BeaUTAHful. I saw that on a bumper sticker in Utah recently.

My home state really is beautiful.  It’s outdoor activities are hardly paralleled in the US. The southern part is especially so. On a trip just last weekend to Cedar City, I spent a day river hiking (I didn’t even know you could do this!) at Kanarraville Falls. It was treacherous at moments. Imagine all the rigors of hiking only doing it in water anywhere from 3 to 18 inches deep. It was soggy.

That night I saw A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, which I learned is apparently one of the best of its kind in the nation.

A couple weeks prior I saw a Western themed version of Joseph and The Technicolor Dreamcoat at an outdoor theater at Sundance. If I’d been in Texas, I would’ve been sweating like mad in the 95+ degree evening sun. Instead I was wearing pants and a hoody in the mountains where Robert Redford used to jog.

Utah has all four seasons. It’s hardly ever very hot or ever very cold – except in the mountains. It’s rare for the temp to ever drop below 0 in the valleys unlike places like Minneapolis where the high is sometimes sub-zero.

It’s very high in elevation. It’s the second driest state in the nation (not humid!!)

It’s not very highly populated.

Utah’s a weird and special place. When I think of all the places one could be from, Utah isn’t too bad. Sure it’s a little culturally dead at times (though I did see Free Salamander Exhibit there recently) but it’s got its own version of oddness that you can only find in a desert state.

It’s the headquarters of the quintessential American religion (for white people): Mormons. Of those, it’s got the modern version, the re-organized version that still practices polygamy out in the middle of nowhere. Mormons are very independent and yet they seem to understand the value of interdependence. Of course we modern day anglo-natives come from a Utah culture that had to band together to survive some pretty harsh conditions and travel just to get to the Salt Lake Valley. This is celebrated on July 24 each year with the state holiday Pioneer Day – which may as well be Fourth of July with all the fireworks people set off. Mormons get stuff done. It still amazes me that 18-year old boys enter the Missionary Training Center and come out speaking a new language in a matter of months rather than years.

My point is that things like survival, perseverance, patience, integrity and cooperation seem to have been handed down to me culturally. I’m very grateful to have descended and learned from people who care(d) enough about the next generation to teach them and instill good values and habits in them.

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