I've since been back and spent time in Winter Park and love it for vacationing.
I called the California San Joaquin Valley home during my pre-adolescent years all the way through early adulthood and absolutely loved it. The smell of California Sycamore Trees in Fall burns a memory in my mind forever.
Small town Virginia was the lush, green state that I lived in for 10 years. The people were lovely and I got my college degree there. I have some wonderful memories. I've been to the Smoky Mountains several times and I drove the Blue Ridge Parkway on a regular basis because it was right around the corner from where I lived. So very beautiful!
Now I live in Utah and I think I've found the place where I'll probably spend the rest of my life. Why? Here are a few reasons.
Utah also has beautiful country. The mountains here are so spectacular! In some places they are barren and brown, but in other places, like where I live, they are full of color because of all the trees. I think the mountains in Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon are gorgeous and remind me of the Alps!
There are many places to hike, bike, fish, and sight see, including 5 National Parks and who knows how many state parks--a lot! Just because there is no ocean doesn't mean there is no water. The lakes here are clean, clear and ready to be fished or boated on. I take full advantage of all this nature and take my Border Collie named Evee on amazing hikes in the nearby mountains and I also go on beautiful bike rides on my local river trail that meanders for 15 miles along the river and into the canyons. But I'm also really near to the conveniences of civilization, since I live in a metropolitan area of over 300,000 people. It's amazing how I can feel like I'm in the middle of nowhere with all of that hustle and bustle so nearby. And did you know that there are now fireflies here? Yep, they were just discovered here in Utah this June! The magical lightning bugs that I loved in Virginia are now here in Spanish Fork, UT.
The people here are generally very good. How do I really know that personally? Well, let me tell you and confess at the same time. I have a terrible habit of leaving things behind. I don't know how many times I have left wallets, credit cards, cameras, sunglasses or any number of things at public places. Almost every single time I do this, people will return them. Just last week I left my debit card at the local Cold Stone Creamery, one of my favorite places. I knew that I had probably left it on the counter when I was being handed my ice cream. I guess I got a bit too interested in the ice cream rather than take care that my card was safely back in my wallet. I walked out of the store, oblivious that I left it and didn't miss it until a day later. I figured I left it there. But my vast experience with this type of thing let me go about my business without much worry. In fact, I didn't get around to calling the establishment until a couple days after I missed it. When I did call, sure enough, they had found the card and saved it for me. I had my husband pick it up while he was out doing errands. I'm just grateful that people here are so decent.
Along those same lines is the fact that Utah has the highest volunteer rate in the nation. This was found by the Census Bureau, now for 6 years running. And with all that volunteerism are the programs that are kept running for the elderly and for school age children.
'Meals on Wheels' is one program that uses a lot of volunteers, as does 'Parks & Recreation' and one really important one, The Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City. Every year it allows visits for approximately 60,000 elementary students free of charge and gives out 500 Astronomy Teaching Kits to their teachers. Last year Salt Lake County had 20,000 residents that volunteered, which is the equivalent to 457 full-time employees!
And have you ever had fry sauce on your french fries? I'm pretty sure this is a Utah thing. Basically it's a combination of mayo, ketchup, and maybe some liquid smoke. It's in all the restaurants and it's pretty good, if not very healthy. A good brand of fry sauce to try out is Some Dude's Fry Sauce! Careful, though. It's addictive!
There you have it, just a few reasons why I love living in Utah. But could you keep it a secret? I want it to stay this way!
Disclaimer: This is my own post, my own opinion. Yours may vary!