxiety-inducing, time-wasting, patience-testing events. Think you’ll just run in to the grocery store to grab milk? Drop by the post office to pick up that package? Head to the gym for a quick workout? Not gonna happen! Try again in February.

If you watch Parkites prepare for Sundance, you would think you’d missed the warnings about an impending hurricane. Okay, so we don’t tape our windows or fill the tub with water, but we do stock up on groceries, fill the gas tank, and either fast track or postpone any upcoming appointments, errands, or chores. If you travel for work, now’s a good time to get out of town.

The other choice is to dive right in and play tourist in your hometown. This year the stars have aligned for me to do just that, and I’m giddy with anticipation. Tickets purchased. Credential secured. And to keep me somewhat sane, I’ve got everything in a spreadsheet, which might sound like overkill to the uninitiated, but it’s really quite essential if one doesn’t want to be in a panic trying to figure out how they could have double-booked two movies Thursday morning, how they’re ever going to get from the Library Theatre to Eccles in thirty minutes, and how they missed that hot new group at the Music Cafe that everyone’s talking about. Let’s just say, a little bit of organization can go a long way.

Putting Down Roots: A Twenty Year Journey

Roots and Wings I achieved a milestone recently. It may not seem like much to many, but to me, living in the same town for twenty years is something I never really thought I would achieve, or perhaps wasn’t sure if I even wanted to. I grew up in a military family, which meant lots of beginnings, lots of tries at fitting in, making new friends, and finding the concept of home in people, rather than place. Overall, that type of childhood worked for me. I never knew any different, so I didn’t have much reason to question it until I got older, was out on my own, and knew I could (at least conceptually) pick anywhere on the map and make it mine, even if just for awhile.

I have to admit, my ‘plan’ to move to Park City was not wildly complex or thought out. I only knew a few things for certain – 1) I was ready to leave North Carolina; 2) I wanted to move west (which wasn’t hard since east of North Carolina lies miles of ocean); and 3) I already knew some people in Park City and it seemed prudent to start with at least a bit of a network. I told myself that my real objective was to get to San Francisco or Seattle, but Park City would be a good place for me to get my feet under me before continuing the rest of the journey to the coast. This is the kind of logic that makes absolute sense in your 20s. Suffice it to say, it made less sense to my supportive but cautiously suspect parents.

Before I moved, I’d only visited Park City two or three times during the summer. I’d never been during the winter. I only knew how to water ski not snow ski. And I moved without a job. I did have a place to live though, and a roommate who was a good friend who setup all our living arrangements before I had my last bag packed.

I loaded up my Chevy Cavalier with whatever wasn’t loaded on the moving van. I added one very confused cat, an equally confused mother, and we left North Carolina in early January. Because isn’t the middle of winter when everyone thinks it’s a great idea to drive a couple thousand miles to snow country? I don’t recall the exact date we left, but I do know that it coincided with the Blizzard of 1996, a storm so significant that it has an entry in Wikipedia.

We diverted ourselves south through Chattanooga to try to avoid the ice and snow. About three days later, we rolled in to town and set about waiting for the moving van to arrive. My mother stayed for several days to help out, leaving on a day of another huge Utah snow storm. I don’t think she’s visited me in January since.

In some ways, I don’t know where twenty years went, but of course, if I stop and put some thought in to it, the details materialize. The job that started a career, the friends that became family, and the houses that became homes.

It’s all right here, in my little mountain town.

 

Oh, My Heck! It’s Pie and Beer Day

Photo: Talyn Sherer

Photo: Talyn Sherer

If you happen to be passing through Utah today, you may be surprised to find many businesses are closed, state liquor stores are shuttered, and there seems to be a celebratory spirit in the air. What’s happening, you might ask. Today is Pioneer Day, a day that commemorates the settling of the first Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.

Prior to their westward trek to Utah, the Mormons lived in Nauvoo, Illinois; however, after members of this new religion were persecuted for their faith, they packed up and headed out of town in search of a peaceful homeland. After what was reported to be a long, arduous journey punctuated by illness, death, and treacherous conditions, Brigham Young declared the Salt Lake Valley as the new homeland of the Mormon faith.

I moved to Utah almost twenty years ago, blithely unaware of the importance of July 24th. The mountain town I live in has less than 10,000 year round residents, three ski resorts, and most people came from somewhere else. Consequently, it’s a bit of an anomaly in the state and is somewhat sequestered from all things pioneer. I never took the day off work, so it was several years before I realized all the activity that was taking place a mere thirty miles west, not to mention elsewhere in the state.

Pioneer Day is marked by spectacular fireworks shows, parades, contests, traditional dress, and many a family reunion. But in recent years, a counter-culture has developed its own version of the state holiday. For non-Mormon Utahans, Pioneer Day has been re-imagined as Pie and Beer Day. While many are parading through city streets in prairie dresses and bonnets, the Pie and Beer folks are indulging in craft beers and pie, an intriguing collaboration between local breweries and bakeries.

If nothing else, Utahans have a sense of humor. Whichever version of the holiday you’re celebrating, have a good one!