From hitchhiking to exploring Africa, professors share adventures

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Some students at Dixie State University may say their professors are boring, but if students dig deeper, they may discover some amazing stories.


Most students go to class, gather information and leave. They don’t think much about their professors’ lives outside the classroom. The Dixie Sun News looked deeper into the life stories of five DSU professors. Who knew our classrooms are filled with authors, world travellers and motorcyclists?


The Meat Puppets Fanatic

Sociology professor Matt Smith-Lahrman said he is writing two books about a rock ‘n’ roll band called the Meat Puppets. The Meat Puppets is a band that originated in Phoenix about 30 years ago. Smith-Lahrman said he has been to 16 or 17 of the Meat Puppets’ concerts over the years and interviewed all three of the band members multiple times. He has always been very interested in the band and loves its music. 

“I am what’s called a ‘Meat Head,’ or a fan of the Meat Puppets,” Smith-Lahrman said. “Although there are bigger Meat Puppet fans out there, I’m a huge fan.”

Smith-Lahrman’s first book about the Meat Puppets, an interpretation of the Meat Puppets’ lyrics, will be done within two months. The second book will be done in a few years, Smith-Lahrman said.

Adventures in Africa

Larry Esplin, an academic adviser for TRiO Student Support Services and an adjunct math professor, was granted a leave of absence for 18 months to head to Zambia, Africa, for a service mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He said he was able to visit the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls while in Africa.

“My favorite part of the trip was fishing on the Zambezi River,” Esplin said. “We caught a tiger fish, which is the biggest fish I have ever caught. 

Getting up and leaving a job and family for 18 months can be very hard to do, but Esplin said the adventures and experiences he inquired made it all worth it. 


The Lone Hitchhiker 

Not only is art professor Royden Card a renowned painter, but he is also a world traveler and hitchhiker. Card said he spent two weeks alone hitchhiking and traveling by bus and train around South Israel and Egypt’s Sinai peninsula in 1996. He said while he was there, he stayed at the Catherine Monastery hostel, climbed Mount Sinai, and ventured into the high-mountain valleys where the Bedouins had guarded plots.  

“It was intriguing to see the difference between the Israeli culture and the Bedouin culture,” Card said. “I learned a lot from that trip.”

Card was invited to have tea with a couple of garden guards in their hut where they drank from a small spring, which watered the garden. When the guards went outside to smoke marijuana, which is illegal there, he drew a picture of the inside of their hut for memorabilia.


50 States on a Motorcycle

Associate math professor Lynn Hunt has traveled across all 50 states on a motorcycle. He said not only has he covered the mainland on his motorcycle, but he has also flown to Hawaii and rented a motorcycle to cruise around Maui. He said he has also been to Alaska, Maine and Key West on extended motorcycle trips.

“My passion is riding motorcycles,” Hunt said. “This summer my son and I, on two different motorcycles, plan to completely circle the United States in 24 days and 12,000 miles, passing through all four corners of the United States.”

Hunt said he has driven a total of 231,000 miles on the two different motorcycles he has owned. He has made his adventures into a fun family tradition as well. He has taken all three of his kids and nine of his 13 grandchildren on extended motorcycle vacations with him.


Dancing with Professionals 

Art lecturer and adviser McGarren Flack got the experience of a lifetime with his break-dancing skills. Flack said he met Kenny Ortega, Michael Jackson’s choreographer, while driving a shuttle bus for Marriott in 2001 and was invited to audition to dance for Ortega. Flack auditioned to dance in the closing ceremonies of the Olympics and was accepted to dance in the 2002 Olympics with 12 other break dancers.

“Working with Mr. Ortega was a great opportunity,” Flack said. “And dancing in front of 60,000 people live was awesome.”