SALT LAKE CITY — There are different choices here. That's the first thing you notice when you set aside luggage that was packed in Southern California and settle in for a long, hard Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Back home, your February hiking options are: socks or no socks.
Here, the choices are size of trash bag. Kitchen or small wastebasket.
Plastic trash bags may sound a tad gauche, but they can be lifesavers if you're planning to spend the day at Snowbasin or Utah Olympic Park. Wrap your feet in them before you lace up your boots. Do the same to your hands before you pull on your mittens. The bags will keep the warmth in and the frostbite out.
"Layering" is another phrase you hear a lot in Salt Lake, ranking in popularity just behind, "Figure skating press conference in Interview Room A in 15 minutes." Lots of layering before you venture outside into snowboarding weather--in the teens. Lots of unlayering once you step inside the arenas and the media centers, where thermostats have been set to approximate Summer Olympic conditions.
As Bob Condron, director of media services for the U.S. Olympic Committee, wrote in a pre-Games memo to visiting media members, "You've heard of layering? Well, start at zero, not at the sweater level. Start at the naked level and go up. If zero is naked and 100 is a full-length wolverine coat with heavy wool thermals, get ready to go to .05 at times. Be ready to peel down to a golf shirt when you go inside.
"It doesn't matter if it's 50 below zero centigrade, you will kill for a golf shirt if you're inside. Outside is a different deal, so layer. But, once you get inside you'll want to start shucking."
Outside is a very different deal. Gary Ambrose, computer system analyst for The Times here, made the following fashion statement when he attended the opening ceremony at Rice-Eccles Stadium:
Two pairs of socks. Rag wool for warmth, polypropylene to "wick the water away."
Thermal silk underwear.
Gore-Tex nylon waterproof pants.
Cotton long-sleeve shirt.
Wool pullover sweater.
Gloves, although Ambrose says mittens are the better option: "With all your fingers together, they generate heat."
Burberry's cashmere scarf.
Sorel felt-lined waterproof boots.
And how did our man fare?
"I was like a toaster oven," he says, except for his feet. After three hours in the cold after sundown, the feet were starting to get uncomfortable.
Should have brought the trash bags.