Traveling between Salt Lake City and Park City without a car can be pretty inconvenient if you don’t want to pay for a private shuttle. There’s the Greyhound, which has one trip from Salt Lake to Park City in the early morning and one trip back late at night. There’s also the PC-SLC Connect, a bus that has two trips from Salt Lake to Park City in the early morning and two trips back in the late afternoon. Miss one of those options and you are kind of screwed. We opted for the latter and took the second 7:21 AM bus from Salt Lake Central Station on Friday morning.
We finally reached the Park City Old Town Transit Center at about 9 AM, but nothing on Main Street had really opened yet. Sultan and I were hungry, so we wandered a bit to try and find a place to eat that was open and eventually hit upon a Brazilian/American restaurant called The Bridge. I ordered the Cristo Redentor, a french toast-style ham and swiss sandwich served with fresh fruit. It was delicious and a great meal to kick off the morning.
Afterwards, we headed to the visitor’s center, which also happened to share the space with the Park City Museum. I had a coupon for buy one get one free admission, so we decided to check it out and learn more about the city’s history.
Park City was a mining town that was incorporated in 1884. There were over 300 mines in the area digging up lead, zinc, copper, and gold, though silver was what really caused the population to boom. In 1898, a large fire tore through a chunk of the city causing massive damage. Hundreds were left homeless and many did not believe that Park City would ever rebuild. Still, persistence won out and 63 new buildings were erected that year, even with the nation suffering a recession.
Today, Park City is known both for its ski resorts and for being the main hub of the Sundance Film Festival. The museum includes an old “underground ski lift” which used to take passengers up through the mountain in the 1960s. The concept never really got off the ground (pun intended) and people eventually just returned to the ski lifts that we know of today.
There is also a section on the Egyptian Theatre, which opened in Park City in 1926. The theater used to play silent movies before being the first in town to invest in talkies. Though we didn’t watch a film there, Sultan and I made a quick stop to check out its facade on Main Street.
Originally, when we were planning this trip, we were thinking of heading up to Park City to do some snowboarding. Unfortunately, Sultan hurt his foot a day before we left, so the plan changed. Since we didn’t have any tickets to see films in Park City and Main Street pretty much just consisted of shops and restaurants, we took one of the free buses down to Kimball Junction so that we could head up to Utah Olympic Park.
There is a free shuttle that takes you from the visitor’s center at Kimball Junction up to the park that leaves every 45 minutes after the hour. We just missed one of the shuttles, but it gave us time to take a break inside the center before the next one showed up.
Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics and Utah Olympic Park was the site of several different events including bobsleigh, ski jumping, and luge. Today, it acts as a training center and includes both the Alf Engen Ski Museum and the Eccles Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museum.
We started off with the ski museum, even though neither of us have ever skied before. There was a virtual experience station though that allowed us to simulate the bumps, twists, and turns of different sports for a fee, so we tried powder skiing, bobsledding, and parachute skiing. We were basically strapped into a sort of ski lift that moved along with what was happening on screen. It even fake snowed! The whole thing was a lot of fun to experience and the virtual parachute skiing was probably my favorite.
Included with the experience was a free ski jump on another virtual platform that was a lot harder than it looked. Basically, you stand on a square and angle yourself to coincide with your character on screen to try and net as many points as you can with your jumps. It’s super tricky and my final score after two attempts was 190.7. Compare that with the 269 points that gold medalist Simon Ammann got in the 2002 Olympics.
Another particularly fun section of the ski museum was this game where you had to navigate a ball down a route on a hill as fast as you can to sort of simulate how the slalom and downhill events work. I wasn’t even close to the best time on either.
The 2002 Olympics Museum was upstairs and had a lot of history that allowed you to sort of relive the games. There were actual Olympic medals on display, US Hockey team jerseys, animal puppets used in the Opening Ceremony, and more. Of course, there was also some interesting facts about the games such as how Vonetta Flowers became the first African-American to win a medal in the Olympic games after winning gold in two-woman bobsleigh.
Having enough of being inside, we ventured out into the snow to see what else was happening at the park. There was an aerials pool that is used in the summer and was a thing that I didn’t even know existed. A little further from that, there was freestyle slope were members from the Belarus team were practicing some jumps. It was cool seeing them do flips in the air that would probably terrify most people.
The last thing that we saw in the park was the bobsled track. For just $175 per person, you can take a ride, moving at 4 to 5 times the force of gravity. We didn’t have that kind of money, so we just watched people who did quickly jettison right past us.
Shuttle rides back down to Kimball Junction happen fifteen minutes before every hour and we got to the visitor’s center again at around 5 PM. From there, we walked to the Kimball Junction Transit Center to take the PC-SLC Connect back to Salt Lake City. We got off near City Creek Center and hit up the food court again for dinner. This time, I opted for a place called Taste of Red Iguana. The original Red Iguana was opened by Mexican immigrants in 1985 and Taste of Red Iguana is just their restaurant on a smaller scale.
Throughout the day, Sultan and I were talking about seeing a film, even though we didn’t have tickets. Sundance has this nifty waitlist system though that allows you to take a number in a virtual line two hours before a screening. We opted for a 9 PM showing of Beach Rats and were 11th and 12th in line when we signed up, which meant that we would likely get entry. To kill some time, we stopped by a gift shop before heading to the theater to make sure we were in the physical waitlist line on time.
Luckily for us, we managed to get in to see the screening. Unluckily for us, I didn’t particularly care for the film at all. Beach Rats follows a guy from Brooklyn who is struggling with all kinds of things in his life. His father is dying from cancer, he has a thing for older men that he secretly goes out to have sexual relations with, he is dating a girl he isn’t really sure about, and he has a bunch of douchey friends. My main gripe was that there was not one character that I cared about at all. Like I’m fine with the main character being unlikable, but to have nobody to root for kind of bugged me. Not everyone was a douche, but those that weren’t were barely even characters.
I thought the film was just okay, but the ballot system kind of forced me to give the film a “Fair” rating of 1 star since I could not honestly bring myself to give it a 2-star “Good” rating. Thinking about the film still frustrates me and probably has clouded my judgment to think of it as worse than it actually was. It didn’t help that this film actually won an award at Sundance for directing in the US Dramatic Competition. Maybe I just need to watch the film again to get a better appreciation of it.
Back at the hostel, I was thinking about how a common thread throughout the day was the belief that anything could really happen. People believed that Park City could rise up from the ashes of a fire and now the town is still thriving. Athletes from all over the world trained hard in their sport with the belief that they could win gold in the Olympics. Even Sultan and I had to have a sense of belief in hoping that we would be able to get into a sold out show at Sundance and I bet showcasing a film at Sundance has been a dream for many of these filmmakers as well. Believing is powerful and is the first step in achieving the goals you set for yourself.
Check out other posts in the Sal Tlay Ka Siti series:
– Sal Tlay Ka Siti (Part 1): Hello!
– Sal Tlay Ka Siti (Part 2): All American Prophet
– Sal Tlay Ka Siti (Part 3): I Believe
– Sal Tlay Ka Siti (Part 4): Tomorrow is a Latter Day