- Conference Time is rapidly approaching: In less than three weeks, we will gather together in Salt Lake City for the 2019 West Coast Taiwanese American Conference. Although the conference name refers to the West Coast, we will also meet old and new friends coming from elsewhere in the US, as well as from Canada and Taiwan. We have over 120 registered attendees and more than 90% of them have signed up to join the post-conference tours!
The University guesthouse and Douglas Ballroom (name of the conference room) is enclosed by a rectangle on the upper left corner. After getting off from the Ford Douglas Station, turn right and walk to the elevator which takes you upstairs connecting to the beginning of a sky bridge and follow the path indicated by arrows to the guesthouse.
- Stay Healthy: There are few items that I would like to call your attention. First and foremost is to stay healthy. Recently three couples called to cancel all reservations citing medical reasons, despite they had put much effort in completing the registration form and also signed up and paid money months ago to join the northbound tours. Although some hotels still allow cancellation, you may lose the cost paid for the bus seat after June 1 unless you are able to find someone to buy your seat. Fees paid to buy bus seats are not refundable. Please stay healthy so as not to forego the opportunity to visit and witness the natural wonders north and south of Salt Lake City.
- Travel Light: Before you pack, look up the weather condition in late July for the places that you are going to visit and then pack accordingly. Generally, in mid and late July, the average temperature in Salt Lake City is between 85 and 95 F during the daytime and it cools down in the evening to around 60-70 F. However, this year is somewhat cooler. Temperatures in the national parks in Southern Utah are higher but seldom over 100 F for very long. Air in Utah is dry, and although it is hot, the air is not humid like in Taiwan. In the Grand Tetons/Yellowstone area, the temperature is around 80 F during the day and cooler in the evening and morning, so bring a sweater or a jacket with you. We recommend you travel light. Please note, the guesthouse will not allow luggage storage after your check-out on 7/21 even though you will return to stay in the evening of 7/24.
- From the Airport to the University Guesthouse: After arriving at the Salt Lake City International Airport, I recommend you take the light rail train (called Trax) to the University Guesthouse. The Trax green line (not necessarily painted green!) starts right at the Airport, and you would switch to the Trax red line at the Courthouse station heading to the University Medical Center. You would get off at the Fort Douglas station (one station before the University Medical Center) and it is only about 5 minutes walk to the University Guesthouse. The total time from the Airport to the University Guesthouse is about 45 minutes, depending on the time spent waiting for the transfer at the Courthouse station. Refer to the Trax map posted on our website. Trax runs frequently (15 minutes intervals during weekdays and 20 minutes during the weekend); it is safe and inexpensive (only $1.25 for two hours for seniors). An alternative travel option from the Airport is taking a taxi; you may save about 10 minutes under normal traffic conditions, but it costs about $50. A site map is posted on the website to help you walk from the Fort Douglas station to the Guesthouse,
- Hotel Check-in and Conference Registration:The official Guesthouse check-in time is 3 PM, but if the room is cleaned early and available, you may be able to check-in earlier. The conference registration desk opens at 1 PM, at which you will receive your name tag, meal tickets, a conference handbook, and a custom-made canvas carrying bag. If you arrive before your room is ready, you can wait in the lounge. Hot coffee, tea, and other drinks will be available 24-hours in the lounge with sofas, tables and chairs for you to rest or work with on your laptop. Dinner will be served at 6 PM on 7/19 and on 7/20 in the conference room. Please mark on your meal ticket, your choice of fish, meat (beef or chicken) or combo (combination of meat and fish). Lunch on 7/20 is a buffet.
- Conference Time: The first presentation will start at 7 PM on Friday (7/19) after dinner. Please read the conference program and other useful information in the conference brochure (or handbook). The conference ends after the entertainment Taiwan Night program at 9:30 PM on July 20. All attendees are expected to leave the conference room by 10 PM.
- Mormon Choir and the Spoken Word Program in the morning of July 21: Those interested in attending a live performance of the world renowned Mormon Choir and the Spoken Word program in the morning July 21 in downtown Salt Lake City will need to get up early. 120 seats are reserved for our group in the Convention Center of the Mormon Church. The Center doors open at 8:30 AM and all guests need to be seated by 9:15 AM when the doors are closed. Our group will enter at door 8 and be seated by 9 AM. Those who have signed up for the post conference tours will be picked up by the tour buses, scheduled to arrive at 8 AM at the guesthouse. Those not attending the tour will need to find their own transportation to the Convention Center. You need to be ready with your luggage to go to your bus. The tour bus will leave for Temple Square, near the Convention Center before 8:30 AM. If you miss the bus, you need to go to the Temple Square on your own. If you take Trax, be sure to change from the Red Line to the Green Line Trax (the same one going to the Airport) at the Courthouse station. The travel time from the Douglas station to the Temple Square (also the name of the Trax station) is about 30 to 35 minutes. You may want to call a taxi or Uber to take you there. The program ends at 10 AM; to save time members should speedily exit the Convention Center and walk to the tour buses which are waiting, or continue to your next destination.
- Starting the Post Conference Tours: Be sure to get your lunch bento box and a Vietnamese sandwich (you receive one each) before you get on your tour bus. One bus is northbound and the other southbound, make sure that you are on the right bus. Seats are not per-assigned, so take what is available when you are inside the bus. We are now on our way! The driver of each bus is requested to make a rest stop every two hours.
- Itinerary of the Northbound Tour: We stop first at Garden City on the shores of the beautiful Bear Lake, and also enjoy a raspberry shake. The next stop is Afton, WY for a brief visit to Star Valley for Chocolates before we arrive at Jackson (the largest small town in the Jackson Hole valley) around 6 PM, with enough time for eating dinner and exploring the town. We end the first day (7/21) after checking in at the Antler Inn or at the Elk Country Inn to spend a night. Note: breakfast is not provided at these two hotels, and we need to get up early to load our luggage to depart for the Triangle X Ranch for the rafting trip on the Snake River inside the Grand Teton National Park. Be sure to bring your camera to take pictures of the breathtaking Tetons rising above the Snake River; moose and other wildlife also regularly frequent the river banks and you might also spot an osprey diving in the river, or other animals playing on the river banks. The rafting trip lasts about three hours. During these three hours, the driver is instructed to take those members who do not participate in the river rafting trip to visit or hike on the trails near Jackson Lake or Jenny Lake, and then rejoin the group returning from river rafting and go together for lunch. After lunch the bus driver will take the group to enter Yellowstone National Park through the South Entrance. Inside the Park, the group will visit West Thumb, Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Artist Point, and Canyon Village, before finishing the day exiting the Park through the West Park Entrance to Brandin’ Iron Inn to complete the second day (7/22) tour. We stay at this hotel for the night of 7/22 and 7/23. On 7/23, after Breakfast (Brandin’ Iron Inn provides breakfast) members get on the bus at 8:30 AM to visit Norris Geyser Basin Museum, Mammoth, Tower Fall, and Canyon Village, and then return to the hotel for dinner and rest. On 7/24, we check out and board the bus at 7:00AM to go viewing the Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin. For this, we need to go early. One cannot leave Yellowstone NP without visiting the Old Faithful. We shall time our visit with the eruption of this most famous geyser in the world before departing for Salt Lake City, to rendezvous the southbound tour group around 6:30 PM at Cafe Anh Hong for dining with Cantonese cuisine. After dinner, the tour bus will take the members to the university guesthouse to check-in and rest. (July 24th is Pioneer Day, an official holiday in Utah. All state-run government offices and many businesses including some restaurants are closed.)
- Itinerary of the southbound tour: After leaving Temple Square about 11 AM, the group heads toward Arches National Park. With a drive distance about 240 miles, we plan to arrive at the Park before 4 PM. After touring for about three hours, we shall spend a night at the La Quinta Inn & Suite in Moab. We check out at 8 AM on 7/22 after breakfast, to visit Canyonland NP and Capitol Reef NP. After visiting these two National Parks, the group will proceed to Cedar City to check in at Abbey Inn for two nights. The next day (7/23) after touring Bryce Canyon NP, the group returns to the hotel and to find a restaurant to have dinner. At 8 PM on this night, the performance of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth is at Cedar City’s world-renowned Utah Shakespeare Festival. Those who are interested in seeing the play, should purchase the show tickets online as soon as possible (https://www.bard.org – $58 for Center Orchestra). On 7/24 the group check out at 8 AM to tour Zion National Park; we leave the Park about 1 PM, returning to Salt Lake City to rendezvous with the northbound tour group at Cafe Anh Hong for the Cantonese dinner. After dinner,the group boards the bus and returns to the university guesthouse to check in and rest. (July 24th is an official holiday in Utah. It commemorates the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. Similar to the Independence Day, many local and all state-run government offices and many businesses are closed on Pioneer Day.)
- Salt Lake City Tour: The tour buses pick attendees up at 8 AM on 7/25. One of the two buses will be dropping off attendees at the International Airport at 3PM, and the other will return to the university guesthouse at 5 PM. Please board the specific bus according to your travel plan. The places of interest are: This is the Place Monument, the State Capital, the Great Salt Lake, and Park City. Guests who are going to the Airport at 3 PM may only be able to see some of these places, leaving an opportunity to return to Salt Lake City again in the future.
— From Dr. Jim Wang