Our family celebrated Independence Day this weekend by “heading to the hills” with a fun over-night stay in Park City, Utah. We enjoyed a peaceful picnic, beautiful fireworks, good food, and topped it all off with a visit to the Utah Olympic Park where we watched a fantastic Olympic ski-team performance by the Flying Ace All-Stars!
Hitting The Road
Out of our “three” children which one do you think is most excited? [I’d venture it’s our little furry boy, Joey!]
Picnic at Wasatch Mountain State Park
We had hoped to “beat the heat” of the SLC valley but unfortunately northern Utah’s scorching temperatures are effecting both high and low elevations. Despite the heat, we had a fantastic time just being together and getting a chance to see and do some new things. On Friday afternoon we had a nice picnic near a fishing pond at the Wasatch Mountain State Park in Midway, Utah.
Nature’s Fireworks & Man-Made Fireworks
We enjoyed the local Park City “Fourth of July” fireworks display. We only had a general idea where the fireworks were being set off, but no idea where to park or sit. We lucked out with not only finding a great parking spot but also ending up sitting on a nice grassy hill overlooking the launching site! It was cool getting to enjoy nature’s firework display [a beautiful sunset] before watching the man-made show.
Utah Olympic Park
In the morning we were not sure what activity we were going to do, but a brochure in our hotel room advertised a 35 minute show of the Olympic “Flying Aces Arial All-Stars”! Despite living so close, none of us had ever visited the Utah Olympic Park before. So, after a quick call to verify that our dog Joey was welcome on the property (pets are OK anywhere on the grounds except inside the museum) we eagerly headed up.
A tip for anyone planning to go to the Utah Olympic Park ARRIVE REALLY EARLY before the show! Wow. We had no idea how popular and crowded this place was going to be! We arrived about 15 minutes prior to the Freestyle show and there was a long line of cars backing up just to get into the parking lot. Once we had parked, I felt lucky to be able to get through the long queue for tickets and then shepherd the family inside the ski area right as the show began [I believe they held the start time at least an additional 10 minutes due to the crowd] As it was, there was no seating left on the 3 observation decks, bleachers or grass, so we just stood on the top on the sidewalk for the entire show [in the scorching sun :(]. The good news was that I had a nice unobstructed view for photographing. That big beautiful blue 750,000 gallon Aerials Pool was a bit torturous to look at! I think everyone present was wishing we could climb the fence and jump in to cool off!! :)
We watched a group of present & former Olympians, National Team skiers perform acrobatic feats. I was surprised that some were as young as 12 years old, and it looked like most of them were in their late teens or early twenties. One jumper was a veteran female Olympian. According to the website, the highest jumpers soar up to 60 feet in the air!
It was fascinating watching the logistics of how they do the jumps. First, they have to climb up hundreds of wooden stairs carrying their skis. Once in position on platforms, they put their skis on, and then walk sideways out onto the steep ramps, being careful to balance themselves and wait until given the cue to jump. The ramps have a sprinkler system built-in that sprays mist keeping them nice and slick. Right before jumping, someone turns on whirlpool jets in the giant pool which the announcer explained cushions the impact of their fall and helps prevent injuries. I was surprised they could do so many amazing acrobatic tricks, then land into the pool with their skis on and not break their legs! They just made the whole thing look so easy and effortless! [Which obviously it is NOT!] It was very impressive!! Here is a short clip of a moment when they all leap TOGETHER! They have to choreograph their timing and landings perfectly so they don’t crash into each other!
I have wonderful & fond memories of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City!! It seems like yesterday. It is really odd to think that my college-age children were still in elementary school when the Olympics happened! Getting the chance to host the entire world in our hometown was just an incredible experience. We could really feel the excitement and energy of the Olympic spirit all around us! There was so much service, love and giving going on. It was like living Christmas day every day for a month! Being at the Utah Olympic Park today brought back all of those fond memories. We toured the beautiful museum on-site which commemorates the winter games [I had no idea the Olympic Park even had this big beautiful museum! It even has a cafeteria and gift shop, too].
The main floor of the museum is dedicated to the history of Olympic winter sports, local skiing legends, and the mountains of Utah [there is also a cool virtual ride you can pay extra for that lets you experience what it’s like to ride the bobsled down the track at an Olympic speed].
The second floor of the museum is dedicated exclusively to the 2002 Winter Olympics & ParaOlympics with tons of cool memorabilia – everything from costumes and props from the opening and closing ceremonies, to the actual medals, to outfits worn & gear used, to a nice inter-active screen where you can choose to watch great 2002 Olympic moments from each sporting event. There is even a place where you can hold an actual 2002 Torch and pose with the flame of the cauldron behind you. And, we enjoyed seeing the wall featuring a sampling of the hundreds of commemorative pins sold and traded during the games [our family has several of those pins! But, we saw a bunch more we were sure envious of!].
We had a wonderful holiday weekend. We returned home feeling blessed to be Americans and proud to be Utahns! – MoSop