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The Wasatch Behind: the state of everything

Sun Advocate reporter

"I see we are going to get a new state quarter," I said as I browsed through the newspaper.

"That's what I hear too," Uncle Spud said with a snort of contempt, "And the governor gets to choose what we put on it. He has only three options: a beehive, a couple of steam engines, or a guy on a snowboard. Big deal."

"I don't think that's such a bad choice," I said. "The beehive is the state emblem and represents industry, the steam engines commemorate an historic event, the driving of the golden spike, and the snowboarder is an advertisement to help Robert Redford sell lift tickets."

"My point exactly," Uncle Spud growled.

"What do you think should be on the new Utah state quarter?" I asked.

"How about an empty wine bottle to show that we are a dry state?" he smiled.

"You really have an attitude about this, don't you?" I said.

"I suppose so," he said. "I don't like the whole concept of this funny money tinkering with our nation's currency. Why don't they just make our coins out of plastic and forget it? None of our coins have been worth anything since they took the silver out of them in 1964 anyway."

"They do make money out of plastic," I said. "The plastic money has the words Master Card printed on it."

"Aw, you know what I mean," He said. "I want real money again. The old coins that were made of silver and gold and had the heads of kings, presidents and statesmen embossed with laurel leaves and Latin inscriptions. It was money we could be proud of, real works of art. There was none of this silly business about every state having its own quarter with a peach tree, milk cow, or a snowboarder on the front. What did snowboarders ever do for Utah but overburden the search and rescue people?"

"It's all symbolic," I said. "They are trying to find a symbol and logo that really gets to the heart of what Utah is, and who we are. That's why governor Huntsman picked the new state tourism slogan, "Utah - Life Elevated."

"Sounds like a Viagra commercial to me," Uncle Spud smiled. "They should have used a slogan that's more realistic, something like: Utah - Gateway to Nevada."

"You're terribly pessimistic," I said.

"Maybe," he smiled. "But I think we should re-name a whole lot of things Utah has designated as state slogans, mottos, and mascots."

"Like What?" I asked.

"Lets start with the state bird," Uncle Spud smiled. "The Utah state bird is the California Seagull.

"So what?"

"I think it's risky having a state bird who wears another state's name. What do we do when California wants their bird back?"

"Oh for Pete's sake," I said. "California is only the bird's first name. The state of California doesn't own the birds."

"I don't care," he said. "We should have a bird with Utah as its first name."

"There are no birds with Utah as their first name," I said.

"Oh yes there is," he smiled. "Don Burge and those paleontology guys at CEU found it right here in eastern Utah. They call it the Utahraptor."

"The Utahraptor is a dinosaur," I said.

"So what?" he responded. "Most people think of raptors as birds of prey, and Utahraptor has the word Utah right up front."

"Utah already has a state dinosaur," I argued.

"Let's leave Senator Hatch out of this," he smiled.

"Not Orrin Hatch," I said. "The Allosaurus is the official state dinosaur."

"We're talking about the state bird and not the state dinosaur," he countered. "The Allosaurus can be the state dinosaur. I want Utahraptor to be the state bird."

"Utahraptor was a big lizard and not a bird," I insisted. "And besides, the Utahraptor has been extinct for 60 gazillion years."

"All the more reason to make it the state bird," Uncle Spud grinned. "It won't be hanging out at the Salt Lake City landfill or spotting up the sidewalks on Temple Square."

"You are impossible," I said.

Uncle Spud smiled and poured himself another slug of diet Dr. Pepper. Then, with a twinkle in his eye, he said very sweetly, "did you know that the official Utah state tree is the Colorado blue spruce?"

"I'm outta here," I said.

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