Enjoying spring break in Utah Valley on the cheap
White sandy beaches stained with bile. Lax drinking laws. “I Ate The Worm” T-shirts. Souvenir sombreros. Blackouts at seedy tattoo parlors. First times. First times at free clinics. Generally regrettable decisions. Edward Forty-Hands. Bikini tops optional.
Spring break is one of the last bastions of good old-fashioned debauchery in American society, besides furry conventions and whatever weirdness goes on at Bohemian Grove every July. The kind of orgiastic delirium purported to occur during an unsupervised seven days in South Padre Island or Daytona Beach is the stuff of myths and legends. If Bacchus could bring himself to stomach the jam-band atrocities of the Dave Matthews, he’d be emceeing the whole affair.
But in this harsh and unforgiving economic climate, with tuition spiking up and the prospect of unemployment constantly dangling above your head like the sword of Damocles, who the hell has the funds to actually travel somewhere for spring break? Rich kids, maybe. But if you’re reading this fish-wrapper of a magazine, then you’re probably too low-rent to afford a roundtrip ticket to Cabo. Odds are you’re staying in Utah County for the break. Suck it up, plebeians, but also, be ye of good cheer. A reprieve from responsibilities in this godforsaken valley need not be a boring disaster.
Obviously, the cheapest way to spend your spring break is on the couch, lovingly curled up with the instant streaming queue on your Netflix account. But five days in front of the computer screen is wasteful living and pathologically pathetic. Despite its conspicuous lack of bars and amusement parks, Provo/Orem and the surrounding areas have plenty to offer to the adventurous spirit and the imaginative brain.
Par example: You know that fetid puddle of raw sewage just west of Provo? Use it to your advantage. The beaches of California and Mexico may be hundreds of miles away, but that does not mean aquatic activities are off the menu. Go out to the coast of beautiful Utah Lake with a group of pals and see which one of you can go the longest without becoming visibly nauseous at the stench. You can also find a cheap rubber raft or an especially buoyant door and go on your own personal cruise. Take along a sixer and suddenly it’s a booze cruise. Just don’t succumb to the temptation to dip your toes in the water. There’s no telling what kind of crap is floating around in that thing.
Maybe beach parties aren’t your cup of tea. Maybe you’re more of a gamblin’ man (or lady). Maybe a trip to Las Vegas is not in your budget. Even if it were, why go to a place like Vegas? You’ll either be so sorely infected with the gambling bug that you piss away your rent money for the month or you’ll burn through the weak thirty dollar wad you’ve allotted yourself in five minutes and spend the rest of vacation hemming and hawing with your hands in your pockets, bereft of all options with no free drinks.
Instead of a frustrated sojourn in Sin City, try Nickel City at 1515 S. State St. in Orem. It’s much more convenient, geographically speaking, and, for the low, low price of five dollars, you can play Ms. Pacman and Donkey Kong to your heart’s content. Of course, your winnings will not be monetary – you’ll walk out of the place a few dollars lighter and with only a cheap plastic squirt gun or a pair of Groucho Marx glasses for your efforts. But, for extra fun, try an adult beverage or three before walking through the doors. Amid all the flashing lights and shrill sounds, a good buzz might actually help you suspend your disbelief long enough to make Nickel City seem like Caesar’s Palace. Plus, you’ll be more prone to arguing with seven-year olds over whose turn it is to use the Whack-A-Mole machine, which is entertaining for kids of all ages.
Of course, one of the most hallowed institutions of spring break is the wet T-shirt contest – again, something you don’t have to miss out on just because you’re trapped here in Our Lovely Deseret. While convincing your average Utah County female to don a thin white t-shirt and let you spray her with hose water might sound like a Herculean effort with little to no payoff in sight, it doesn’t means that you can’t take initiative. Take advantage of the fact that, with the increasingly warmer weather, people will let their guard down. They’ll be walking down the street without a coat or a care in the world. That’s where you come in, sitting “harmlessly” in a kiddie pool in your front yard, hose at the ready. Spray them all – men, women and children. Sure, it may not be your most traditional wet T-shirt contest, but the reactions you’ll get will make for lasting memories.
Make no mistake: none of these activities are a full and proper substitute for your run-of-the-mill spring break activities. Provo will never be Daytona Beach. Orem will never be South Padre Island. MTV will never send a camera crew to our sleepy little valley, unless Conor Oberst chokes on his own puke at the Amenity Inn on 300 South. But when life hands you an overdrawn bank account and no vehicle to get out of Utah Valley for your week of freedom, make lemonade. And by “lemonade,” we mean trouble and lots of it. Party on, losers.
Nickle City Fun Center 1515 South State Street, Orem
Friday 1pm–Midnight, Saturday 11am–Midnight