I have to be honest. As a kid growing up in Utah, I considered Bountiful to be undesirable. Sort of lower class. It seemed to be very far away and the homes were ramshackle. I always hated to visit my uncle and aunt in Bountiful because they had an outhouse. It was a very interesting and exciting day when we all went to Bountiful to inspect their newly completed bathroom. And I'm not as old as that sounds.

That's why I had to be persuaded to go to Bountiful to have dinner with my friends Tom and Sandy Grimm. I knew them when they lived in Boston, and we flew to Salt Lake City recently on the same plane."You've got to come and see us," Tom said. "Bountiful is the best-kept secret in Utah." That meant, he said, that the commute to Salt Lake City is fast and easy (20 minutes), the homes are beautiful, the mountains are inspiring and the view incomparable. He compared the sunset on the lake with the ocean in Massachusetts.

Yet many people who move to Utah seem to think it is necessary to go south of the city, and they miss many of the obvious advantages of Bountiful. Well, I tended to think Tom knew what he was talking about. After all, he has lived in St. Louis, Detroit and Boston and speaks with some authority about most topics. So I said I would come.

His home is a lovely Western- style cape, nestled against the mountain, high and overlooking the lake. His neighborhood is well-ordered and well-kept, with a variety of fine-looking homes. Tom and Sandy fed me a barbecued meal in the back yard worthy of a restaurant, although Tom was convinced, since he cooked it, that the chicken was too dry. I thought he was wrong.

It was unusually cool for an early evening in August, and so I accepted Sandy's offer of a light jacket before they gave me "a ride around the neighborhood." They were obviously trying in earnest to convert me to Bountiful. The kids agreed to do the dishes, and we hopped in the open-air Jeep with four-wheel-drive and began driving uphill.

Within two or three minutes we were barreling up the side of the mountain behind Tom and Sandy's house on the most uneven "trail" I have ever seen. When the going became especially rough, Tom stopped to changed the wheels to four-wheel-drive, and we started again. I was elated that I had not overeaten because my body was taking an incredible beating as we literally bounced up the mountain.

As I said to myself, "Now what could be the point of this?" Tom began to answer me, as if reading my mind. He loves the mountains and knew that I do too, but he loves going up on this trail because he can be isolated within a very short time, and he can attain immediate peace before or after a tough day.

"Even though I enjoyed the ocean in Massachusetts, I never understood it. I understand the mountains." Even though he is a highly successful executive, he has always thought of himself as basically shy. Projecting himself to a group is difficult, and when he is in the mountains he feels calm.

In fact, Tom told me that in the mornings he joins with some friends and rides his bike (a sturdy one, I hope) to the top of the same mountain. When he arrives, he takes great pleasure in the expansive view and the meditative atmosphere. It takes him two hours to ride up and back, and it is an exhilarating way to begin the day.

With some effort I finally convinced him that my next day's schedule would not permit me to join him. As Tom said, the only problem with going up the mountain is that you have to go down, and going down was just as jolting as coming up.

Although I will never be a four-wheel-drive fanatic, I was easily convinced of the values of Bountiful. He took me around the neighborhood, and the sunset on the lake was indeed comparable to an Eastern ocean scene. I also understood more why Tom, who had lived in so many Eastern cities and loved them, still wanted to return to Utah. He felt drawn here and does not think he ever wants to leave again.

As I left Tom's house and drove down the mountain, in my conventional vehicle, to catch I-15 to Salt Lake City, I was struck too by the majesty of those mountains and the breathtaking view below. Bountiful probably IS the best-kept secret in Utah.