Our next stop on the way back to Texas from Montana was Midvale, Utah, a city that borders Salt Lake City.  The approach to COVID-19 varied wildly depending on where we were.

After leaving the Holiday Inn in McCall, Idaho, where we had to put on jackets in the morning, we headed towards the Salt Lake City area, where it was brutally hot. The route takes you past a number of national and state parks, but there really is not much to see from the highways. A lot of the scenery looks like this.

Seriously boring.

However, we stopped at a rest stop in Idaho that had a unique feature – Porto Johns were set up on a sidewalk with signs that said, “If you don’t wear a mask, use these instead of the rest rooms.”

This is what we saw.

Of course, a lot of people ignored those signs and went inside to use the rest rooms anyway, even though they were not wearing masks.

We ultimately arrived at our destination, the Staybridge Suites in Midvale, Utah. Having some time to get a bit of exercise, we decided to go to the International Peace Gardens in Salt Lake City. The International Peace Gardens, located on the bank of the Jordan River in Salt Lake City, was founded as a citizenship project in 1939. It is located in Jordan Park, which has a walkway that parallels the Jordan River in Utah.

The International Peace Gardens is a pretty good place to walk around, as is the River Walk. However, there are signs along the River Walk warning people about COVID-19 and, in fact, we saw at least one playground that was roped off with yellow tape because the city did not have the resources to make sure it was cleaned constantly.

So, after walking around a bit, we decide to make the “14 minute” trip back to the hotel. Below is the Google map of the area we were traveling in.

The intersection of 15, 80 and 71 was INSANE! The 14-minute trip took at least a half hour, a very harrowing half hour. The traffic is similar to that in Los Angeles, but in LA everyone is crawling along, while in Salt Lake they are speeding.

Anyway, when we got to the hotel, a sign read, “Face masks required to enter the hotel.” Face masks, it seems, were not required once you were IN the hotel. Maybe half the people we saw wore masks, while half did not, even if they were getting into an elevator.

Unlike the hotel in McCall, Idaho, the breakfast buffet was self-serve. Once again, a number of people lining up to get food did not wear face masks, so we stuck to food we could put in a toaster, like bagels.

If you think about it, a buffet line is a great way to spread some disease. This experience has made me think about buffet lines in general.

Utah had (at the time) no COVID-19 restrictions, just a bunch of “you should…” In fact, these were the guidelines in effect the day we arrived in Midvale:

  • Any individual who exhibits any symptom of illness consistent with COVID-19 SHOULD withdraw from or be excluded from any physical social event or gathering.
  • If an individual has tested positive for COVID-19, each member of the individual’s household SHOULD self-isolate.
  • Anyone over the age of 60 or who is immunocompromised SHOULD avoid contact with any other individual except to receive critical assistance.
  • Everyone SHOULD avoid discretionary travel, gymnasiums, shopping trips (other than shopping for food and other essentials), and social visits.

We arrived on July 18th. This is the graph of infections in Utah during that period.

I guess someone looked at what was happening and decided, yeah, maybe we should put in some “MUST” words instead of just “SHOULD.” On August 19th, the state finally implemented mask rules for the Salt Lake City area.

Next stop – Lubbock, TX.