Evermore Park Aurora Review

Evermore Aurora 
OK this has been a long time coming but I’m finally writing up my thoughts on the new Evermore park in Pleasant Grove (aka.. my back yard) We went for the Fall experience of “Lore” and came away happy but somewhat let down by the mass of crowds we encountered the Monday before Halloween as well as how complicated the process seemed to be. Let’s just say it wasn’t a place for introverts. We mostly just walked around admiring the building/garden details, character costumes, and we did dabble in some ax throwing. (There was archery as well but the line was too long).

  Our Winter “Aurora” experience however shared none of our problems and was absolutely incredible! We went on the first Monday available (trying to avoid the holiday rush this time) and felt like we had the park and characters to ourselves at times. 
You’re greeted by a small handful of Victorian characters and a sweet pony before starting off on your adventure. Many of the characters were friendly and reached out to us right away to initiate a conversation and make sure we knew what we were doing. They handed us a scavenger hunt paper to easily get us started with ideas on what there was to do. (ie. which characters to talk to first)
 Beautiful details of the buildings near the entrance 
 A lot of the pathways that were open at Lore have been closed for construction on new areas of the park and without the Ax Throwing and Archery… it seemed a little barren and empty in the daylight. There also were fewer characters out and about right at 4:30 but that quickly rectified itself. We did a small loop around the park noting what had changed. 
 A stop in the tavern to see the Christmas decor! Beautiful details! 
 The barkeeper was MIA. 
 The watermill is one of my favorite building exteriors in the park.. hopefully someday you’ll be able to go in it as well! 
  There are warm fire pits everywhere and we particularly liked hanging out by them in the “ruins” which was closed off during the time of “Lore”
 Another incredible building exterior 
Stained glass 
 The lights were beginning to come on! 
Once we’d seen a few of the details we’d missed at Lore in the daylight, we headed over to Ice skate.
Ice Skating
The ice skates were including in the “ice skating ticket” and were hockey like (no toe pick) and decent skates from what I’ve experienced. You put them on right next to the little rink and then head out onto the ice. We started right around 5:30 and at the time there was 1, maybe 2 other families skating/ falling around. That being said, the ice was pretty chopped up so if you’re an ice snob.. be warned.
 It’s a nice little rink though in the center of the park and by far the most magical part is just being surrounded by medieval buildings, with sparkling blue spotlights shining on the ice around you, and Evermore’s signature soundtrack to make you feel like you really are skating in a fairy tale. So although the rink maybe small, it beat out the Olympic ovals in my book. 
The Ice rink in the middle of the park 

After a short time they indicated they were going to clean the ice so everyone got off and they whipped out.. a hand-push Zamboni! What! It took them about 10 minutes to clear the ice but I waited while everyone else (husband included) headed off to find adventures elsewhere in the park. 
Favorite moment: Seriously had a smooth rink, the lights, and music to myself for 10 minutes. I skated circles and was eventually joined by a character wearing full Victorian skirts. Braden located his friends and brought them over to cheer me on before I finally resigned and got off the ice to check out the rest of the park
Looking over at the tavern with the moon overhead and Christmas lights galore 
Christmas Carolers.. haha We recognized the 2 guys on the left from the “Lore” show with the scary guy in the middle being the executioner. I absolutely love that they kept him in practically the same costume *the hat is new, and had him walking around with the festive carolers. 
First stop post ice skating:
The Food Stand
Evermore is somewhat limited in their food offerings thus far but they seem to be expanding each season. (so maybe the next show will have a full scale café) You can choose from savory meat pies (Chicken pot pie, pizza, bacon and egg) that are little handpie/ calzone things priced at $6 and soup bowls (the soups our day were Tomato Basil and Potato Bacon.) priced at $10. Then there’s the sweet caramel apples, lollies, cookies, and of course: hot beverages ranging from $2.50 to $5
While the hot cocoa is fine, if you’re a cider fan, I really enjoy the Mulled Cider. We tried both the savory options and they were both good so choose mostly just on how much food you want as both are good. 
*Or just save money and eat dinner at home. 😉 
Aurora Visiting Information: 
Weekday Hours (M,T,Th): 4:30 PM to 9:00 PM 
Weekend Hours (F,S): 4:30-9:30 PM
Adult (age 13+) weekday: $15, weekend: $20 +$6 skating ticket*
Child (age 6-12) weekday: $10, weekend: $14 +$6 skating ticket*
*Skating is $6 if purchased ahead of time, and is $10 if you wait to purchase the skating ticket in the park. 
*You can bring your own skates but it does not decrease the cost of the skate ticket
*These costs may be part of an early bird pricing if you purchase your tickets before December 15th. Will update if that’s the case but buy your ticket here ASAP to ensure you get this pricing. 
Aurora tickets include everything the park has to offer!
Wonderland Walk Events:
*This event includes ice skating and the bird/reptile show BUT DOES NOT HAVE QUESTS CHARACTER INTERACTION
Hours: Saturday 11:00 AM- 3:00 PM
Adults: $15
Children: $10
 The water mill at night 
The Bird show
After eating our wares by a warm fire we headed for the Bird show in the glass house. You’ll want to get there a few minutes before the “next show” as it’s a small room and fills quickly. The show was great with fun information on 6 types of birds with cool demonstrations and close encounters as the cast walk down the aisles so you can view the birds more closely. The narrator was particularly funny livening up what could end up being a fact dump and the show lasted in total about 30 minutes. We got to see a parrot/ Macaw crack open a tiny sunflower seed with its giant beak which was my favorite part as most other bird shows are so large you miss tiny details like that.
the bird I can’t remember the name of… 
All in all we got to check out a Blue and Yellow Macaw with his girlfriend a Great green Macaw named Kaleehsi, a cool Omnivore black bird with an amazing beak (I alas cannot remember what kind of bird it was), a Harris Hawk, cockatoo, Barn Owl, and lastly a great Horned Owl. 
All birds showed their amazing wings and tails, got lots of snacks, and were brought around for closer inspection. All in all, a great show!
We unfortunately didn’t get to check out the reptile show! But I imagine it was just as good.
Continuing out adventure around the park, we checked out the incredible pièce de résistance of Evermore: the central fountain. 
 Then from the central statue, we followed the little path under this really cool archway. 

to my favorite spot in Evermore: the Hobbit hole. (It’s not actually called that but that’s what it reminds me of)  and there we found my 2 favorite Evermore residents: The Dwarf brothers
Entrance to the hobbit hole
Inside details!
 They seem to be a recent edition to the cast (I don’t remember them from Lore) and were beyond talented and believable. We walked into hear them singing “We wish you a Merry Christmas” and one of the liveliest rooms of the park. We stuck around to hear clever stories of their Aunt or Uncle, make comments about their living space, and play another song on a drum and recorder. (The little drummer boy) Their accents/ improv/ and overall effect were my favorite of the park this time around.  
For videos of their songs and some of their funny stories, checkout my youtube channel clicking here
How to Quest
*Follow the instructions on your scavenger hunt paper
*Ask any character what you can do to help them
*Do what they say which will lead you to other characters and on!
Outside the Hobbit hole/ dwarf house we got some popcorn and earned some gold coins for telling the concession maids a joke. Then picked up some of the Mulled Cider to top everything off as we said goodbye to our friends. I hadn’t had my fill yet so we continued to explore the park and interact with characters, eventually gathering the parts and building an ornament with the “light” fairies to present to the dwarfs. I also earned silver pieces from a king by doing a small jig (though I ran out of time to go on further quests to use it) and we ended up spending our remaining 30 minutes with one of the dwarf brothers in the cozy little cottage. We tried to explain our “modern world” jobs to him which was hilarious and got one more song as we headed out. 
Overall an amazing evening and with the price at only $21 for weeknight skating- adults a fantastic way to get out and celebrate the Christmas season. 
Just word to the wise.. DRESS WARM. A lot of the characters and fun is outside so make sure you’re prepared to spend at least an hour or 2 in the cold winter air. (think base layers, thick sweaters/ coats, hats and gloves!.. the works) 

Where to eat and sleep in Carbon County

First and foremost: Let’s start with the food 
GROGGS Pinnacle Brewing Co.
 Our first night in town we headed to the local brewery/ pub (because after ATVing all day, that seemed the natural progression). GROGGS while sounding medieval, turned out to be quite delicious. They had decent prices, and fantastic food. I got my usual bacon cheese burger (which I would put on top 10 burgers ever) and Katie’s in-house smoked prime rib sandwich looked pretty fantastic as well. This place is open 7 days a week (though closes at 8 on Sunday) so if you’re looking for a place to eat, particularly on Sunday, I recommend.

Tangerine Eatery
 If you’re looking for grub on a Sunday, again options are limited but one of those options includes the Tangerine Eatery. FanTASTIC sandwiches at a decent price. I got the Chicken Bacon Avocado sandwich that has a unique pesto aioli on it and plenty of the good stuff. Add a soup for only $1. 
*Skip the frozen yogurt here and get some ice cream from downtown helper. I’m usually a big froyo fan but none of the flavors were creamy or really stuck out to me. 
Udderly Ice Cream
Set on adorable Helper main street in the old Emporium building this ice cream shop serves up delicious Leatherby creamery options in a vintage ice cream setting. *ALSO OPEN SUNDAY! 
Family Fave: Balance Rock Eatery & Pub
Historic pub located on main street in Helper, the menu has it all. Breakfast served all day, sandwiches, burgers, salads, you name it. The portions are giant and prices reasonable, making this a stop I’d hit every time I pass through Helper. I loved the historic building, the incredibly- friendly service, and don’t get me started on the food. 
I got a bacon and cheese sandwich (wow… I stick with a status quo don’t I?) that was basically an entire chicken breast, amazing bacon, and a ton of cheese. It was SOOO good. Also try their in house made “rock chips” which have a light BBQ seasoning on them and there perfect crisp to pair. 
My #1 favorite eating spot in Carbon County. 
Happiness Within Coffee shop
If you aren’t hungry when passing through or don’t have time for a meal, then check out Happiness within for your caffeine fix. I loved the ambiance of the interior with exposed brick and art to gawk at. They had a nice range of offerings and I especially loved their October specials. Again small town friendliness adds to the appeal. 

Unfortunately that’s all we got to try that weekend but other honorable mentions based on local recommendations include:
1. Greek Streak for your Mediterranean craving
2. Los 2 Amigos
3. Sherald’s Drive in

Where to Sleep 
We stayed in the luxurious Holiday Inn Express that’s a mere 4 years old, has super comfortable beds, and a crazy good breakfast so as far as hotels go… that’s my top recommendation. BUT if you’re feeling adventurous, here’s a few of my favorites to check out. 
Nine Mile Ranch Bunk and Breakfast
$80-$95/ night for hotel room
$60-$95 for cabins *pet friendly 
Campfire songs, cowboy poetry and Dutch oven cooking are all part what make the Nine Mile Ranch bunk ‘n breakfast unique. Situated in the mouth of historic Nine Mile Canyon, “the ranch is a perfect place to get away from the busy world,” explained owner Myrna Mead. The location has camping, rooms, and even a Teepee with an all you can eat breakfast and dutch oven dinners. They offer tours, horse back riding and on foot. 
Next time I come down, I’m probably going to check this place out. 

Historic Knight’s Landing Apartment on Helper Main Street $99/night
Sleeps 4, book through AirBnb
Upscale apartment located in a historic 1918 building on Helper’s main street. Within walking distance to the local, market, two restaurants, art galleries, museum, the river walkway and everything else Helper’s historic main street has to offer.
Historic Helper House $96/night
Sleeps 4, book through AirBnb
Helper House is a cozy, single level home located on Helper’s Historic Main Street. Located close to the River Walkway, this charming house is in an ideal location for all of your explorations in Central Utah. Across the street is our famous “Big John”, Utah’s tallest coal miner, and less than 10 miles away is the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum. You also will have a front row seat for the annual Helper Arts Festival and Utah’s Christmas Town’s Main Street Light Parade.

Artist’s River House $115/night
Sleeps 4, book through AirBnb
100 year old family home, restored with modern aesthetic yet maintaining original charm. King bed in bedroom with fold-down couch in living room and floor space for air mattress.
One block from historic downtown Helper with easy access to two diners, western mining and railroad museum, artist studios and antique shops.

2 Bedroom House $59/night
Sleeps 6, book through AirBnb
Entire upstairs of a house with Stylish decor – stainless appliances, warm blue interior paint, laminate flooring, & full tile shower with glass surround. An affordable place for a whole family.

Airbnb Guest Suite $35/night
Sleeps up to 5 guests, book through AirBnb
A 375sq ft space with a private secure entrance and private bathroom. There are no shared spaces. There’s a king size bed, sleeper sofa, and space for additional travellers! Perfect for budget minded travelers looking for a clean, safe and cozy space. Enjoy WiFi and Netflix.

Desert Thunder Stock Car Races

Another Carbon County Success story: Getting to watch closing races of a 3 day event: The Castle Country Clash at the Desert Thunder raceway. Some of you who knew me years ago would know I was a big NASCAR fan back in the day. (I mean I made NASCAR board game for a 5th grade math project once…I was serious about it) 
So when Tina asked us if we would be interested in attending the weekend’s stock car races my answer was an easy YES! Saturday with our ATV ride, we were wiped out but luckily we finished our hike Sunday just in time for me to check out the afternoon races. 

The raceway is maybe a 5 minute drive from the highway in Price but feels completely out there in the desert. Tons of free parking and the entry booth exchanges your ticket for a raffle ticket at the start. There’s just a few buildings for concessions, announcers, and porter potties. LUXURY. 
Luckily I wasn’t there for comfort, I was there to see some racing! 

Concessions were decently priced and provided by the town’s historic Frosty Freeze (drive up). Everything looked pretty delicious I have to say!
My impression of the stands was awesome, while you can’t bring any food/ drink in you CAN bring a camp chair, blankets and the like. The main stands are actually giant concrete steps so you set you camp chairs up on that (or just recline/ spread out on one like I did) They did have bleachers around 3/4s of the track as well. 
Make sure to bring with you to ANY race: SUNGLASSES, SUNSCREEN ( I was really getting toasted), and if you attend a legit NASCAR race, hearing protection isn’t a bad idea.
*The cars were loud here, but not too bad. I could shout at the person next to me and somewhat hear their reply. 
A short history on Stock Car Racing:
It was born in the Southern Appalachians as people had a need to transport loads of illegal moonshine while evading the revenue agents. The 1934 Fords would get decked out/ modified and driven on twisting dirt roads in the dark, often exceeding 120 miles/hour. It became a popular event to find out who had the fastest car which lead to weekend races on make shift dirt tracks. From this start, NASCAR ( one of the most popular forms of Stock car racing) was born in 1948. Other forms of Stock Car governing bodies also started budding up. Dirt Track racing such as the Desert Thunder Raceway. have a more decentralized way of governing. There are some National boards for dirt track racing, but most are regional.
“Before there was a need for speed, there was a need for shine.”
~ Compliments of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. 
NASCAR/ STOCK CAR Racing Fun facts:
1. Today stock car racing is the second (arguably almost first) largest spectator sport in America, drawing ten million fans annually
2. Nearly all tracks are oval and less than 1-mile (1.6 km) in length (not withstanding tracks like the Daytona 500 which are 2.5 miles around)
3. Drivers do not typically need to wear diapers, regardless that their races last half a day sometimes.
4. During NASCAR races, the temperature in the car often exceeds 100 degrees, reaching as much as 170 degrees by the floorboards. Thus during a NASCAR 200 lap race, drivers can lose 5-10 lbs merely through sweat.
5. The first lady of Racing title goes to Louise Smith who secretly entered a 1947 race using her husband’s Ford Coupe. She raced until 1956 and won 38 races in various divisions.
6. Dirt tracks are much less difficult on tires allowing drivers to go several races without having to replace them. An asphalt track however will require at least one full tire change and many more in
a complete 500 lap NASCAR race.
7. Races can be anywhere from 20 laps to 200 lasting a mere 15 minutes to hours on end depending on how many cautions/ what kind of cautions are thrown.
8. At 200mph a Nascar goes the length of a football field in a second.
9. The top 5 NASCAR racing venues all have a bigger capacity than the biggest soccer stadium in the world. ** my favorite fun fact.. take that Soccer

The race I got to see had several divisions going on and I got to watch 5/7 of them. The one most of these photos is from is the hobby stock car division which had the MOST number of cars out of any of the races, ran a full 40 laps, and had the most wrecks. (At least 6 cars were towed out before the race was over) The other divisions included: Modified, Sport Modified, Classic Stock, Hobby, and my personal favorite: Dwarf. (bottom photo on this post has them identified in a photo) 
The video below shows 1 lap after the cars were coming out of a few caution laps (following a wreck) as they are just getting to take off and start racing again. 
Stock Car Racing for Dummies… At least know the flags:
1. Green Flag- Used to start the race and indicate when drivers can race again after a caution
2. Yellow Flag- Caution, used when unsafe conditions are on the race track: usually debris from crashes
3. Red Flag- Rarely used but potential in inclement weather or completely blocked tracks. Flag indicates to pull off into designated areas
4. Black Flag- Used for specific drivers to indicate they need a pit stop (leaking fluid or loose body work) or that they have disobeyed a rule
5. Black flag with white cross- Used if a driver ignores the black flag for more than one lap and indicates they can no longer be scored.
6. White Flag- indicates one lap left
7. The chequered flag- indicates the race is finished

While there are dirt track races and sophisticated NASCAR races happening all year round, every weekend, the Desert Thunder Racetrack only hosted 4 major events in 2018so it was perfect timing for me to check out the closing race of the year. 
Cost for the day is only $8 an adult, $6 for kids, with 5 and under being free. There’s also family passes for 2 nights around $25. 
Check here for the race track’s facebook page to follow along if interested in attending the next event. ( I know I am) Sunday races aren’t the norm down here so it wasn’t nearly as busy (which I liked) but if you come down for a Friday or Saturday event, make sure to come early to get a good spot. I heard the night time races were PACKED. 
Pano of the race track that is 3/8 mile long by 80 feet wide (the longest dirt track west of Denver)
The winners came out at the end of the race along with a few from the last race that just hung around. 
All of the events and divisions were fun to watch with lengths ranging from 20-40 laps. The Dwarf and Hobby were my favorite, but all cars have special techniques to racing that is just captivating to watch, particularly on a crazy dirt track like this one.