My Town is a new feature to VCUathletics.com where we give an in-depth look into the hometowns of one or several of our student-athletes. For this trip, we head out west to Eden, UT home of freshman women's soccer forward Jordyn Rolling. VCU Athletic Communications Graduate Assistant Mollie Wallace sat down with Rolling to talk about her hometown, balloons, skiing and much more.
Have you ever seen the Hidden Valley Ranch commercials and thought to yourself…I wonder if a place like that exists? Well apparently it is in Utah. Eden, UT to be exact. Freshman women's soccer player Jordyn Rolling hails from this picturesque town. She lived in Eden for nine years before moving to Las Vegas her freshman year of high school but still considers this her hometown.
"It is really pretty and tucked away in a valley behind some mountains," stated Rolling. "It is just like the Hidden Valley Ranch commercials.
Eden, UT lies between the North and Middle Fork of the Ogden River. The first home in the area was a log cabin built in 1857 for two summer herdsmen. The community of Eden was founded in 1859 when 15 families moved to the area. A government surveyor, Washington Jenkins, was hired to map out the territory and mark the boundaries of the city. Jenkins is credited with the biblical naming of Eden because he thought that it was one of the most beautiful sites he had ever surveyed.
"Eden is a very small town and outdoorsy community," said Rolling. "Everyone is very close because it is such a small town." Eden currently boasts a population of 2,787. And of those 2,787, there are not a lot of seedy individuals or bad apples (pardon the pun). "It's very safe; I don't really remember any crime," commented Rolling. "Growing up, we would ride our bikes and scooters everywhere."
Personally, I believe the low crime rate has to do with the copious amount of activities Eden and its surrounding areas has to offer. "The balloon festival is very famous," stated Rolling. "Our ski resorts are also really popular and we have a bunch of cute little restaurants."
The balloon festival Rolling refers to is the Annual Ogden Valley Balloon and Arts Festival formally known as the Eden Balloon Festival. It is one of the largest festivals of its kind.
"It is really famous. They have a petting zoo, you can watch the balloons go up and you can get rides in them," said Rolling. "There is a lots of food stands, activities, concerts and vendors."
The festival lasts for three days in the middle of August. There are balloon launches in the morning and evening. For the early risers in the crowd, there are pancake breakfasts available at the field. But for those of you who don't like getting up early, then you can grab dinner while you watch the evening launches and listen to great concerts performed by local musicians.
Last year, the festival celebrated Energizer's 20th anniversary by launching the tallest hot air balloon in the world. The Hot "Hare" Balloon towered over the valley and was measured 15 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. For those of you wondering, the height of the Statue of Liberty is 151ft. from the base to the torch. This giant pink drumming bunny is 166ft tall and wears glasses that are 32 ft. wide.
At the festival, spectators are allowed to get up close and personal with the balloons. You can really learn a lot about how these giant dirigibles operate. But here is a brief overview to get you started.
Hot air balloons are made up of three main parts: the envelope, the basket and the burner. The envelope is the colorful "balloon" portion and is sewn into many patterns. They are made out of heat resistant, rip-stop nylon. The wicker basket, also known as the gondola, is woven with a tight, vertical weave, which makes it impervious to entanglement in branches or power lines. Hot air balloons use air as the lifting gas to become aloft. By heating the air inside the balloon with blasts from the burner, allows the air to become less dense on the inside of the balloon. This in turn makes the balloon contents lighter and enables the balloon to rise. Once the balloons are launched, they move with the air mass.
If you are staying in Eden there are a ton of great restaurants to choose from. Rolling suggests going to Eats of Eden. "You can get a milkshake and have some pizza." It seems as though Eats of Eden is known for their pizza. According to the reviews online, the pizza and microbrews are worth the trip. But lets face it…the Suicide by Chocolate dessert sounds like a challenge that I am willing to accept. If I am going to meet my end, it might as well happen as I am eating chocolate…what a way to go!
But if you are eating good things like that then you need to work it off by doing some fun outdoorsy activities and Eden is just the place to do this. These are some of the fun things that Rolling suggested.
There are a ton of great skiing and snowboarding options in and around Eden. Powder Mountain is one of the most well known ski resorts in the country. It was voted #1 in value and #3 for snow quality in 2009 by Ski Magazine. The resort does not have any artificial snow and only allows natural snow on its slopes. If skiing is not your thing, then feel free to do the new 4x4 adventure hiking and mountain biking tour that is offered in the summer months.
Also check out Wolf Creek Utah Ski resort. It is a family-friendly resort that offers one of the best learn-to-ski and ride mountains in the Rockies. You can go skiing at night on Wolf Mountain because 100% of the mountain is lit, making it Utah's largest night skiing host. The Wolf Mountain Learning Center Yurt and Kids Zone is convenient for parents because they can drop off their kids for lessons and programs and know that they will be in a safe and friendly environment. Another feather in Wolf Creek's hat is that it is the most affordable ski resort in Utah. Riders and skiers can ski for as little as $10 per person.
Pineview Reservoir is a lake that is a very popular destination for summer. It is set on top of the Ogden Canyon and boarders the Wasatch Mountains. The lake gets crowded with boaters and water-skiers on the weekends. But if that is not your speed, then there are wonderful beaches that allows from sunbathing and swimming. Pineview is also great for fishing since the lake is home to large pearch, crappie and tiger muskie. Who knows, you might even catch "the big one."
These attractions are great for weekend excursions and tourist but what if you need to get some shopping done? Well then, you would have to go to Ogden, UT, which is the closest big city. But even driving to go shopping can turn into an adventure when you live in Eden.
"If you wanted to go to Wal-Mart or doing any kind of shopping, you would have to drive through a canyon to get there," stated Rolling. The Ogden Canyon is six miles long and was created by the Ogden River. The first road that was built through the canyon opened in 1860 and operated as a toll road until 1882 when it then became open to the public.
Another notable attraction of the canyon is the limekiln. In 1865, a limekiln was built to supply lime mortar for construction purposes. The kiln was used to heat up limestone that was quarried in the canyon, which turned it into white stone. The white stone was then crushed into powder and was used to make mortar and plaster. The kiln was abandoned in 1922 but has since been restored. History and adventure is around ever corner in Ogden Canyon it seems like.