Goin’ back to Utah

March 9, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 8:20 am   Category: Life,Mormon Culture/Practices

I graduated from BYU in 1994 and haven’t been back to Utah since. That is about to change my friends. Later this week we’re loading the family in the car and driving to Utah for a vacation and to visit my brother Russ and his family.

It’s not that I had anything again visiting Utah; I just didn’t have reason to go back. Before I knew it eleven years had passed. But now that I have a brother out there I have a reason to visit and I’m really looking forward to it. The three years I spent in the great state of Utah were among the most fun of my life. I met my charming, intelligent, and beautiful wife there; I started my first rock band there; I made some lifelong friends there. And even though I spent three years as an Aztec at SDSU too (freshman year and two years in grad school) I’ve been a Cougar first in my heart.

So what do you recommend we do while out there? We’re staying in West Pointe (by Layton) for part of the visit. I plan to attend the Saturday session of the SMPT conference at USU. We were going to ski or snowboard one of the days and check out BYU one day too. Anything changed at BYU since ’94? (Ok, I know a lot has changed there.) Anyway, what qualifies as must-see or must-do in Utah these days? Help me out y’all.


  1. It’s been nearly 11 years for me, as well. 

    Posted by Kim Siever

    Comment by Anonymous — March 9, 2005 @ 3:40 pm

  2. I’ll be down there the week-end of conference and then the subsequent week-end…looks like I’ll miss you. 

    Posted by J. Stapley

    Comment by Anonymous — March 9, 2005 @ 3:50 pm

  3. Geoff, I had a similar experience last month, when I returned to Utah after an 8 year absence. You can read my travelog post here  (with photos!), but the gist: you can’t go home again. And try Cafe Rio. 

    Posted by Steve Evans

    Comment by Anonymous — March 9, 2005 @ 3:54 pm

  4. I like some of the restaurants in Provo. The Bombay house has the best Indian food that I have had anywhere in the world (having had Indian in Korea, Canada, and England as well as everywhere I go in the U.S.). There is a new Mexican place that I don’t think was there in 1994–Cafe Rio is located in the shopping center where Carousel ice cream used to be. The Training Table is always good for nostalgic reasons.

    I don’t go to visit my parents, I go for the food. 

    Posted by Maren

    Comment by Anonymous — March 9, 2005 @ 3:56 pm

  5. I’ve been to Utah exactly once in my life, and I only spent a day there. If I were to go I’d probably want to go to one of those church movies I hear about from time to time. 

    Posted by Susan Malmrose

    Comment by Anonymous — March 9, 2005 @ 4:09 pm

  6. If you can afford it, the Tree Room at Sundance got a new chef. Very, very good. About $25 a plate if you skip desert and the appetizers.

    I kind of like the Thai food that is on 9th N just below campus. (Where El Azteca was back in the early 90’s, but on the bottom floor) Not the best I’ve had, but still very good.

    Of course if you are in Utah I’d strongly advise going to the Red Iguana up in SLC. Get the almond mole.

    BYU has changed a lot. New buildings and most of the older ones still standing have seen significant renovation. They also “expanded” the library, although the expansion mainly consisted of a very large open air stairwell. Nice, but I know many would have preferred more room for books. However given most of the horrible architecture around BYU I was the rariety among my friends who appreciated the commitment to at least a little bit of aesthetics. (It’s not that nice, mind you. But a step up from everything done from the 60’s through the 80’s when most of the campus grew up)

    There’s a good Japanese restaurant over near the mouth of the canyon. It’s called the Happy Sumo and is fairly cheap. (~$12 a plate) I hate Japanese but really liked it. It’s also a rareity for Provo in that the place has ambiance. Reminds me of vegas restaurants, only done somewhat on the cheap. 

    Posted by Clark Goble

    Comment by Anonymous — March 9, 2005 @ 5:08 pm

  7. You can see my brother there if you want. 

    Posted by Rusty

    Comment by Anonymous — March 9, 2005 @ 5:17 pm

  8. Cafe Rio is good (though maybe not as good as all the hype – sorry if that makes me enemies!). (Oh, and Carousel is still there.) I like the Thai place on 300 S better than the one on 820 N. And the Red Iguana is excellent. Find out about the specials. It’s on North Temple, west of the freeway, and closer to you in Layton than anything in the BYU area.
    Not much to see at BYU I guess except to come back for nostalgia’s sake and to see what’s different. The new Joseph F. Smith building opened this semester (where the old SFLC used to be). 

    Posted by Heather P.

    Comment by Anonymous — March 9, 2005 @ 6:24 pm

  9. Sounds like you have a great selection of places to eat but I couldn’t help volunteering one more-Rodigio’s. Also the Conference Center is pretty sweet.

    Comment by Anonymous — March 9, 2005 @ 6:47 pm

  10. I forgot to put my name…Jamie

    Comment by Anonymous — March 9, 2005 @ 6:48 pm

  11. Maybe it is still Carousel, but the sign outside says Leatherby’s Family Creamery so I assumed that Carousel was no more. 

    Posted by Maren

    Comment by Anonymous — March 9, 2005 @ 7:12 pm

  12. Thanks for the tips all (except of course for you, Rusty…) Sounds like there will at least be plenty of good eatin’s out there. Between family, slopes, BYU, friends, Temple Square, and good food we ought to have a fun time. Keep the advice coming — we want to act like real live tourists this vacation. 

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — March 9, 2005 @ 8:00 pm

  13. Rusty’s brother works at my theater, so you can go to my theater. If you email me your address I’ll send you some free passes, how many do you need? email: donaldclifton@yahoo.com 

    Posted by Don

    Comment by Anonymous — March 10, 2005 @ 1:07 am

  14. Wow! Rusty’s gag turns out to be a good idea after all! So is Bret the brother you mean? I’ll email you today Don — thanks for the invite. 

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — March 10, 2005 @ 8:32 am

  15. Hah! We are also Cougar Aztecs! It is most fun when the two teams battle each other on the field. BYU class of ’85, SDSU class of ’87!

    Each time we visit someone makes us go to Tucanos, out near the canyon. It’s oaky, but I always feel like I’m begging for food. 

    Posted by cooper

    Comment by Anonymous — March 10, 2005 @ 11:32 am

  16. I thought I read you were a San Diegan over at T&S, cooper. Graduated from now-defunct San Dieguito High or something? (Also the Alma Mater of Eddie Vedder if I remember correctly). I went to Poway High back in the day. 

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — March 10, 2005 @ 11:50 am

  17. Maybe we should take Rusty’s brother out to dinner at Cafe Rio! 

    Posted by Kristen Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — March 10, 2005 @ 12:16 pm

  18. Oh, sorry. You’re right, Maren. It *is* called Leatherby’s now. Oops. I guess I was thinking that there is still an ice cream place there. I haven’t gone there very much anyway – maybe once when it was Carousel and once since it’s been Leatherby’s.
    Have fun, Geoff.

    Posted by Heather P.

    Comment by Anonymous — March 10, 2005 @ 12:19 pm

  19. Rusty’s brother Bret is at BYU-Idaho, his brother Bryce works at the theater. 

    Posted by Anonymous

    Comment by Anonymous — March 10, 2005 @ 12:19 pm

  20. Geoff, I actually went to Oceanside High until the end of Jr year. Then my parents moved to the desert area. Ended our cool lives as teenagers at the beach! You went to Poway! Nice area, a good friend of mine’s brother lives in Poway. We played San Dieguito in football, usually stomped everyone we played. We had a bunch of Mormon Samoans on our team. The team catch phrase was “there’s always room for Jello”. Oh the good old high school days.


    Posted by cooper

    Comment by Anonymous — March 10, 2005 @ 1:20 pm

  21. Oh and the link to my being a San Diegan; grew up in San Diego proper, always within a mile of the zoo. I could take you on a tour blindfolded and not miss an attraction.


    Comment by chronicler — March 10, 2005 @ 1:23 pm