1. Yeah, the drive to the LCC or BCC brings you back through SLC, from PC. That is a bummer considering the actual straight-line distance is so short. It is worth the trek though.
As for timing. I tend to go by the rule of thumb that the longer into a season you wait, the better the base is. However, I've gone over MLK two or three years and been skunked for snow and conditions. It really is hit or miss for super super fresh.
Traveling the States and Taking Pictures