Betty Diaries: Adventures in parking
The sun hung like a dim holiday bulb in the late-morning sky. In that flat, gold-gray light, a flurry of flakes blew half-heartedly across the windshield as we drove past the long line of cars parked on Big Cottonwood Canyon Road.
Blacked out at Park City Mountain, a group of us had decided to ski instead at Solitude, and my friend Stacey had volunteered to drive. It was 11:30 on a recent Saturday morning, and we were about a half-mile out from the Solitude entrance. I remember the time because it was part of our strategy to arrive at the approximate hour the first-bell skiers would be leaving. Crack o’ noon, we all agreed.
“I bet it’s full. Maybe we should just park here,” Stacey muttered to herself, her eyes peering over the steering wheel at the red snake of tail lights slithering up 190 ahead of us. I pretended not to hear her as I had no desire to schlep my stuff up the road.
“I guess we could just walk,” Kerry offered unconvincingly from the back seat.
“Let’s just see,” I whispered, taking the last bite of a PB&J bagel. “Why does everyone in this town always worry so much about parking?”
We rolled into the crowded lot and the attendant, dressed in a neon safety vest and looking a little hungover, waved us in. “Phew, I wasn’t sure if we needed a reservation,” Stacey said.
There was a black Subaru Forester slowly cruising in front of us, and, just then, we saw the flash of tail light as a Green Kia prepared to pull out. The clueless Subaru inched just out of range. Stacey moved to snag the spot. “Told ya,” she cried as she flicked her turn signal, the don’t-even-think-about-it-parking-lot placeholder. “Rockstar parking!”
As a thanks to Stacey for driving, I volunteered to pay. Secure in my knowledge of car-park kiosks, I’d memorized Stacey’s license plate, even taken a picture of it, just in case. I stood before the machine, inserted my Chase Sapphire card and tapped the plate number into the keypad. An attendant standing nearby even offered us a discount voucher for carpoolers. I didn’t take a receipt, so sure was I in the vagaries of ski-town vehicle management.
After a firm-but-fair afternoon of skiing, we returned to the car in the Moonbeam lot. Our plan was to head back down the canyon for apres at our favorite taco joint.
Kerry was the first to spot it. A small, gold envelope on Stacey’s windshield. We opened it, and tucked inside was a citation for a $78 parking violation. (Although this story had a happy-ish ending: After I complained at parksolitude.com, while preparing this column I was told the $78 was waived.)
They say intention is everything. That is, unless, you’re parking a car in the Wasatch.
It could be a casual afternoon of Solitude laps or meeting up for drinks after work. The logistics of where to park, how to park, when to park or if we’re even allowed to park, are enough to cast shadows of doubt over the most confident planners. And don’t get me started on how we’re supposed to pay for said parking.
The following is an actual conversation I had on a recent trip to the upper lot at Canyons Village with my buddy Matt:
Do you see a guy? The sign said pay the attendant but I don’t see a guy. Oh wait. Is there a guy? No, there’s a kiosk over by the stairs. I think we just park and pay at the kiosk? I think so, but we need the app, don’t we? Which app? I don’t know. I think they changed it last time I tried to park here. Ok, I’ll download it. Wait. I don’t have any bars on my phone. I don’t think you need an app here; that’s China Bridge. Hold on, it’s working! Do we have to put the ticket back on your dashboard? No, just enter your license plate number. I don’t know my license plate number. Want to just go to my house? I think I have some flat Prosecco in the fridge.
In that moment, “Park City” is pretty much reduced to a tragic misnomer that neither comedy nor time will ever make right.
And this scene is played out day after day, even among even the most seasoned of locals. Consider this recent text exchange between a group of long-time Parkites meeting at the Pendry for happy hour.
Friend 1: Still on for this evening?
Friend 2: See you all at 6ish.
Friend 3: Any thoughts on parking?
Friend 1: There’s free parking in the garage I think …
Friend 2: Just valet and get your ticket validated.
Friend 1: I don’t think they validate there — valet is expensive at Pendry.
Friend 3: I will walk from the cabriolet in three-inch heels if I have to —
Friend 1: One of my friends was charged $50/day for valet and he was staying at the hotel LOL.
Friend 2: I definitely got validated the last time I was there. But don’t worry. I’ll call and verify with Pendry reception right now … OK, they said they can’t 100% promise, but they’re pretty sure there should not be a charge if the server validates.
At the end of the day, I guess that’s what we all really want, isn’t it? Besides a place to park?
Just to be validated.
I am grateful that leaders such as Congressman John Curtis are thinking outside the political box and working on real and bipartisan climate solutions.
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