Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Only in Salt Lake City: Gilgal and grub

[Hello, many visitors from the ex-Mormon Reddit site! Come back to church; we miss you!]

[Post is backdated to reflect the actual date on which these events occurred.]

So Captain Midnight and Miss V and I have been in Utah for the better part of two weeks.  First we enjoyed the company of my family, then CM and I packed up and headed up Ogden Canyon to attend CM's family reunion.

Many happy activities occurred there, including mass T-shirt tie-dyeing.  By the time we were through we all resembled exuberant hippies.

However, by today CM and I were ready to have some different adventures.  So after packing up our stuff and departing the family reunion, we decided to go looking for geocaches, waymarks and other random interesting bits in the Salt Lake City area (because, after all, that's what we do).

Here's where we went:

Maybe you've heard of this place.  Maybe you haven't.

It's a sculpture garden, hidden away in a discreet corner of a Salt Lake City residential block.  The entrance is sandwiched between two houses.

Looks rather lovely, doesn't it?

All the beautiful plantings, and the paving stones and quotes carved into the rocks...

... and the huge sphinx with the head of Joseph Smith...
wait, what?

Yeah, Gilgal Sculpture Garden is one of those places.  Weird, wonderful and surreal in the extreme, it exists in the freakish no-man's-land somewhere between art and camp.

The sculptures are bizarre in composition and somewhat clumsy in execution, but there's also something compelling about them because they were created with complete sincerity.

Gilgal's creator, Thomas Battersby Child, Jr., was an earnest and devout Latter-day Saint bishop who decided it was his destiny to create one thing the world lacked: an LDS-themed heroic sculpture garden in his own backyard.

By the look of it, Bishop Child took the apostle Peter's suggestion to be "a peculiar people" a little too much to heart.

Some of the pieces in Gilgal are actually well thought out, such as this literal interpretation of Isaiah's prophecy of the last days: "and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks".

And then you turn around and catch sight of the dude with the brick pants.  Seriously, what?  Why?!

But that's just the kind of place Gilgal is. It's hard to know what to make of it.

In the years after Bishop Child died, before the sculptures and plantings were restored and became city property, Gilgal used to be known locally as "Stoner Park" because kids would hop the fence and hang out there to get high.

I think you can kind of see their reasoning.

Some pieces, such as this decorative well, fairly cry out for a garden gnome.

Random quotations from scriptures, poems, hymns and philosophers that Child found interesting or astute are carved on nearly every stone in the garden.  (A few are misspelled.  Hey, I'm a proofreader... I notice this stuff.)

There's even a monument to Child's wife, Bertha.  Heaven knows what she thought of all this.

Ah, but look, he was a man after my own heart: a huge stack of books.

After a certain point, Captain Midnight and I had taken in our fill of Gilgal.  So after bidding it goodbye...

(bye, weird sphinx dude!)

 ...we repaired to a more civilized location.

A place of elegance and refinement.

A place of comfort and good cheer.

A place of... ah, whatever, it's Crown Burgers.

But scoff not, unbelievers!  For the Crown Burger is a wonder of nature even more delectable than the sculptures at Gilgal (and far easier on the teeth).

First behold CM's fantastic fries (and even more fantastic fry sauce, another Utah original).

Then behold the Crown Burger itself, charbroiled, topped with a slice of cheese and piled high with pastrami!  Believe me, friends, it is a thing of beauty.  You might not think pastrami to be a fitting addition to a hamburger, but that's only because you lack the proper vision.  Trust me, if you like bacon on your burgers you are going to love pastrami.

This particular Crown Burger is a special order, dutifully wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun, but if you've got the intestinal fortitude (and a working pancreas) I suggest you try the original.

Also heartily endorsed by Captain Midnight.  Om nom nom nom.

Thanks for the treat, good people of Crown Burgers.  No doubt we'll be back soon!

More of our adventures coming shortly.


Scarehaircare said...

Gilgal Gardens and Crown Burger! People after my own heart.....except Crown Burger visitors MUST order onion rings. What on earth were you thinking, going to Crown Burger and not ordering onion rings?

Soozcat said...

Clearly, we didn't have you with us to help make wise and prudent decisions. :)