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Do you have what it takes? (a bit long)

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
It appears that folks moving out West can easily assimilate without much concern into any area, except Utah. And so, in the spirit of cooperation and plain old neighborliness, I present:

What It Takes to Live In UTAH

First, some background. I’m a lifelong Mormon (member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and a lifelong skier (well, since the age of 6). I’ve spent most of my life in Utah, but have been fortunate enough to have lived in a few other places. Too young to remember Texas and Minnesota; a vague memory of the quaint hamlet of Harvard, Mass. Learned to ride a bike while living in La Habra, CA. Lived in various parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Illinois while serving an LDS mission. Spent a wonderful two years near Heidelberg, Germany teaching at a DoD School. Even lived for four months in Grand Teton National Park. I’m old, gray, a tad out of shape, have 9 children (yours, mine, and ours), and have found that most of the "Mormon" comments at Epic have been, if not always respectful or entirely accurate, certainly entertaining.

Now, what does it take to live in Utah? Courage, my fellow Bears, courage. The same kind of courage that my great-grandmother had when, at the age of 9, she left Scotland with her widowed mother and walked across Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming, nearly losing her life in an early fall blizzard. It takes that same kind of fortitude to survive in Utah. Utah ain’t for wimps, so don’t bother reading further if you are: a) positive that religion is for weak minded suckers, b) quick to take umbrage with anything not liberal, or c) quite sure that 3.2 beer is Mormon conspiracy to keep skiers in Colorado (maybe this one IS true, but I’m not sayin’ anything).

OK. If you’re still reading, here’s the deal.

First, you have to approach your life as an adventure. Not just the stuff that we normally think of as adventures, but the everyday things as well. Utah’s natural playground takes care of the first part very nicely, but it’s the second part that's a bit more difficult for people. Ya gotta be pro-active to survive the Beehive State. If you need an excellent example, I give you our own Bob Peters. Those of us fortunate enough to have participated in an adventure with Bob know what I mean. I’m sure that if Bob and Ruth were plopped down in the middle of Turkmenistan, they would have some hiking, skiing, climbing, or fishing adventure planned within five days, and when the day was done, they’d have the local Mullah and his family over for burgers and non-alcoholic beer.

With this attitude, you’re ready to jump into what some feel is an oxymoron called "Mormon Culture." A few things that seem to bother people:

A. Non-availability of alcoholic beverages. It’s been said many times that in actuality, it’s easy enough to get a drink in Utah. The truth is, it will never be "easy" as long as 70 percent of Utah is LDS. Mormons have a thing called "The Word of Wisdom," a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith back in the 1830's telling the faithful to avoid tobacco, alcohol, and hot drinks, which at that time were coffee and tea. In addition, the words also say to eat meat sparingly and eat plenty of grains. For the 19th century, pretty sound advice. It could just as easily have been "avoid all chips and chocolate" but those weren’t readily available back then. The point it that Mormons see this as more than just a health thing. It’s an obedience thing, and the convoluted alcohol laws are as much an effort to keep alcohol and its effects out of sight, and therefore, out of mind for the faithful as they are to infuriate drinkers. Sure any Mormon can get drunk if he or she wants to, but it just makes things a bit less easy. Maybe the trip to the liquor store will give them time to reflect and change their minds. I don’t know. And I really have no idea why 3.2 beer. That’s just the way it is. Now, if you’re absolutely certain that alcohol and 6.0 beer must readily be available to you in order for you to be happy, then I’d suggest living in Colorado.

B. Ultra-conservatism. Yup, we got it. I live in a small town in a decidedly agricultural area, and most of my neighbors are straight-ticket punching Republicans. **** Cheney would be proud. But we have managed to elect a few Democrats over the years, including the 2004 re-election of Congressman Matheson. Utah Mormons have always been a rather independent minded people, thanks in part to a general mistrust of the federal government dating from the 1800's, a church welfare system that takes care of many of its members without government help, and that Puritan "work ethic" that the original pioneers brought with them. Of course, most of these conservative ranchers and farmers aren’t too concerned when the federal government legislates morality (abortion, gay marriage), or when their price supports for milk show up, or their cattle allotment on Forest Service land is renewed. But heaven forbid if the government should attempt to dictate how we can use our own land out here (see Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument/President Clinton). I’m just as frustrated, and I’ve been voting pretty much in vain for years. We had Initiative 1 on the ballot this year which would have provided for the preservation of open space and watersheds. It looked like a slam dunk, but it got defeated. If your response to this would be "I’m moving to Oregon where they appreciate the land" rather than "Looks like we’ll have to get a better message out for the next election," then I’d suggest living in Oregon.

C. Pervasive Mormonism. It’s everywhere. Schools, politics, billboards, malls. In every conversation, Mormonism’s show up. "Brother so-and-so, how are you?" "Are you coming to our Ward Party?" "Did Jimmy get his mission call?" You can’t escape it. Let me explain a few. Most Mormon young men at the age of about 19 or 20 serve a two year mission to some part of the world. So do some young women, as well as a number of retired couples. Not every mission is a proselytizing mission. Some are medical, educational, or building. Wards are like parishes, only in suburban Utah, most are less than a ½ square mile in size. Each ward is a member of a Stake, along with 6 to 10 other Wards. In many suburban areas, there will literally be three large ward or stake buildings within sight of one another (most church buildings house three or four wards - meeting times are staggered throughout Sunday). If you hear the term Stake House used by Brother Anderson when talking to Brother Smith, they’re probably not looking to order a medium-rare porterhouse. You will most likely find yourself at some point spoken to by a well-meaning, but ultimately clueless Mormon in a way that would suggest you know or care about Mormon culture. My advice: smile, explain that you’re a reformed Buddhist and not acquainted with the term "Sunday Block" (the 3 hour block of meetings, held while the rest of you are skiing), and then ask them how come BYU can’t get a decent football team. That should turn the conversation. Mormons consider anyone living within the boundaries of a Ward to be part of that ward, so you might get Ward Newsletters, Ward Phone Rosters, and even an invitation to a Ward Party. You ought to accept at least once, just to get to know a few neighbors. The party will be simple, harmless, alcohol-free, and probably include a Jell-O salad or two. While you may get a request to have "the missionaries come over" (another Mormonism), a simple "No thank you, but could I get the recipe for that flank steak marinade?" will be sufficient for most well-meaning Mormons. If not, just explain that you’re content with your present religious affiliation. Or, if you’re REALLY brave, you could actually look into the church and its precepts. If, however, you would consider any of these an affront to your sensibilities, then I’d suggest living in Montana.

D. Non-acceptance. Certainly a problem at times, but I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as it was even 15 years ago. I’ve taught at a high school in a university town (so it’s a bit more diverse than most small towns) for 26 years, and we’ve had plenty of non-LDS students participate in student government (three or four studentbody presidents), athletics, and clubs. My ski/snowboard club traveled to Targhee and Jackson last year, and the ratio of Mormon to non-Mormon was about 50 - 50. Their only concern was the quality of powder. I’ve coached soccer teams with more non-Christians (Buddhists, Iranian Jews, Muslims, agnostics) than Christians and we all got along fine. In my observations, it becomes an issue when parents look to make it an issue. Utah schools, in 9th through 12th grades, have "release time" which means LDS students can schedule one period a day for seminary (gospel) instruction. Other denominations can do and have done the same thing. Most seminary buildings are adjacent to the high school campus. As to the workplace, I’m sure it’s not always fair. I would imagine that there are occasional bias and prejudices shown in management. It is certainly not condoned by Mormons nor the State of Utah. My suggestion would be that when you move into your Utah neighborhood, regardless of who’s Mormon or not, take a plate of chocolate chip cookies next door, introduce yourself, and ask if they ski. If you know that regardless of how you act, your Mormon neighbors will be jerks, then I’d suggest living in Nevada (but not Las Vegas, since there a plenty of Mormons already there).

Of course, all this will depend somewhat on where in Utah you live. Wasatch Front (Ogden to Provo) is where most of Utah resides. It’s full of people, subdivisions, roads, bad air at times, and Wal-Marts. It also has the most to offer in sports, businesses, restaurants, shopping, and, dare I say "art." The southern end of the Wasatch Front contains Provo, BYU, and an LDS population that’s too saccharin even for me. It would take a very brave soul to live in Utah Valley. Robert Redford had to move to Sundance. Of course, Park City and environs is the easy answer. Cool summers, culture, restaurants, and Stein Erickson. But for the very courageous, it’s those tucked-away hamlets that provide the real challenge. "Restaurants? How ‘bout the ‘Surf and Turf’every Friday at LD’s Café. Culture? When the Johnson brothers bring their cattle down from the Uintahs along Main Street. Art? Ain’t that Carl Baker’s younger brother?" Now, if you think you can handle it, try living in one of these Utah places. They're all over the state, once you get out of the smog so you can see ‘em. I’m just not telling you where, cause a few have some decent
skiing nearby. Heck, even the desert town of Moab has the La Sals and Telluride three hours away.

Well, I hope this helps.

I really do believe, however, that if you have to ask about living in Utah, then you’ll probably be happier living elsewhere.

Like Missoula.

post #2 of 26
BROVO !!!!
Thanx Bill
post #3 of 26
This is good stuff.

Thanks for the chuckles, Bill!
post #4 of 26
for as long as i have been coming here, Bill has written a informative nmsg , such as above, cause every year the same subject comes up. It's always good to get the other side opinon
post #5 of 26
Well Bill I visit your great state once a year generally and actually lived there for a year in 81/82 and your observations/advice (for non Mormons) are great. The beer does suck though
post #6 of 26
Hilarious!!! BTW, Colorado actually has a secret Mormon Feminist Cult that encourages polygamy for women!
post #7 of 26
Thanks for taking the time to break it down.
post #8 of 26
Bill, you make me think about studying Joseph Smith... thanks!
post #9 of 26
One thing that most people don't get; if you buy beer in the grocery store or gas station in Colorado it is 3.2 beer, just like Utah (GASP).

Another thing Bill, you mention that Ogden to Provo has some dirty air, but, on average, Cache valley's air is far worse, as a matter of fact it's some of the worst in the country (in the winter). There are only two cities in California that hold a higher record for particulate matter.
post #10 of 26
Bill, I'll buy you the non alcohoholic beverage of your choice anytime. you should expand this essay into a book.
post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zion zig zag
One thing that most people don't get; if you buy beer in the grocery store or gas station in Colorado it is 3.2 beer, just like Utah (GASP).

Another thing Bill, you mention that Ogden to Provo has some dirty air, but, on average, Cache valley's air is far worse, as a matter of fact it's some of the worst in the country (in the winter). There are only two cities in California that hold a higher record for particulate matter.
Alas, very true Zig. For a few weeks last winter, Cache Valley did indeed hold the record (although it was latter modified after further testing, but still managed to be terrible), but if measured over the entire year, our air comes out cleaner. So far, anyway. Our problem shows up in winter inversions when sulfurs from exhaust combine with ammonia from cow waste. We have plenty of both.
post #12 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Utah49
Bill, I'll buy you the non alcohoholic beverage of your choice anytime. you should expand this essay into a book.
Thanks. Next time I'm at The Canyons, I'll take you up on that.
post #13 of 26
Quote:
if you buy beer in the grocery store or gas station in Colorado it is 3.2 beer
I dont know where you shop, but the 7/11 across the street from me in colorado springs sells the real deal.
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by nealric
I dont know where you shop, but the 7/11 across the street from me in colorado springs sells the real deal.

From howstuffworks.com:

In Colorado the beer sold in grocery stores has to be low alcohol "3.2" beer. It can contain no more than 3.2 percent alcohol by mass. But the beer sold in liquor stores is labeled by volume, and most beer is about 5 percent alcohol by volume. But when you convert from weight to volume you find that the "3.2" beer is really 4 percent alcohol by volume. Still a pretty big difference, but maybe not quite as big as you might think.
post #15 of 26
Well, they must be mislabeling all the bottles then.
post #16 of 26
Bill-
Excellent work. Its always a thrill for me to read what you write on here. It's also nice to see things from a very similar point of view sometimes.


duke

P.s. Is there enogh snow to get the cat to Logan peak yet? We need to get that planned.
post #17 of 26
Ok Duke and bill I saw that whats this about a Snowcat? and logan Peak? I smell a plan to do some backcountry skiing. If you need a Park City Heathen you know to sort of balance things out drop me a Pm Bill also let me know when you will be down this way to ski. how are things at Powder Mountain.? I might just have to meet you up there to buy you that beverage. see what I will do to repay a kindness drive all the way up to the far end of Ogdan Valley. Then put up with all that nasty Powder and nobody around to share it with.
post #18 of 26
Ahhh. Great post, Bill. Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Emmett
But heaven forbid if the government should attempt to dictate how we can use our own land out here (see Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument/President Clinton). I’m just as frustrated, and I’ve been voting pretty much in vain for years. We had Initiative 1 on the ballot this year which would have provided for the preservation of open space and watersheds. It looked like a slam dunk, but it got defeated. If your response to this would be "I’m moving to Oregon where they appreciate the land" rather than "Looks like we’ll have to get a better message out for the next election," then I’d suggest living in Oregon.
I'd suggest otherwise. Trust me. I've taken your advice. It was a big mistake. In contrast to the myths spun by the Oregon tourism reality-distortion board, "appreciating the land" is sort of frowned upon here on the Oregon coast...unless appreciate is some sort of code word for clearcut. The coast range is by and large an industrial landscape, not a natural one. We don't have forests in my part of Oregon anymore, we have tree plantations.

Granted, trees grow back, and they shave them off pretty carefully when they do shave them off. But I'll take the scenery along the Blacksmith Fork in autumn any day of the week.

post #19 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke
P.s. Is there enogh snow to get the cat to Logan peak yet? We need to get that planned.
Looks pretty good from the valley. I'll look for you next week at the Beav.
post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Utah49
Ok Duke and bill I saw that whats this about a Snowcat? and logan Peak? I smell a plan to do some backcountry skiing. If you need a Park City Heathen you know to sort of balance things out drop me a Pm Bill also let me know when you will be down this way to ski. how are things at Powder Mountain.? I might just have to meet you up there to buy you that beverage. see what I will do to repay a kindness drive all the way up to the far end of Ogdan Valley. Then put up with all that nasty Powder and nobody around to share it with.
I'm just the hitch-hiker on the snowcat deal. But I'm always up for a Snowbasin meeting. I'll keep you posted.
post #21 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnarlito
Granted, trees grow back, and they shave them off pretty carefully when they do shave them off. But I'll take the scenery along the Blacksmith Fork in autumn any day of the week.

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We were out on the coast this summer and I do recall seeing a fair bit of clear-cutting going on, but the coastline around Yachats was pretty spectacular, especially for this child of the intermountain desert.

Hey, sounds like you'd appreciate the Top Of Utah Marathon as it winds its way down Blacksmith Fork in September.

Or maybe just a bit of flyfishing.
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Emmett
But I'm always up for a Snowbasin meeting.
You guys should stop in and say hello.
post #23 of 26
I went rafting on the Green this summer with a group out of Kaysville. I knew it would be different when I learned I would have to bring my own beer (which I expected) and my own soda (which I did not). My take on Jesus was queried within 20 minutes of our first meeting (it was Sunday) but never again after I indicated that I did not subscribe to that particular celestial calling plan. We had a great (albeit sober - I'll try anything once) trip.

The free-floating anxiety regarding LDS evident in this forum is not (IMO) a response to the innocent (if not necessarily considerate) presumption that one shares their faith but the increasing politicization of religion in America. What was once an intensely private doctrine of belief and personal behavior has become an increasingly strident public dictation of "morality". The contention that "moral values" are better represented by people who are more offended by homosexuality than by a misrepresented war in Iraq (remember WMDs?) that has resulted in >1000 US dead and >10,000 wounded, plus uncounted tens of thousands of Iraqis, is polarizing. The righteous assertion that this is a Christian nation is of concern to those of us who are not. Mr. Emmett's gentle and thoughtful advice that one should not move to Utah if one is not prepared to tolerate those with different beliefs is well-taken. The potential progression to the state where one should not move to Utah because those with different beliefs will not be tolerated is deeply troubling.

I know I have broken taboos by re-visiting both religion AND politics. But we don't have 9 feet of new here in Boston, and the few inches we do have will be turning to rain, and I am feeling cranky.

And this discussion does not apply just to LDS and Utah, but as well to other places such as Texas, Alabama, or Florida, except I doubt any of the posters here are all that interested in moving there.
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisamarie
Hilarious!!! BTW, Colorado actually has a secret Mormon Feminist Cult that encourages polygamy for women!
Does Mark know about this, LM? :
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Emmett
We were out on the coast this summer and I do recall seeing a fair bit of clear-cutting going on, but the coastline around Yachats was pretty spectacular, especially for this child of the intermountain desert.
The stretch of coast between Florence and Yachats is beautiful. It's about 30 miles north of where I live, and it's one of our must-see places when we've got out-of-state visitors.

If you ever get back this way, you may want to also check out the southern Oregon coast, from about Port Orford to the California border. It's pretty wild and unspoiled as well.

Quote:
Hey, sounds like you'd appreciate the Top Of Utah Marathon as it winds its way down Blacksmith Fork in September.

Or maybe just a bit of flyfishing.
I'll take the flyfishing, thank you
post #26 of 26
Thanks for turning me off completely to Utah!

And if you think you have to be tough to live there, then you have not looked hard enough around the world to understand what a tough life is all about!

As for the religious nature of Utah, all I can say is that religion is definitely not for the weak minded because the weak minded are easily brain washed.
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