And took them to Utah,
Which was Zion;
He built an empire out of the desert,
Out of the dust and sand just like Las Vegas
But he never took the route that the Mafia did..."
- 'History of Utah',
Camper van Beethoven
From the deserts of west Texas we're heading out to the deserts of Utah. With so much to see and do in the 45th state of the Union (and in the 45th week of my film challenge) I hope you brought a good pair of hiking boots.
I've always thought of Utah as a hot desert state. It has borders with Arizona (south), Nevada (west), Idaho (north), Colorado (east) and Wyoming (north-east). My mental images of it are empty expanses of baking plains, red rock gorges and gullies and great dessicated salt lakes. But it must have some snow on its mountain tops because its capital, Salt Lake City, hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002 - the Olympics that was so famously rescued by Mitt Romney.
Ah yes. Mitt Romney. If Utah is famous for anything internationally it must be for the Mormons. Brigham Young brought the followers of the Book of Mormon out to Utah in the 1840s, just as the USA was seizing it from Mexico. Salt Lake City is still the world headquarters of the Church of Latter Day Saints. 63% of the state population are still adherents of the LDS church. General views of the Mormons, not least in American public discourse, are that Mormons are a little bit weird - rumours of polygamy have persistently dogged the church.
The church and the bulk of the population is centred in the north of the state. Given the choice it is the south that I would want to visit with its embarrasment of natural wonders. There are National Parks galore down here: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Zion. Throw in Grand Staircase-Escalante, Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments and the famous Monument Valley and you would need more than a fortnight just to tick off the sights. That's the kind of roadtrip I dream of!
The three films I have slipped into my backpack for the journey are:
- September Dawn (2007)
- 127 Hours (2010)
- Broken Arrow (1996)