It's true. I was back in Zion just a few days ago, and the Republicans will be glad to know that I left again.

Actually, I have nothing against Republicans - or Buicks, for that matter. It's just that over the years the word "Democrat" has become a naughty word in Utah.I heard that Brigham Young fell off a porch once and someone thought they heard him say, "Democrat!" From that day on, the D-word was a bad word. Close friends of Brother Brigham say that isn't what he said at all, but you know how legends start.

Anyway, my husband, Stephen, and son Andrew came back with me to try to figure out how the Deseret News keeps publishing without me.

As we flew in from Wisconsin, I asked the kind pilot to make a sweep over Utah County so I could see if there was anyplace to park. It's a darn good thing I did. What's everyone doing down there anyway? I've never been able to figure that out. My best guess is that they are all looking for the mall.

Anyway, so there we were just a few days ago saying things like, "Let's drive on down ta Spanish Fark," and "Golly gee, my polyester pants just got sucked right off when those furnaces at Geneva kicked in." It was as if we had never left. Besides the view, that's one of the greatest things about Utah. You can leave for a year, or a decade even, and things are still pretty much the same. One example of that was a typical Utah County Commission meeting. I snuck in the back, just like I used to. And sure enough, the meeting was already lasting 40 minutes longer than it should have. I could be wrong, but it might have been the same meeting I attended in August 1987 - they were just holding it in the new building.

You know, we brought along our skis too, but all we could find in Provo was some kind of water slide where I thought Heritage Mountain was supposed to be. I guess there just can't be enough water slides in one state.

When we decided to go to a real ski resort, my heart stopped for just a moment as we started up Provo Canyon. Would I cry, I wondered, thinking about bulldozers and cement blocks. Stephen held my hand and counted in his head the hundreds of times I have talked about Provo Canyon during the past 16 months. I tell you, I know all about progress and safety, and I sure didn't feel safe driving up that canyon. And my heart and soul can make more sense out of untouched beauty and the music of the pines than the roar of diesels and a pile of old gravel.

So you win some and you lose some. You give a little and you get some back. The canyon could be worse, and people in Utah could be nuts about bowling like they are in Wisconsin.

The Jazz could be playing like the Bucks, and in Utah, people don't throw beer bottles at you if you wear a Green Bay Packer sweat shirt. The crimes in Utah could be plain and simple like they are in other places, and the chances of a Catholic nun getting lost in Zion are pretty slim.

In Utah, towns have names like Moroni and Lehi. In Wisconsin, it's Oconomowoc and Waukesha. And no, they aren't angels. In Utah there is always some fantastic mountain to help guide you home. In Wisconsin, there are so many trees, the view is always blocked. There aren't lots of Mormons in Wisconsin, but when was the last time you saw a couple of million cheeseheads in one spot? It takes awhile to figure this all out.

You trade John Jensen's bad tummy for taxes the equivalent of one bureau chief's annual salary. You trade the stares and glares when you buy Folger's and Miller High Life for a whole new set of social problems. Do you know what I mean?

So I came back, just to make sure everything was still the same. To touch base, to remember all the times I laughed and cried, to see if the mountains still reach the clouds, to watch the sky darken across the snowy desert and to say hello to the part of me that will always be there - in Utah.