Kate’s 2014 Summer Road Trip Extravaganza

IMG_5322 copyIf you don’t follow Sara and me on Instagram (and maybe if you do), you might not know that we’ve both been out of town on vacation. So if we haven’t answered your emails or questions or if you’ve generally been feeling neglected, that’s why. We still love you. We’re here now.

I had really great intentions of getting home on Saturday morning and getting a real, live blog post together. It didn’t happen. I was am tired. So even though this is more The Scoop-y, we’ll be back with real food later this week.

did think it would be fun to show you where we went, where we ate, what we did (like how “where we ate” is one of the things I listed?  Yeah, my vacations basically revolve around food. It’s a big deal.)

The last time we did a long road trip (and by “long,” I mean Louisiana to Orlando; “long road trip” has taken on a whole new meaning), I was 8 weeks pregnant and it was up there with the more unfortunate events of my life (honestly, that whole Disney trip was fairly unfortunate–it was hotter, more crowded, and I was way more pregnant than I was ever anticipating.) So I was expecting the worst. 3 days each way of driving? After every horror story I heard? I was worried. But honestly, it ended up being really fun. Like…really fun. My car smells like crackers and maybe mildew, but it was really fun.

We ended up leaving on my baby’s (okay, he’s 2) 2nd birthday. Which meant that between packing, loading up the car, and plowing through loads of laundry, we were celebrating his birthday. For a family that adheres to VERY strict bedtimes, opening presents at 10:00 pm (while sitting on an Ikea stool because the dining room table was covered with stuff) was quite an experience.

Will opening presents

It took us about 33 hours to get there (and less time to get back…more about that in a minute. I’ve discovered there are people who stop at every possible stop and there are people who drive straight through and we are people who drive straight through.)

kate's road trip map

Our first day, we drove from central Louisiana to Amarillo, Texas. An hour out, we got stuck in traffic, but we got to see an amazing West Texas sunset.

west texas sunsetWe got in late and had to leave early and people were pretty grumpy by the time we hit middle-of-nowhere New Mexico.

Flying C RanchThat was the best we could do. My oldest did not like the bear (or anything else that day.)

Friday Night Lights the night before, Breaking Bad the next day. The New Mexico desert is desolate and beautiful.

New Mexico desert

When we were planning our trip, we deliberately took a longer route on the way out because we figured we’d see The Grand Canyon. We booked a hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona and figured we’d see it at some point.

Until we realized that even though we were close, it was still an hour away and that JUST going there and back would tack on another 2 hours to our trip, not to mention, you know, getting out and looking around. It wasn’t happening. So we’re just saying that we got really close to The Grand Canyon and we’re calling it good. Maybe someday.


When we got to Utah, we were thrilled to discover that the speed limit was 80. 80 miles per hour. I’m 33 1/2 and I’ve never seen that speed limit before. It was big. We were getting close.

Things started flying by when we hit Utah County, where my husband and I went to school, met, got married, and had 2 kids. I lived there for 9 years and it kind of feels like home to me, so seeing the “Y” on the mountain filled my heart with all sorts of happiness.

Y on the mountain

Then we drove through one of my favorite places on Earth, Sardine Canyon. It’s the mountain pass between where most of people in Utah live and where I grew up and it’s pretty much always guaranteed to be beautiful.

sardine canyon

(Yep, those are bugs on my windshield. 33 hours, peeps.)

We finally got to my parents’ house in Logan (where I’d never been, by the way. They’ve had a hard time figuring out where they want to live now that we’ve all moved away.) I was pretty impressed by their view.

LoganSunset in Logan Utah

The next morning, we went to Herm’s Inn for breakfast–it was so delicious and way cooler than any place I ever ate at in Logan when I was growing up. Eggs Benedict Florentine? Yes, please.

Eggs Benedict Florentine

We had shave ice (which was maybe the best shave ice I’ve ever had, in or out of Hawaii) at  Hokulia Shave Ice (sidenote: I always feel like I should branch out from tiger’s blood and I always regret it. Somebody stop me.)

shave ice

We played with cousins, cooked, ate, swam at the Logan Aquatic Center, went to movies (I dragged my husband to The Fault in Our Stars, which he ugly cried through, then he dragged me to Transformers, which we both agreed could have been its own trilogy and even though we both fell asleep, we only missed one or two potential endings.) My kids loved lighting fireworks with their cousins when it wasn’t 42 million degrees outside.

fireworks 4 fireworks 3 fireworks 2 fireworks

After lots and lots of fun, we headed down to Salt Lake City for a few days on our own. We visited Temple Square…

kids at temple squre

Had a sugar cookie and had the original Dirty Diet Coke at Swig.

sugar cookie swig My husband’s younger brother got married in May, but because my kids were still in school, only he was able to go out for the wedding, so we went to Flatbread Neapolitan Pizzeria with my brother-in-law and meet his adorable wife. The prosciutto pesto pizza sounds weird, but it’s kind of amazing, and my kids loved making their own pizzas.

flatbread pizza

We went to The Museum of Ancient Life and then hit up the little farm. My older son was not interested in the pony ride, but my daughter loved it…

meredith on a pony

and my two-year-old was apprehensive at first…

will nervous on a pony

But then it kind of turned into the best day of his life.

utah_2014-4-2 utah_2014-5

We also went to The Museum of Natural Curiosity, which recently opened, and it turns out that was a bad decision for a couple that has a mild-to-moderate phobia of crowded spaces. My husband said it was like seeing the face of hell (my kids come by their dramatic tendencies honestly) and also called it The Museum of Parentless Children. Hopefully it will still be awesome when school is in session in another year or so because I don’t think, even if we lived there, we could go back without some kind of prescription anti-anxiety medication anytime in the near future.

We showed our kids all our old stomping grounds in Provo. We couldn’t leave without a bag of chocolate covered cinnamon bears (which either seems to delight or horrify people–not a whole lot of middle ground there.)

chocolate covered cinnamon bears

Sadly, our two weeks was up and we had to come home, which ended up being not quite as long when we didn’t do the almost-Grand Canyon detour. There were lots of desert thunderstorms in Utah and New Mexico and the sky was beautiful.

New Mexico sky

My son consistently complained that my daughter hogged the bed (and tried to snuggle him) but if you look closely, you’ll see he is the bed-hogging, blanket stealer.


We only had 5 hours to drive our last day, and we woke up at about 5:30 to no power in our hotel, so we booked it out of there pretty quick and got back home as quickly as we could. We were ready. It was time. We had a great time, but it was so good to be home.

Now…a couple items of business–in case you haven’t heard, Sara’s Huckleberry Pie Ice Cream won Kroger’s Private Selection Ice cream contest! If you want to meet her, she’ll be sampling her ice cream in Fred Meyer stores in the Boise area over the next few weeks!

Private Selection Tastings

Also, on a much sadder and serious note. Most of you guys know that water-related accidents are something close to our hearts, so when I saw that a friend had lost her sweet little 3-year-old baby boy to a drowning accident, my heart just hurt.

If anyone wants to read more about their story and/or is in a position to donate financially to their family (to help with medical and funeral expenses, as well as transportation from Texas, where it happened, back to their home in Utah), you can donate here. Regardless, I know their family could desperately use any thoughts or prayers. Hug your babes, be careful, and be kind to each other because we just never know.

Sara Wells
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. I love chocolate covered cinnamon bears! I was always craving them while I was pregnant but they are hard to find outside of high Mormon population areas.

  2. That shot of Sardine is my favorite part coming back to Cache Valley from SLC. Chocolate covered cinnamon bears and Y mountain are both awesome! Herms is pretty cool too.

  3. Sounds like a great time! I just found out last night that your sister teaches elementary school with my sister! I can’t remember your sister’s first name, but I think the last was Gifford? My sister is Miss Sonderegger and she teaches 3rd grade. Small world!

  4. So excited to see your comments on sweets and treats in SLC! My husband and I are headed there next month, for the first time, and would love to know your favorite eating spots! You’re so right! It IS all about the food!

  5. absolutely agree about Sardine Canyon, excited to try Herm’s Inn next time I am in Logan, and so happy to know there are Swigs outside of St. George!

  6. I love chocolate covered cinnamon bears and road trips. We are currently nearing the end of our month long road trip. 🙂

  7. I laughed for five minutes straight at your description of the Museum of Natural Curiosity. SPOT. ON. We live so close to it and have an annual pass and my kids love it, but I have to gather my courage every time we go.

  8. Good choice on skipping Grand Canyon. Hubby and I went there before kids and decided we will NEVER take our kids there until they are adults. Kids and giant cliffs are not a good combo. I get stress hives just thinking about it!

  9. We live 1200 miles from my brother, and 1200 miles from my husband’s family (not including the one in Australia) so long road trips have been a fact of life for my kids since before they were born. (They are now 20 and 23 – and yes, we still drag them along.) We head out to my in-laws every 2 years, and my brother’s less frequently. You have my empathy and my admiration!

  10. So what did you think of the Swig cookie? Just had my first a week or so ago. Oddly enough, I had made the knock-off version at home months before.

    And we hit the Museum of Natural Curiosity last week. It was amazing but SO busy, I agree. We are hoping to go back in several months when there is room to breathe!

  11. I am praying for your friend in her loss!

    I live in New Mexico, and I’m glad you thought the desert was beautiful in its own desolate way, especially since we’re in a drought and everything just looks burnt!!!

    Also, my grandparents live just over the Utah border in Preston, Idaho, about 30 minutes north of Logan. I’ve driven through Sardine Canyon many times, and it is absolutely beautiful! And chocolate-covered cinnamon bears? Yes please!!!

  12. We just got back from a trip from Texarkana, TX to Utah. Very loooong trip but so much fun! We visited Mesa Verde National Park in SW Colorado (really cool Indian cliff dwellings). I totally recommend on your next trip west! BTW… I love the pic of the Y and I love your husband’s t-shirt! 🙂

  13. I have been trying to convince my husband to take me to Herm’s Inn before we move in a few weeks. Now that it’s been officially featured, he’ll have to take me!

  14. Um, exCUSE me! I cannot BELIEVE you spent the night in Amarillo and it wasn’t at my house! I know we’ve never officially met, but since I’m addicted to your website, I feel like we’re BFFs and you totally should have stayed at my home! (Nothing creepy about that thought for you, I bet!). We’re getting ready to head to Utah and Idaho in a few weeks. I never tried the cinnamon chocolate bears when I was at the Y, and I feel like it would be gross, but you have convinced me to give them a try. Also, a quick question about your app: I paid for the upgrade and it was wonderful for awhile. Now though, I’m getting adds all over the place, and my “favs” have been deleted. Any idea what’s going on?

    1. Next time, hahaha! And ugh, the app. It didn’t transfer to ios7 well and we’re in the process of reworking it from the ground up! I’m so sorry!!

  15. As somebody who road-tripped one summer ALONE from Phoenix to Utah, Idaho, the Oregon Coast and down the 101/PCH back to Phoenix, let me tell you – you were smart to skip the Grand Canyon. I impulsively thought it’d be good to see the GC “really quickly” while on my way and it was a darn hour+ there and back, plus the time to get out and look, plus the National Park fee . . . it was majestic but would have been much more worth it to spend longer than a quick peek.

  16. My husband and I did sort of the reverse in April! Portland (by way of San Francisco) to South Carolina and back. I’ll never ever forget it. Magical trip. Listed the tumblr from our trip.

  17. Next time some grandma advice for the new museum. We took the grand kids at dinner time. Much calmer and they stay open until 8 pm. Also head outside to the garden to calm down a bit as needed.

  18. We just got back from a similar road trip on Saturday. Ours was Virginia to Utah and Colorado. We had a great time but we’re glad to be home. I’m just sad now that we weren’t in Logan for that shave ice.

  19. The Museum of Natural Curiosity is always, always crowded. It is also my 5-year-old’s favorite place in the world and he never stops begging to go there. I’m really hoping it gets a little better once school starts so we can go in the mornings before he has kindergarten without constantly feeling like I am going to lose one or both of my children.

  20. Awesome vacation pics!

    Love the dessert photo’s. Remember the first time I saw Flagstaff, Arizona, couldn’t believe seeing Cacti for the first time. We live in Niagara Falls, and yes, the Falls in amazing, but seeing the Grand Canyon was up there for me too. Really cool.