I don't know if people in other states feel this same way, but for whatever reason I always feel compelled to explain what's so great about my home state. I'm not really sure why, since most people who come here love it so much they either move here, or at least purchase a second home here. Especially after the 2002 Olympics, held in Salt Lake City, when the whole world sat on our doorstep. Many of them never left.
Nonetheless, I'm going to explain my passion for Utah again.
I am a Utahan, born and bred. I have travelled to several different states: Nevada, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Kentucky, Kansas, New York...well, you get the idea. I've been to Canada and Mexico on our North American continent. I've been to Germany, England, France, Canary Islands, Spain, Holland, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Grand Cayman, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti...again, you get the idea. I've been a few places. And in the words of the wise Dorothy, I have to say, there truly is no place like home.
From almost every window in my house I have a view of the amazing, beautiful Rocky Mountains. I can jump in my car - or on my Harley - and be in said mountains within fifteen minutes. In the winter months, I can use those fifteen minutes to be on some of the greatest slopes in the world - if I skied, that is. When I ski now, it is simply for the entertainment of my children as I tumble down the mountain. I have the Oquirrh Mountains to the west, as well. The Great Salt Lake (second saltiest in the world) is a twenty minute drive. I can be on a lake with a wave runner within half an hour, or fishing on a lake within the same amount of time. I can load up the 4-wheelers and be on the 9,000 acre Little Sahara sand dunes in two hours. Within a few hours I can be in one of Utah's 5 National Parks. (Been to Zion or Bryce? If not, you are so missing out.) We have movie theaters with reserved seating. You have no idea how great that is until you've experienced it. Maybe best of all, Disneyland is a mere ten hour drive away. We do have an amusement park thirty minutes from my house, Lagoon, which is pretty good - even if it isn't Disneyland!
You can walk around Salt Lake City, and feel safe. For the largest city in the state, it's amazingly clean. I didn't realize that, or appreciate it, until I had been in some large cities in other states and noticed an excess of litter and graffiti. Not that we don't have those things here, they just seems disproportionately less than some other places I've been. There are some less than stellar areas in Utah, but overall I think most Utahan's take pride in keeping the state clean.
We get four distinct seasons here in Utah. The temperatures hit over 100 degrees in the summer, to below zero in the winter. We might be a desert, but we shovel several feet deep snow as well. We grow Kentucky blue grass here, which is amazing to sit on, and walk barefoot across. We have some friends that moved to Texas, and the thing they miss most is the grass. When they come to visit, first thing they want to do is go outside and sit on the lawn. We grow tulips in the spring, roses in the summer, rake leaves in the fall and build snowmen in the winter.
Just so you know, there are not many polygamists who live in Utah. I believe there are around 40,000, or less than 2% of the population. Yes, the Mormon's brought polygamy here, but it was banned by the church in 1890. Do the math: that's 121 years ago. It was only practiced by Mormon's from 1843-1890. That's 47 years altogether. (Note to comedians: it's old and pretty lame to keep harping on the LDS church about something that has been banned for three times the amount of time it was practiced.) So, no, you aren't going to feel like you've stepped into a foreign world where women outnumber men, and wear pioneer dresses, with braided hair. Because of the large number of LDS church members here, you might notice people more modestly dressed, however. I am completely okey-dokey with that. I've never really been one to appreciate viewing over-exposed body parts. Not too many people look good with too much exposed skin (yes, I definitely mean me!).
The crime rate here is fairly low, approximately 96k crimes per year. I'm not sure where we sit compared to other states, but I know there is only one homicide about every 9 days. While that's still far too many in my book, it's not nearly as many as you find in other places. I know that in 1990 Utah ranked 12th in the lowest crime rate, but I'm not sure where we sit today. It is unusual, and newsworthy, when a violent crime occurs in the state. Utahan's are generally very friendly, and definitely service oriented. If you move in, you're probably going to be the recipient of a cake or two, and a casserole, or ten. Mowing a neighbors lawn, shoveling their walk, or taking the garbage cans back up to their house from the curbside it not at all unusual.
I do have to admit, one drawback is the constant road construction. It's an inside joke here that we have two seasons: road construction and less road construction. Potholes are as much a part of spring as the birds returning from the south. A good Utah business to be in is to own a blacktopping company, or manufacturing those orange cones or barrels that are on nearly every road in Utah. Overall, a small price to pay for the blessing of living here.
Anyone who's been to Utah, or who lives here now, can likely understand what I'm talking about. A more conservative state, to be sure; with beauty, opportunity, recreation and friendliness abounding, is it any wonder I'm in love with my home state?
Love your own state? I'd love to hear about it below!