The motel was right by the freeway and I woke early, with a sore back and feeling cranky. Only a few more miles into Salt Lake City, stopping for a fry-up and past a poster promoting cycling with the phone number 801-FAT-BIKE. The streets that intersect Highway 89 go 400 North, 300 North, etc, like all US cities, until you hit a street named Temple, and that is of course where Mormon HQ is situated. I don't really know how it happened – I had just wanted a peek in Temple Square, honestly I did – but before you could say Jehovah, two immaculate, young Brazilian missionaries were taking me on a tour and selling their brand of Christianity. The buildings (and flowerbeds) are pretty impressive though, especially when you consider that there was nothing here but desert when most of them were constructed in the 1850s. There's the Tabernacle, the Temple, the Chapel, etc, and all of them utilise local materials to look like something grander, ie pine pews are painted to resemble oak and pine columns mimic marble. They plied me with a heavenly host of leaflets and told me their belief in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, but no, there was no conflict.
Then of course I went to the library, which as with the rest of the city, is snazzy and modern. There is interesting architecture here, buses, as well as trains and even trams. I liked Salt Lake City quite a bit, except for the mighty mountains on all sides, which are really beginning to disturb my equilibrium. Even the volume of books in the library distressed me today; all that knowledge. Who reads them? Why? To use an Americanism, I'm feeling a bit weirded out and fed up. It's like I've forgotten why I'm doing and don't want to do it any more. Hopefully this is just a three week itch and things will improve when I return to the countryside, which I'm yearning for again, even though I was missing city life just a few days ago. It's partly to do with having a couple of days with little mileage and I think my brain copes better with a structure and a tired body – like that is simple and pure, and makes sense. I was also worried about tomorrow, as I couldn't work out how to leave the state without riding the freeway. I didn't want any more policemen on my tail. I pored over maps and found another route, yet if the zigzagging was anything to go by, it's gonna be steep. Then I saw someone familiar and realised it was a guy with autism who's been on TV quite a bit, because his memory for figures and ability to do mathematical calculations is second to none. I asked an assistant if he was the guy off TV and he said it was. There he was looking through a directory, and then he would suddenly take off and walk about in circles muttering to himself. Maybe he could have helped me in some kind of numerical way.
I had semi-arranged a bed via Couchsurfing, but it fell through because I didn't get back to the woman quickly enough and by the time I did, she had made plans. She didn't wait by the phone for my call with baited breath? So, another crummy motel by a main road for $50. To make a bad day worse, when I asked the girl at reception if there was any chance of a discount she replied, “How old are you?” I asked her what that had to do with it and she said they gave discounts to seniors. I guess to her anyone over 35 is an old fogey - or that's what I told myself, as I looked in the mirror.
Tonight I played Scrabble with Carl, who picked me up and took me back to his place, where his wife cooked dinner.
More to follow tomorrow.