Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Rest of Utah

Time to wrap up our Labor Day Weekend visit to Utah. Here are a few of the other things we experienced while in the Park City area.

We checked into our Park City hotel, the Hyatt Escala Lodge, which was part of The Canyons Resort area. Canyons encompassed about 8-10 other resorts. The rooms and property at the Hyatt were nice, but the hotel services were lacking. The restaurant (and more importantly the bar) was closed Sundays and Mondays and when they were operating they were only open until 10pm. This is Utah - it's hard enough to get a drink as it is - why make it harder?  Other low-service encounters occurred the entire stay. At least we caught a deal - Buy 2 nights get 1 free.

We took a lot of cabs from the resort to Old Town Park City. We had a rental car, but given the bad dining options at our hotel we wanted to have the luxury of spending more time in town enjoying the local establishments. The town did offer a free shuttle to-and-from the resorts - but it was a far distance from our lodge to the bus stop....

Our first cabbie suggested we try The No Name Saloon. It was a dank bar with high ceilings and classic rock playing. The motif:  bikers took over a cowboy saloon. Kinda fun. No Name offered a rooftop bar as well, but since we weren't sure if we could drink there without eating (strange Utah laws) we just sat at the bar.
Post-marathon dinner was at 350 Main Brasserie. This restaurant had a nice modern decor with a pleasant bar area and windows that opened fully to the outdoors. We split the crispy gnocchi mac and cheese appetizer. Honestly if they doubled the portion size this could have been their signature entree. Really delicious. Dave had the lobster and grits while Holly had the fried chicken. Both were very good, but unfortunately altitude, 3 hour drive, and marathon caught up with us so no dessert. We went back to the hotel and had a nightcap at the fire pit.

The next morning we trekked over to the Deer Valley resort area to have brunch at the Stein Eriksen Lodge. In our typical fashion we got there way too early. We killed time by walking around the resort and taking some photos of the mostly overcast grey morning. By the time brunch came we were ready to eat and enjoy a mimosa. "Not for another half hour". Utah laws - no liquor before 11:30 on a Sunday. The buffet offered an amazing assortment - breakfast, lunch, desserts, you name it. We ate outside so we could hear the jazz band better. By the time we left we were stuffed. This was a good thing since the next stop was the Utah Olympic Park.

We hit a couple of local establishments before our dinner at the Riverhorse on Main. We were really looking forward to this one. Research online led us to believe it was one of the best places in town; confirmed by our cabbies. They weren't ready for us immediately and showed us some bar seats. We ordered some nice signature cocktails and waited about 20 minutes for our table. We were seated in one of two dining rooms and it was nicely decorated. There was a guy singing and playing acoustic guitar.  Very pleasant.   Our appetizers of shrimp and potstickers arrived. Shrimp were awesome, potstickers horrible. They were drowned in the soy ginger sauce. The main dishes - halibut and pork shoulder were good, but not great. Other than the decor, shrimp, and opening cocktails we were disappointed in this meal.

Another cabbie gave us the tip to drive out to Brighton ski area. He told us there were a couple lakes in the area we could hike around. We took his advice.  Before heading out we stopped in Old Town Park City for the Running of the Balls. This was a charity event where participants "buy" a numbered golf ball. They put all those balls in a big hopper for a race down Main Street. It was fun to watch over 6,000 balls bounce down the street.

The way to Brighton followed mostly narrow windy mountain rows. No guard rails. Beautiful scenery the whole way. We got to Brighton and found the park area packed. Lots of families out for a hike, picnic, or a little fishing. We went to the info center and the guide told us the walk around Silver Lake would be an easy 0.7 miles. He could point out some other more difficult trails, but we declined the offer since 0.7 sounded like the amount of effort we wanted to put forward.

Half-way around the lake we came to another trail with some signs pointing to some other trails named after different lakes. The Twin Lakes trail was a mile long. We thought "we drove all this way......" And decided to see what Twin Lake looked like. After a minute we gave some thought to other points made on the sign. Our current elevation was about 8,700 ft. Twin Lakes was a 710 ft elevation gain. That's equal to Machu Picchu's elevation. The steepness of the hike plus the elevation was doing us in. This wasn't a fifteen minute walk. Once we got to the top we saw a small lake and a concrete reservoir. Going down the mountain was much more fun.

By the time we got to the bottom of the hill we we so ready to eat something. We made the trip back to Old Town and headed toward High West Distillery. They make their own whiskies and vodka here. High West had a great menu and was pretty crowded at 3pm. We had some snacks, samples of their booze straight, then some signature drinks.
With this being Labor Day liquor stores were closed in Utah. Our hotel bar was closed.   Clearly this was poor planning on our part.   Luckily a stop at Wasatch Brew Pub gave us the chance to buy a warm 6-pack of their kolsch style beer. We finished up downtown shopping and headed back to the hotel. Dave chilled the beer by pouring it over ice, then strained the ice and poured it into coffee cups appropriated from the cafe. Good enough..... We decided we were done trekking to town so we dined outdoors by the fire pit at Drafts. We asked our server what would happen if we ordered a bottle of wine and couldn't finish it.   The answer was it could be corked back up and taken with us. We skipped the formality of having a sip of wine and were able to get the whole bottle to go. We finished the night by our hotel's fire pit.
Before our flight back to Chicago we had lunch at Squatter's Pub. We enjoyed some great burgers and beers. The pub was located next to some 2002 Olympic monument where Holly took one final photo.
We have a few minutes of video from the brunch, ball drop, and Brighton hike. Park City was a great summer destination. We decided we'd return someday to see it during ski season.

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