Adventures in Utah

The Dorms
I live on campus in an apartment. I would be in the dorms except that the day I am moving out overlaps with the University of Utah's fall move-in dates. The interesting thing is that the apartments are really for graduate students. My apartmentmate is also an undergrad doing research for the summer, but hers is in biology. We used to have a third person in the apartment who was a grad student. She moved out and she took all her stuff with her. Now we have no microwave, no TV, and a limited set of dishes. (I have one plate, one fork, one knife, etc.) It's not so bad except that now all my leftovers are cold.

One of the cool things about my apartment it that it is right up against the mountains. I have to walk maybe 50 yards from my door to reach the start of a whole group of hiking trails. There are so many branches on each trail that you could go hiking all summer and not go the same way twice. The first time I went out, I just kept following and following this trail to see where it went. It went all the way up to the top of the butte. At the top I met these nice people who had water, cheese, sausage, cookies, and lots of other stuff. They also had two dogs with them. (Oh yeah, it seems like half the people you see bring their dogs hiking on these trails. And these dogs don't get tired after all that hiking either. There was one dog who had just climbed to the top of the butte while I was up there, and he kept whining because no one would throw his stick for him to run and fetch!) Anyway, these people that I met were staying to watch the moon rise and they said I could hike back down with them if I wanted to. So I stayed and got to watch the sunset. That was really cool.

Interesting Weather
The weather has been interesting since I got here. On my first day of work, it snowed in the mountains. It was about 1/4 snow, 3/4 rain right outside my apartment, but it was too warm so it melted as soon as it touched anything. I didn't know that snow in June was unusual here until somebody told me. (Hey, we're at 4,327 feet above sea level. I figured it would be colder here!) Recently it has been rainy and windy, which I have been told is also somewhat unusual.

Yesterday, July 10, was an interesting day. First the air conditioning went out in the lab. It got up to around 85 or 90 degrees and they had to shut all the computers down. I stuck around for a while looking in last year's SIGGRAPH conference proceedings for a new paper to read. When I found one, the lab was still hot, and everyone else had left, so I finally left, too. The heat and my allergies must have drained my energy, because when I got back to my apartment, I fell asleep till around 8pm. When I woke up, I looked out my window and there was this cool rainbow that ended right on the peak of the butte. I went outside to take some pictures, and it just got better and better. At one point it made a full arc across the sky, but it was too big to fit into a single picture. Twenty minutes later, it was gone.

Arches National Park
Well, I finally got off my lazy bum and did something adventurous. On the weekend of July 14, I drove down to Moab to visit Arches National Park. It's about a four hour drive from Salt Lake City, but it was worth it. It was exciting and I had a good time. There are arches everywhere. I spent so much time lounging around some of them that I didn't get to visit the entire park. It was great. The picture at the top of this page is of one of the most famous arches, Delicate Arch. The little figure at the bottom of the arch is me!

My Roommate
Saturday, July 28 - My roommate (apartmentmate?) just moved out. Here's the kicker: SHE NEVER TOLD ME! She just up and left and never bothered to tell me that she would be leaving. Granted we don't talk that much, but I talked to her just two days ago. Would it have been so much trouble to say, "Oh, by the way, I'm moving out on Saturday." I was kind of glad because I never really liked her anyway. She took up most of the room in the fridge, left messes in the kitchen, and the smell of her bathroom was enough to make me gag whenever I walked in there. Then when she left, she took one of my cups and my good Tupperware. But it's a small price to pay to have her gone. The apartment seems a lot nicer now. The only problem now is I am the only one in a four- person apartment, and I have to pay the entire electricity bill myself. :-(

Update: On August 5, I got a new roommate. At first I wasn't too sure that we would be compatible either. We didn't see each other the first day she moved in, and the only food she seemed to have with her was baby food. That was kind of weird. But then the next day we met, and she is pretty nice. Then, a few days later she caught this big spider that I found crawling around in my room and was scared of. Now I know for sure that we get along. I'm still not too sure about the baby food thing, but I think it's just some sort of health food thing.

Antelope Island
Okay, Sunday, July 29. By that date, I had been in Salt Lake City for eight weeks, and I finally went to see the lake. So there is this island called Antelope Island, which is the biggest island in the lake. I decided to go there because it sounded interesting. Wrong!!! Antelope Island is possibly the most boring place that I have been in Utah. There are hiking trails, but the only thing to see is the lake. There are also supposed to be some buffalo, but I only saw three sitting in a pen. The brochure said that some of the other hiking trails went out to where you could see more buffalo. I didn't bother to find out because it was a hot day, there are no trees, and I didn't have any water with me.

In fact, the only thing interesting about Antelope Island is the lake itself. There is a beach that you can go to and go swimming. I like the water because you can see down into it. At the beaches near where I come from, Galveston in the Gulf of Mexico, the water is really dirty and you can't see deeper than about two feet. Also, the lake is really shallow. I went out a long way, and the water still didn't cover up my legs. But the really cool thing about the Great Salt Lake is the floating. You see pictures of people floating in the lake, but it feels totally unexpected when you actually do it. I had fun floating in the lake, and I met a couple of guys from Spain and their friend from El Paso, Texas. I stayed at the lake for a long time, and then watched the sunset from the beach. It was really relaxing and fun, and I recommend it to anyone who comes to visit Salt Lake City.