“Let’s just drop everything and move out West.” At one one point, all of us have had the dream to pack up everything we own in a UHaul and just drive westward into the sunset. Just drive to the place we’ve been brainwashed to believe is better than the east coast. Wether it be the laid-back lifestyle in California or the endless adventures you see on your friends’ Instagram out in Colorado. The how or why doesn’t really matter, just that is possible for anyone to go West. And at some point in the end of 2016, my girlfriend Court and I, decided to make this pipe dream a reality.
But where to? We wanted to move west to actually live in the mountains so that we didn’t have to drive hours and hours each weekend to go do anything we enjoy. Sure, we thought about living in one of those sweet cabins in the middle of the woods in Vermont, but we needed jobs. That pretty much require us to be within driving distance to a major city. We also had a one more stipulation about where would end up. We still have all our family on the east coast, so we needed to be close to a major airport to get back home without costing an arm and a leg and require 3 layovers. This narrowed down our search to three options: Denver, Salt Lake City, or Seattle.
Neither one of us had been to any of the three possible destinations; and yet, we were about to try and decide which one to live in. We tried to narrow it down by reaching out to friends who had been to those cities and what they thought about it. I also spent a lot of time staring at google maps and reading what blogs & forums had to say about those cities. Due to lack of intel from friends on Seattle, our decision easily was narrowed down from three to two. But the decision only got tough when comparing two completely opposite cities.
Denver or Salt Lake. One place is the gateway to the front range and the endless adventures in the 14ers. And the other is the Mormon Capital of the world with a heavy pollution problem. For a non-LDS, this decision seems like a no-brainer, right? I guess not, since we still couldn’t decide until we heard a few things that deflated the hype around Denver. Sure, the city is next to the mountains, but its not in them. If we moved to Denver, we would still have to drive hours to go hiking or skiing each weekend. Also, the rest of Colorado is pretty much the only place within a day’s driving distance from Denver. And this is what lead us to choosing Salt Lake City.
SLC is actually in the mountains, and if you drew a circle around the city of where you could drive to in 4hours, it’s absurd. To the north you could end up in the mountains of Idaho or Wyoming’s Jackson Hole. To the east there is Montana and the vast state of Colorado. To the south you have all the rest of Utah, Arizona. And Nevada to the West. Yup, all of these are within a 4 hour drive. After seeing this, we were sold. This city would become our basecamp to explore the west, since now everything is within driving distance over a long weekend.
I’d be lying if I said the whole LDS thing didn’t make me nervous. I had only heard the rumors and stereotypes that surrounded the religion, and I’ve never lived in a place where religion made up such a big part of the community. Would we be ostracized and shunned for not being Mormon. Would we make any friends if we didn’t have that in common? Worst of all, would we still be able to drink beer out there? But those rumors were quickly dispelled by some of our friends who said its not as bad as “they” say, and that we would be able to find plenty of people to grab a drink with after climbing a mountain.
It was settled. Salt Lake City here we come. But first, we would probably need to visit the city that’s tucked away in the Wasatch Range. In February of 2017, we flew out to visit one of Court’s friends who now lives in Salt Lake City. A “short” flight, from Connecticut, through the Windy City, had us finally touching down in Utah. It only took one look out that plane window and I knew we were making the right decision. It wasn’t mountains in the distance that I saw, they were mountains close enough to walk to from the runway. Nothing more was needed to convince me that this was the place I would soon call home. See ya in 2018.
P.S. I wrote this post at the end of 2017. I currently live in Salt Lake City and couldn’t be more stoked about the decision to move here.
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.