Thursday, 13 October 2011

to the city of zion

We leave early - frost on the car roof but still feeling comfortable in the still, sunny, extenuated air - because today we are driving down through Idaho and Utah to Salt Lake City. Another 300 miles ahead of us, and again we are going through many different landscapes - semi-arid mostly, like those classic western movies, with scrub oaks along the rivers and dusty ground hugging plants. Occasional valleys of farmland, with elaborate irrigation systems, great scaffolds that rotate infinitesimally to water circles of alfalfa so big they can be seen from space.
We are approaching Mormon country. You can tell it's their town - very green, estates of modern, tidy, big houses grouped around the whited sepulchre of a temple.
Then a glimpse of the Great Salt Lake and we are in the City itself. It stands up proud against the Wabash Range towering to the east. At sunset the clouds whip up into a biblical scene that would have got Turner in a tizz.
If the USA were designed by Disney, it would all be like this. Rows and rows of very prosperous houses, perfectly maintained and landscaped. Driving around town, it's clear that something is going on. The conference centre is holding a convention for the Latter Day Saints. It seems like all those young men who go out to evangelise have returned to Mormon ground zero for the day. Hundreds and hundreds of them, all in business suits, white shirts and ties (Tierack must do well here. - Ian) and with tidy short hair and polished suits, on this warm Saturday afternoon, are wandering about, laughing, chatting, debating - begging for tickets to the event. It is surreal, when compared to any other slacker, slobbily dressed western town - taken over by Stepford missionaries for the night, all robotically identical.
Interestingly, only about 60% of Utah is signed up to LDS nowadays- and only half of the members are active. But on this day, they dominate the city visually as they no doubt do politically.

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