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Columnist
Head west to Utah for a colorful fall trip
Air Pockets
By Gail Todd | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 9/5/2009 10:53 PM

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"I'm looking for a colorful fall getaway," said my neighbor, who had just shipped her youngest child off to college and was feeling slightly blue. "But I don't want to spend a lot of time or money."

I understood her problem. My old roommate calls it the "Crayola" syndrome. She wants to see the leaves turn yellow without spending a lot of green that could put her in the red. One of the best places to do that, in my book, is Park City, Utah, and here's why.

Originally, Park City was a mining town and Main Street still retains much of its Old World charm. Tiny homes owned by the old silver miners are protected by the city and still occupied by some colorful characters. And the shops don't sell your typical "I'm with stupid" T-shirts. They also hare a colorful flair.

For example, the Mountain Body Spa, located on Main Street, (mountainbody.com) lets shoppers mix their own body cocktails from a buffet of bowls filled with tantalizing creams like honey butter and mango sugar scrub - all of which smell and look good enough to eat. The spa also offers a variety of body treatments, including the Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries Body Treatment, the Peppermint Patty Pedicure and their original Mountain Glow and Honey Butter Treatment.

The city, home to the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, supports three major ski resorts - Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort and the Canyons. During the summer, the resorts operate the lifts for scenic rides and for mountain bikers at a minimal fee. Visitors can enjoy lunch at Deer Valley and watch the bikers traverse the ski runs.

During the ski season, room and board can become a bit pricey, but during the summer and fall, prices are slashed. According to Kerry Cunningham, owner of Alpine Ski properties, (800) 771-1505, a company that rents ski condos and houses for the Park City area, a condo that rents for $800 a night during ski season may go for as little as $100 a night off season.

And many of the top restaurants offer special prices during the off-season. Grappa, the Italian restaurant located on Main Street that received a Four Diamond recognition by AAA in 2009, offers two entrees for the price of one even on weekends.

In the winter, skiing is the focus, but in recent years the resorts have turned summer and fall into a free-fall of fun. There are farmers markets, weekend fairs and art gallery crawls. There are Alpine slides, zip lines and hot-air balloons. And there are outdoor concerts, rock climbing, fly-fishing and so many other things to do.

In my younger days, it was all about going downhill. Now that I'm over the hill, the snow isn't as important. But the views from the chair lifts still take my breath away - although 8,000 feet of altitude may have something to do with it. The natives say fall foliage makes Park City's autumn the most beautiful time of the year.

Certainly the price is right. You may not be shushing over the "greatest snow on earth," but you may find yourself snowed in an entirely different way.

• Gail Todd, a freelance writer, worked as a flight attendant for more than 30 years. She can be reached at gailtodd@aol.com.