Another College Road Trip
Sorry for the "no post zone" weekend; we went off on another college road trip with the boys (including the oldest one who was recently named a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist -- w00t!), this time to Provo, UT, to tour BYU.
Considering that we're Mormons, we've spent surprisingly little time in Utah, so this was really my first time seeing anything more than a mile from the Interstate. I've heard from several non-Mormons that Utah seems very unwelcoming to those with a more "secular" outlook, so I wanted to see what made Utah (especially outside of SLC) so non-Mormon "unfriendly". Some initial observations:
1) We saw an abandoned building from I-15 that was covered with graffiti, just like you'd find in most other states; then we noticed that all the paintings were of the "Welcome Home Elder Soandso!" variety.
2) We pulled off the Interstate in West Jordan, and quickly saw both a "Hooters" restaurant and a Kwiki-Mart that advertised beer prominently.
3) There were stores open on Sunday morning, but they seemed to have minimal manning and not many customers. (We normally don't buy anything on Sundays, but figured that since we had to buy gas anyway for the trip home we could make an exception; we were looking for Rock Band 2 that just got released yesterday. Ended up buying it at a WalMart in Burley, Idaho, when we stopped for gas.)
4) The locals in Provo were decidely unfriendly to a group of visitors from California on Saturday.
5) Provo has an "underground music scene" -- two clubs a couple doors down from each other in the "old" downtown. The place we went into (to see SubBasket's cousin) had fairly clean bathrooms, so it wasn't really that "underground" in the traditional sense. On the other hand, a group of about 10 young people dressed as zombies did bike past us as we were waiting to get in.
Bottom line -- as a Mormon, I couldn't really tell if a non-Mormon would get an "I'm not welcome" vibe, but my feeling (as a former non-Mormon) was that if you were really looking for someone to disapprove of you, you'd probably find it. I'm sure you'd find that in most other states as well if you went out of your way to display your differences from the prevailing culture. Utah may be as close to a theocracy as we have in the U.S., but it's a benevolent one.
As far as how the "college visit" part of the road trip went, our youngest seemed to like BYU a lot, but our oldest boy is still leaning towards Washington State. We've got a few months left, though.