by Bob Sparrow
The sky was deep blue and the air was clean and thin, very thin – the mountains, still with some snow on their peaks, rose up beautifully before us. I knew I wasn’t in Kansas or even in southern California anymore – it wasn’t air I could get my teeth into. I was in the ski mecca of the mountain west, Park City, Utah. But this time of year, the hills are not covered with “The Greatest Snow on Earth”, but rather we see green ski runs cut out of the mountains, with lift chairs spanning over them, and cutting through stands of pine, fir and quaking aspen. Summer is indeed a great time of year to visit this magnificent place.
The gift of a timeshare week brought the Budds, Sagers, VanBoxmeers and us to this home of the 2002 Winter Olympics, which has done nothing but grow since then. Our main activity, other than eating and drinking, was playing golf – some good and some bad, both score-wise and course-wise. We played four rounds of golf; we tried to get on a few private courses, but they must have been forewarned about our golf acumen, so all our rounds were on public courses. Three of them were south of Park City in the Heber–Midway area, the best of which was Homestead, a good course that they say new ownership is going to make great! The one I would not recommend is next to Olympic Village in Park City called Canyons Golf. I see online that it got a 4 out of 5 rating, but trust me, all this course needed was a windmill and a couple of clowns’ mouths to putt into to make it a completely hideous experience. There was one hole with a 250 yard drop in elevation from tee to green. The gas, instead of electric, golf carts made it extra special. See the photo of their driving range – we should have known before we started that this wasn’t going to be Pebble Beach.
So, my first ‘Don’t’ travel tip is don’t play Canyons Golf. My second tip might be regarding Park City’s most famous restaurant, Grappa. The setting is beautiful, an interesting building at the top of Main Street, with lots of deck space for outside dining, which is gorgeous on a summer’s evening . . .HOWEVER, high-priced food is one thing, over-priced, very average food is quite another, and that’s what we got. So, nice setting, good service, but very average good for a very premium price. Let’s move on to something more positive.
If you come to this area, I would highly recommend a visit to the Stein Erikson Lodge, which is just over the hill from Park City in Deer Valley. Stein Erikson was a champion skier and Olympic gold medal winner from Norway, who moved to Park City and built the lodge in 1982 – it earned the prestigious Forbes Five-Star rating and has maintained this rating ever since and is still Utah’s only resort property to have a Forbes Five-Star status.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend staying there, as it is fairly pricey – regular rooms start around $700 a night and goes steeply up from there. But we just went to look at the facility to see how the ‘rich people’ live – they live very nicely! We did have a drink on the lodge deck imagining ourselves on a snowy winter evening in one of those ‘bubble tables’ that rotates and keeps you warm while sitting on the deck during snow season – I was to learn later that they are called Alpenglobes.
The other highlight for me was to visit my, and son Jeff’s, college alma mater in Salt Lake City, Westminster College – the campus was quiet, as it was a summer Sunday, but still looked magnificent. The tour for the rest of the group was not quite as thrilling I’m sure, but they were able to see the brick at the Alumni House that shows the seal for the college that I created. OK, it wasn’t just me; in my senior year I needed a couple of units in the arts, so I took an art class. The college board had just come to the art teacher and asked if he could have his students create a new crest for the school. Two nights before the assignment was due, I invited my football teammate and center, Bruce Takeno to the local pub, The Sugarbowl, to help me create something to turn in. With the help of a few beers and the lions on the Coors beer bottles, we scratch something out on a bar napkin. When we had a rough draft, Bruce, who had much greater artistic skills than I, and lived in Salt Lake, said that he would take it home and ‘make it pretty’. What he handed me the next morning, slightly resembled what was on the napkin, but done
in oil paint on stretched canvas – it looked spectacular! I turned it in, and the school board voted it the winner. I did confess to my art teacher that while I contributed to the overall design, Bruce was the artist in the group. I passed the class! It has since been replaced.
Another highlight was just walking Main Street in Park City – it is filled with gift shops, bars, restaurants and . . . more gift shops, bars and restaurants! Great location, great friends, clean air, great trip!