4 Days / 3 Nights in Salt Lake 2008 - Skiing and Sundance Film Festival

Salt Lake City Travel Blog

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We were only about 6 years late for the Olympics, but we weren’t headed there to watch "we wanted to ski and relax (or at least attempt to relax).   All this was to change while waiting for our bags after arrival" where did all of these people come from and what were they doing in Salt Lake City?

Friday January 18th we arrived in Salt Lake around 10:30 AM and the crowds at the airport were large (almost shoulder to shoulder "can’t imagine what it must have been like during the Olympics").  There was a sign near baggage claim for the Sundance Film Festival (http://www2.sundance.org/ ).  I found this funny because I thought Sundance was based in Sun Valley Idaho (on my unofficial poll since the visit, I’m learning that many other people think the same thing). After realizing my mistake, I still went dumb founded to the counter and asked it they had general tourism information or if they were only providing information for Sundance (which I was still thinking is in Idaho maybe these people are just passing through catching shuttle flights " I’m thinking maybe the Mormons have a time share pitch in SLC which gives you a free flight to Idaho"). I learned that Sundance is based in Park City, Salt Lake & Sundance (where it started - of all places) on the 17th and was founded at the Sundance resort down near Provo.  I don’t even feel stupid while learning this revelation " it must be the niceness of Salt Lake that comes through.  Looking around it appeared that most of these people were up and coming movie producers, actors, and film people headed up to the event for all of the premieres. Imagine a collage of New York and LA people dumped into the mountains, funny to see stiletto’s in the snow and slush and low cut dresses and mini-skirts in 20 degree weather.

We were determined not to be side tracked, while very tempted, we headed for a ski rental location  http://www.skinsee.com/ and headed to Solitude http://www.skisolitude.com/  - we had great snow and the mountain to ourselves.  It was a bit chilly, but the skiing kept us warm.   It’s amazing the beauty and tranquility of Solitude, 100’s of acres of skiing a combination of groomed and powder.  Solitude still has the old style slow chair lifts, but with the grandeur of the mountains, the peace that comes with lack of crowds and the thankfulness we are able to be away.

After a day of skiing we had reservations at the Oasis Cafe restaurant (reservations online at open table http://www.opentable.com/rest_profile.aspx?rid=7030 , which must have several meanings here in Salt Lake with a population that is 93% Caucasian and probably 90% Mormon (yes I’m exaggerating a bit).  The food was a combination of Mediterranean, Pan-Asian, Seafood, and Vegetarian.  I’ve never seen people in awe of Humus like they were here in Salt Lake.  We had a great meal at a very reasonable price.

Afterward we had our first experience of Sundance when we bought tickets on the street for “Shorts III” http://www.sundance.org/festival/film_events/details3.asp?filmid=08F0303&keepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=480&width=900  which was an eclectic selection of short films made by first time producers.  The films varied from “Sick Sex”, which was, you guessed it - about people having sex when they are sick (no one had sex in the film) to Spyder which was based on the old saying “it’s all fun and games until some gets poked in the eye”.  The other clips varied from the Intuit in Alaska to some disturbing childhood fantasies about sex with the neighbor hood mother who lived in house with a drug taking husband and a messed up son.  The shorts were entertaining and having the directors on stage after the films gave us our first taste of Sundance (we were hooked) hanging with a crowd of directors and film makers who had questions of the film crews that we did not understand “What type of camera did you use?”; “Why did you use film?”; “Why this effect or that effect?”  I was more caught up in the questions - so much knowledge, so much focus - everyone in the audience wanted to have their film on the big stage (except us since our only film is my bungee jump in New Zealand that was filmed by someone else and now posted on youtube.com)

On Saturday morning we awoke and followed our plan set in motion weeks before based on preplanning and recommendation from a friend.  We took off for Alta http://www.alta.com/ , skiers only - no boarders allowed, for a day of skiing.  The crowds had grown, but they were nothing like we deal with in the Tahoe area.  We had a full day of skiing, the powder was a bit more compacted, but the snow still maintained it’s fluffiness - we had a great day on the slopes.  Alta, meaning “high” in Spanish, was just that with 3 peaks near the 10,500’ mark, the weather was a bit warmer and made for a great day on the slopes.

After skiing we went back to our B&B to clean up and then off to dinner with some friends we haven’t seen in a while..  They have a beautiful home in Lehi, an up and coming town in Utah.  Approximately 2 million of Utah’s 2.5 million people live along the Wasatch range.  Lehi is a great location south of Salt Lake on the north side of Provo. We had a great evening and stuffed our selves - amazing how hungry the skiing and high mountain cold weather help to create an appetite.  It was another great day skiing in the mountains and visiting friends.

Sunday morning came far too soon, we were a bit slow to get started (maybe too much wine with dinner) and created a plan that no one had recommended, but they hadn’t recommended against either.  We drove down to Sundance Resort http://www.sundanceresort.com/  the founding place and support of so many movies where Robert Redford bought a plot of land and then convinced a group of investors to purchase 5,000 acres out from under a group of developers who wanted to create a series of neighborhoods and shopping malls.  My understanding is that this happened in the late 60’s early 70’s - one of his largest acts of nature conservancy.  Even today 40 years later they have limited the development of the Sundance resort to 450 of the 5,000 acres.  We went skiing at the Sundance resort, nothing too fancy or large, but it was a nice place to ski and on a holiday weekend there were very few people and no lift lines.  The Sun tempted to peak out a few times making for a warmer day.  After skiing we managed to get #4 & 5 for the wait list to watch “Love Comes Lately” http://www.sundance.org/festival/film_events/details3.asp?filmid=08F0303&keepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=480&width=900  in the screening room where the films are determined for the festival.  A friendly employee of the resort set us up with dinner reservations before the show at the Foundry Grill, the walls of the restaurant were covered with old farm implements and horse gear.  What a great environment.  Given the remote location, we were able to get in to the film, even though the theater only sat 168 people so it was cozy.   The film was good and a nice way to finish a picture perfect day.

Monday, our final day in Salt Lake started with 6-8 inches of snow.  We had a leisurely morning, dropped our skis off and drove up to Park City to join the festival (or madness as the locals call it).  We stopped by the Olympic park on our way into town.  The woman working the counter had a son who competed in moguls in Norway and gave us an interesting comparison contracts of the various Olympic venues over the past 50 years.  It is now a tourist location, training center, and a place where you can take a bob-sled ride. (only Tuesday through Saturday - so we were out of luck).  It’s an amazing center and fully funded into the future.

We went into Park City and got in line for the wait list for “Henry Poole is here” http://www.sundance.org/festival/film_events/details1.asp?filmid=08F0091&filmtype=F&keepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=480&width=900 , with Luke Wilson and George Lopez.  We ended up with wait list #115 & 116, which we didn’t know if this was good since the theater was bigger seating 1270 people, but this was also the world premiere.

We went into Park City to grab lunch - too many people everywhere, and there were lines at the delis, stores, theatres and crowding the sidewalks.  We found a restaurant and had a quick meal so we could go get back in line for the waitlist. 

Because of the crowds and limited parking, most of the people travel by bus, which runs every 5 minutes during the festival and is always free.  While waiting for the bus we met a couple from Philadelphia with 2 additional tickets for “Henry Poole Is Here” that they gave us for free - we couldn’t believe our luck.  We were in to watch the show.  It turned out that we were about 4 rows back from the cast in the movie, very cool to watch the world premiere with the people in the movie, the director, screen writer, sound track people, and everyone else.  It is a very good movie, which I’m sure will do well in the theaters.

It was the prefect ending to a great weekend.

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