Saturday, October 30, 2010

a bar named sue

Right after we got out here, we heard about this local watering hole, A Bar Named Sue, and knew we'd have to try it.  Finally, over a year later, we did. 

Located in a strip mall near Nielsen's Frozen Custard, ABNS is a huge subterranean bar with free pool tables.  It's got an impressive number of taps, including twenty-five local microbrews; and an equally impressive selection of whiskeys: over twenty bourbons, eight Canadians and six ryes.  They also have a small dinner menu, average stuff, burgers and sandwiches.

We split a pitcher of - what else? - Full Suspension and each had a bacon cheeseburger.  The burgers were decently sized, although there was too much bun and the patties overcooked to my taste, and came with immense hand-cut seasoned fries which I liked but H thought were greasy.  The bill came to $31.00.

The place was fairly quiet when we got there around 7 p.m., but had begun to slowly fill up by the time we left.  It was fine and all but it's one of the few places we've found where we felt old.  I mean, we've been old in other bars we've found out here, but A Bar Named Sue was the first place we felt old.  Everyone was perfectly pleasant but it just wasn't our crowd.  We're glad to have checked it out - and if anyone is looking for a vast whiskey library, this is definitely the place to go - but we probably won't be back again anytime soon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

more snow!

I promise that I won't do this every time it snows out here - because that would be really a lot.  But it snowed again last night, leaving a wet three inches in our yard ... and a grand total of 44 inches up at Alta since this storm system moved in.

44 INCHES!!!

Twenty-three days until the chairs start turning, conditions permitting.  If it keeps up like this, I should think the conditions would definitely permit.  Time to get the skis tuned!

Monday, October 25, 2010

utah 59, colorado state 6

By the grace of a really fast response to a company-wide email, I managed to score tickets to Saturday's football game at the U vs. Colorado State.  Of course, the forecast was 90% chance of showers and thundershowers with temperatures in the low to mid 50s.  Does that deter us?  No, it does not.  Quoth H: "There's no such thing as bad weather - only bad clothing decisions."

So. clad in boots and wool socks, polypro and fleece, parkas and ponchos* and hats, off we went.  We had great seats: actual chairs with backs, about 50 rows up at the 35th yard line.  It was pouring for the first half, causing some slipping and fumbling out on the field.  But it stopped raining for the whole second half, with a gorgeous double rainbow arching over the university campus to the east.  And the Utes carried their momentum to their twenty-first home win in a row, crushing poor Colorado State in the end. 

I may be a new fan, but I'm a dedicated one

* H had to make a special run to Wal-Mart to get ponchos, which were an unfortunate shade of BYU blue.  Once at the stadium, however, we noticed a lot of those same ponchos in the sea of Utah red, so plenty of other fans were in the same need-for-waterproofing situation we were.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


While it was pouring rain in the valley, the canyons and mountains were getting snow! The weather report says that Alta could have around 3 feet of the white stuff by Tuesday ... better get our skis tuned up and fast! Yay!!!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


We tried a new-to-us place for Friday's Date Night: Gepetto's in Holladay.  It's a small, local place, been around since 1970, with seating both in their dining room and a small, shady-looking patio.  There's live music Tuesday-Saturday, and the joint is open 7 days/week.  It's pretty popular too: there were a bunch of people in front of us and we were told it would be at least 30 minutes to be seated.  It didn't take that long, however, and soon we had a table and a pitcher of Uinta Cutthroat.

As you might surmise from the name, this is an Italian place, known for their pizzas and their calzones.  We are still searching for a favorite pizza place, so H and I split a pepperoni and black olive pie (our usual 'za); there are lots of toppings to choose from, or you can pick from their specialty pies.  The pizza has a fairly thin crust, although it isn't crispy and has a fairly bland flavor.  The toppings were plentiful enough and there was lots of oregano in the sauce, which I like.  It also came garnished with a big slice of lemon - unusual, I thought, but adding a faint tang which was pleasant.

The bill, for a 16" pizza (several slices of which we took home with us for breakfast the next morning), two small salads and the pitcher, came to $40.  Gepetto's was fine and all, but I'm afraid the great pizza hunt is still a-foot.

Monday, October 18, 2010

hike to lake blanche

I'd been getting pretty antsy to go for a hike - it's been since Ben Lomond amazingly, things just come up, I guess - and since Saturday was supposed to be gorgeous, I picked the hike to Lakes Blanche, Florence and Lillian up Big Cottonwood Canyon (Mill B South trailhead).  We took our time leaving to allow it to warm up and it ended up being a glorious day: sunny and warm (70s) with a light breeze.

Pretty fall aspens

Stats: 5.8 miles round-trip with 2,670 feet of elevation gain, which makes it actually steeper than Timpanogos. I had done this hike in June with a work friend and her husband and, honestly, I didn't remember it as being a steep hike. Even as H and I were going up, it didn't seem steep ... but on the way down, our knees were howling at us. We did it in 3 hours 35 minutes, including 45 minutes of basking in the sunshine at the top, chatting with a couple of women who were hiking too.

Sundial Peak

The trail, which is sometimes rocky and sometimes smooth dirt, follows a stream for most of the way, going in and out of aspen groves. The canyon is fairly narrow with cliffs rising above - we looked for goats to no avail. Despite the warm temperatures, it really seemed like fall: the quality of the light, the falling leaves, that slight cinnamon-y smell.

Lakes Florence (near) and Lillian

This canyon was carved out by a glacier and when you get up to the three lakes, named after miner's wives, the rock lining the cirque still has the dig-marks in it.  Lake Blanche is located at the base of Sundial Peak; the smaller Lakes Florence and Lillian are in another bowl, slightly lower, below Dromedary Peak.  There were a good number of other hikers there (this is a quite popular hike) but everyone was spread out on the rocks and it still felt as though we were in the wilderness.  Not a bad way to spend a sunny October afternoon.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

going natural

H's birthday coincided with Monday's Columbus Day holiday and we had planned to go for a hike, seeing how it's been something like three weeks (!!!!!) since we've done one.  The weather did not so much cooperate: 50% chance of rain up in the canyons, plus we could see the ominous dark clouds just sitting there, resting on top of the mountains.  Obviously, that wasn't going to work.

Adverse weather does not affect doing city stuff, however, so after a stop in at Crown Burgers (my treat: Crown Burger combo for H; Junior Crown Burger combo for me), we headed up to the U to check out the Utah Museum of Natural History.  It's a nice little museum, small but informative, with biology, anthropology and earth sciences collections, including a pretty impressive dinosaur exhibit - largely because there are lots of fossils out here in Utah, especially east and south of here.  We timed our visit exactly wrong - to coincide with about a million junior high and elementary school kids - but spent over an hour and a half there, poring over the exhibits.  Did you know that there are over 1,200 kinds of bees native to Utah?  Me neither!

We swung by the football stadium afterwards, hoping to pick up tickets for any of the remaining home games (Colorado State, TCU and BYU).  I knew that BYU was - and had been - sold out, but we were surprised to learn that TCU was also sold out and it was SRO for Colorado State (no thank you, not at my age).  Last fall we nabbed tickets to both the games we went to the week before each game.  These early sell-outs do not bode well for obtaining any tickets next year when Utah switches to the PAC10.

Oh, what did I get H for his birthday, you ask?  A carboy and an ingredient kit for IPA ... it's time for H to start brewing beer again.  That's the gift that keeps on giving - to me, too!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

what's cooking

My garden was small this year (as it is every year - I'm not much of a gardener) but I've got four extremely prolific tomato plants and one fairly prolific tomatillo.  In fact, I'm not sure that I'll even get to most of the tomatillos: the plant is still full of blossoms and teensy little fruits, and I fear for a frost.  In the meantime, I've harvested tomatillos twice and delved into this cookbook that my little brother gave me about a million years ago, Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico by Rick Bayless.  I've never used this cookbook 'til now, not having had much access to authentic Mexican-type foods.  Enter the tomatillos!

The first recipe I tried was a chipotle chile sauce, salsa de chiles chipotles.  We've spread it on grilled chicken, grilled pork chops and dunked tortilla chips in it.  It tastes rather strongly of the chipotles, but I don't count that as a negative:

3 medium (4.5 oz.) fresh tomatillos, husked and washed
2 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 canned chipotle chiles, seeded
approx. 1/4 tsp. salt

Set a skillet over medium heat; set the tomatillos in the skillet and turn regularly until soft and blackened in spots.  While the tomatillos are roasting, toast the garlic in the skillet until soft.  Cool garlic, de-skin and chop.  Put the tomatillos, garlic, chipotles and 2 Tbsp. water in food processor and puree.  Scrape into sauce dish, season with salt and stir in a little water to thin slightly.

The other recipe I've done is a quick-cooked tomatillo-chile sauce, salsa verde.  This had a bright flavor and a building burn - very, very tasty.  I poached some chicken breasts and added them to the sauce at the end, and served over rice and with soft flour tortillas.

1 lb. (11 medium) tomatillos, husked and washed (or 2 13-oz canned tomatillos, drained)
fresh hot green chiles to taste (I used 4 serranos; jalapenos work too), stemmed
5 or 6 sprigs of cilantro, roughly chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil or lard
2 cups chicken broth
approx. 1/2 tsp salt

Boil the fresh tomatillos and chiles in salted water to cover, 10-15 minutes; drain. If using canned tomatillos, just drain them.  Place the tomatillos and chiles in food processor with cilantro, onion and garlic.  Puree 'til smooth, leaving some texture.  Heat the oil in a skillet on medium-high.  When hot, pour the puree in and stir constantly for 4-5 minutes until darker and thicker.  Add the broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thick enough to coat a spoon, about 10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt.

I don't know how many more meals I'll get out of my little garden, but all the plants have more than paid for themselves.  And I can tell you that I'll be picking up another tomatillo plant from ol' Home Depot next spring for sure.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

right to the top

A year ago, a week after our arrival in Utah, H jumped on his bike and headed up Little Cottonwood Canyon.  He only made it to the second avalanche gate before having to turn around.  When he got back to the apartment, he vowed (well, that might be a little strong - "said," is probably more accurate) to ride it again in a year and go all the way to the top.

One year later, Sunday, October 10, 2010, H jumped on his bike and headed up Little Cottonwood Canyon.  He rode right to the top this time.

Stats:  1 hour 31 minutes; 12.94 miles; average speed 8.5 mph; 3,825' elevation gain.  (In comparison, when he did the Mt. Washington Hill Climb, the Mt. Washington Auto Road is 7.6 miles long with 4,620' elevation gain.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

new stuff

Finally. Finally we've done some new stuff to talk about.  Friday night was, of course, Date Night and we went to a new bar/grill not too far from our house, The Foxhole.  Housed in space formerly occupied by a Mexican restaurant, it's got a sports bar vibe, with lots of seating, lots of televisions and team banners but not much in the way of charm.  There's a small bar, which is where we sat, with both local micros and big lagers on tap, as well as a full bar.  "Full bar" is only relative, however, as patrons ordered numerous drinks that the bar was unable to make simply because they didn't have the ingredients on hand.  They've only been open for 2-3 weeks and I imagine they'll get their act together soon ... I wouldn't expect orders for Old Fashioneds in a sports bar either.  The food was mediore but not bad and as this place is within summertime-evening walking distance, I imagine we'll go back again at some point.  They've got a second location (or a first one) out in West Jordan too.

Saturday we'd heard there was a free music/climate change awareness festival up at Liberty Park so we gave that a try.  They sold beer (Uinta and Budweiser products) and wine (Fish Eye boxes) and there were a number of local festival food stalls:  the Chow Truck, a Texas BBQ joint, Greek food, Indian food, etc.  The music was pretty good - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was the headliner, playing from 2-3 p.m. and then again from 6-7 p.m., and we caught the end of their first set; and we also stayed for Insatiable, a local ska band who seemed solid.  The skies cleared so that it was nearly sunny and the people-watching was excellent: I think all the old hippies, post-modern hippies, hipster doofuses and New Agers in the greater SLC area were in attendance.

After leaving the festival, we were on a quest to find Lumpy's Downtown, sister bar to the Lumpy's near 3300 South, because the U's football game against Iowa State was being shown on a t.v. channel that we don't get at home.  We finally found the bar, tucked into a tiny street right downtown (hence the name - clever), did two circuits trying to find a place to sit, and left.  It's a big place but the seating arrangement is kind of stupid, with a lot of space taken up with tiny booths and comfy lounge chairs - they could get a lot more people seated if they put in long communal tables and benches, a la Three Dollar Dewey's and Gritty's in Portland (ME). 

We ended up at Squatters, just a block away, snarfing down our food while we watched the LSU v. Florida game.  Squatters doesn't get that channel the U was on either.  (The U crushed 'em: 68-27.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010


There hasn't been much posting activity here lately because we actually laid low and didn't do anything this past weekend ... plus I am in SHOCK over not having seen the sun since the weekend.  It's been cloudy and rainy and in the low 60s all week - really quite vulgar.  But the skies will clear and the ground will dry and we'll hit the trails again soon.  Captain Mike even sent us the link to the Wasatch Mountain Club's events calendar so we'll have no excuses at all.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

happy utahniversary

Holy crow, has it been a year already?  I can't believe it's been a year - not to sound like an old person, but where has the time gone?  I can tell you where it's gone: I just paged through every single one of this blog's posts for the last year, and the time is laid out there in (excruciating) detail.  Here are some highlights:

October.  We "officially" arrived in SLC at 2:43 p.m. on 10/3; we found an apartment; we met Captain Mike for the first time; we went to our first football game at the U (23-16 win over Air Force); our first official Utah snowstorm was on 10/28.

November.  I started my new job on 11/9; we got our first "loyal customer discount" at the Porcupine; we hired a realtor; I ran the Thanksgiving morning Cold Turkey 6K.

December.  H's parents visited during an unusual cold snap; more snow; our first ski day was 12/19 at Brighton; H skied Alta for the first time on Christmas Eve; we skied Solitude on Christmas Day.

January.  H skied Alta on New Year's Eve; we got into Honeycomb Canyon at Solitude; I turned 40; we experienced our first SLC inversion; we experienced our first Utah waist-deep powder day; we skied for the first (and only) time at The Canyons.

February.  I had my first Crown Burger; we went to the Red Iguana for the first time; we bought a house and didn't do too much skiing because of the dearth of snow and the whole having to move in/unpack thing.

March.  I skied Alta for the first time; our friend Tom visited; a bunch of eastern ski-friends visited; we skied for the first (and only) times at Snowbird and Snowbasin; snowshoeing with Captain Mike.

April.  Lots of snow ("7 feet in 7 days!") and, thus, lots of skiing; we did our first spring hike; B got her summer haircut.

May.  Our friends P&C visited; I got to be a zookeeper for a day; it snowed on 5/24 (and stuck); my folks visited; we hiked Timpanogos Cave.

June.  We climbed Mt. Olympus and did many other hikes; Little Cottonwood Creek flooded; Snowbird finally shut down its lifts for the season; we went to the Snowbird Beer Fest.

July.  H rode his bike a lot; I rescued some kittens; we went to the Pioneer Days "Days of '47 Rodeo;" we did lots of hikes, including up to gorgeous White Pine Lake.

August.  H rode his bike a bunch; we did a lot of hikes, seeing some spectacular alpine wildflowers; we went to the Bonneville Salt Flats for Speed Week (one day of it); the Tour of Utah put in some miles in these mountains; we celebrated our ninth anniversary at Log Haven; it snowed in the upper elevations on 8/30.

September.  H rode his bike a lot; we did quite a lot of hikes, including two big ones: Timpanogos and Ben Lomond; we saw the sheepdog trials and some ghost towns; we went to the Utah State Fair; H's parents came back to visit again.

We had a great year - and we're looking forward to new adventures and places and untracked powder in this our second year in Utah.  Thanks for reading and please stay tuned for the upcoming exploits of H and A and B, right here on We Went West.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Even though it's still pretty warm, it's definitely autumn out here and the leaves they are a-changing.  While there's a little bit of soft pink foliage-wise (maples and sumacs), we definitely don't have the vivid reds and oranges that they have back east.  But golden-yellow we do have: the aspens are just glorious.  the best ones we've found are up at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, on the hills surrounding Silver Lake and up the road even further, heading towards Guardsmans Pass.  Takes your breath away, it does.

At Silver Lake 

Up Big Cottonwood Canyon a-ways