Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Visit to Park City

At Salt Lake City KOA...

Some of our blog readers recommended a visit to nearby Cottonwood Canyon and to Park City, Utah, a ski town about 30 miles southeast of Salt Lake, so we decided to make it a twofer and check out both in one trip.

Before leaving Salt Lake, however, we decided to pop into Pat's Barbeque, a rather nondescript joint in an obscure location south of downtown. It had some killer reviews and even had a past visit from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. We ordered a sampling of brisket, ribs and chicken with baked beans and, once again, we were disappointed. Almost everything was wrong: The brisket was excessively fatty, and there were so many ingredients in the dry rub that it denigrated the flavor of the meat rather than enhancing it. The pork ribs were way too big and, thusly, too fatty as well. The ribs had also been cooked over too-high heat, as the meaty top of the ribs had been turned into a crisp. I had to remove this layer before getting to the fat! Needless to say, we didn't eat much of the brisket or ribs. The chicken was cooked thoroughly and not too dry, but there was no discernible smoke flavor. It could just as easily have been roasted in an oven. They tried too hard on the baked beans, too. The beans were almost unidentifiable as such, swimming as they were in a vat of flavorless sauce that gave me the impression they just opened cans of beans, threw in a few scraps of brisket and a little sugar and call them baked. The sauce containing the beans was the color of butterscotch, and I really can't imagine what they put in there to make it look that unappetizing.

Okay, this place obviously won't make it onto my favorites list, but I can't help but wonder how it managed to get good reviews and a stint on the TV show. The answer might be that the portions are quite large, and I know plenty of folks for whom quantity trumps almost everything else. I didn't even include a photo of Pat's, because I hope to erase it from my memory at some point.

The drive through Cottonwood Canyon and up to Empire Summit was certainly worth the winding journey through the rock cliffs and clear streams. Near the summit, the road was uncomfortably narrow for a short distance, but gave way shortly to a good road again. The payoff was a beautiful alpine-like vista that we enjoyed greatly as we exited Mae and walked around, enjoying the fresh 70-degree breeze on top of the mountain:

Again, on the recommendation of friends, we had dinner at the Stein Eriksen Lodge in Park City, at a table overlooking a view much like the one above.

I took this photo through the window at our table. We would have eaten al fresco, but it was a bit too cold outside for that. (I find it hard to mention this without thinking about the hot weather we're missing in Texas; it's all I can do to avoid being smug.)

It was a light dinner of designer sandwiches and salad, very well done and tasty--but pricey, as might be expected in the town where Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival is held. This five-star ski resort hotel is amazing in every way, but amazingness is expensive. Plan on paying a thousand bucks a night for a room during ski season.

Manicured Grounds at Stein Eriksen
The old town section of Park City is a quaint place with many shops and restaurants. There are also many newer neighborhoods, mostly made up of condominiums for the skiers who flock here in the winter. It reminded me a good deal of Aspen in terms of its upscale amenities.

Also on the old Main Street is the Egyptian Theater, a refurbished movie house built in 1926, in which many live shows appear. West Side Story happened to be playing so, knowing how much Sandy likes musicals, I scored a couple of tickets.

At showtime, the theater was almost full and, although the troupe sang to a track, it was very well done with wireless microphones and a state-of-the-art sound system.

There was an aspect of the performance that was really quite unintentionally comical, having to do with the nature of the story juxtaposed with the stage presence of the male cast members. As you may remember, the play is very demanding physically, as the young men must simulate aggressive street fights between two rival gangs in New York City. Much of the dialogue of the gang members is supposed to depict the testosterone-laced machismo and bravado that would be expected of young men in the highly charged anger of the combatants. Let's just say that most of the male members of the cast were having a great deal of difficulty in portraying these characteristics, and therein lay the humor. I was not alone in observing this phenomenon, of course, and there were more than a few laughs being muffled in the audience at times when laughter would have been highly inappropriate. I think your imagination will serve you just about as well as any further description on my part, so I'll just say this troupe brought a fresh perspective to West Side Story that was certainly unexpected.

After the play, we returned to Phannie with a fresh batch of memories of a fine day enjoying each other's company and admiring God's creation.

On Sunday, we depart for Grand Teton National Park.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I do not appreciate it enough each day.

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