Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Chapter 16 - Twin Falls to Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, July 23rd: 
The scenery on the drive over from Twin Falls to Boise, Idaho,was not entirely as shown in this photograph: treeless, dry, rocky, and boring. Maybe only 50% of the drive was this view. There were sections especially where the interstate highway passed near the Snake River where the farms were green and the nearby towns looked normal with lots of trees and vegetation. Much of the land however, was what we think of when we think of the Wild West and both Kathy and I half expected to see a wagon train out in the distance.  We were after all following the Snake River and the Oregon Trail. Today the only structures rising above the ground were the numerous power poles, cell towers, and the occasional wind turbines.  In the 1860s the distant mountains and the gradual rise and fall of the land were all that changed the view.  It was of course, much prettier in the past without mankind's improvements or shall we say intrusions.  Not withstanding the ruggedness of the land, we very much enjoyed our three hour drive over to Idaho's capital city of Boise, population 214,237.

Unfortunately the interstate highway as it passed by Boise was crowded and under construction and we hated the 20 minutes or so that it took to get through the worst of the traffic and over to our campground located just west of Boise.  We are staying at the Boise Meridan KOA RV Resort, a large campground of some 224 spaces and as we were told, it was almost 100% occupied.  Fortunately the park was clean, and they had a nice recreational facility complete with a fitness workout room and an indoor pool.  The only problem with this park was that despite what they advertised, the only place that we could get WiFi service was in the Recreational Building and not out in our travel trailer.

The park also offered some other nice features such as this banjo/guitar group that played in the Recreational Building every Tuesday evenings and despite the surprisingly small turnout, their music was really quite good.  Besides listening to the music for awhile I also used their exercise room for a short period before I quickly realized that my month absence from our LA Fitness membership had taken its toil on my body.  I have quickly fallen out of shape.    

Kathy and I both agreed that we would wait until tomorrow before visiting downtown Boise and some of the area's tourist attractions. We finished the afternoon off after shopping for food and supplies, by just relaxing around our travel trailer.  One thing that we learned quickly after spending almost a month traveling across the country is that we need to occasionally relax and not try to be tourists every minute of the day.  Our attitude in this regard has paid off as we are still very much enjoying our Oregon Trail voyage.

Wednesday, July 24th:
We headed out towards downtown Boise by 8:30 am very much aware that we might not find anything open at this time of day. The morning temperature however, was still cool and we wanted to get an early start as temperatures in Boise this afternoon were expected to rise to 95 degrees. Kathy and I and especially the old "Fur-ball" Cabo, had no interest whatsoever in touring anywhere when it was really hot.  The first place we visited was Idaho's capital building in downtown Boise, and like most states their state government spent an enormous amount of money erecting this monument. That said, the building really was quite beautiful. While we were walking by the capital building we ran into a very nice women who stopped to admire Cabo.  She told us that she worked for the State's Treasury and that her job was to help Idaho citizens reclaim money that was being held by the government on their behalf. This was money that people were not aware that they were owed.  She said that the amount of money held in escrow by the government was in the millions of dollars.  We promised her that we would check with our Florida State government to see if we might be owned anything. Kind of a fun conversation. Our government at work.

We leaned from one of the local tourist brochures that there was a winery store downtown that was named the Snake River Winery.  I knew immediately that I must have a bottle of Snake River wine, so we found our way to the store and I purchased a bottle of Riesling that they claimed was made from grapes actually grown in Idaho. That is hard to believe but then Idaho is a state of many variations and wine growing might very well be one of them.    

At $15 per bottle this had better be good.  Kathy and I will advise you later if we recommend that that you get in touch with the Snake River Winery and purchase your own bottle.  After all, the Snake River and the Oregon Trail played a very important role in our country's history.  I am certain that we will toast to this fact as we enjoy the wine later in our trip.

Another well known tourist attraction in Boise is the Old Idaho Penitentiary and since we can proudly claim that we have never been in a penitentiary, we thought that now would be a good time for our first visit. Fortunately we did get to walk around the grounds and actually visit inside the Women's prison ward of the main prison, however for some completely irrational reason, small, absolutely harmless dogs are not allowed inside the main prison area.  Thanks to Cabo we saved the entrance fee of $4.00 each. So, we still have never been in a prison (other than a Women's Ward).

Incidentally the drive out to the old penitentiary was through one of Boise's older residential neighborhoods and it was really quite lovely and totally unexpected.  The homes were architecturally pleasing and the streets were tree lined and the yards of all of the older homes were green with well maintained lawns and landscaping. We found ourselves saying that it would be wonderful to live here if we were a little younger and had more years left in our lives to move around.

Immediately to the north side of Boise is a mountain range where we understand there is a ski resort. We did not want to drive too far out of the city but we thought that it would be interesting to drive north a few miles to see what changes we might find.  Not surprisingly we suppose, as we started up the mountain side, the city almost immediately disappeared and once again the scenery returned to dry, desert like conditions.  Beautiful in its own way, but an abrupt and total departure from the greenery of the city. Here and there on the tops of some of the hills above the city were million dollar homes with gated entrances and views that were spectacular. This photograph was taken no more than three or four miles from one of the beautifully landscaped neighborhoods of Boise.  The road we traveled was named Bogus Basin Road.  Never did figure out why?

We returned back to the city excited to visit one of Boise's many city parks most of which boarder the Boise River which winds its way through the city. The park we visited was named Ann Morrison Memorial Park and it was large, beautifully landscaped, and well used even on Wednesdays. The first thing that caught our eye was that along side and in the river were hundreds of Canada Geese.  We stopped the car and climbed out hoping to get a photo before we scarred them away.  Quite the opposite occurred.  The geese were so used to being feed by humans that they flocked around us. They lost interest however, as soon as no food was thrown their way and when Kathy put totally harmless Cabo on the ground, the geese literally ran away. This will be the only time in timid Cabo's life that he scared another living creature.

We could and did take many photos in this park but one of our favorites was this one of Kathy and Cabo in front of Boise's own old Faithful. We spent a good half hour or more driving through the park and we enjoyed it every bit as much as the many parks we enjoyed when we lived in Savannah.

Both Kathy and I very much enjoyed our brief visit to Boise, Idaho. We returned to our travel trailer by early afternoon, Mountain Time, ready to relax and plan out our long drive tomorrow up to Pendleton, Oregon.  It is here in Pendleton where Kathy plans on spending as much time as possible visiting the factory store at the Pendleton Woolen Mills. I told her that since I spent $15 on wine this morning, she could spend at least that amount on a Pendleton blanket or whatever.  She smiled, and slowly turned away.  I guess that meant she agreed.          


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