Monday, November 15, 2010

"Surfing" Around Utah

Having lived in several areas of California, I am well acquainted with the vagaries of "riding the waves" or "surfing" as they call it.   It's a bit too similar to snow skiing for me—basically throwing yourself off of something in one long (hopefully controlled) fall to a point far below you.

Surfing is called "volitional" (a 'choice') by most people; but, I swear that the very last actual "choice" you make is to flop yourself down on the board and start paddling toward Hawaii.   From that point on much more happens "TO" you than "BECAUSE OF" you until your deluged body spews out sodden and trembling (or frozen and stiff) upon the turf.

My experiences with skiing and surfing are indistinguishably congruent—except for the sole proviso that skiing doesn't start at sea level.   They used to call it "Snow surfing" you know; so, I wasn't much surprised to find that the activities, required skills and outcomes were pretty much identical.   AND, after this past week, I now also know much better why they call purusing the Internet – SURFING THE NET!

"Surfing" Utah - A Tribute

The odyssey began simply enough with me "Googling" – Utah, merely to see if anyone else had written a blog about the state recently.   There were 90 MILLION one hundred thousand results.   So large that Google had to add the disclaimer "about."   For grins, I thought I'd like to see the last item on the list, but as it turns out Google won't do that.   There is no "last" button, and when you try to do it manually, by clicking from page to page, it stops at about 700.

Somewhere in the pack the "Tribute To Utah" caught my eye and it turned out to be a very clever rendition of a Beach Boy's song completely revamped to include little known Utah towns.   I bookmarked that to come back to.

1 | Salt Lake City, Utah, United States | 181698 people |
2 | West Valley City, Utah, United States | 123447 people |
3 | Provo, Utah, United States | 118581 people |
4 | West Jordan, Utah, United States | 104447 people |
5 | Sandy, Utah, United States | 96660 people |
6 | Orem, Utah, United States | 93250 people |
7 | Ogden, Utah, United States | 82865 people |
8 | Saint George, Utah, United States | 72718 people |
9 | Layton, Utah, United States | 65514 people |
10 | Taylorsville, Utah, United States | 58785 people |
Then there was the "Top Ten List" of Utah's largest cities – I couldn't believe my eyes!   From seventh grade Utah History class on, I've always known that the state's second largest city was Ogden – I remember even telling people it was.   Now here was this miscreant claiming that Ogden was all the way down to seventh place with 83,000 people, only a toenails breadth larger than the "tiny resort town of St. George" of all places, at 73,000.   I had to check if this was really true by browsing over to and asking it "largest utah cities."   Old "Wolfy" is pretty much the definitive source for "real" facts; but, they agreed – what do they know.

What?   You never heard about WolframAlpha?   Well, it's what they call an "information engine" not a search engine.   Founded by a world renown "smart person," Stephen Wolfram, it is his reaction to the "dumbing down" of the web that Google has foisted on us by their algorithms which put a bunch of blogging and commercial crap way above true information in their search results.   Wolfram has real educated people gathering and compiling data sources from all over the world into a huge reference database.

You can access it by merely typing into your browser window.   Then ask it a question like: "Tell me about Utah."   Try it and you'll get more info than you can handle including the state flag, population trend graph, employment rate, economics, income, housing, flower, bird, tree and motto – among other things.   [You can actually do it for any state you want]

I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”
Susan Sontag
Of all the 50 states Utah has the youngest population, one of the highest birth rates, the second lowest death rate, the healthiest population, the highest literacy rate, highest percentage of high-school and college education… and the highest Jello consumption of any place in the WORLD!  It was also the host of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games – neaner, neaner, neaner!

"The Wolf" knows of 289 cities in Utah, but you've got to ascertain what criterion is being used because the 2000 Utah Census lists only 235 Utah towns and cities.   There are 252 Utah towns and cities assigned at least one ZIP code (I guess some share).   Another web-site lists the numbers of Utah cities and towns in each of several population categories and totals up to 237!   So, who REALLY knows for sure?

Lynn Sessions, that's who! is [was, no longer active] the official blog of a self-proclaimed "foot-sore amateur photographer" who, for some unrevealed reason, got it in his head to actually visit and photograph EVERY town/city in Utah!   No kiddin'.   And he's done it!   He claims that there are 469 towns and cities in Utah.   If you don't believe me, just turn on the "Panoramio" layer in Google Earth and zoom in to almost any town in Utah - you'll find that one of those little blue squares is a photograph by Lynn.   And they're really, really good.

The smallest Utah municipality he visited (in population number only) is Ophir Town, in Tooele County, with its 23 residents.   Utah old timers may remember Ophir as the brunt of Salt Lake City radio host Tom Barberi's running comedy routines, where-in he did interviews with fictitious graduates of Ophir State College and provided actual "live coverage" of events like the Ophir veterans day parade complete with floats and marching bands.   Today it's a great place for a Sunday drive and to sit a spell under a tree in the park.

For Utah's sesquicentennial "birthday" in 1997, Robert Lund wrote and recorded a "Kokomo" parody, replacing the Beach Boys' Caribbean locations with a bunch of Utah's small towns (and even a few ghost towns).   Then in 2005, Stephen Groo of Wolf Productions took his family on 4,659 miles' worth of road trips to hit all the spots in the song.   Their rockumentary made it to You-Tube and you can play it below.

A Tribute To Utah

Learn A Little More

In case your grand kids ask for help with a school report you can find great "Fun Facts, Stunning Photos and Travel Info" about all 50 states at:

And, in case that song went by too fast for you to catch the words – here they are:

A Parody of the Beach Boys' "Kokomo," Lyrics by Robert Lund. Performed by Robert Lund From the CD Lund's Loony Tunes.

"La Verkin, Ophir, Goshen and Wendover.
Peoa, Erda - names I've never heard of
Like Aneth and Widtsoe...

Utah's beautiful towns
Have some names I can't pronounce.
I'm gonna try in my birthday song
To "A Pretty, Great State."

I'll probably get some wrong
But who cares? It's just a song.
Jump in your cars and come along
On a tour through our state.
I know you just can't wait.

Koosharem, Washakie, Toquerville and Keetley
Ioka, Neola, Osiris, Paragonah
Shivwits, Ticaboo,
Fayette and Gusher too.

Oh, we're goin' on a Utah tour.
Here in Utah we can offer more
Scenery and fun galore.
Climb in and shut the door.

We'll take our trucks
And all drive out to Flux.

Color Country, Bridgerland,
Golden Spike and Canyonlands,
Magna tailings pile.

Places you can go
Where Mother Nature puts on a show.
From desert valleys to mountaintops
You know the fun never stops.
I-70's got the cops.

Vermillion and Lyman, Sigurd and Salina.
Got Ferron and Elmo, Ivins, Lynndyl, Cisco
Chester and Beaver, Thistle, Spry and Heber.

Oh, we're goin' on a Utah tour.
Here in Utah we can offer more
Scenery and fun galore.
Climb in and shut the door.

Chester and Beaver, Thistle, Spry and Heber,
Hoytsville, Genola, Virgin, Tabiona,
Torrey, Wyuta, Vernon, Fry, Eureka,
Moab, Juab, Willard and Kanab.
Granger and Panguitch - Time to grab a sandwich.
Mercur, Enoch, Bluff - The roads are really rough.
Mona, Manila, Hurricane, Tooele,
Kanosh, Delle and Leeds - There's nothin' there but weeds.
Vernal, Upalco, Ouray; let's go to Provo.
Pigeon, Levan - I need to use the can.
Elberta and Ogden, Parowan and Logan,
Koosharem, Washakie, Toquerville and Keetley.
Ioka, Neola, Osiris, Paragonah,
Shivwits, Ticaboo, Fayette and Gusher too.
Vermillion and Lyman, Sigurd and Salina...

©1996 Robert Lund


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