Ok, so reading this series on my blog, rather than the NGS blog isn't turning out to be that much different. They said they wanted a more casual tone of voice over there too, and I said, "I'm good with that." If you have any comments or think I've missed anything, please please please add a comment so that we can help everyone have a good time at the NGS conference.
One of the first things that is going to hit you in Salt Lake is the issue of transportation. Like any major city, there's good and bad for you there. Let me see if I can help.
I won't hide the bad news from you. There is a major construction project going on right next to the Salt Palace Convention Center and the Family History Library right now. It is going to be a fabulous addition to downtown Salt Lake, but right now its only contribution is orange cones and covered sidewalks. I don't get really frustrated with it though, because downtown Salt Lake is going to be so much more fabulous next time you come to visit with pedestrian malls, cafes, running streams and fountains and great shopping. You can see what they are planning at the City Creek Conceptual Tour video. It's actually the ending part of a huge master plan most of which is now finished with many other beautiful projects. I'll tell you about some of those in the next posts.
But the good news is that I've got lots of resources for you in traveling through Salt Lake and it really is an easy city to navigate. When the pioneers arrived, they mapped out Salt Lake from Temple Square in a perfect grid pattern that doesn't get messed up until you get out into the suburbs. Then the streets are numbered as to whether they are north, south, east or west of Temple Square in a latitude and longitude fashion. Philadelphia, Manhattan and Washington DC were laid out in a similar way, as well as Oklahoma City and Austin, Texas.
My elementary school teacher taught me that early pioneer leader Brigham Young wanted to be able to turn around a wagon with a team of four oxen to be able to do a u-turn in the street without using too much profanity. I've mused over the years how really quite brilliant that was because modern downtown Salt Lake doesn't have the tiny streets and many one way alleys that most modern cities have. Most of the time there is plenty of room for the traffic.
If you are coming to the airport and renting a car, you'll need a map from the airport to the Salt Palace. Salt Lake Valley has a fabulous traffic site called Commuter Link that has maps showing traffic and construction and even accidents, and has cameras throughout the valley where you can see the current traffic situations. You can always check there if you are traveling the freeways around the valley.
And then there's parking... The best place to park for the conference is at the Salt Palace itself. The entrance to the lot is on the South side of the building, and the cost is only $5 a day. That is the cheapest parking you'll find right by the Convention center. There is other nearby parking and the prices are reasonable. Or if you want to get a little walking in, here's a parking map that encompasses a larger section of downtown.
Or if you are staying further out in the valley from downtown, you can avoid parking all together and park along the Trax Light Rail Route. You can check the schedules if you want to, but I never do--they basically depart every 15 minutes. For $4 round trip, it is a quick on and off, a really easy way to avoid the traffic. If you are already parked, and want to explore a little downtown, there is a Free Fare Zone on Trax, where you can just hop on and off without paying anything, to visit restaurants and shopping or whatever, without having to look for another parking place.
And we'll get to the best of the restaurants and shopping coming up shortly...