Over the weekend, we headed up to Snowbird for a nice “stay-cation” of sorts. Our neighbors had invited us to go up for Oktoberfest and the invitation was simply too good to pass up on. A chance to get away? A beer festival at a family friendly resort? One of the most gorgeous canyons in greater Salt Lake? Sold.
Snowbird is a ski resort that is only about a half hour from Salt Lake. I’ve been up there a few times since moving from Seattle and I am continually blown away by the peace and solitude that you can find just a short drive outside of the city. It is like that here – drive ten minutes off the beaten track and you are in the middle of nothingness. It is one of the things I hate about Utah but there are a few places, like Snowbird – where that nothingness is perfection. Nestled in Little Cottonwood Canyon, the drive up is always gorgeous – you can stop and hike at about a dozen places along the road and just about every turn is another “let’s stop and take a picture” scene.
Snowbird offers a “Stay and Play” package for lodgers that includes unlimited use passes for things like the aerial tram, the alpine slide (a mini bobsled type of track), mountain slider, etc. Oktoberfest itself, is free admission. For a small extra fee, Mackenzie (our five year old) was able to get the same pass and have unlimited access as well. To Mackenzie, that pass was paradise.
While there were a lot of people up there for the festival, I never felt like it was crowded or hectic. And I like that the festival was spread around the resort – a few beer stands here and there, some kid games and rides over here, a central area with food tents and vendors down below, and a main hall with German food and live music.
Whoever is responsible for the campaign to make Snowbird a summer destination – they are doing their job right.
As we rode the tram up to “Hidden Peak” I was reminded of the editor’s letter I had read in the October edition of Cooks Illustrated. Christopher Kimball was talking about spending time in the outdoors of his home town in Vermont but he could have been talking about every hike or outdoor destination I’ve ever gone to. “The woods are indifferent to human affairs; that is why nature’s conversation – birdsong and the helter-skelter scurrying of chipmunks – is restorative. The words in our heads float away, are absorbed by leaves, break apart into individual letters, and then disperse on the wind.” You can read Kimball’s full letter here.
What Kimball was actually talking about was the continuous barrage of change that we face (in politics and otherwise), he goes on to quote Calvin Coolidge saying “four-fifths of all our troubles would disappear if we would only sit down and keep still.”
Kimball uses his time in the woods, in nature as his “keep still” time.
The point is that we are constantly wanting to do, do, do. Whipping up a frenzy of action, activities, responsibilities – when sometimes all we really need to do is “just be.”
At Snowbird, the ability to “just be” came a little easier. I wasn’t constantly checking my phone for emails and other alerts. I never even cracked open my laptop during our stay. I was simply “there.” With Nick. With the kids.
My thoughts and worries are now golden leaves flipping and whipping around in the breeze. I don’t remember what they were… the letters no longer string together in the same fashion and the things that seemed so important just don’t make sense anymore.
I’m sure it won’t be long til my mind has found new concerns and new things to contemplate – and then, who knows, maybe it will be a hike to the top of Mt. Ogden or a trip to Mt. Olympus. But who would have thought a beer festival and a bunch of kids rides would have been the place to let it all go this time around?