Utah Diary – I learned a new word today – Potgut.
This is my first full day in Utah, known as the Beehive State.
With the game between Real Salt Lake and Sounders FC not kicking off until 8pm, I took the opportunity to visit a local attraction to spend the 4th of July among real Americans, not the soccer loving secular west coast elite liberal globalists Fox News tells me I normally like to hang out with.
We headed along some very wide flat streets eventuallly to reach the land of curvy trails, sculpted through mountains.
The Snowbird resort is 7100 feet high, a scary enough prospect for a lad like me who has always lived at sea level, and was fresh off the plane from Seattle. I also couldn’t help but notice it wasn’t raining.
We met some fans in RSL gear doing the same tour as us, Snowbird then the Rio Tinto. They predicted a 1-1 draw. These Utahans don’t blow their own trumpet very much despite what you might ascertain from looking at certain local temples.
7100 feet wasn’t deemed challenging enough for my lungs, so we took an aerial tram higher up to Hidden Peak and its massive 11,000 feet elevation.
During a 1.6 mile ride, scaling 2900 vertical feet; my sea level soul bade farewell to its natural habitat as songs of the rivers I had lived by drowned out the combination of terror and exhiliration.
The “Song of the Clyde” became mentally subservient to “Roll on Colombia” as I looked down on the mountains below. I’ve rarely looked down on a mountain top except in seat 39F of a flight, munching pretzels.
It was there that I saw warnings about not feeding mooses and pot guts. After various cheeky analogies as to which MLS soccer personalities who may or may not have been in Salt Lake that one could apply the term ‘pot gut’ to, I realised I had no idea what a pot gut was.
It’s like a squirrel apparently, only it lives higher up. They are also photophobic despite our efforts.
Then came the inevitable hiking and my first encounter with snow, surprising given the 90 degree heat. The views from Hidden Peak are spectacular as you can see from the slideshow.
These were not to be the last fantastic views and new forms of wild life to be encountered that day.
The way that Real Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto stadium looms into view is actually one of the more stunning approaches to a ground. The Seahawks Clink has the baseball stadium behind it and Portland’s Jeld Wen has no approach from a distance. You turn a corner in a busy commercial area and there it is, hewn out of urban Portland.
The RioT is different. This being the desert, distances are large and views are wide. The stadium emerges and protrudes above the Wasatch Mountians that circle it. Once inside, it reminded me of Vancouver’s old Swangard Stadium, only with 5000 feet more of mountain.
The new species I encountered were hardcore Real Salt Lake fans. Despite my hometown being that of their opponents, they were exceedingly friendly and welcoming at their tailgate.
The Hipster quotient made Portland on match day seem like a Spokane Flower Show, as tattoos, peaked caps and ear rings milled happily around the well organised barbecues.
And they know their football, conversing happily about their own club, the Sounders and recent events at local rivals Colorado Rapids, swapping informed MLS conversational topic like Luxembourg natives trade languages in a heartbeat.
Surprisingly, the opinion of their own Front Office is fairly positive, relatively unusual among fans who tend to think their ownerships are always the worst.
From the tailgate, we entered the stadium, my first visit to the home of Real Salt Lake.
Beyond admitting that the RSL club song sounds just like Scottish folk tune Loch Lomond, I’ll save that part of the Utah Diary for the next instalment.
Utah Diary – Match Day at the RioT.