Last Tuesday, it hit me. I haven't left the Treasure Valley since our trip to Winter Carnival in February. I haven't left the state of Idaho since December. Don't get me wrong, I love it here but I'm starting to get a little stir crazy. 

Between the Olympic Trials, comic cons, road races and concerts, I had a ton of mini-vacations planned throughout 2020. Every single one of them fell through the cracks, until this past weekend. One of our friends from Capes and Crowns was asked to be part of a DC Comics fan film in Salt Lake City. The guy behind casting the film was struggling to find a Wonder Woman for the film. Our friend knew that she was one of the cosplays I do and reached out to see if I'd like to do it. I've never acted before, but I've been dying to play dress up for months. I was so in!

Friday, my best friend and I piled into the car and made the road trip down to Salt Lake City. We made new friends and had a fantastic time on the trip. Here's some things that really surprised me about my first real traveling experience this year.

The Hotel Experience

My friend works for a Hilton hotel in Meridian so she had a good idea of what to expect. Through the Hilton Honors app, you can check into your room and get a digital key through your phone. She did that before we got into town so we walked by the friendly folks at the front desk and took to the elevator to our room. She opened the app, placed her phone near the lock and the room opened with no problem. Not only is a great feature to limit interactions during the pandemic, it was also super helpful for the hotel that was struggling to get its system back online after a major power outage caused by hurricane force winds hitting the city.

Yes, masks were required outside of your room but you could use the fitness center and pool without a reservation. This particular hotel had also resumed a buffet option for those wishing to enjoy breakfast in their restaurant.

Housekeeping wouldn't visit your room unless you requested service.

Dining Out

In Boise, we really haven't experienced a wait time since you were able to start going back to restaurants. In Salt Lake nearly every restaurant we tried to go told us there would be a 45-60 minute wait time. Being a party of two, really helped cut down the wait time. On Friday night, two seats at the bar top became available were to the party on the list ahead of us. They turned it down, so we were asked if we wanted to take those seats.

We looked at each other in shock. We're allowed to sit at a bar? We haven't been able to do that at home since mid-June. Yes, we'll take the seats! We were separated from the next party by closed seats and separated from the bartender by plexiglass.

Like Ada County, you're required to wear a mask in the restaurant while you're not seated and in common areas where maintaining physical distance isn't possible.

On Saturday night, we noticed that the restaurant that we went to was able to seat larger parties than here in Boise. In Utah, now considered "low risk," up to 10 people can sit together at the same table. It made us smile after our party of 8, who'd been hanging out together for months, got split up into two tables (less than 6 feet apart) in Boise just a week ago.

How Simple a Mask Mandate Can Be

Salt Lake City County is under a mask mandate through at least January 5, 2021 but it reads a lot easier than Ada County's. It's two bullet points and in the FAQ questions about where masks are not required a section marked by an asterisk asked residents and visitors to use common sense. 

Short Wait Times at Lagoon

As a self proclaimed coaster fiend, I can't go to Salt Lake and not stop at Lagoon on the way home. Our longest wait time for a coaster was 10 minutes and it wasn't even for the biggest, baddest coaster in the park (Cannibal.) Their queue lines were marked with physical distancing dots. Masks are required in queue lines, stores and haunted houses, but many people wore them while on rides or walking around the park by choice. Each ride had hand sanitizer stations at the entrance and exit gates. It felt like a really safe experience to us!

That's what my experience in Salt Lake was like. My husband was in Reno this weekend for work and had a totally different experience than we did. He called the COVID-19 restrictions there the "third ring of hell."

That's why I'm curious to hear what YOUR travel experiences have been like this year! Let me know by leaving a comment or dropping us a chat through the LITE-FM app. You can download that by using the box below.

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