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  • Writer's pictureJoe

The City of the Saints

So I guess it really began in Salt Lake City. That is, this was the first instance in which I visited a state capitol, specifically to take a dump. I had first conceived the idea of this quest on the pot at the Colorado capitol when I realized I had already knocked two off the list without even trying. Number three on my list would be my first deliberate number two. See what I did there?

It was August of 2016. I had planned for months to attend the famed Snowbird Oktoberfest Beard and Moustache Competition hosted by Utah's Salty Saints Social Club and Facial Hair Society. In my years of traveling as a competitive beardsman I've found no better group of people than the Salty Saints. In fact, I believe I've run into Club President Greg Schoenwolf at every single out-of-state competition I've traveled to, from Texas, to Hollywood, to Phoenix, to Portland. They're all over the West. Their annual competition at the beautiful Snowbird Ski Resort just outside SLC is a fantastic event, and provided the perfect opportunity for me to further my quest.

It was here at the Snowbird competition that, over many a tall stein glass of 3.2% beer, I first revealed my plans to a few friends, whose reactions were a mixture of incredulous, humorous, and supportive. I managed to convince my dear moustachioed friend Nathan, who had kindly already driven my ass all the way from Denver, to drive me into the city on Sunday August 28th, along with our friend Jimmy and AHH DAMMIT WHAT WAS JIMMY'S FRIEND'S NAME?!?! Ugh, I'm such a jerk.

Desert Corinthian is what they're going for.

The Utah State Capitol was completed in 1916, exactly one hundred years before anyone pooped there to fulfill a very specific life goal. It's a stunning Neoclassical building: dome, pillars, marble, all the usual capitol trimmings. Recently renovated in 2008 (it can withstand a 7.3 magnitude earthquake now), it was completely free of tarps and scaffolding, which is proving to be quite rare among capitol buildings. It seems as though at any given moment 43 of the 50 state capitols are completely or partially closed for renovation (you're killing me, Wyoming!).

Rather minimalist, for being mostly marble.

I was a little surprised at how quiet the place was, until I remembered it was a Sunday and the Latter Day Saints are a devout people. There were no tour guides available, so we were free to wander and read plaques for ourselves. The renovation was really quite stunning. The place looks like a movie set. Everything was finely crafted, and no detail was spared. I'm trying really hard not to use the term "old-world splendor," in every single blog post, but I'm not sure I can avoid it. This is a huge reason why I love these sorts of places. Brass. Frescoes. Busts. Stained glass. History.

I love lamp.

As I mentioned above, this was my first deliberate attempt to poop at a capitol. I was pretty nervous. I mean, it's easy enough to plan a visit to a state capitol, but not so easy to plan a bowel movement to coincide with that visit. I am not the most regular guy when it comes to daily digestive health, so this quest could prove challenging. I mean, imagine the nightmare scenario of not having to go, straining on the toilet in Juneau, Alaska because I've got a sea plane to catch in 25 minutes.

But I lucked out. I pooped with ease. I kind of chalk it up to the body doing what the subconscious mind is really set on doing, like when you wake up 5 minutes before your alarm goes off. I must say it was one of the most satisfying dumps of my life. Like, "Wow, I'm really doing it." Living the dream. Maybe you really can do anything you want to when you grow up, unless you wanted to be an astronaut and you ended up being 6'5". (Just an aside here-I never wanted to be an astronaut, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I found out I never could have been an astronaut because I read something about there being a 6 foot height limit [obviously not a lot of head room in spacecraft], but just now I discovered the limit is actually 6'4", so I'm heart-breakingly just one inch too tall).

Anyway, I pooped and that was that. Three states down, 47 to go.

We browsed the capitol grounds a bit longer and then made our way to the Temple square, because history. I had already visited SLC and the Temple several years before to audition for Jeopardy!, so I knew my way around. It felt just as strange as it had the first time I was there. It's fascinating to be in such a historic place that many people believe sacred or holy, but you don't. I imagine it's what a Red Sox game at Fenway must be like. Cool to see, but not in any way magical or important to the rest of the universe.

Brigham is a cool name.

The Temple is closed to gentiles like us, and most of the surrounding historic sites and museums were as well because it was Sunday. We saw the outside of the Lion House where Brigham Young lived with his 55 wives. Must have been awful cramped in there. Young, of course, was the 2nd President of the Saints, first governor of Utah, and great-great-great grandfather of NFL Hall-of-Famer Steve Young.

Then we went to In-n-Out and got double-doubles with animal fries. Then we went back up to Snowbird and drank more 3.2 beer with all our beardo friends.

Just three hairy gentiles in the City of the Saints.

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