Dave's Not Here

Moving to Utah

by on May.12, 2015, under Dave's Rants

A Guide for Newbies

I have created this guide, after helping several friends move to Utah. This is just a collection of my observations — your mileage may vary.

Climate

Utah is high desert. When you see trees and snow covered ground, that may make you reconsider what high desert means — if you had heard the phrase before. What it means, is that it is very dry here. Even with the snow, it only rains 16.5 inches per year. And, we are at high elevation (4200-5200′ or so), which means the water will evaporate fast. This makes for some interesting problems, and some great snow!

Inversions

We saw our first inversion when driving from Park City back to Sandy. It was, basically, fog. A thick bank. We thought it was neat. But, it is a common meteorological occurrence. Inversions are, in a nutshell, when air is trapped near the ground. It is easier to notice them in the winter, because you can see fog. But, they happen in the summer, too.

The main problem with inversions is that when they trap air at low altitude, they also prevent particulates from escaping. What does that mean: Way more pollution than equally sized cities. And, more allergies.

Dry Air

Personally, I love the dry air. But, if you don’t get used to it, it could cause minor irritations: Nose bleeds, allergies, dry skin, dry eyes, etc. For the first time in my life, I’ve had to buy lotion. (It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again) Depending on how you react to the dryness you may need to:

  • Use a humidifier at night
  • Use lotion
  • Use eyedrops

Etcetera.

Altitude

Altitude sometimes causes altitude sickness. The best way to avoid that is to simply drink more water.

The first time I ran five miles in my life was in Salt Lake City / Cottonwood Heights — before I moved here. While I know I was probably breathing a lot harder than normal, the altitude is not that big of a deal 🙂

High Altitude Cooking

Water normally boils at 100°C / 212°F. But, at 4800 feet, it boils at 95°C / 203°F! That means you need to use high-altitude corrections when following recipes / instructions. It will normally only affect baking or making candies.

Snow

It snows here. Sometimes a lot. We moved here in October of 2010. That was a record year for many resorts, snowfall-wise. I remember Snowbird got over 900 inches, and people skied on July 4th!

In that year, I did not have a snow blower. When it snowed, I would say, “My gym is open!”, as I went to grab the shovel. It generally took me about an hour to shovel my two car driveway and sidewalk. I did learn several things about shoveling:

  • Don’t wait – it will only get deeper. Shoveling over 12″ is very hard, so, after you have about 4-6 inches, you should go ahead and shovel, even if it still snowing.
  • Shovel both directions, so you don’t over tax one arm.
  • You don’t need a snow blower, though, it is a lot easier with one.
  • If you do have a snow blower — it’s like mowing a lawn. And, like the first bullet, don’t let it get over a foot between clearing.
  • Try your best to not dump snow into the street. Try to put it all on your lawn.

Cold

It does not get that cold here. There is generally one very cold 30 day span from around mid December through mid January. But, other than that — it’s not bad at all.

You will need to winterize your house. Here’s what we’ve learned:

  • You MUST blow out your sprinklers before the first really hard freeze. If you have a lawn maintenance company, they will likely do it for you. Or someone may just stop by your door — or — ask your neighbors who they use. I think we pay $35-$65 depending on the company.
  • The valves (spigots) on the outside of your house are all freeze proof. However, if you leave a hose connected to them, the will freeze, and probably leak into your house causing tons of damage. Even if they don’t leak, the valves go 12-18 inches into the wall, so, replacing them will require dry wall repair, etc. Disconnect your hoses!

Liquor Laws

I’m from the South, where dry or damp counties are common, liquor must be sold in package or liquor stores, you can’t buy liquor on Sunday, etc. So, people from the South, at least, should not find the laws here as much of a surprise. But, the laws here are a little mixed, and sometimes hard to get your head around.

Beer

Utah divides beer into two categories. Beers < 3.2% ABW, and Beers over that. The ABW was not a typo — Utah laws are based on alcohol by weight, not by volume. So, it really works out to about 4.0% ABV.

  • Low gravity beers (3.2 ABW and below) can be sold on tap, in grocery stores, convenience stores, etc.
  • High gravity beers (over 3.2 ABW) can only be stored in closed containers (no kegs), and only at the state liquor stores.
  • You can not buy kegs in Utah.

State Liquor Stores

Pretty much like all normal liquor stores in other states. They are state run, can sell all types of beer, wine, and liquor, and are closed on Sundays.

Pouring

Restaurants or bars can choose to pour either 1.0oz or 1.5oz drinks. You can order a double, but, the extra alcohol added can only be 1.0oz.

Restaurants / Bars

There are many different types if liquor licenses. These are the ones I’ve noticed:

  • Bar – 21 and up only allowed on the premises.
  • Restaurant/Bar – You can order any kind of liquor (beer, wine, shots). You can have kids at the table. You may or may not have to order food. (I think I’m lumping in several licenses here). You will probably NOT be allowed to walk with your drink around the premises. (The waiter will have to move your drink for you)
  • Restaurant – You can order low gravity beer with your meal.
Zion Curtain

In some restaurants / bars there will be a screen that the bartender has to hide behind to mix drinks, lest he corrupt the consumers. We enjoy noticing them — they’re amusing.

The Church (of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints — the Mormons)

The LDS Church is based in Salt Lake City. So, the cities can have a high percentage of mormons. We have not had any real problems . . . except that our vote, if different from that of the majority, will not really count — but — same thing happens in other states that are highly conservative, or highly liberal.

Utah is about 62% mormon, but Salt Lake City is < 50%. As you move South, cities become more and more mormon.
* Salt Lake County – 67.5% * Utah County – 89.9%

Southern (I mean Utah) Hospitality

Southerners got nuthin’ on mormons. We have never felt more welcomed into a community than we have been by the mormons.

Sundays

Mormons go to church on Sundays for about 3 hours, if not more. This has a couple of effects on the area:

First, because of their Sunday obligations, they usually end up running all errands on Saturday. If you try to go to a Costco on a Saturday, you’re going to have a bad time.

We have made Sundays our ski days. Many tourists use Sunday as their travel day home, and, many locals are in church. The slopes are not nearly as crowded on Sundays as on Saturdays.

You Can’t Eat at a Stake House

We’ve made a couple of faux pas’s in our time here, mainly due to some terminology issues. Here is a brief dictionary to help you:

  • Church Names
    • Wardhouse / Ward – Think church and congregation. In Catholic terms, Church and Parish.
    • Stakehouse / Stake – Contains several wards. Again, in Catholic Terms, the area covered by a bishop.
    • Temple – What it sounds like. Huge church that can be seen for miles. Not sure of it’s use, besides weddings.
    • The Temple – When the word temple is preceded by “The”, then it’s referring to the temple downtown, at 0/0 on the map.
  • Garments – Special undergarments worn by mormons. You may be asked by a doctor or nurse if you are wearing garments. They’re not talking about your clothes.
  • Mission / Missonaries – It took me the longest time to not immediately think of the military when someone said “mission”. Some mormons will go on a mission to spread the word of the church between High School and College. They will likely come by to teach you about their church. These are kids, away from home and family. We sometimes have them over for dinner. They will always offer to help out around the house — let them!
  • Elder – When missionaries return, they will be called Elder. You will see many signs welcoming the elders back from their mission.

1 Comment for this entry

  • bcran

    I think what you see during an inversion might more correctly be called ‘haze’ since my understanding is that what you’re seeing isn’t low cloud but entirely pollution particulate matter? Something I love about Utah is how interesting the weather can be (e.g. the dust storm a few weeks ago) and how much information there is about it, from the pollution monitors on TRAX to blogs like http://wasatchweatherweenies.blogspot.com .

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