Robert Kirby: Making Utah your own ‘this is the place’

Robert Kirby

The Mormon pioneers got their first look at the Great Salt Lake Valley 173 years ago. Reactions were mixed. I’ve collected some of the better ones from pioneer journals I’ve perused.

“All those good places we passed and this is it?”


“Finally. Can we get out of the wagon now?”

“Look! Sea gulls. We must be close to the beach.”

“Are you #$&@! kidding me?”

“It’s not so bad. … Wait, is that salt water?”

“Well, at least it’s better than being shot at.”

Some of these initial reactions to the Salt Lake Valley are still evident today in those forced to move/live here due to circumstances beyond their control. One of those above reactions is from my own journal.

The point is that here we are. For whatever reason, we can’t/won’t/don’t pick up and leave. Since I have to live where my grandchildren are, I’m one of them. But then I also happen to like it here now. It’s grown on me in 50 years.

There are a lot of reasons to dislike Zion, including the weather, Mormons, traffic, politics, guns, me, and a bunch of other oddities that might get under your skin.

If you’re stuck here, consider what you might do to make things better. Here are a few suggestions to consider as a way to help Utah become your own personal “Zion.” It requires a little flexibility.

Weather • It goes from “too hot” to “too cold” in the blink of an eye. Consider taking up a hobby for both seasons — skiing and off-roading are good choices. Utah has plenty of room for both, each with its own likelihood of hurting you.

Traffic • Stop adding to the problem by being the only one in the car. Share rides, use public transportation, or just stay home. If this pandemic ever ends, we might find that working from home is the best thing to come out of it.

Mormons • You could try becoming one yourself, but it’s not something I recommend for everyone. From long personal experience, it requires an enormous amount of commitment or indifference to make it work.

Politics • I don’t have a lot to offer here. I’m too liberal to be a Republican, but I have a lot of close Republican friends. It has taught me to be more tolerant of political differences when too much leaning one way or another easily turns people into jerks.

Guns • This is not going to change anytime soon — if ever. I recommend body armor and earplugs for the easily annoyed. Gun ownership for those interested in a great hobby, which, like any other hobby (fast driving, drugs, sex) has to be managed responsibly.

Me • I plan to stick around until the rest of my mind goes. If that bothers you, then we’re good. That’s most of the point.

Zion. Make it your own “this is the place.”

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.