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Posts Tagged ‘Logan’

I’d like to talk a little bit about something I’ve heard, both from people who’ve lived here for a while and people who have not. I regularly hear the utterance “There’s nothing to do in Logan,” or “It’s northern Utah, there’s nothing to do here.” For the past few weeks, I’ve wanted to blog my response to this misinformed sentiment. Perhaps I realize all of the great attributes of the area because I am lucky enough to have a job as blogger for the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau. Doing this forces me to go out and find things to do. Perhaps my wide range of interests allows me to be easily entertained — my sometimes childlike curiosity provides the impetus to become more involved with my surroundings.

I can confidently say, though, there is actually a lot to do around here. I have a hard time believing anyone who says, “This place is boring.” First of all, it’s hard to walk outside and not see a mountain peak — or several — somewhere on the horizon. Where there are mountains, there are things to do. Hiking, camping, birding, sight-seeing, photography, videography, rock climbing, mountain climbing, snowshoeing and hunting are just a few of the options mountains make available to people of all ages and levels of outdoors experience. Anyone who likes to get out of the house for a bit and breathe fresher air should consider doing so in either the Wellsville or Bear River mountains that surround Cache Valley to the west and east, respectively.

A short drive through Logan Canyon, Providence Canyon, Hyrum-Dry Canyon, Green Canyon, or any of the nearby canyons I haven’t mentioned, can afford a lifetime of fun, outdoors experiences. I’ve personally attested for some time to the concept that Utah — just about any part of Utah — can make a great photographer out of even the least visionary of individuals. Just check out the CVVB blog for a handful of ideas for places to go.

Aside from the list of naturally occurring places to visit locally, I’ve also begun to showcase several of the eateries, restaurants, shops, shows and events that are indigenous to Cache Valley. I’m also considering checking out a few of the entertainment venues located on campus at Utah State University. The university alone has an art museum, anthropology museum, various lecture series and a few different concert halls and theaters. In the surrounding metropolitan area there is also the Ellen Eccles Theatre, which I’ve covered a couple of times, the Logan Art House and the Old Barn Theatre, and near Bear Lake there is the Pickleville Playhouse. Eventually I’d like to investigate all of these places — and I will.

Cache Valley is also home to a wide variety of food-oriented attractions such as places found on the Cache Valley Food Tour and the seasonally popular local gardeners markets throughout the valley. I have scratched the surface in this realm, but I have a lot of work — and a lot of eating — to do, before I’ve truly become acquainted with all of the wonderful homemade creations local to this area. In the spring, I plan to head to Richmond (just north of Smithfield) to visit the Rockhill Creamery, which just recently received a historical award. The creamery produces artisan cheeses, among other tasty creations, and I intend to learn all about them.

The fact is I could spend the rest of my life writing for the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau, and I’d probably have a hard time exhausting all of the possibilities. I promise all of the wonderful people who have continued to follow this blog that I will do this as long as I’m allowed to. I hope to see you all out and about, checking out the great things there are to do in Logan and beyond. Whenever someone complains about not having anything to do, I suggest you greet them with skepticism or disbelief. Perhaps you can direct them to this site. If anybody out there has suggestions for something for me to do, I would love to consider it. If you’ve had the chance to experience something you believe makes Cache Valley special, please sign in and comment about it.

Cache Valley has been a great community to get to know. Having been here for two and a half years, I know there’s still so much to experience, but I’m glad I stumbled across this great place. Keep on reading, and I’ll see you out there.

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It’s no secret by now that I grew up in eastern Pennsylvania — I spent the first 26 years of my life there — and one thing there is a lot of in east PA is diners. During my high school years I spent the majority of my budding social life hanging out all hours of the night in a wide variety of diners and coffee shops. Heck, I even got my first serving job as a waiter in a diner!

When I was 17, I was even an extra in an independent film called “The Florentine,” starring Michael Madsen, Tom Sizemore and Luke Perry, that had a scene shot in a classic hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon called Dina’s Diner. I spent more than eight hours that night sitting in a booth, pretending to drink coffee and talk to a perfect stranger — as if he was my best friend, of course. To me, sitting in a coffee shop talking to my fellow freaks, geeks and diner rats was just a harmless way to pass the time and feel like I had a life. I can think of at least 20 such haunts, right now, off the top of my head; I’ll assume you believe me, though, and spare you the time.

Nowadays, I don’t drink coffee anymore, and I spend 97 percent of my nights doing homework and updating my blog posts. Every now and then I get bit by the nostalgia bug and venture out to a diner to see how it might compare to those I fondly remember from back home. Twice a year I fly back East to see my family and usually go out for a good, old-fashioned helping of greasy-spoon bacon and eggs — for old times’ sake.

Since coming to Cache Valley, I’ve passed Angie’s diner with its brightly lit sign and the slogan, “Where the locals eat,” dozens of times. Any time I drive through Logan, I always see several bumper stickers making the proud assertion: “I cleaned the kitchen sink at Angie’s.” I’ve always figured the “kitchen sink” has to be some kind of food challenge worthy of TV coverage. The other night, I finally decided to eat where the locals eat and perhaps discover what this Kitchen Sink is all about. After all, I thought, maybe they make you clean the kitchen if you’re unable to pay your bill.

I usually only review Cache Valley eateries on this blog when they have some kind of local salience or special presence. I figured Angie’s deserved a shout out since it seems to be a Cache fixture. If the owners are confident enough to claim that their restaurant is the place where the locals eat, then I think it belongs on the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau blog’s radar. It turns out that it came up as more than just a blip on my radar.

After I asked my server what the locals eat when they eat where the locals eat, I wasn’t particularly intrigued by any of her suggestions. Then again, this is kind of what I expected — after all, it is a diner. Instead of the local “usual,” I decided to go with a California burger. It was good. The patty was definitely well done, which is how they eat their beef here in northern Utah — as opposed to the medium-rare bloody goodness we like back East — but it still had flavor.

In between bites of cheeseburger I was lucky enough to notice, from across the restaurant, a group of young ladies who had just been served the famous “Kitchen Sink” — at least when I saw a server walk past me with a giant metal tub of bananas, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, ice cream and cold, sticky, messy awesomeness, my intuition told me that it had to be the sink! The Angie’s menu includes a picture of this unique dessert that really does it no true justice. At a whopping $11.99, I actually think the Kitchen Sink would be worth every penny, as long as you have several friends to help eat it. Otherwise, if you’re on your own, you’re liable to end up with an expensive headache, stomachache and brainfreeze.

Being the adventurous reporter that I am, I wandered down to the table where these ladies were enjoying their dessert and asked if I could take a picture of them — kind of as a last will and testament sort of thing. They willingly obliged, which is how I met USU student Liberti Summers and her sisters Harli, Starr and Dakota. All four ladies valiantly ate every last bite of the ginormous banana split on steroids and were awarded their complementary bumper sticker.

For those who look for a tamer, single serving kind of dessert, Angie’s also offers a variety of individual-sized, homemade delectables that I’d certainly recommend. So far I’ve had the cheesecake and the chocolate cream pie — no complaints here.

A few nights after my first visit, I went back to Angie’s with some friends to give the food another go, just for good measure. This time I had the ever-satisfying, late-night omelet. Now, that’s good stuff. I can certainly stand behind the fact that the food at Angie’s is your standard, run-of-the-mill diner fare — just the way it should be — and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Only it’s obvious the food is served with a little added TLC.

To any of you readers who are planning that dream trip to Cache Valley in the near future: If you get into town and it’s late, you’re tired and you’re not sure where to eat, stop by Angie’s and give it a try. Or if you’re well rested, it’s early, and you’re looking for a good place to start your day, come say “Hi” to the locals. I haven’t gone there often enough — yet — to have my own booth set aside, but you may just see me there flirting with the waitresses or reading an issue of The Utah Statesman. That’s right, Angie’s carries copies of our very own college newspaper, the one I happen to work for. So, until next time, I’ll see you at Angie’s, “Where the locals eat.”

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It didn’t rain, like some of the participants and event coordinators hoped, but Cache Valley’s first ever mud run —the 5K Man vs. Mud obstacle course and mud track— still entertained thousands of participants and spectators on a sunny Saturday, in Wellsville, Utah.

The first ever Man vs. Mud 5K run was held Saturday, Sept. 3,2011, at the American West Heritage Center, Wellsville, Utah.

Co-directors Mike Schaefer and David Knight organized a massive 5K track, in cooperation with the American West Heritage Center, which had runners sliding, crawling, sprinting, wading and jumping through a wide range of muddy obstacles. The event took place on Sept. 3, 2011, in the southwestern corner of Cache Valley where the majestic Wellsville mountains provided a late summer backdrop for a beautiful —albeit filthy— day of good, clean family fun.

I was able to track down Schaefer and briefly ask him a few questions regarding some of the details of the event. He told me roughly 2,000 runners had registered by 1 p.m. (the first wave of 150 runners was released at 9 a.m.). Schaefer guessed that another 2,000 or 3,000 spectators were in the massive crowd that showed up to shoot pictures and psych out their friends and loved ones.  When I asked how far some of the “muddites” traveled to take part in the fun, Schaefer said he saw registrations from as far away as North Carolina and Missouri.

Tickets for the event were priced at $40 a pop in advance, or $50 the day of the event. I, personally, felt like this was a lot of money to pay just to roll around in the mud —something that, historically, pigs do every day for free— but surely I underestimate the value, not to mention exfoliant properties, of a good trudge in the sludge. There were strings of people racing around the track when I got there around noon. The local fire department was on site with its trucks so firemen armed with fire hoses could spray down the runners after they got caked in wet dirt.

These Smithfield men, students of USU, came dressed as Captain America, The Green Lantern and a jailbird. They called themselves "Heroes vs. Villains."

There were also several other attractions and diversions available at the venue, partly because the American West Heritage Center already includes certain amenities and sights, including gift shops, horse rides for the kids, and food and beverage vendors. The AWHC’s parking lot was not just full, but fields and overflow parking areas were packed with vehicles from all over Utah and surrounding states. There were cars parked all the way to Highway 89 —the turnout was epic. I have to admit, I was both surprised and impressed with how many people this event drew, especially because it was the first of its kind in our area.

One of the other local websites, cachevalleymagazine.com, stated that Knight and Schaefer expected approximately 9,000 people to show up over the course of the day. When I was out there I could see that there were at least 4,000 people there in the couple of hours that I spent walking around and taking pictures.

I was interested in finding out, too, with such a high registration fee if the money was going to benefit any charities or causes. Apparently, according to cachemagazine.com, Schaefer and Knight have a fundraising goal of $50,000. The AWHC will receive some of the money and “some Cache Valley families in need of serious financial help” will be the recipients of the rest.

As I walked around taking in the sights, I found several articles of clothing, like shorts, shirts, socks

Mud-covered Mia and Eddie Sandoval chow down on burgers sold by vendors at the Man vs. Mud event held at the American West Heritage Center, in Wellsville.

and sneakers, that were abandoned. I guess the previous owners of these items figured it would be no use putting them in the washer at home —mud-logged clothing must not seem worth it to some people. The event website also suggested that costumes were a great way to make the day more fun. I saw a wide variety of groups who decided it was Halloween eight weeks early. One group of guys from Smithfield was dressed up as Captain America, The Green Lantern and a jailbird. They called themselves “Team Heroes vs. Villains.” The group seemed quite jovial for having mud everywhere imaginable. I also saw a group of five or six guys wearing blazers and ties without shirts on. I wondered, since I saw these guys on my way out, if they really knew what they were in for; and I hoped they weren’t planning on wearing those jackets to church the next day. The usual outrageously colored tights, ’80s garb and, of course, tutus,  were other typical elements of the standard mud runner uniform.

Aside from nearly having to threaten a muddy friend in order to keep him from hugging me —I’m a poor sport when it comes to getting dirty when I don’t want to be— I thoroughly enjoyed myself. And my friend certainly appeared to be enjoying himself. After talking to my friend, I was very happy to find out that I could get food and drink at regular rates, rather than the monopolistic prices you’ll see at concerts, movies, or airports.

For those of you who now think I’m not really as much fun as I may think, don’t worry, maybe I’ll actually run the mud track next year. The wet plastic slide by the starting line that went down a huge hill and into a pit of muddy water actually looked like a lot of fun. If you’re thinking about attending this event next year, that is if Schaefer and Knight decide to make this an annual event (which I’m sure they will), there were attractions available this year for all shapes, ages, sizes and interests. You don’t have to be a mud lover or a hippie to enjoy Man vs. Mud. I would, however, suggest that germaphobes stay home or at least stay far away from the mud. Don’t forget to keep your eyes opened for the guy racing toward the fire hoses, that’ll be me… see you there!

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Hello, friends, family, Cache residents and visitors. One year ago —in August 2010— as a budding journalism student at Utah State University, I began to pursue jobs outside the world I came to know all too well. I’m talking about the world of working in restaurants. This was a world I lived in for over a decade after graduating from high school. My pursuit of something new landed me —as good fortune had it— a couple of internship-esque jobs as a writer. I am happy to say that this year I will be returning as a blogger for the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau.

Anybody who read my blog last year should remember: I originally set out to find as many of the fun, exciting and one-of-a-kind things there are to do here in Cache Valley, Utah, and write about them so others could share in my wonderment. The great thing about this place (one of them, anyway) is that I couldn’t possibly fit all of the great things to do into one four-month period. I am happy to say that I’ve been asked to come back and do it all again. Not only do I get a second opportunity to explore new ways of writing about things I like to do anyway —eat, go to shows, enjoy the outdoors and experience new things— but I also get to share these adventures with you, the reader.

Whether you are a Cache Valley native, or you are thinking about coming to visit for the first time, I can attest to the fact that in the short two-years that I’ve been here, there are limitless unique ways to enjoy our beautiful parcel of paradise here in northern Utah.

This year, I already have a long list of  possible topics to write about; plus I’m going to revisit a few of the things I did last year to get a better, more in-depth look. My goal is to express in the best way I can how blessed we are to be nestled here between the Wellsville and Bear River mountains, with great things to do outdoors and in. Just a couple of weeks ago I attended a retreat near Bear Lake as part of a training session for the newspaper I work for —The Utah Statesman. While I was there I was able to take in the calming beauty of the area, however, I was unable to truly enjoy my surroundings to the fullest extent. In the near future I plan to visit the lake again to kayak across it. I can guarantee after I do, readers will be able to find more details about the trip on this website.

Aside from planning a trip to Bear Lake, I also intend to investigate a few of the annual athletic events that take place here. One new event, inspired by a new filthy trend sweeping the nation, mucking up the faces of all who take part, is a 5K mud run that takes place Saturday, Sept. 3, in Wellsville, Utah (the southwestern border of Cache Valley). I hope to make it to the venue in time to talk to some of the participants and rake up some juicy dirt on what it is that motivates a person to trudge through mud alongside, possibly, thousands of other mud-lovin’ runners.

The event, officially called “Man vs. Mud” begins at 9 a.m. and is sponsored by several organizations, including the American West Heritage Center. Of course I will shovel up a whole bogful of more details while I’m there. This race has been receiving truckloads of hype and should promise to be a spectacle that nobody should miss. But if you do miss it, I’ll be there to get you the best version of a vicarious account of the magnificence and mayhem.  As always, maybe I’ll see you there. I’ll be the one trying not to get my camera muddy.

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In the summertime, the sun shines, the birds sing and the grass is green. Kids play out in the streets and in their yards until late in the evening. The sun does not set until late in the day, and even when it does, the light lingers in the sky at dusk.

As autumn rolls around, the leaves in the trees change color. They take on the most brilliant array of colors. The crisp evening air inspires romance and reminiscence of childhood memories of playing in piles of raked leaves. Pumpkins are carved, crops are harvested and parents prepare their children for another year of school.

The fall season eventually begins to wane, and here, in Logan, Utah, we taste winter sooner than the calendar foretells. Although the solstice is not until three quarters of the way through December, snow has already fallen several times upon Cache Valley. Coats and gloves, shovels and snow blowers, and even festive lights have been returned to circulation in preparation for another chilly winter season.

Yesterday (Nov. 23), a ferocious storm arrived on the coattails of a blustery, relentless wind. Schools closed early in anticipation of the cantankerous cries of old man winter. The howling wind blew snow in all directions but primarily horizontally. Those summer citizens, who revel in the sunny beauty that Cache Valley has to offer, may know that we see such storms, but it seems as though they may not fancy such frigid extremes.

After living in southeastern Utah, in a place where the sun never seems to go away and summer temperatures skyrocket, I find happiness in seeing blizzards such as the one that came yesterday. From the warmth of my home, I stood at the windows in awe of the spectacle that I beheld. Within an hour, the streets went from macadam black to wintry white. It seemed, at those moments, that if I saw a polar bear or penguins shuffling by, nothing would have been out of order.

I truly love the wide range of beauty that I have seen since I moved here. What a variety of adventures to be had! I’ve enjoyed summer hikes in Logan Canyon. I’ve enjoyed evening musicals and operatic matinees at the Ellen Eccles Theatre. I’ve discovered splendid venues for fun and affordable dates. I’ve seen the sun shine as it glistens on the pearly white, snowcapped Wellsville Mountains. Within the next few weeks, I will continue to explore the wonder of Cache Valley and eagerly report on my findings.

I must say, in light of the holidays, that I am truly thankful that I’ve been able to move to Cache Valley. I am undeniably grateful for all of the wonderful times that I have had here already, and I am sure there are many more to come. I say with confidence, to anyone who has the opportunity visit, or live here, this is a truly remarkable place. Thank you for reading…I will see you soon. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Every Halloween, I’m always asked by my friends and cohorts, “What are you going to be this year?” To some, this is a particularly genuine question to ask. For me, the answer is simple…I’m going to be a zombie. Over the past few years, I have been improving on the creepiness and outright disturbance-factor of my interpretation of the typical postapocalyptic, undead flesh-eater. This year, I think I did well.

Anybody who puts any significant amount of effort into a Halloween costume of any kind, should have a great place to go show it off. What better place to go than the locally-renowned “Howl of the Dead” party? This event has been touted as the largest Halloween party west of the Mississippi River. The venue is the Taggart Student Center (TSC) at Utah State University. The Howl, as most refer to it, is sponsored by the Associated Students of Utah State University (ASUSU) and is coordinated in conjunction with Student Services. Proceeds go to benefit university programs.

Just how big is the Howl? The TSC’s maximum legal capacity, according to fire code, is 7,000 people. I was told that 6,800 tickets were sold this year, at prices ranging from $10 to $25. Being the punctual guy that I am, I arrived, ticket-in-hand, when the doors opened, just after 8p.m. This allowed me to get in while the building was still sparsely occupied. This way, I was able to see all of the craziness unfold.

It was clear that a lot of planning went into the entire production. There was a large dance troupe that all looked very much like myself. Apparently, they were inflicted with the same reanimating, flesh-hunger inducing disease that I was…that is, they all looked like zombies. Every 30 minutes or so, the zombies would all convene on or near the stage that faced the massive line of people waiting to get in. Eerie techno music played while the dancers lurched and clawed at the air in unison. Between performances, the ROTC students, all dressed in full army gear, along with a decontamination crew, apprehended and quarantined the meandering undead. Three times, I was mistaken for part of the show and ended up in the arms of four or five army personnel, being hauled off to the quarantine zone. This sort of entertainment went on throughout the night.

In the TSC Ballroom, a very large dance area was set up with a team of DJ’s playing dance music. In the field house, bands and other performers provided even more entertainment. Of all of the parties I’ve been to, including Halloween parties, nothing quite comes close to the Howl. This is something that is definitely unique to Cache Valley. Students and other young people from all over the state were in attendance. The party was scheduled to go until 1 a.m. When I was leaving at 11p.m., there were still at least 1,000 people, in line, waiting to get in. Wow! I’d say I’ll see you there next year, but it might be hard to find me. Just look for the zombies, I’ll be the one gnawing on your arm. Happy haunting!

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maze n. : a confusing intricate network of passages (According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus.)

corn maze in Cache Valley : a whole lot of Halloween/autumn fun!

A couple of nights ago, I joined a group of peers and headed just a couple of miles south of Logan to check out the Little Bear Bottoms corn maze. Amazingly enough, I’ve lived 30 years and never been to one of these before. I’ve done haunted hayrides, pumpkin-patch pumpkin picking, and all sorts of haunted houses, ships, and warehouses. Needless to say– but I’ll say it anyway– I’m a big fan of finding a reason to throw on a hoodie and enjoy the crisp night air of the fall season with some friends.

There are several excellent autumn-oriented outdoor activities we can take part in here in Cache Valley. Two other local labyrinths are the American West Heritage Center’s Halloween Harvest and Corn Maze and the Green Canyon Farms corn maze. I’m sure they’re equally as fun!

Little Bear Bottoms hosts ample parking just off the highway. The entrance was well-lit and easy to find. Because I was with a large group, we were able to get a discounted, group rate. As we waited to enter the grounds, I saw a massive stack of hay bails, sprinkled with kids of all ages. On one side of the ginormous hay pile, was an area covered with mattresses for jumping into. The bails of hay were actually part of a structure that created a multi-level three-dimensional labyrinth.

There were definitely an array of mazes, not just one. For another element of confusion, and quite possibly for practice, there was a string maze that covered about half an acre. After graduating from string, we moved on to corn. I joked about wondering if I would see Kevin Costner or some dead baseball players come walking out of the field. I know, bad joke…but dead baseball players would be spooky.

We walked into the maze and were surrounded by cornstalks about 10 feet tall. This was no simple task. I’m not sure how much land was covered by the carved-out corn corridors, but my group and I wandered for a while. Even with the moon in the sky and the peaks of the Wellsville Mountains on the horizon, it was still hard to gauge exactly where we were going. The maze seemed like a complex composition of circles, half-circles and random paths. I think I passed the same two people about nine times. After 30 minutes or so, we found our way back to the entrance…that wasn’t the goal. We tried one more time and eventually made it to the other side.

The Little Bear Bottoms corn maze was a hit. It provided a good venue to hang out with friends and have a good time. Now I have to check out the other corn mazes that Cache Valley has to offer. If you decide to give one of them a try, look out, because you might find me lurking between the stalks, trying to find my way out!

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