Logan, Utah Weekend Trip: Family History, Tasty Food, & Great Roads

Odometer (Legend):  554,414

Odometer (TL):  99,872

Trip Distance:  1,700 Miles

Merrill Vernon Hansen was my great-grandfather.  Born September 18, 1902, he would have been turning 115 years old next month, but he passed away before I was even 4 years old.  About the only thing I remember of him was when he’d stick his big finger in my face and say, “Are you grandma’s boy?”

Merrill was a man who I wish I had gotten to know better – along with so many of my other ancestors.  But one of the highlights of the past weekend in my home state of Utah was thumbing through a few of his books where he’d written messages inside the covers.  One such example was this page from his Holy Bible.  He was 21 years old and getting ready to depart for the “Eastern States Mission” for his church when he wrote this down on Friday, February 29th, 1924.  Not a bad penman!

Grandpa Hansen had a lot of preparations to do at that time.  A week and a half later on Wednesday, March 12th, he would be departing for New York City and spending the next two years of his live giving voluntary service, with very limited contact with family and friends back home in Utah.  So on March 7th, he bought shaving cream for 35 cents.  On March 8th, he got a haircut for a quarter.  And that same day, he bought flowers for his mother as well as for his girlfriend Della – who later became my great-grandmother.  Guess they did the trick.  Here was his expense ledger.

It was later in his life when Merrill opened up what we believe to be Cache Valley’s first automotive service station.  I talked about that here a few years ago.  He lived a long and prosperous life until his passing in 1985.

I was glad to learn a little more about Grandpa Hansen thanks to a weekend road trip up north.  In the 4 months I’ve had my 2007 TL, the poor thing has been stashed away in the garage for a good chunk of that time.  I decided to change all that – in a big way – by taking a 4-state, 1,700 mile journey to visit friends & family.

I had a special guest along for a good chunk of this ride:  My 87-year-old grandmother (and Merrill’s daughter), affectionately known to our family as “Lamb,” took the passenger seat for a time.  With a bad left hip and a frail build, she’s used to being transported in vehicles with higher step-in height, like her PT Cruiser or dad’s MDX.  So when she sunk into the cockpit of my car, she said, “In these sedans, you just disappear.”

I’d only driven a mile or two northbound on Highway 89 in Logan Utah with her and had to pull over one more time – grandma hadn’t fastened her seat belt so the car was warning me with its repetitive beep.  We got that taken care of.  We completed our shopping trip to Kohl’s for some bath towels and a lunch date at Cache Valley’s best pizza joint, called Fredrico’s.  Grandma is the most savvy shopper I’ve met:  We got $36 worth of merchandise for $2.71 thanks to her gift card mailer and some clever couponing.  Score!

Rewinding to the start of the trip, I experienced one of Arizona’s famous “monsoon” thunderstorms on Highway 93 between Wikieup and Kingman – drenching me enough that visibility was next to nothing and I became grateful for fresh wiper blades and grippy Michelin Pilot tires.  By sunset, I rolled through Las Vegas and then had only two hours left until my nightly stop at mom’s place in southwestern Utah.

After a workday in St. George, I motored 4 more hours north.  The TL makes a long-haul drive pretty effortless, thanks to its torquey V6 and low revs in 6th gear.  The sound system – I’ve said this before but it deserves another mention – is absolutely rocking.  You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Celine Dion “Us” blasting through an ELS Surround Sound System.  Most of Interstate 15 is set at 80 miles per hour speed limits so the farmland passes by with ease and quickness.

My friend Branson and I did dinner that evening in Salt Lake at one of my absolute favorite (though very “chain”) restaurants:  Texas Roadhouse.  I’ve known Branson for 14 years now.  We initially connected – this won’t surprise any of my readers – through the car community since at the time we were both driving Acura Legends.  His current Legend coupe, in fact, inspired my selection for the TL’s license plate, so it seemed appropriate that we lined the two cars up side by side for pictures.

Finally, on Saturday morning I hit northern Utah and southern Idaho.  My friend Ryan (guess what – met him through his old Legend, too!) introduced me to his current collection of Audis.  He has 6 cars and in that sense he “speaks my language” as a car hoarder myself.

I also had the opportunity that afternoon to visit the campus of Utah State University – born in 1888, and later, the institution that granted me a Bachelor’s degree in 2005.  The Business facilities have vastly improved since my time on campus but it was fun to roam around some of the same pathways and corridors I hadn’t seen in 12 years.

Dad took me and my niece Vivienne for an ATV ride a few miles up Providence Canyon near his home and we got to check out a couple of waterfalls.  He whipped up homemade tacos and we dined al fresco on his back deck in Providence overlooking the valley below.  The sunset across the Wellsville Mountains always seems a bit like a postcard.

The reason for the trip overall came on Sunday morning, when I transported grandma to Kaysville near Salt Lake City for a church service.  My 21-year-old cousin, Cache, just returned last week from his two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church.  His mission assignment geographically centered around Anaheim, California.  A congregation of about 200 people, including friends, family (like me), and other “ward” members gathered in the chapel to hear Cache address the crowd.  He recounted some interesting stories and words of wisdom.

Cache’s experience was a lot like mine:  I spent the years 2001-2003 in southern California on a similar mission.  Here my assigned “companion” and I were riding a tandem bike in September 2001.

These were some of the children in a family we taught in the community of Ramona.

Cache’s mom, my aunt Shelly, hosted an open house with enough food to feed everyone (times two) and then I hit the open road to continue my long southward trek home.

It was convenient for me to spend another night in St. George and visit a few more family members on my way.  I opted to take the more scenic way home via Fredonia and Flagstaff, Arizona as opposed to going through Las Vegas again.  It was a good choice:  Open roads, stunning scenery, and a to-go lunch of a chicken salad sandwich from grandma.

Hope you enjoyed being a part of this journey!

Branson doesn’t like the camera!  Here he was taking the TL for a spin.

Those rolls at Texas Roadhouse, though!

Odometer on Branson’s coupe.  He’s had it since around 120,000.

Garlic bread, dripping in butter, from Fredrico’s in Logan.

The home in Logan where I lived until I was about 13.

With grandma, and my brother Payton, at a family member’s gravesite.

Someone likes Buicks!

Figured I might as well cross off a state for the TL since I was only a few miles away.

It was around that time that it rolled 99,000 with Ryan at the wheel.

Ryan knew about a scale that we could drive onto at a nearby manufacturing plant.  We hopped out of the car.

The TL weighs 3,540 pounds without us in it.

Saturday night vibes – having gelato from Zeppe’s Italian Ice.

Scooter race!

Another page from Grandpa Hansen’s Bible.

How many choices do you need?  Maverik in Washington, Utah.  First time I’ve ever seen 88 octane “Clear Gas Ethanol-Free.”  I just went with Premium 91.

Jacob Lake, Arizona

Vermillion Cliffs, Arizona

My favorite piece of road.  This straddles the UT-AZ state line.

23 Responses to “Logan, Utah Weekend Trip: Family History, Tasty Food, & Great Roads”

  1. Glad to see the TL got a well deserved road trip. Hard to keep it at 80 sometimes. I’ll need to find a DVD-Audio and test my system out.

  2. I think we all could use some shopping lessons from “Lamb!” I miss having an ELS system thundering away while the miles blow by. Looks like the perfect trip to break-in the TL. Still can’t believe how pretty she is!

  3. The scenery in Providence Canyon is beautiful, looks like you had an enjoyable weekend away with your family. I’m assuming that’s your Uncle Craig in that photo with you? Tell him I love his ‘Coca-Cola’ tie. Totally need to get me one of those!

    • Hey Adam, yes I love the Providence Canyon area! The fall colors should be really nice in about another 4-6 weeks. Hopefully I can get back up there again before it gets snowy. The guy with the Coca-Cola tie is my dad, Craig. I should ask him where he got that! Hope you’re having a great weekend.

  4. “Hail, hail Fredonia…” (I think you know where this is coming from)

    Ah family, it’s good to reconnect isn’t? But it’s also nice to come home too.

    I think what’s most impressive is how you pack away so much food and yet never seem to gain weight!?

    So without bias which state is more scenic, Utah or Arizona?

    • A 48 hour delay on a comment response! I’ve been swamped – but I just got back home my quick Monterey Bay trip. You’re right on the food – I’ve really adopted some pretty poor dietary routines. It’s a good thing I stay pretty active. I need to get my act in gear for a 26-mi marathon I’m signed up to run with my mom the first weekend of October. As for state scenery – I’m going to vote for Utah. The landscape diversity is vast and there are 5 national parks. In fact, I might be hitting one of them (Zion) in mid-September for a hike with mom and a few friends.

  5. Great post, Tyson. I enjoyed the family history and the ride-along through places that figured into your own background. Plus, you remembered the foodies among your readership!!

    Any further driving impressions of the TL? Did grandmom offer any thoughts as well?

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, Tim. The TL lacks in a few amenities that I got spoiled with the ILX (smart key entry, USB connectivity for audio system, and things like that) but it makes up for those tech deficiencies in its smooth delivery of power and its extremely comfortable roadworthiness on a long trip. I was very impressed! (And so was grandma – she loved the color).

  6. Been looking forward to this one! Glad you finally got the TL out for a run.

    • Definitely, Dave. And a good run it was. Need to start thinking of something exciting to do for the 100k celebration, though compared to my other cars it’s really not worthy of much fanfare. I wonder how your search is going – hit me up if you see any candidates you want to run past me! Hope you’re enjoying the weekend.

  7. 25 cents for a haircut! I paid 80 times that the other day at Hair Cuttery. Haha. Glad your blue concert hall on wheels finally got a chance to see some highways 🙂

    • Brad, you’re paying 20 buckaroos for a hairdo?! Well, ain’t you fancy? 🙂 I jumped on a sale 2 weeks ago at Great Clips for $7.99. Gotta love a fresh fade.

  8. Your TL is gorgeous, I want it! How does it do on a roadtrip compared to the ILX or Legend?

    • Hey Sunny, c’mon down and you’re welcome to take it for a spin! For long-haul cruising, I like the TL over the ILX by a long shot. For in-town parkability, MPG, and convenience tech, I like the ILX better. So if I were to pick a car to drive cross country it would probably be the TL. It’s weird, I’m STILL not totally used to the TL clutch feel. It’s not as smooth/linear as the ILX or my other cars. My friends Ryan and Branson commented the same thing. Ryan even stalled it – which is shocking considering almost every car he’s owned or currently owns is a stick shift.

  9. Conor Kenrick Says:


  10. Looks like a great trip! Love the photo on the Razor scooters. I still have one tucked away in my garage.

    Do you have Spotify? I’ve been putting together a playlist that I bet would sound pretty killer in the TL.

    • I don’t have Spotify but I keep hearing about it and it’s enough to make me want to see what it’s all about… Hmm. Might have to see what kinda playlist you’re working on. Also I think you should bust out the Razor scooter for some memory lane action 🙂

  11. Midnight Mystery Says:

    Very interesting story Tyson!!! I much enjoyed reading!!! I have a lot of “Morman” family as well!!!

    It seems so nice out west!!!

    Love the TL! Love the food talk as well!

    • Sounds like our families have somewhat similar backgrounds. Yeah it’s great out here and hopefully you can make it out this way soon to pay us a visit. I have a guest room! Talk to ya soon.

      • Midnight Mystery Says:

        I travel all of the time, but I can’t get away enough for a trip out west anytime soon sadly…. I’ve been sticking to just day trips in Mississippi lately…

        I saw a little of the post after this, will have to read more on that later!!!!

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