|Tee and I had known for weeks that we would have Easter weekend free to do some sort of weekend getaway
together. We thought briefly of possibly going to Mexico or Denver or maybe St. George. However, in the end we
opted for a decidedly more low-key approach and took a relatively short road trip through some of the smaller
cities/towns of Northern Utah. We had a basic idea of what we wanted to do, but at the same time had no real
specific plans and held no hotel or restaurant reservations. We knew we could just kind of wing it and have a good
Once again my wonderful cousin Carol Lynn came to spend the weekend with the kids. She genuinely loves
spending time with the kids, and in turn the kids can't get enough of Carol Lynn (or her cat Kiki). We are very
lucky to have Carol Lynn in our lives and to have her so willing to spend time with the kids so that Tee and I can
have quality time together on occasion.
Carol Lynn arrived a bit later than we had originally planned, but we still weren't ready to roll right out of the door.
So after spending another 30 mins. or so at the house after Carol Lynn's arrival we finally pulled away from the
house after 2pm. We then headed straight to our favorite pho noodle shop, Pho Tay Ho. As many of you know, both
Tee and I are addicted to pho noodles. It is easily the best $5 meal in town, and is in fact often more satisfying than
many $50 meals. Tee ordered her traditional #10 and I had my usual #1. As expected, it proved to be the perfect
meal with which to start our road trip.
As we traveled north on I-15 we came upon several sections of road construction. Sometimes it slowed the traffic
down to a full stop, at other times we moved through without much slowing at all. After nearly clearing all of the
construction areas just north of Ogden we came upon an accident of some sort where a vehicle had left the road.
Once again the traffic slowed to nearly a stop. Fortunately this delay was brief, but was enough to keep us
distracted such that we didn't make the exit to Logan through Sardine Canyon. We realized quickly what we had
done, but then decided to take the "scenic route" into Logan. The scenic route is one which we have taken into
Logan years before. It consists of bypassing the exit at Brigham City and taking the exit at Bear River/Honeyville.
You then go east to Highway 38, following it north for several miles through the communities of Crystal Heights
and Deweyville. Eventually Highway 38 runs into Highway 30, which in turn runs due east, eventually leading into
the center of Logan.
Once in Logan we drove directly to the Hampton Inn on the north side of town. We had stayed there a couple of
years ago, within the first week of it's having opened. Of course everything was new and clean so we had a good
impression of the place. The area where it's located isn't the most convenient, but the hotel is still very clean and I
suspect that within a decade this area just north of town, which only a couple of years ago was nothing but weeds,
will be considered the heart of the city. Check in was smooth and we occupied a room in the same north facing part
of the 3rd floor that we had occupied two years ago, only this time the room was almost half the size. Tee took a
nap and I played on Tee's laptop and watched T.V. (American Justice?).
I had done a bit of research on our dining options in Logan a couple of days prior and had come to discover that the
restaurant which had just won Northern Utah's Best Restaurant Award two years ago, The Painted Table, is no
longer. At the top of my list after The Painted Table was a place called "Le Nonne" (The Grandmothers). When we
asked the front desk clerk for dinner recommendations he listed Le Nonne and we were convinced that Le Nonne is
were we should try to do dinner. It's centrally located and we found it right away. The place is quaint and inviting,
although once we had taken our seats I was struck with the downright tackiness of both the built-in benches and
the tabletops (12x12 tiles, no cloth). Fortunately our waitress was an attractive, competent server and the food was
impressive. Tee had the Ahi tuna, which was treated beautifully. I had the crab-filled ravioli and couldn't have been
more pleased. The Chardonnay by the glass (I can't remember the name) was also spot on.
|After dinner we went over to one of our favorite bars in Utah, The White Owl. It's one of the only places to have a
drink in this very Mormon community but is a spacious multi-room place which is located smack dab in the center
of town on Center Street and a half block west of Main. Most of the times that Tee and I have spent here have been
during the summer on one of our golf trips to Logan. Summer is the best time to visit The White Owl because it's
the rooftop patio bar (and famous hamburgers) that really make the place special. While it was quite chilly this time
around we braved the cold and sat for about 45 mins. closely huddled up against a half broken outdoor heater just
to be able to drink on the patio. Despite the chill, the place was busy and there were few open tables. We then went
to sit inside on one of the two tables on the small indoor balcony and watch the cover band that was playing.
Unfortunately these particular seats are located right in the path of the indoor smoke as it's pulled out the back
door, so we called it a night before Tee became completely smoked out.
Tee woke up earlier than I did the next morning and went to get a few things at the buffet breakfast in the lobby.
She woke me by bringing me two glasses of orange juice. We spent an hour or so getting ready for the day then
checked out. Although we hadn't necessarily thought we would play golf on this trip, we did bring our clubs with us
"just in case." Well, we decided pretty quickly that since we had time to get in 9 holes before driving down to Ogden
that we should do it. So we headed over to a course we know quite well, Logan River, and got right out on the front.
It was fun to get out and swing the clubs although I wasn't playing well at all and we had a bit of a row with the
group just ahead of us on #3 when they wouldn't clear the green and continued to practice putting for a long time.
We eventually played through them but I was destracted the rest of the round. Tee on the other hand played some
good golf, hitting many solid shots.
As we headed out of town we stopped off at the Artic Circle and had a Lime Ricky and a Lime Squeeze to sip on as
we drove to Ogden. The drive was smooth, and although traffic was light on I-15 we exited at Farr West and took the
longer way into Ogden via Wall Ave. and Harrisville. Ogden is generally unimpressive, but once on Historic 25th
Street all of that changes. An historically significant district fronting the famous Union Station, 25th Street is a
section of town that has maintained/restored it's original 19th and early 20th century archetecture. With a number
of inviting restaurants, art galleries, shops, bars, and clubs, 25th Street also serves as Ogden's most vibrant social
scene. As we turned east on 25th Street toward Washington Blvd. Tee and I both sat up and took notice.
I had in mind to check out a hotel that occupies a particular building I remembered from the last time I was in
Ogden many years ago. I had no idea what the name of the hotel was or what it might cost to stay there. I only knew
that it was a memorable looking building at the corner of Washington Blvd. and 25th Street. We went in to get a
rate on a room and not only were we offered a $74/night rate, but were upgraded to a corner suite (601). We came
to find that the name of this hotel is the Ben Lomond Historic Suites Hotel. The room was quite dated but also
clean, spacious, and had direct views both north down Washinton Blvd. and west down 25th Street. After we
dropped our bags and had hung out in the room for a bit, Tee decided to take a nap on the sofa while I ventured out
the make an initial exploration of 25th Street.
While I well knew that we were planning for an early dinner, I was too hungry to not eat anything until then. So I
went directly across the street from the hotel and bought two carne asada tacos from the taco cart there. They were
delicious; just like the ones I get from my favorite taco cart in Salt Lake (Mi Tacos Favorito at 850 South and Main
St.). I ate them on the grass then went to view a couple of the historical placards that are displayed nearby. It was
interesting to read about some of the historical figures (mostly trappers, explorers, and pioneers) that help first
settle and develop the Ogden and the Weber County areas.
I then walked west along 25th street past the shops and restaurants. I stopped in briefly at one of the art galleries
and picked up a map for the art gallery stroll. The art gallery stroll happens every first Friday of the month and we
just happened to be there on the first Friday of April. I also stopped in to take a quick look at a bar called the City
Club. My friend Bob "Ratso" O'Rourke had told me to look for a bar that was upstairs on the 2nd floor of one of the
buildings on 25th Street. This looked to be the one. What drew me in however was the massive Beatles memorabilia
collection contained within the City Club. I inquired if the collection and bar were owned by the same person and
was told that they were. The Beatles collection has got to be worth more than the whole building! It's very
impressive! I was also told that the couple that owns the City Club also owns the very popular Brewskis bar just a
few doors down. Knowing that we would be coming by again for drinks at both places later I bought a temporary
membership that covers both locations.
I had it in my head that we would do a bit of a "pub crawl" that night along 25th Street, and while there are 3 or 4
places well suited for that puropse, I was a bit suprised to see several other bars along 25th Street (all within a
couple of blocks) that cater more specifically to bikers. In fact, I passed several groupings of motorcycles parked
along the street in front of each of these places. I planned on skipping most of these on our pub crawl, but it was
nice to look at all the cool bikes.
|Ben Lomond Historic Suite Hotel
|Motorcycles parked in front of one of
the many "biker bars" along 25th Street
|I returned to the room to find Tee out like a light. I woke her and we started getting ready for our little night on the
town. Tee was hungry so we looked to eat dinner before we did anything else. I had once again done a little online
research on where we might eat, and while I initially hesitated to eat sushi in a place like Ogden, I came across
several good reviews for a sushi bar right on 25th Street called "Tona." We brought with us our own bottle of sake
which was a bottle I originally brought back from Japan when on my trip to Japan last year. When we entered the
restaurant there were already a few people eating although it wasn't yet 6:00. Straightaway I realized that there
were no Japanese people either behind the sushi bar or even waiting tables. There were a couple of Asian people,
but none were Japanese (this is one of the most undesirable situations for eating sushi). Turns out that the two
people behind the bar are a married couple, Tony and Tina, who own and run the restaurant; hence the restaurant
I kept an open mind as we took our seats at the sushi bar, though some of my fears were quickly confirmed when
we were told that they didn't carry Saba, Uni, or Toro even though it was a Friday night. We went ahead and ordered
several things including tsunamono salad, Unagi, Amae Ebi, Salmon, Kampachi, Tako Sashimi, Saba shioyaki (the
only Saba on the menu) and a roll containing lemon, gobo, and seared albacore. I was glad to see that Tee enjoyed
her meal, but I wasn't at all satisfied. The shioyaki was quite good, as was the Tako (though sliced too thinly by
half). Everything else was well below expectations. In a way I felt a bit sorry for Tony and Tina because they are no
doubt working hard to make their restaurant a success, but they are unfortunately quite clueless about Japanese
food; the tsunamono used regular cucumbers as opposed to Japanese cucumbers, the Gari (pickled ginger) was the
cheapest, grocery store variety (read: neon pink), the shioyaki dish was served without the absolutely essential
Daikon radish on the side, and they obviously use a cheap vegetable oil for making their tempura (uneatable!).
Thank God the sake was good! We drank about half the bottle between Tee and myself, we then offered the rest to a
nice looking 30ish couple seated next to us at the bar. I mentioned to them that it was a bottle of some of the best
and that I had hand carried it from Japan. Needless to say, they were happy to drink it!
It was then off to visit a few of the stops along the art gallery stroll. We stopped into Gallery 25, Ogden Blue, and
Artists and Heirlooms. There were a few curiosities, but nothing very impressive. We then entered Union Station at
the head of the street. There is also a gallery here, and this one actually had some very impressive works, including
some great bronze sculptures by James Rennert. The station itself was the most impressive work of art we saw that
night. It is a station full of meaningful history, arguably the most historically significant railroad station west of the
Mississippi. The train museum at the station was closed, but it was nice just to walk around a bit and check out the
beautiful architecture and historic feel of the place.
|In front of Union Station looking east up
Historic 25th Street
|Tee and I in front of Union
|Tee on one of the benches inside the almost cathedral-like Union Station lobby
|It was now time to start our very limited pub crawl. Starting from the station we walked east along the north side of
25th street. The bars along the initial couple of blocks there are all of the biker variety. While they looked relatively
well kept and unintimidating they were nothing special. We walked a little further to Brewskis, the biggest and
busiest of the 25th Street watering holes. Luckily it was still relatively early and we sat for almost an hour initially at
a prime table in the west side bar. Brewskis is made up of two large bar rooms connected by another large room that
serves as live music venue with dance floor and stage. We then went to have a beer in the east side bar and were
lucky to get stools at the bar. The place was crowded and busy but comfortable. We talked to one of the bartenders
who was wearing a Salt Lake Bees hat. He had just gone to opening night the night before and told us that Salt Lake
won it in the bottom of the 9th. He also told us to watch out for our new 3rd baseman, Brandon Wood, who is very
hot prospect. By the time we left the place was packed.
I then wanted to take Tee to the Beatles shrine, The City Club. We climbed the stairs to the 2nd floor bar and took a
seat at one of the few remaining tables. We took in all of the memorabilia and had a single drink. The layout of the
bar squeezes too many chairs and tables into a single area. I much prefer the vibe I saw earlier in the day, with much
fewer people spread out in various sections of the bar. We left to go across the street to Rooster's Brewery, but
quickly realized that because Rooster's is a brewery/restaurant as opposed to a bar/club it was closing now that the
time was 10:00/11:00. We weren't too disappointed. I figure it just gives us another place to check out next time
we're in Ogden.
As we walked back toward our hotel I mentioned to Tee that there was one more place that I wanted to check out
before calling it a night. I had read briefly online about a jazz club called The Wine Cellar located less than a block
south of our hotel. I don't think Tee was all that interested in going to another place, but once we had entered the
club I think we both were happy we had made the effort to check this place out. The club is in the basement of an old
stone building. It's narrow and lowly lit with an old school lounge feel and live jazz every night of the week. We took a
seat at the corner of the bar nearest the jazz trio. The bar is long and impressive. There are several small tables near
the "stage" area and very comfortable looking booths all along the north wall. There are also a couple of pool tables in
an area behind the performers. All in all the place is fun, funky, and even a bit romantic. I must say that this is now
officially my favorite place to have a drink in Ogden.
|Inside Brewskis east side bar
|The Wine Cellar Jazz Club
|We slept in the next morning until about 9:30. We then spent a couple of hours laying around in a very comfortable
bed and trading turns in the shower. After checking out we had a mission to find some quality coffee for Tee. We
found a perfect place a mile or two north on Washington Blvd. and Tee was happy. We then turned our thoughts to
where we might eat an early lunch and quickly decided to go back and get some tacos from the taco carts across
from our hotel. It was just the right thing to do. We took in the sun as we ate our tacos on the grass near the carts.
Again the food was fabulous.
We then began our drive from Ogden to Heber via Weber Canyon-Morgan-Echo (I-84 to I-80). I hadn't been through
this area in a very long time and it was interesting to see what it's like. What it's like is very rural, with a lot of beef
cattle, horses, and sheep about. The Weber River which bisects the canyon and Morgan Valley area is also a
beautiful feature that seems to be a favorite of some very impressive birds of prey. Once to the town of Morgan we
exited the freeway and wound through this small but confusingly layed-out community in order to take a look at the
golf course there, the Round Valley Golf Course. After winding through what seemed the center of town we turned
east into a suburban neighborhood and eventually spent several minute making our way ever more into a quiet and
lonely part of town near the river. Right when we had become certain that we had made a wrong turn somewhere
the golf course appeared. We got out of the car just long enough to stretch our legs and look around a bit. The
course seems a very humble operation, and yet there was a certain rural charm about the place. There are 27 holes
here, but conditions didn't look particularly impressive. I don't think I would go out of my way to ever play here, but
it may be fun to get a chance to play it sometime.
|Near Round Valley Golf Course
|Swiss Alps Inn
|Tee in front of Chicks Cafe
|Once in Heber we headed directly for our favorite little motel, the Swiss Alps Inn. It's a modest place, but very clean
and comfortable. It's also run by an interesting old guy who also own the very well known ice cream and burger place
next door called The Dairy Keen. Luckily they had a vacancy and I think we paid about $75 for the night. We chatted
with the old guy (who is always in a talkative mood) and I asked him about something we had noticed coming into
town. As we entered Heber we noticed that The Wagon Wheel, a Heber City landmark and our favorite Wasatch
County breakfast spot was now a different place called Spin Café. We could hardly believe it! The Wagon Wheel had
been there for as long as anyone could remember (40 years?) and was an institution on Heber's Main Street. Sure
enough, the old guy confirmed that the original owner had died, and although his son had continued to run it for a
couple of years, he finally wanted out and sold it. It's now apparently attempting to serve as a somewhat upscale
coffee lounge. It took quite a while for it to sink in that The Wagon Wheel really is no more.
After checking in we changed our clothes and were quickly back on the road and headed into Park City. We parked
at the top of the street and spent the next couple of hours looking through the shops and galleries along Main
Street. We discovered a couple of bronze sculptures at the Meyer Gallery by an artist whose work we've admired for a
few years now, Carol Alleman. There were two smaller pieces that I want to buy eventually as a set. I suspect we'll do
just that next time we're in Park City if they're still both available then. We also made another great discovery when
we poked our heads into a basement wine bar called Bacchus. It's the sort of place that one might pass by quickly
and never even notice is there. But if you see the sign, walk into the narrow entry, push aside the thick curtains at
the bottom of the stairs and you'll find a perfect little oasis at which to drink some great wine. The place is somewhat
small, but that only adds to the intimate feel. It's also quite dark, with rich colors of maroon and dark wood used
throughout. The place oozes romance and intimacy; a cool change of pace compared to the "saloon" atmosphere of
the No Name Bar and Oh, Shucks Bar across the street.
We had actually made dinner reservations for this night. It was not only a Saturday night, but we wanted to eat at a
particularly popular restaurant called Chez Betty. Chez Betty is a curious restaurant. It's the type of place you are
glad to know and probably wish were your regular Saturday night port of call. It's in Park City, but not on Main
Street. It's high end dining, but located in a very modest building, The Copper Bottom Inn. They have won many
dinning awards via Salt Lake Magazine, including Best Service In Utah for 2007. We brought a nice bottle of wine,
Rosenblum Petite Syrah 2003, and enjoyed a wonderful meal that included the award winning great service. Tee had
a steak and I had the lamb. Both were fabulous. The wine was perhaps even better. The chef, Jerry Garcia (thought
he was DEAD didn't you?), even came out to our table and visited for a minute. This was the restaurant's last night
before there off season break of several weeks and the crew seemed to be in very good spirits.
We were obligated to stop by to see our old friend The Other End. This is one of our very favorite places to have a
drink. Located just as you enter Heber from the north, The Other End in simultaneously a legitimate watering hole
to golfers, bikers, Park City refugees, and of course cowboys and latino farm hands. While best enjoyed in summer
when the patio is open, The Other End is also a great place to see live music and people watch in the evenings (and
it's always a great place to get a burger!). This paricular night was the slowest we have ever seen it. We figured it was
due to it being Spring Break/Easter Weekend. There was a cover band playing who were sort of amusing, but after
one beer we were ready to call it a night.
The night in the Swiss Alps Inn was comfortable, yet I woke up to the sound of heavy rain. When I checked again at
about 6:00am it was still raining steadily. I was disappointed because I thought the weather might affect our chances
for seeing out first Salt Lake Bees game of the year the next day. Sure enough, the weather was quite wet and cold
when we went to check out at mid-morning. Because The Wagon Wheel was not an option for breakfast, we headed
directly across the street to the only old time cafe/diner left in Heber, Chicks Café (Tee noticed that it's located right
next door to "Dick's" Barber Shop). We sat at the counter and ate eggs and bacon while watching the Country Music
Channel's Weekly Top 20 (I think Keith Urban was about #16). The food was what it was. I'm not looking to go back
any time soon.
We were then on the road back home. We arrived about an hour earlier than we had originally told Carol Lynn and
found everything in order and everyone happy. We had a nice visit with Carol Lynn and then saw her off to her sister
Laurie's house for Easter dinner. We packed up the kids and went down to the ballpark to see the Bees play in what
turned out to be manageable weather.