Short version: we finally made it to Salt Lake City from Washington DC yesterday, via San Francisco. Naturally, everyone we spoke to along the way thought it was/we were insane to go that way, we had a hard time disagreeing. I alternated between saying we were doing it for the extra frequent flier miles or for the sushi in the airport.
When our SFO flight arrived early, I decided we might even try to catch an earlier flight to SLC than the one we'd been rebooked on, try to shave three or so hours off our 30-hour debacle. With no checked luggage, minimal carry-ons, and [thanks to a bold, last minute decision] no car seat for K2 and no stroller to schlep it on, we made it before the flight closed.
Thanks to the very accommodating United gate agent who, after several minutes of thoughtful discussion and reflection, changed her mind and decided not to charge us $50 each for changing our tickets.
Anyway, there will be no long version of this story. The airlines' greatest PR weapon may be to produce experiences that are so tedious and boring to recount, that people just give up. Meanwhile, if you need me, I'll be at Snowbird, moping about missing the rodeo and losing a day of Hire's Big H burgers, onion rings, and vanilla Diet Cokes.