Rushville Republican

March 4, 2014

Snow + History = A Fun Mu-ski-um

By Don Stuart
Rushville Republican

---- — As I write this, there’s a chance that No. 3 son (age 18) will be stranded on his way home from cawlidge to enjoy his spring break with the people he loves so much that he chose a cawlidge 420 miles away from them.

The culprit in his delay? – of course it’s snow!

There may be a tiny minority of readers out there who are just a tiny bit tired of snow at this point in the season. As of yesterday, I am not among them. Because I spent yesterday sorting through all the delightful pictures we took on our recent ski trip to Utah. All while humming that delightful song from the movie “White Christmas” – “Snow”! It’s the one Bing, Rosemary, Danny and Vera sing while on the train to Vermont, in the dining car, where they somewhat magically fashion a little diorama of a snowy slope whilst singing.

I tried to get No. 4 and No. 5 sons to help me do something like that on our flight to Salt Lake City. They said “No!” rather emphatically, and said if I sang even one note of “Snow” out loud they would go to colleges way further than 420 miles away. And waaaaay more expensive than No. 3’s too.

When we arrived in Salt Lake City, we piled into a rental vehicle roughly the size of a a railroad dining car. But upon collecting No. 2 son and his girlfriend, who landed in Salt Lake City at the same time we did, we found the vehicle was still much too small to fit six people and all their accompanying ski gear. So, since No. 5 didn’t want to ski anyway, we left him at the airport for the next five days.

Kidding! We strapped him to the ski rack.

We thence drove to Park City, in the Wasatch Mountains. I’d like to tell you a little bit about the history of Park City. Fifty million years ago, the Wasatch Mountains were formed. Before long, silver was discovered in them, and prospectors swarmed over the area, and founded a town originally named “Parley’s Park City.” Then, me and my family arrived to go skiing. Thus ends this history lesson.

I know, I know, you’re accustomed to me prattling on in painful detail about mind-numbingly obscure historical trivia, but in this instance, I can’t find out anything about who Parley was and why he was so important or influential that he got a city named after him. The town may as well have been named Parlous Park City. (Look up “parlous,” and you’ll see why that last line is so side-splittingly funny!)

Besides, there’s way more interesting history to tell you about, dating all the way back to a couple weeks ago, when me and my family took our first afternoon in Park City to explore its environs. We first visited the Alf Engen Ski Museum, which is part of the Utah Olympic Park that was constructed to help stage the 2002 Winter Olympics. The first thing you see in the museum is a large map of the whole Olympic Park, and interestingly, it’s laid out exactly like the diorama put together by Bing, Rosemary, Danny and Vera.

The Alf Engen Ski Museum has a lot of cool stuff related to skiing, much of it having belonged to Alf Engen, a Norwegian-born fellow who came to America at age 20, established himself as a world-class skier, and is said to have spearheaded or assisted in establishing around 30 ski resorts in the western United States. So No. 5 son (age 12), who decided during the flight to Salt Lake City that he hates skiing, spent most of his time in the Alf Engen Ski Museum rueing Mr. Engen’s achievements. Heck, when No. 2 son, who No. 5 idolizes, asked him if the museum was getting him in the mood to strap on his skis, No. 5 snapped “Oh, just buzz Alf!”

He cheered up a little when we came upon some life-size figures of skiers with the faces cut out – you put your face in the opening and get your picture snapped. He posed in one featuring an Olympic downhiller catching some big air. And he made me pose in the one of a skier splayed out on the mountain after a fall.