There’s More to Utah Than Just Mountains and Mormons

Two weeks ago, I argued that UC Irvine, or Irvine in general, is not as boring as it seems. There are places you can go to have a good time; all you have do is a little research.

This past weekend, my job as the New University sports editor took me to Provo, UT for the NCAA men’s volleyball Final Four. Provo is the home of Brigham Young University (BYU). Yes, the Mormon capital of the world.

If you thought Irvine was boring, try setting foot in Provo. Don’t get me wrong, Provo has its own culture, one that revolves around morals and religious beliefs. However as an outsider, it is very difficult to say the city is exciting.

Almost everything closes at 8 p.m. on the weekdays, and ironically enough, even earlier on weekends. We didn’t cross any coffee shops in Provo, and only one bar was open past 1 a.m. And let me tell you, that bar was weird.

My associate sports editor, Mark Ratto, staff photographer Scott Roeder and I stuck out like elephants. When we walked into the visitor information center across the street from our Travelodge, the kind ladies at the desks asked us if we were in a band. When we asked them what there was to do for fun in Provo, every answer involved the mountains or the rivers.

After we gave off discouraged vibes to the ladies, they pulled out a last-ditch option, one that got us riled up. That option was Jump On It, a warehouse-converted trampoline. Think Slamball meets Chuck E. Cheese. We got to launch ourselves high into the sky, and we did flips only gymnasts and dancers can do (Scott was the only one who landed legitimate flips). Sure we were the oldest ones at the place, but for $8 it was an experience we will never forget. You can check out our pics at http://www.scottroeder.com/blog.

Even though Jump On It was located 12.3 miles up the 15 North Freeway from Provo in Lindon, it is a testament to the dedication and commitment the people of Utah have for their own kind of fun.

Whenever we asked our college peers on the BYU campus what they did for fun around Provo they would answer based on what they perceived three California boys found fun, which was probably the beach, bars and clubs.

“There isn’t much you can do around here. It’s pretty boring,” said one junior at BYU who guided us to the Cougar Bookstore.

After hearing that type of response time after time, we began to believe that Provo was as lame as people made it out to be.

“Lame,” however, is subjective. Sure, if we come to Provo expecting our type of fun we will find almost anywhere else lame. You have to put yourself in their shoes, accept and enjoy their activities. Without the help of flashy entertainment and alcohol, Utahans really get creative. Jump On It was an example of this, and so are the breathtaking offerings of nature. Snow sports are immensely popular, but in the current warm season, outdoor activities like mountain biking and hiking are prime. The snow-covered mountains captivate your attention and really stimulate your outdoorsy side.

It also helps that every local is kinder and more accepting than any stranger you may have come across in California. They are quick to guide and recommend with a friendly smile and blessing. It is unfortunate that the Mormon people get a misguided “bad rep” for their beliefs, which foster care, modesty and respect. These people are truly happy, and when you let go of the negative things you have heard about them it makes you admire and respect what they have to offer.

You have to make your sense of fun adaptable. Without that adaptability, you won’t enjoy life as it is supposed to be enjoyed. You will miss out on the surprises of the world and more importantly find yourself bored often.

I mean, hey, I can confidently say I had fun in Provo, UT.