Well, after four days cruising the roads of Utah, I can highly recommend it. Everywhere you drive, snowcapped mountains line the horizon, while the landscape changes from red rock to wild-west scrub to pine forest. In Zion, we climbed "Angel’s Landing", so named because parts of the hike have you walking along a metre-wide path with a 1500 foot drop on either side. The Arches national park is real Grand Canyon-like scenery, with erosion creating the most spectacular rock sculptures.

The only downside of travelling in Utah on a hot day is that it’s very hard to find a cold beer. At our hotel on Monday night, I asked the clerk where we might find a bar. "Weeeeel", he said. "Ah heard there’s a place ‘cross the road serves al-co-hol. Never been there mahself, mind you." (Turned out there was no such bar). In Salt Lake City, the Mormon culture is intense. At age 18 (for men) and 21 (for women), Mormons can go on an optional 18-month "mission", where they can be sent anywhere in the world.

When they get back, Mormons are encouraged to marry young and have big families. Which means that in Salt Lake City, there’s wedding rings and kids everywhere you turn, and no shortage of minvans on the road. I’m afraid I didn’t provide a conversion for anyone, but it is a fabulously friendly place to visit. Knocking on doors for 18 months certainly seems to give everyone good training for striking up a conversation with a couple of curious Aussie visitors.

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4 Responses to Utah

  1. TimB says:

    Regarding the ‘mission’, guys have to be 19, not 18, and it’s for 24 months. But you’re spot on about the age and length of service for female missionaries.

  2. David Raftery says:

    Utah also has a notoriously high rate of dependency on prescription anti-depressant drugs.

    The mission-trained sociability may well have been buttressed chemically!

  3. Stephen Hill says:

    No alcohol!

    It sounds like Alan Cadman county just to the north of me. The absence of booze-shops or nightclubs in the area I believe is the local member’s solitary achievement, which takes some doing when you’ve been in federal parliament for over 30 years.

  4. Andrew Leigh says:

    TimB, thanks for the correction. One person told me 18 for lads, another said 19. Since both were women, I wasn’t sure who was right.

    BTW, the Aussie woman on mission who we met said that the age gap had to do with discouraging them from hooking up while away from home. If so, it seems a very clever arrangement.

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