Thursday, July 07, 2005

Reasons to Love Provo, Utah

(Photos: top one is of Rock Canyon taken Provo Temple, bottom one is taken from La Habra Heights, California)

I grew up in Chino, California, or as we Southern Californians like to call it—the Southland. I always thought I’d move back to my childhood state after my 4 year college experience in Provo, Utah. Afterall, I even married a man who was a California Brat too. (A California Brat is someone who thinks that California is the only great place to live.) I think I can explain why my discontent with Provo (Utah Valley for that matter) has come to a head. First, visiting Chicago this summer. What a wonderful metropolitan city! I could definitely live there—green and lush with gorgeous neighborhoods. Two, being a tad jealous of my friend Liz Nelson who is moving back to her homestate of Washington. Liz always said she’d want to move back and I give her credit for making it happen. Third, seeing how outrageously expensive real estate is in California only emphasizes more than ever that we will never move back. Well, I guess we could move back if we wanted a home half the size of my home now and if it was in a neighborhood where we had bars on our windows and if it was next to a sewage treatment plant or if we didn’t mind living in a triple-wide trailer. Nice.

To make a long story short, we stayed in our college town after college and have made our home here. I have been a bit frustrated with life in Provo lately. Oh sure, it’s a great place to raise a family, although I’m not quite sure what that means sometimes. I mean, isn’t anyplace in America a great place to raise a child? Most places in America have running water, electricity, schools, access to hospitals, etc. I mean come on! I am not raising my kids anyplace where I have to fetch the water from a well or light a candle to read to them at night. So anyplace in America could be described as a great place to raise a child. But I digress.

I often complain about life in Provo to which my friend Kelly gets upset and corrects me. I shouldn’t blame it on Provo, but rather Small-Town, America. Okay, fine. I guess the bone I have to pick with Provo is really with Small-Town, America, but you get my point. To make another long story short, this is my home now--probably forever. Or at least until my husband retires 35 years from now. Gasp. So I have decided to turn over a new leaf about my life in Provo and focus on the positive. Not so fast. Before I do, I’ll first give you my list of things I don’t like.

1. Lack of sort-of gourmet groceries. I’m not talking about cavier now. Simple things like being able to buy flat-leaf parsley in most grocery stores. (Okay, Target and Smith’s do sell parsley but that’s a special trip!) Don’t even try to buy ground veal or whole cardamom pods or tamari (dark soy sauce) here.
2. There is not one good Mexican restaurant in all of Utah County. And no, Café Rio doesn’t count. That is a fabulous and quick Mexican grill. But I’m talking about real Mexican food: gorditas, cazuelos, pickled onions served alongside tacos with queso fresco, etc.
3. Maybe this should go along with #2. But I still can’t buy skirt steak in the grocery store! I have to make a special trip to the Mercado Latino for this and attempt to speak what little Spanish I can. “Yo quiero dos libros de Carne Ranchero.” Translation: I would like 2 books of meat please.” Yea, nice white girl.
4. Only one freeway here. Back home there were many options: the 60 freeway, the 10, the 71, the 57, etc. Nevermind that those freeways are parking lots. It’s just nice to know they were there.
5. No flea markets. There are no good places here to get a bargain on gently-used quirky furniture. Back home we don’t call them flea markets. We call them Swap Meets. I have no idea why. Then again, what’s a flea market really?
6. No good garage sales. By the time someone sells anything here after it’s been through 5 kids it’s ready for the dump, not a price tag.
7. No giant farmer’s markets here to buy locally-grown produce. Oh sure there are farm stands here and there that mainly sell fruit, but who wants to drive from stand to stand to buy all your produce? Why not have one big open air market in the summertime. (The one on 500 West if beyond pitiful so don’t go there. The people who sell homemade soap there belong at The Quilted Bear.)
8. Snow. Need I say more? True, there isn’t that much snow here but it’s pretty much winter 6 months out of the year here!

Reasons to love Provo:
1. Awesome Public library. The children’s section of this store seems more like a Barnes and Noble.
2. 10 minutes to the Provo temple. Okay, if you are not LDS then who cares, but I am a card-carrying member of the LDS church and it is really nice not to have to drive an hour or more to get to the temple.
3. Bombay House restaurant. Naan bread, Chicken Kurma, Mango Lassies. Yum.
4. Art and Culture at BYU. BYU puts on great productions (to my untrained eye) and has nice art exhibits.
5. Kid-filled neighborhoods. I realize not all neighborhoods here are filled with children, but mine is and since my house is also filled with children they have their pick of friends once they walk out their door.
6. Affordable housing and low property taxes.
7. Kid-friendly swimming pools. There are so many swimming pools close by here that all have something fun for the kids. I don’t remember there being anything like that where I grew up in California. I don’t think Raging Waters in San Dimas (30 minute drive, $20/person) counts.
8. The mountains surrounding this valley are very beautiful. Oh sure, back home we have a view of Mt. Baldy and other surrounding mountains, but nothing like the mountains here.

Okay, that’s all I can think of for now. I know, some of my positives are a real stretch, but like I said I'm really trying here. I always brag that I could live anywhere in this country and be happy as long as I have my hubby and kiddies with me. So I might as well live up to this and learn to really, really, love Provo. I mean Small-Town, USA. :)


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