While the memories are still relatively fresh, I wanted to write and organize the thoughts, pictures, and videos surrounding our recent trips to Salt Lake City, the Western Caribbean, and New Orleans. I’ll write one post on each of these.
It had been about two years since we last visited our home town of Salt Lake City, Utah. We still have many family and friends there and it was wonderful to see them again. In some ways, it was like we never left.
In other ways, we felt like we were seeing the place with new eyes. The mountains in the Salt Lake valley are beautiful this time of year (September), especially in the Sandy and Draper areas. The leaves were just starting to change color, and the temperature was just about right. Like usual when coming back to the states, I was surprised by the wide roads, fast traffic, large selection in supermarkets, and big boxes of everything. We could understand everything people were saying, and had friendly greetings and good service most places we went. It seemed quite a “perfect, happy place“. We were grateful my sister and grandma had some extra room to share with us during our stay. It was great to get extended time to visit with them, and my mom, who came down for a week from Seattle.
In addition to numerous visits with family and friends, we did some other fun activities. First, I was invited to meet with a small group of meditators in Utah to discuss the possibility of working together to create a supportive local community for individuals interested in compassionate psychological awareness and mindfulness. In attendance was a pioneer in the psychological understanding of consciousness, a leader of meditation and mindfulness workshops around Utah, and a leading LDS church psychologist who’s been working with the church on a new manual that was just published to help missionaries deal with stress. I felt honored to be able to meet these people, and to see what they were working on in their own spheres. We have yet to see if a community will come of our meeting, but some ideas are in the works.
This was also the first time we’d visited Utah since publicly announcing that we’d left the Mormon church. We were worried that some people wouldn’t want to see us or that we might experience some awkward situations. But all turned out well with those we did meet, and we were warmly received for the most part, even though certain conversation topics had to be avoided. I was also surprised to have several people admit to me that they haven’t believed in the church doctrines for years, but went along mostly for the cultural benefits. For example, so their kids could have friends, and to keep better relationships with their spouses, extended family, or employers, etc. I didn’t realize there were so many people in that situation, including people I never would have suspected. It was interesting to see how open minded you could be, and still consider yourself a Mormon.
One weekend, we went camping at Jordanelle reservoir with my sister, her boyfriend (now fiancé!), and my niece. Our kids had been looking forward to camping for a long time, especially sleeping in tents and roasting marshmallows. And we did it all. We were really glad we weren’t doing it alone, though. Camping is a lot of work, and it was nice to go with experts.
Emily had especially been missing the nostalgia of American suburbia, and didn’t hesitate to ride bikes in my sister’s neighborhood, play with the golden retriever, set up a lemonade stand with her cousin and sister (they made $12!), and walk to the convenience store for treats.
Emily had a birthday while we were there also. And we went roller skating with some friends we met on our travels, went ice skating, and for gifts she asked my sister to help her make a Minecraft birthday cake. She had a fun time doing it, and it tasted delicious, too! She also had her Grandma teach her how to sew, and she made a bag and a pillow. She really missed Grandma and the coziness of her house. It was great to come back for a bit.
One day, we took a trip up to Park City to explore the town, have lunch, and do a little window shopping.
I also visited my old tai chi class and teacher. It was fun to review the form and to see him again.
I tried to renew my driver’s license, but found out I have to wait until at least 6 months before it expires. So we’ll be returning to Utah again next year to take care of this.
A few days before we left Utah, I spilled some orange juice on my Macbook Air, destroying its wifi ability. Apple didn’t have time to get the part before we left, but there was a used Mac shop who was able to order a part in two days and get it repaired for me in time. I’m glad I didn’t have to buy a new computer just yet (I’d rather wait until Retina displays are available). :)
It was a busy couple weeks in Salt Lake, but rewarding with all the time we got to spend with loved ones. In my spare time, I also started working on some new piano compositions from sheet music I had transcribed from piano pieces I’d recorded in the past year or two. I hope to polish them up and make them available soon. It’s been a fun creative process for me.
Here are more pictures and videos from our time in Utah.