A few weeks ago Jason and I were at Target purchasing a random assortment of items and amongst these items was a case of non-alcoholic malted beverage, aka O’Doul’s, aka near beer. Yes, as a Nelson I grew up on that stuff and am quite partial to it! It isn’t sweet so it doesn’t send me into sugar shock and it is actually healthier for you than most beverages. So I was purchasing some and the checker said the oddest thing to me and Jason. She said, “Are you sure this doesn’t really have alcohol in it? Maybe I need to see a Bishop’s note.” She was half joking but the fact that she even made such a comment to a random customer made me think for a moment that perhaps I had entered the Twilight zone. And then I remembered I was in Orem, Utah, which is pretty darn close.
This got me thinking about Utah and why, despite its cultural oddities and religious uniformity, I like it so gosh darn much.
For some reason Utahans don’t seem too proud to be from this fine state. This may be the result of too many experiences of telling others you are from Utah and getting the inevitable question, “So how many wives does your husband have.” While this question reveals the questioner’s obvious lack of intelligence, we Utahans tend to still find this experience insulting and we cannot fathom why we are so misunderstood as a state. So while those from Texas, New York, and California boast of their origins-we mumble a somewhat inaudible response to that dreaded question.
Next time you Utahans get asked where you are from I would suggest you answer “Utah” with pride. And here is why:
Our humble state now boasts a population of 2.4 million; this number is expected to increase to 5.4 million by 2050. Our state’s current growth rate is 6th highest in the nation. Most of you are thinking that this growth is surely due to the staggering number of children the residents of Utah seem to have. However, currently nearly half of Utah’s population increase is due to people migrating here. People WANT to live in Utah. How could this be you ask? Well, it turns out Utah is actually a pretty fabulous place. Our unemployment rate is the 3rd lowest in the nation and our rate of job growth is 1st (yes, we are number 1). Last year nearly 50,000 new jobs were created in Utah, which equates to a 4% increase. That is quadruple the national average. Way to go Utah! Utah also ranked number 1 in the nation in 2007 for personal income increase, which is another marker of economic activity expansion.
But those aren’t the only categories we ranked number 1 in. Our housing prices increased by 12.9% in 2007. That puts us also at number 1 in the nation for home price increases. Now, I can hear several of you whining. How could the increase of housing prices be good? Well, for those of you that own a house the answer should be fairly obvious. Duh, it means more equity for you. In contrast to many parts of the country were the housing market has slumped and many home owners have lost tremendous amounts of money as a result, home owners here are making money off their property investments and they should all be happy. For those of you who do not own a home there is still something for you to be happy about. The average price for a single family home in Utah is only $206,000. This is still a doable amount for most first time home owners, and is a far cry from the costly home prices in California or the east coast.
We are not just wealthy however, we are also healthy. The life expectancy in Utah is 3rd highest in the country. The average Utahan lives to be 78.6 years. And according to the America’s Health: State Health Rankings: 2004 Utah is the 5th healthiest state. More kudos to Utah!
The real reason I love Utah has nothing to do with our booming economy or the state of our health however. Where else can you snowboard or ski on the greatest snow on earth? You can snowboard, ski, snowmobile, and tube in the winter and enjoy wakeboarding and other water sports in the summer. The summer also brings opportunities for mountain biking and hiking in our beautiful mountains (real mountains not those hills found back east). But we not only have striking mountains we also have unique vistas unlike those seen anywhere else on earth. Bryce Canyon, Arches, Zion’s, Canyonlands, and Capital Reef are all full of distinctive and sometimes bizarre beauty. Our diverse and singular landscapes have resulted in Utah being home to more national parks than any other state, with only two exceptions (Alaska and California). Along with our national parks we also have many national monuments, such as Timpanogos Cave and Dead Horse Point. We also have the world famous Slick Rock Trail.
I would encourage all of you Utahans to explore your fine state. You live in an area with all sorts of recreational opportunities and uncommon beauty. Jason and I are always finding new “favorite” places to bike, hike, and board.
On Christmas Eve this year we had a snow storm and I woke up Christmas morning to pristine snow covered mountains and a bright contrasting blue sky with wisps of clouds. It was gorgeous and a clear reminder of just what I love about Utah!
So I hope next time you get asked where you are from you will answer, “Utah, the most awesome state there is!” even if you have to add, “And I only have one wife!”
P.S. While Utahans do have more kids than those in any other state, our average is only 2.54. So that whole 15 kid misconception really needs to go away. And the men here really only have ONE wife (if they can even get that)!