Brittany and I just got back from Salt Lake City, Utah and let me tell you, we LOVED our time in the Beehive State!
We traveled to SLC because I (Ryan) was attending and presenting at a national insurance conference, but we decided to add a couple vacation days onto our trip since Utah is not a place we would have otherwise gone on vacation (or at least that’s how we felt before we visited).
Once our plane landed in Salt Lake City (on a Friday afternoon), we decided to take it easy and relax by the hotel pool. We have been doing a lot of traveling lately, and while it has all been loads of fun, we were pretty worn down and needed a day to rest and re-energize before exploring the area. I was really interested in seeing Bryce, Moab, Arches and Zion, but logistically I knew we wouldn’t be able to make it work on this trip so we decided to stay relatively close to Salt Lake City.
The following day (Saturday) we made the short drive from Salt Lake City up through the Wasatch National Forest to two of the country’s most impressive ski spots, Alta and Snowbird. Several years ago I visited Snowbird and took an ATV tour which was absolutely INCREDIBLE, so I knew the resort offered absolutely amazing views and I couldn’t wait to experience it all with Brittany by my side.
It took a little persuading since the wifey is not a big fan of heights, but after Brittany agreed to head to the summit we boarded the Aerial Tram and it didn’t take long before we were ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the breathtaking scenery (nevermind the fact that Brittany was clinging to me for dear life). When we arrived at the top, we immediately saw a crowd of people gathered in wedding attire and we knew the ceremony was about to go down — at an elevation of 11,000 feet! We spent a while wandering around the top of the mountain (real talk: I was short-winded by simply bending over to tie my shoes), snapped some photos then decided to make our way back down the mountain.
There are really no words for the Tram experience at Snowbird, so I’ll just let the video do all the talking!
To say I was excited for Sunday would definitely be an understatement. For many years I’ve wanted to learn to fly fish, but it’s always been one of those things that intimidated me simply to watch so the thought of actually going out in the wild and learning the technique in a day (or in four hours, to be more specific) seemed unfathomable. Nonetheless, I called several outfitters and after finding one who was available, we booked it and headed out on a BEAUTIFUL drive through Provo, Utah.
We met David Cooper with Simply Fly Fishing Utah on a turnoff and we instantly hit it off with him. I told him how much I loved bass fishing and shared that Brittany and I had ZERO experience fly fishing, but he told us we would get the hang of it in no time and that definitely put my mind at ease. Within minutes, we were decked out in our waders and descending into the Provo (despite the sunny weather, the water was a brisk 50 degrees, ya’ll!).
Literally within 20 minutes of learning the casting technique with a fly rod, Brittany had a fish on! She wrestled with it for may be two or three minutes before David scooped the fish into his net. He quickly taught Brittany how to hold the decent-sized brown trout that she just landed and without an ounce of hesitation, Brittany grabbed the fish and held it out for the ceremonial first-catch photo. (If there was such a thing, I would insert the extremely proud husband emoji here!) She released the fish back into the Provo River, and I knew we were in store for an amazing day ahead.
Just a few minutes later, I had a bite. I yanked the rod back…no fish. Then again…no fish. David reminded me that I wasn’t there to rip the lips off a bass and encouraged me to be more gentle with my hook-set, and the next time I felt a tug on my line I pulled back just enough to see my rod tip shoot down towards the water. “FISH ON!”
I reeled the little bugger in as quickly as I could, anxious to see my first catch and not paying any attention to the amount of line left in the water. Just as I was about to lift my rod up to bring the fish into David’s net, I felt a pop and we saw the rod tip go straight to the sky…the fish broke off! I was so bummed, but as David quickly pointed out, I had reeled in WAYYYYY too fast which caused the bobber to hit the end of rod (that’s a no-no!). David quickly fixed my line and had me cast back to the same place as before, and it was less than a minute before I had another fish on the line.
This time, I gently reeled and within a few minutes, I was holding my first-ever brown trout caught on a fly rod. I could hardly believe it! For the next three and a half hours, I caught upwards of a dozen brown trout in various sizes as well as a beautiful rainbow trout that just escaped our grips. Brittany took a few breaks while snapping photos and videos of me living out this dream, and before we knew it, our time on the water came to an end.
Reflecting back on the amazing experience of learning how to fly fish, I can’t help but think about people like David who are truly experts in their respective field and have an amazing, God-given passion for teaching others about something they love. David was so patient with us as we fumbled to get our lines into the water, but when we finally had the fish in our hands, it was clear that his excitement mirrored ours and David definitely took pride in teaching others how to be successful.
David, thanks for not only demonstrating your fly fishing skills, but for reminding us that when you share your passion with others, we all win!
The insurance conference kicked off on Monday morning with an incredible speaker, New York Times best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell, then later in the day I had the opportunity to give two presentations to my peers during break-out sessions.
That evening, we visited Utah Olympic Park where we rode a zipline, an alpine slide and saw the Flying Ace All-Stars, a group of Olympians and National Team skiers and snowboarders who performed acrobatic feats as they soared up to 60 feet in the air before landing in a pool below.
The conference continued the following day (Tuesday), and after lunch I was able to participate in a golf event at Wasatch Mountain Golf Course in Midway, Utah. I didn’t play exceptionally well, but once I got into somewhat of a rhythm on the mountain course I dialed it in and hit my longest drive ever — 390 yards — on a downhill par-5 fairway although my ball stopped in the rough (and for the record, I had three witnesses there to vouch for the distance!). While I was thrilled with the length of my drive, I should note that we still parred the hole and as it turns out, at high altitudes the ball travels further, so I guess you could say I had a little help from the thin air!
After the golf event, Brittany and I joined my co-workers for dinner at a delicious Mexican restaurant we tried earlier that week called the Red Iguana. This local spot was featured on Guy Fieri’s popular show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and our second visit confirmed that the food was really THAT good!
The conference concluded on Wednesday afternoon and we spent the remainder of the afternoon soaking up the sun at the pool before heading to a fun closing reception in the hotel. We woke up early the next morning, returned the rental car at the airport and boarded our flight to head home. We had no idea just how much we would enjoy our time in Utah, but it’s more than fair to say that we WILL return to that beautiful state someday after how much fun we had during our wonderful six days there.