Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Come for the harsh conditions, stay for the smog
The urban sprawl has crept into nearly every nook and cranny of the valley around Salt Lake City. As a result, the people of this valley have decided that it would be a good idea to begin building communities ON TOP of the mountain walls.
The mountains run north and south, parallel to Interstate 15. This picture is taken from a new community called Suncrest in the southeast corner of the valley. About as far south as you can go before you reach Utah County where things REALLY get strange. Directly ahead, in this picture, you should be able to see downtown Salt Lake City. On the horizon towards the left side you should be able to see the Great Salt Lake, itself. Click the picture to enlarge it. The clouds are high and the skies are clear. This is about as good a view as you will get from this expensive new community. I guess the top of a nearby mountain is the wrong place to gaze at a lake that is visible from space. It is funny that in a valley famous for its smokestacks, people regard it as a mystery that the Great Salt Lake has some of the highest levels of mercury of any lake in the entire country. Don't eat the birds that stop here, you'll go mad as a hatter.
If you choose to live in Suncrest community then you should plan to miss a lot of work due to harsh weather, even as the weather is mild on the valley floor. Warn your children not to fall off the mountain as they play in the yard and to avoid engulfment in vast snowbanks.
Before the houses were built, we would ride our mountain bikes there. It would be hot in the valley but the wind at the top was biting cold. I'm sure environmentalists are pleased that after their efforts to block off unnecessary trails and rehabilitate Corner Canyon years ago, the final result is golf courses and million dollar homes. But look how smooth that pavement sits.
When I drove through the neighborhood, some soccer mom in a giant SUV smiled and waved at me. She seemed to have a look on her face like, "They all think we are crazy for living up here, but we know better, don't we?"
I waved back, but I didn't have the gall to put on my look of, "Speak for yourself, mama. I will send up a Saint Bernard with a cask of bourbon round his neck after every mountain storm."
The road to the community is steep and windy and wide. People seem to drive a minimum of 10 mph over the speed limit. It feels quite similar to driving through the old Sardine Canyon between Brigham City and Logan. You know? That canyon that usually reports at least one head-on collision every winter?
When do we stop calling it "progress" and start calling it "desparation?"