little sarah Big World

Category: Utah

But I am Tough as Nails

So it’s not all weakness. It’s not all crying alone in the shower, or eating leftovers while watching America’s Next Top Model.

Because sometimes I am strong. Sometimes I far surpass my own perceived limitations. Sometimes I kick ass, Friends. SOMETIMES I RUN A HALF-MARATHON.

I still almost can’t believe it. I’d always thought of such a distance as a race for real runners. For people who’d been running for years. People who trained constantly. To me, 13.2 miles was SERIOUS BUSINESS. Not for amateurs, and certainly not for wimps. But then…I did it. I trained, and I went to Moab, UT, and I ran not just any ol’ 1/2 marathon, but the Moab Trail 1/2 Marathon, which was all hills and rain and mud and slickrock, plus hiking and sliding down boulders and jumping over puddles and wiping my runny nose on my sleeves. Oh, and then about a quarter mile at the end of wading through a freezing cold, knee-deep (for me–and I’m 5′ 8”!) creek. Then scrambling through the mud.

3 hours, 17 minutes, and 53 seconds later, I was done. Not an amazing time, no (I placed 217 out of 258 runners), but that’s not what matters. Not to me, at least. What matters to me is that I did it. That thing I’d thought was so big and so difficult, for so long, is now in my rearview mirror. And just imagine my next half-marathon, without a bunch of crazy topos.

So, yeah, sometimes I surprise even myself. And then I eat a ham and cheese sandwich. With chips. Then I take a nap. And have a sleepover with my little sister, in the desert. This is my life, in Utah.

Real Life Stumble Upon

So when I said in my last post that we explored a peace garden, I left out the part about it being completely unplanned and unintentional. More like we fell into it, like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. One minute we were riding along the Jordan River Parkway, asking each other “What’s that to the left? A mini-golf place?” And then we found ourselves here:

…at the International Peace Gardens, Salt Lake City. Who knew? Lots of people apparently, and it’s even connected to a park that I’ve visited before, but we had no idea. What a treat, Friends! And now I will share it with you.





Each garden represents a country, and most of them were donated by their home countries, or by US foundations that represented foreign countries. Honestly, some of the countries’ gardens looked an awful lot like holes on a mini-golf course. But it was neat to see how each country had chosen to represent themselves, and peace. We liked the east asian gardens the best, but the experience of walking through the entire park was surreal and pleasant.

I want to say that you should check it out sometime, but maybe that wouldn’t be as cool as just coming across something so calm and magical and cheesy. So I will say that you should keep yourself open to exploring what’s around the corner, or down that path. Let what’s out there come to you. Go now, in peace.

Salt Lake at Night

I do like Salt Lake City. I really do. I get down about living here sometimes, but that’s just the people. It’s a small, incestuous community, and since I’ve pulled away from my own group of friends (dating back to high school), I’ve found it’s incredibly difficult to wedge myself into another, previously-formed group. It’s like sports, like everyone’s chosen teams and I’m a free agent. But with more crying in the shower.

But this city, Friends, this city is incredible. It is truly unlike any other place in the world, which is something I’ve said before, and I will continue to say it for as long as it’s true. Just walking around the streets at night with my guy, or a friend, is inspirational, poetic, calm, and beautiful.

Even after traveling and living abroad, you’d think that a place like this would feel small, but it doesn’t. I mean, yes, there’s the issue with the community feeling like it’s made up of 20 people (and they’re all cheerleaders and football players, while I’m home-schooled), but the city itself has not lost its charm for me.

Maybe that’s why I like her so much at night–no people, no traffic, no egos. Just the dark, the city, and me.

Peach Days

Yesterday I ran a 10k, for the second time in my life. I finished in 59:07, which is about 9 1/2 minutes per mile. That’s 1/2 a minute faster per mile than I ran it last year. I call that a success.

I ran the Peach Days 10k in Brigham City, UT. It’s a small town, and I think we all know how I feel about Small Town America. With so many smaller cities and towns going to way of Wal-Mart and Starbucks, it’s satisfying to bathe oneself in nostalgia in a place where there’s still a main street with old buildings and little shops.

But I have no pictures of this. Not of Brigham City. Not from yesterday, at least. None of the race, or the parade, or the diner that’s been open since 1929, where we ate home-made sausage and eggs. I call that a fail.

Not the end of the world, though. Because I have pictures. Peachy pictures. End of Summery pictures. Americana pictures.

Pettingill's Fruit Stand in Willard, UT

And what better way to celebrate Peaches/End of Summer/America than by baking a cobbler. I used the Peach-Raspberry Cobbler recipe from the Joy of Cooking. If you don’t have the recipe, then it means you don’t own your own J.O.C. And you should remedy that.

We start with fresh peaches and raspberries. Sliced, then splayed, in a pie dish.

Sprinkle them with sugar, then plop on some buttermilk biscuit dough. I even made the buttermilk myself, by adding lemon juice to almond milk and waiting 10 minutes.

Then bake it on up, Friends! It will be delicious and not too heavy, promise.

Sweet, fresh, homey, quaint, imperfect…just like small towns, like Brigham City. But I guess you’ll have to take my word for it on that one.


End of Summer

Back to school shopping with my cousin this weekend felt like an end. The end of Summer. Tweeds and cardigans and corduroys, when I’m still yearning for light summer dresses and woven sandals. Ah, well, I suppose this is how the world moves on. Before you’re ready.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t soak up every last drop of the golden August sun. So, Pineview again, this time with Stephanie and Paula friends, and a picnic of Mediterranean bean salad, bread, and cherries. Cherries mean Summer.

Then a private screening of Magic Trip at the Art House Cinema, in Ogden, where we sipped Mexican coke from bottles and fantasized about great American road trips.  Cold drinks and air-conditioned theaters mean Summer.

Then we walked around in the baking sun, snapping pictures and taking our time, before heading to Rooster’s for burgers, fries, and iced tea, savored slowly in the cool shade of a long canvas canopy. Iced tea means summer. So does dining outside.


I figure we’ve got about a month left of swimming, of backyard barbecues, and dresses, and heat. A month left of weekend mornings with Kevin–sleeping in, getting coffee, eating pastry, and TV.

I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.

Great Salt Lake City

My cousin Addie is about to be a senior in high school, and she’s shopping around for colleges in Utah. Having ruled out Weber State (she’s from Ogden, like me, and wanted to get away, also like me), she’s now faced with a choice between Utah State in Logan (meh), BYU in Provo (bleh), or…the University of Utah! My own alma mater!




(Obviously I have a bias.)

And not just because I went to the U (as it’s commonly called), either. I mean, I went to summer camp up at Utah State for, like, five years in a row, and I loved it. I loved the campus, I loved the dorms. And while I would never personally go to BYU, being, you know, not Mormon, I appreciate that they have world class faculty and programs.

But the U of U has Salt Lake, and this city is leaps and bounds cooler than either Logan or Provo. So much so, in fact, that when I told family, friends, coworkers, etc. that my job this weekend was “to make Salt Lake look cooler than Provo or Logan,” they laughed. “That shouldn’t be too hard” was a common response.

But don’t take my word for it! (Reading Rainbow). Judge for yourselves. Here’s what we did, divided by neighborhood:

Sugar House

Perused piles of used books at Central Book Exchange, after stopping for coffee (me) and italian soda (Addie) at Sugar House Coffee.

Stopped by Sprague library to visit Kevin, on our way to Pib’s X-Change for cheap, chic, clean second-hand clothing.

9th & 9th

Joined by Mom, our mid-day chauffeur and meal ticket, who wanted lunch at 11:30 am, but settled for caffeine, from Coffee Garden. We returned to 9th & 9th the next morning, for free yoga at Centered City. But there are no pictures of that. I’m not perfect.


Walked from the top of campus (which is actually the East) down to President’s Circle, stopping at the Marriot Library. Then we ate lunch at The Pie.


Rode TRAX, which it turns out will give you 17 golden dollar coins if you pay with a twenty for your ticket. Cool.

Made a surprise-impulse pit-stop at Caffe D’Bolla, where we sipped bubble teas and played Jenga. So…yes, this was our third coffee shop of the day, which was unintentional, but–if you think about it–definitely something Salt Lake has that Provo and Logan would never even dream of: more than one decent coffee place.

Shopping until dropping at The Gateway (it is, after all, back to school time). Also posing for pictures. Why not?

They grow so fast. I mean, I knew this girl when she was still listening to Bananas in Pajamas, and now she’s nearly as tall as me, taking AP courses and extra-curriculars and stressing out about making the final choice in a decision-making process that she started as a sophomore.

She’s a serious girl. A good kid. Someone who will undoubtedly review all of the information she’s been given, compare how each institution stacks up against her various criteria (campus life, academic programs, etc.), and make the right decision. I’m not too worried. YOU CAN SOLVE THIS PUZZLE, ADDIE.

If it were me, though, I’d choose Salt Lake. No contest.

A House Called Boing

Once or twice a week I go to my friend Eric’s house, to rehearse.

He’s a composer. He lives with something like a dozen other anarchists, drifters and passers-by in a community-focused collective called Boing! House. You can read more info about it here. Also there are creatures. Like Petey, the kitty.

The place was looking particularly photogenic last time I was there. So I took some shots. For you guys.

(True Story: a dog barked right as I was taking this picture, and it made me jump. But I liked how it turned out, anyways. Creatures.)

*       *       *

I wanted to show you all that anarchy has a good side. Photographically speaking, of course.

“We don’t care about the fire that’s coming, because we’re already candles burning.”

Jordan River Parkway

A guest blog! By Kevin Barrett, who is my boyfriend. Starting now:

I ended up on the trail yesterday after riding away from TRAX in a huff.  The first and second trains left the station with no room for me to board.  I knew the parkway was close, and even though it wasn’t the quickest way to get to Taylorsville, biking through a potentially hazardous goathead minefield was more appealing to me than waiting for a third train.

The river was as full as I’d ever seen it.  Signs warned of high water ahead.  Sandbags lined the path near apartment complexes.  Several times during my ride I had to dismount and carry my bike off the road, which was too flooded to bike through.  Paths that normally lead down to the water’s edge were underwater, their handrails poking above the water.

It was a nice ride. The plants were especially verdant, and the ducks paddled in their pea-green pond.

They swam away disappointed when it became obvious I wouldn’t feed them.

The scenery became more and more familiar as I got closer to Taylorsville.

The dog park below is new, but the view is the same as it was when this was just a field of yellow weeds and dry dirt. It changes quickly to suburbs not far from here.

It’s a nicer, much slower alternative to UTA.

(Thank you, Kevin)

Ogden, Utah is My Hometown

O Pioneers!

July is King in Utah. July means camping and swimming and barbecues (all that mountain folk stuff I talked about), and it also means fireworks and parades and parties. Twice.

See, we have the 4th of July, just like all good Americans, but we also have Days of ’47, or Pioneer Days. July 24th, to be specific, is Pioneer Day, and there are parades and fireworks and festivals all over the state. Oh, except when it falls on a Sunday! Like it did this year! This is Utah, friends, and that’s Heavenly Father’s day, so we celebrated on Monday. Which meant two days off of work as part of the official state Holiday, so I’m not complaining.

Here’s how we celebrated:

Home-baked Banana Cake

Pioneer Day Parade in Ogden

Lunch w/ Melissa @ Rooster's

Melissa asked if they have anything like this in Spain. “I’ll bet the parades there are way better,” she said. But the parades there are like this:

Kevin is leaving for Spain in late September. Watching him get ready for this big adventure, I see him going through much of the same stuff that I went through. You really do start to appreciate where you’re from more, to realize how unique it is. The Americana. That pioneering spirit. You can’t find that just anywhere.