budget airlines.....and automatic seatbelts?!?!

So, the Big Trip has kicked off with a two week 'vacation' to Salt Lake City, Utah. That involved an estimated 16 hours of travel via Newark (New York City for those of you who aren't into making an annual shopping break to the States :).
Well, I can honestly say that I didn't know there was a low-cost international carrier until I travelled with Continental. I can honestly say some of the Big Yellow Fun Buses (aka Ryanair) have better conditions that the little 737 that took me across the Atlantic! I honestly didn't realise there was a big difference but after experiencing British Airways on the trip to China last September, even that was luxury in comparison. Still though, they got me to Salt Lake with only a half hour delay in both stop-off points (Shannon and Newark).

My first view of Salt Lake City? Snow on the runway. Hmmm, maybe I should have brought more thermals and left the shorts at home......

So, I was picked up by my wonderful hostess (I'll leave names out), and the first experience of the trip. In my sleep-deprived state, you CANNOT believe how confused I was to sit into the car (a Honda Civic) to find what looked like a seatbelt strap......except it went across and was fixed to the doorframe beside the wing mirror? Well, I've never seen it before but it turns out there's such a thing as an automatic seatbelt - start the engine and the point where the cable attaches to is actually connected to a motor that drags the seatbelt along the doorframe till it looks like a 'normal' seatbelt. Trust me, I still get kicks out of it everytime I sit into the car 4 days later :)

I haven't figured it out yet (you'd think I would have from calling here enough times in the past 6 months!) but I think I'm 8/9 hours behind Dublin here. So, I got up pretty easily the next morning after some sleep and was dropped off into the city centre for the day. I used city centre pretty loosely, cause in comparison to Dublin, this place is deserted in comparison!

Useless information on Salt Lake City:
- population 200,000
- covers about 26miles by 12miles
- most of the city centre is owned by the Church of the latter-day Jesus Christ (the Mormons to most people)
- the whole street address layout is centred off the main temple in the city centre, built about 150 years ago.
- city is at an altitude of 4000+ feet
- eastern half of the city is flanked by 12,000foot mountains!!!! Yep, that means snowboarding/skiing :)

So, first on the agenda was a wake-up call. So, I took a little wander and found the old American reliable.
Already converting to this country and I'd only been here 8 hours ;)

Anyway, got the guided tour of the Mormon temple by some very friendly volunteers of the Church. All very interesting history of how Salt Lake City came to be.
This was then followed by the grand personal (there was no-one else there) tour of their new conference centre. This place is big. Like SIX-acres-of-building big. These people know how to build big, and build well!

After this, a brief wander of the shopping district. Climbers out there, prepare to shed a tear. There's an outdoor shop here that has a wall about 10 metres higher than UCD's.......and by the looks of it, some pretty good routes!

There was no definite plan yet for the weekend until the decision was for a road trip to Red Rocks near Vegas. 6 six hours away, small by American standards :)
B took care of all the driving, and the decision was made along the way to spend the night in Zion National Park just to give me the view before we finished the last couple of hours driving. No sign of a campsite that was open but the decision was made to hide down the back and just get up and go early.

Did I mention the cold? I went to de-fog the backseat window of the car while on the road to find that the INSIDE of the car window was frozen. Hmmm, maybe I haven't brought enough warm clothing. Looked like it was going to be a bit of chilly night, especially as I hadn't eaten all day due to jetlag so was a little low on energy...........

First Impressions of Utah? The church didn't convert me (although I must have looked interested as I left with a copy of The Book of Mormon (their bible)) but I think I'm in heaven :)

First weekend Climbing :)

The first day, and it's only beginning to hit me!