I know it seems weird for me to be touring Salt Lake, what with how I generally prefer to 1. never go outside in the winter and 2. not do things in Salt Lake. However, my Bissell grandparents (from my birth dad's side) were in town for the Christmas Concert, which meant we were going to see the city! Well, the downtown part of the city. Maybe next time we can do things that aren't downtown.
One reason we did things downtown, was they were already staying at the Grand America (Grandma texted me asking for hotel recommendations and, not being in a place where I could look these things up, I suggested the Grand America just because I'd never been there before. The next thing I knew, they'd booked a room!). This is the view of the courtyard from their room.
Their view also looked out to the east. They had the courthouse (on the left) where my parents picked me up when they adopted me and the U way on the side of the mountain, which was nice because my Auntie Ali went to the U for a year. Had we done things not downtown, we would have gone to The Pie Pizzeria since it was one of Ali's favorites.
That first night Mom, Dad, Heather and I took my grandparents up north to Maddox. It's always nice to start a trip with the most wonderful steak and rolls possible. I talked Maddox up to them a lot, so when we went places and people asked us what we'd already done, I'd say we'd been to Maddox and they would all comment on how much they love Maddox.
On Thursday, we started the morning going to Temple Square. We walked through the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and past the temple.
We took a quick peek inside the Tabernacle. The missionaries who give tours weren't there yet, but that was fine. We had some early afternoon appointments and other things we wanted to do.
We walked past the nativity...
Saw the Christus in the North Visitor Center (and here is where I was annoyed -- we were on a schedule, there were missionaries there just leaning against the front desk chatting, I asked them to play the little recording and they were all, "Yeah, we'll get to it" and then didn't come upstairs for 15 minutes, finally played it, didn't say a word to us but made faces at the baby nearby -- it was an admittedly cute baby -- and left. They threw off my time schedule and I did not appreciate it).
We took a quick look in the Assembly Hall before walking over to the Church History Museum to see the Portraits of Childhood exhibit -- which I'd heard good things about. Grandma and I loved it. I am not sure Grandpa loves museums (o: It was really interesting and worth seeing if you happen to be downtown. It wasn't very big, though, so I probably wouldn't drive to it.
We also met a lovely sister who was working there who had served a mission in Ohio (I believe?) and she and Grandma were comparing different levels of cold. I am never visiting Michigan in the winter!
We then popped over to Mom's office to see the Girl Among the Hollyhocks painting, which Mom has hanging in her office and the Portraits of Childhood wanted for their exhibit, but, it stayed in the office, so we saw it.
This is Grandpa sitting at TSM's desk because, why not, right? I told him no one he knows will be the least bit impressed by this (o:
After lunch (at Les Madelines with their amazing pastries), we spent a few minutes in the JSMB Family History area -- my grandparents got to look up things, while I chatted with a missionary who turned out to be MaryAnne's Aunt Gwen! We'd started talking about Winder Dairy (I can't remember why), and the connections went from there.
We then met the Bennetts in the lobby and they took us first to tour the Humanitarian Center.
I've never actually toured the Humanitarian Center before. I've been there, of course, putting together kits for things, but that's upstairs. The tour takes you downstairs where they sort clothing donations to either be send off to other areas, be sold in other stores, or be recycled (these are bundles and bundles of clothes). They have an AMAZING program there where they hire people, teach them job skills, and, if needed, English, and help them get apprenticeships or job placements.
Here are some of the things organized by size and type. Too bad this happened a few weeks ago and I've forgotten all the details.... But it was a really impressive operation.
Here we are learning about how the clothing gets distributed around the world. We then went upstairs and saw where the kits (like school kits, newborn kits, hygiene kits, all of that) are put together and what they're used for. We watched a video on humanitarian work that I know I've seen half a dozen times and I still maybe teared up.
For some reason after this, I stopped taking pictures with my camera. Everything else is on my iPhone and those pictures are not loaded on my computer.
The next part was going to Welfare Square, which might have been my favorite part. Welfare Square is SO COOL. I didn't even realize! We learned about Church farms, ranches and plants where all the food is produced and packaged. We saw people making bread and quality testing products.
At the end of the tour, they let us try their cheese, chocolate milk and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. All the food made at Welfare Square is delicious...but also not for sale (because it goes to people with welfare needs, of course -- though they do send my mom a basket every Christmas with some of the welfare products. I maybe ended up with her basket -- possibly because I've tasted the jam before and then I begged -- and it has not disappointed!).
We finished off at the Family History Center where we learned about doing family history and the Granite Mountain Vaults and how things are stored there and how the Church is trying to archive documents. If we'd had more time, I would have taken them to the Church History Library because they give great tours on how records are saved and preserved.
And then it was evening and I dropped them off at the hotel, grabbed Heather and we headed to Suzanne's house to see her most adorable children ever. Also she is adorable. But we also like her kids. Louisa took an instant liking to Heather!
The next day was a little less picture-y in the morning. I started my day on the phone since I'd had friends go to the Christmas Concert the night before and there were problems with the ushers not letting them to their seats and....it was stressful. So I arrived downtown later than I thought and we headed to City Creek to buy stuff at Deseret Book.
I had to leave early because I was going to a work lunch with MamaLynne (and Dad came). It was fantastic and really fun and those pictures haven't been edited. But we had a singer and then lunch and we sat with the Hollands and the Pres. Eyring and I'm pretty sure I laughed the ENTIRE time. Those guys are fantastic.
I then, right after lunch, rushed off to the Grand America to have high tea. Basically I spent the entire day eating. The pastries were delicious and the harp music was nice, though it did throw me when she started playing that song from Schindler's List.... Also, they served coconut hot chocolate that I'm still craving!
Next Heather and my parents met us at the Grand America for dinner (we just sort of hung out between high tea and dinner because I was a little exhausted). The weather was absolutely terrible, so it's probably good that we picked a restaurant downtown. We then all headed to the Conference Center for the Christmas Concert. Here are Grandpa and Grandma waiting for the concert. We had the Zitos sitting behind us, so I was able to introduce my grandparents to some of my aunts, uncles and cousins and, since my grandparents didn't know me until recently, got to tell stories of fun things I did with my cousins growing up.
And the Choir and Orchestra getting ready to start. President Monson came by us on his way to his seat and shoot everyone's hands. Grandpa asked if he knew who they were. Nope, he's just friendly! (o:
Here is Mom and Heather after the concert, which was fantastic. With the Zitos behind us, when one of them started to cry, we all started to cry. I love those guys so much. My Grandparents wanted a picture in front of the Choir, so I was trying to test out my flash to see if I could get them, thus Heather and Mom were the camera test subjects... That places is not fantastic for pictures if you aren't on stage with the professionally-calibrated lights on you!
And I delivered (though, admittedly, it's not the best)! They got their pictures in front of the Choir and used the picture on their Christmas cards (which was my favorite card ever!).
Heather, Grandpa, Grandma and me tilted in front of the Choir.
And here I am with my grandparents and parents in front of the choir. I will say this for Heather, she is great at using my camera now! Both grandparents said they'd never seen anything like it and Grandma assured me all her symphony friends would be very jealous. They also said they road back on the elevator with the pilot/candy bomber from the story.
The next morning it was snowing and we didn't have anything planned but breakfast. We went to breakfast at Gormandise (because I love their pastries...which is a theme with me). It was really slow, so I'm glad we went early. Then we had about and hour to kill, so we drove through the cemetery (I just noticed how well the sentence worked). The Salt Lake Cemetery is very beautiful. I just wish I'd known where more people were buried! Check out this snowy, tree-lined path.
And Grandma wanted a picture of the ice-covered tree that made it look ethereal and mysterious. I also pointed out the Faith in Every Footstep plaques attached to some graves to indicate people who were pioneers. Grandpa asked me how we knew which ones were the pioneers and I laughed because clearly the hour we'd spend at the Family History Center didn't leave an impression (o:
I then took them to the airport, went home, changed, grabbed Heather, met Suzanne, Sherilyn and Melanie for dinner and then we went to the Concert because it's good enough that it's always worth seeing twice.
I really had a lot of fun with my grandparents visiting, and it was nice to see things in Salt Lake I've never seen before. If anyone has good suggestions for things to do/see the next time they visit, though, I would be very open for it! I've almost exhausted my entertaining Utah things list (o:
7 hours ago