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Having A Blast In Boise, ID

Having A Blast In Boise, ID

Posted by on Aug 29, 2016 in Art, Biking, Food, Gallery, Idaho, Travel | 30 comments

In late May, we spent a few days in Boise, Idaho. It turned out to be one of the most delightful cities we’ve yet visited, a near perfect combination of culture and nature (and great food).

We biked along the lovely riverfront trail every day, discovered wonderful restaurants and cafes, explored the attractive downtown, and enjoyed the relaxed, sunny ambiance of Boise. Several times I remarked to Eric, “This is how a city should be.”

Somehow, Boise has maintained a small town feel, even with a population of more than 200,000. Honestly, the city was very different from what we expected—given that it’s the capital of one of the “reddest” states in the country, we assumed it would be much more conservative. But that’s not the vibe we got. There’s a strong commitment to the environment, to human rights, to building healthy and vital communities, and to organic and sustainable practices. When we toured the capitol building, I was most impressed by the simple note on a legislator’s desk—in large print, it read, “Do No Harm.”

Our RV Park backed up to the Boise Greenbelt, making it convenient to hop on our bikes and head into town. Any city that makes it easy and enjoyable for people to get around via walking and biking scores big points with us—and the Boise trail system is one of the best we’ve come across in our travels. Twenty-five miles of paved trails hug the banks of the Boise River, offering a scenic ride through wildlife habitat and riverside parks, and providing easy access to the city center. I even felt comfortable biking the streets of downtown Boise—not something I generally enjoy.

We biked for several hours each day, exploring whatever caught our attention along the way, including the lovely city parks, the Boise Art Museum sculpture garden, the inspiring Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, and the attractive capitol building (which looks like a miniature White House).

One of the highlights of our time in Boise was a visit to the Basque Block in the heart of the city. Basques originally made their way to Idaho as miners and sheepherders. I imagine that they felt comfortable in the golden hills of Idaho, which must have reminded them of the Pyrenees, their homeland that straddles the border between Spain and France. Boise has one of the largest Basque populations in the United States, and the Basque Block is a lively community, with a museum, cultural center, and restaurants featuring delicious Basque specialties (paella!). Our dinner at the Basque Market was excellent.

Boise surprised us with other fine food offerings—we had a memorable casual lunch at Bleubird, a friendly downtown café where the owners turn out creative and delicious sandwiches and salads and make their own fresh fruit and herbal sodas (the fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, rosemary infused simple syrup, and club soda was the best non-alcoholic drink I’ve ever had). We liked it so much we biked twice to the café for lunch.

With more than 50 craft breweries, we narrowed our choice down to Cloud 9 Brewery in the charming North End neighborhood. Salted Caramel Stout? Yes, please!! All of the beer was excellent at this sweet little pub—what makes them stand out from the crowd is their commitment to sustainable, local, and organic beers. Their small restaurant shares the same commitment and is equally excellent—on a delightful evening, we enjoyed a perfectly prepared risotto with local salmon, asparagus, and spring peas.

About the RV Park:

Boise Riverside RV Park is basically an enormous gravel parking lot with large sites, most with concrete pads, and some with shade trees. We were there in late spring, and had a very nice site that backed up to a grassy area with trees. It’s all about location here—the park is on the Greenbelt multiuse trail, which offers miles of peaceful walking and biking along the river; a 15-minute bike ride takes you to the downtown parks.

Along the Route Bonus Tips:

Three Island Crossing State Park: Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho

En route from Angel Creek, Nevada to Boise, we spent one night at Three Island Crossing State Park near Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho. This pretty, peaceful park is set along the Snake River, with spacious sites surrounded by shade trades. There’s a small museum devoted to the Oregon Trail and a view across the river of the deep wagon ruts carved into the hillside by intrepid pioneers who chose to cross the river here. We were wishing we had more time at this lovely park.

Shoshone Falls: Twin Falls, Idaho

Known as the Niagara of the West, Shoshone Falls (located at the edge of Twin Falls, Idaho) was on our route to Boise. Created by seasonal runoffs from the mighty Snake River, Shoshone is one of the largest natural waterfalls in the United States. We stopped for a picnic and a walk—it’s well worth a visit.

Coming Full Circle: Joseph, OR

Boise Outdoor Sculpture Garden

Double Rainbow Over Shoshone Falls

A Lovely Place For A Picnic

Three Island Crossing State Park

On The Oregon Trail

Biking In Boise

Beautiful Views Along The Bike Path

In The Rose Garden

Downtown Boise

Biking Downtown Boise

Boise Capitol Building

The Rotunda Dome

Inside The Legislative Chambers

A Good Motto For Decision Making

At The Bleubird Cafe Downtown

Homemade Fruit & Herbal Sodas

Turkey, Brie & Fig Jam With Arugula Salad

The Basque Center

The Basque Block

At The Basque Market

Dinner At The Basque Market

Cloud Nine Brewery

Flight Of Beers At Cloud Nine

At The Boise Farmers' Market

Nice Site At Boise Riverside RV Park

Boise Outdoor Sculpture Garden
Double Rainbow Over Shoshone Falls
A Lovely Place For A Picnic
Three Island Crossing State Park
On The Oregon Trail
Biking In Boise
Beautiful Views Along The Bike Path
In The Rose Garden
Downtown Boise
Biking Downtown Boise
Boise Capitol Building
The Rotunda Dome
Inside The Legislative Chambers
A Good Motto For Decision Making
At The Bleubird Cafe Downtown
Homemade Fruit & Herbal Sodas
Turkey, Brie & Fig Jam With Arugula Salad
The Basque Center
The Basque Block
At The Basque Market
Dinner At The Basque Market
Cloud Nine Brewery
Flight Of Beers At Cloud Nine
At The Boise Farmers' Market
Nice Site At Boise Riverside RV Park
Boise Outdoor Sculpture Garden thumbnail
Double Rainbow Over Shoshone Falls thumbnail
A Lovely Place For A Picnic thumbnail
Three Island Crossing State Park thumbnail
On The Oregon Trail thumbnail
Biking In Boise thumbnail
Beautiful Views Along The Bike Path thumbnail
In The Rose Garden thumbnail
Downtown Boise thumbnail
Biking Downtown Boise thumbnail
Boise Capitol Building thumbnail
The Rotunda Dome thumbnail
Inside The Legislative Chambers thumbnail
A Good Motto For Decision Making thumbnail
At The Bleubird Cafe Downtown thumbnail
Homemade Fruit & Herbal Sodas thumbnail
Turkey, Brie & Fig Jam With Arugula Salad thumbnail
The Basque Center thumbnail
The Basque Block thumbnail
At The Basque Market thumbnail
Dinner At The Basque Market thumbnail
Cloud Nine Brewery thumbnail
Flight Of Beers At Cloud Nine thumbnail
At The Boise Farmers' Market thumbnail
Nice Site At Boise Riverside RV Park thumbnail

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Soaking In Lava Hot Springs

Soaking In Lava Hot Springs

Posted by on Oct 27, 2013 in Gallery, Hiking, Hot Springs, Idaho | 15 comments

Just 200 miles south of the small town of West Yellowstone is the even smaller town of Lava Hot Springs, Idaho (population 400, one main street). Judging by the appearance of the buildings and the signage, you would think you had been transported back in time to the mid-1960s (not as it occurred in Haight-Ashbury).

We pass through many small towns of this vintage in our journeys. What sets Lava Hot Springs apart is the fabulous centerpiece of hot springs pools that dominate the downtown. Honestly, I don’t understand why this little town hasn’t become a world-class resort. These are the most beautiful, pristine, well-cared-for developed hot springs we’ve encountered anywhere. There are five pools, ranging from 98 degrees to a scalding 110 degrees. Crystal clear hot water continually flows through the pools from the springs, eliminating the need for chemicals. Two of the large pools have pea-gravel bottoms that feel wonderful to walk on, massaging your feet with each step. There’s a huge immaculate changing room with heated floors. The outdoor sidewalks are even heated. The landscaping is lovely. And the cost? Eight dollars for an all-day pass, with the pools open from 9 a.m. until 10 or 11 at night.

You can guess how we spent our three days in Lava Hot Springs. We stayed right across the street at the Lava Spa Motel and RV Resort, where we strolled to the hot pools at least twice a day. Our other daily activity consisted of hiking straight up the hill above our campsite into the fall foliage.

(A word of advice: If you’re coming here, bring your own food and wine. The wine selection is atrocious, as you can see in the photo. The grocery store is only marginally better than the one in West Yellowstone, which had absolutely nothing that we wanted to buy. Fortunately, we had stocked up as we passed through Pocatello.)

Lava Hot Springs

Motel And RV Park

Unintentional Retro

Another Retro Sign

Campsite On The River

One Of Several Hot Springs Motels

Downtown Sculpture

The Hot Springs

Hot Springs From Above

Hike Along The River

Autumn Color On The Hillside

Local Wine Selection

Lava Hot Springs
Motel And RV Park
Unintentional Retro
Another Retro Sign
Campsite On The River
One Of Several Hot Springs Motels
Downtown Sculpture
The Hot Springs
Hot Springs From Above
Hike Along The River
Autumn Color On The Hillside
Local Wine Selection
Lava Hot Springs  thumbnail
Motel And RV Park  thumbnail
Unintentional Retro  thumbnail
Another Retro Sign  thumbnail
Campsite On The River  thumbnail
One Of Several Hot Springs Motels  thumbnail
Downtown Sculpture  thumbnail
The Hot Springs  thumbnail
Hot Springs From Above  thumbnail
Hike Along The River  thumbnail
Autumn Color On The Hillside  thumbnail
Local Wine Selection  thumbnail

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Heading East, Into The West

Heading East, Into The West

Posted by on Oct 15, 2013 in Art, Gallery, Idaho, Montana, Washington | 4 comments

We’ve been traveling pretty slowly the past month, finding our way again into the traveling groove. When we set out on this lengthy adventure, we initially thought, “Let’s go cross country, up to New England, into Nova Scotia, then down along the East coast, and then to Florida, and…” at that point, I think I had an anxiety attack.

When we were still in the midst of trying to pack up our home and get on the road, what sounded most appealing was to take a familiar route. Thus, we headed back to Lopez for the summer. It was a great decision. Being there was wonderful, as always, and allowed us to regain some sense of balance before heading off into unknown territory.

Our plan was always to head for Yellowstone after leaving Lopez. We weren’t exactly sure of the route we would take, but heading straight east seemed like the logical thing to do. It’s interesting how the further east you go, the more western the towns and landscape become (at least for a while). Our route took us from the farming communities of the Skagit Valley, over the Cascade Mountains, through the rolling plains of eastern Washington, along the Spokane River, through the panhandle of Idaho and into Montana. We spent just a day or two in each place, knowing that the weather was changing and that our window of opportunity for Yellowstone was narrowing.

A few highlights of our journey:

Edison, Washington: This tiny town—really, more of a wide spot in the road—offers a handful of unique cafes, art galleries, and honest-to-goodness curio shops. It’s not too far from Anacortes (the ferry port where we return to the mainland from Lopez), and we always try to time our travels so that we can enjoy breakfast at Tweet’s (a former filling station turned local foods cafe) and wander the streets for a bit.

Riverside State Park, WA: A pretty state park with camping on the banks of the Spokane River; we hiked along the river and listened to the calls of osprey coaxing their fledglings out of the nest.

Heyburn State Park, ID: A great place to bike the Coeur d’Alene trail, a repurposed rails-to-trails 75-mile trail that runs from Plummer, Idaho to Mullen, Montana. We stayed two days and didn’t even unhitch the truck—we were able to pick up the bike trail from the park, which meanders along beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene and over the Chacolet Bridge to the tiny town of Plummer.

Wallace, ID: We discovered the pretty little mining town of Wallace en route to Missoula, Montana—it was lunchtime, and we had excellent tapas (tapas! in a dinky mining town!) at the Fainting Goat, a family enterprise launched just a few months ago in the old bank building (the vault is now the wine cellar). The food was excellent and the atmosphere stellar.

Bozeman, MT: We camped at a KOA just outside of town, thinking it would be perfect because it’s located right next door to Bozeman Hot Springs. We happily walked over to the hot springs on Friday night anticipating a relaxed soak. Instead, we encountered hundreds of people stuffed into the pools—barely room for two more bodies—and a noise level equivalent to a raucous basketball game in an indoor stadium.

We did enjoy exploring Bozeman, however. It’s an attractive town with a definite Western vibe—bison (bronzes, neon, and taxidermied), cowboys, and mills turned galleries. The highlight of our time there was a visit with our friend Kimberly in her beautiful studio/home.

Next stop, Yellowstone!

Heading East, Into The West

Tweets In Edison

Inside Tweets

Edison Bakery

Yum—Cocoa Nib Cookies

Doily Teepee At Edison Art Gallery

Curio Shop In Edison

Spare Esthetic At Edison Art Gallery

Lincoln Rock State Park, WA

Sunset At Lincoln Rock State Park

Riverside State Park, WA

Hike Along The Spokane River

Spokane River Hike

Rock Wren On The Trail

Sunset At Heyburn State Park, ID

Silvery Beaver Trail At Sunset

Overlooking The Marsh

Cattails In The Marsh

Biking The Coeur D'Alene Trail

Chatcolet Bridge

Biking Along Lake Coeur D'Alene

Downtown Wallace, ID

Old Mining Town

The Fainting Goat, Wallace

Inside The Fainting Goat

Spinach Salad & Lamb Sliders

Beavertail Hill State Park, MT

Downtown Bozeman

Checking Out Downtown Bozeman

On The Street In Bozeman

Hotel Lobby Bozeman

Neon Bison

Owl In Bozeman Art Gallery

Bozeman Food Co-Op

Wonderful Bozeman Coffee Shop

Bozeman Gallery

Bozeman Brewery

With Kimberly In Her Studio:Home

Heading East, Into The West
Tweets In Edison
Inside Tweets
Edison Bakery
Yum—Cocoa Nib Cookies
Doily Teepee At Edison Art Gallery
Curio Shop In Edison
Spare Esthetic At Edison Art Gallery
Lincoln Rock State Park, WA
Sunset At Lincoln Rock State Park
Riverside State Park, WA
Hike Along The Spokane River
Spokane River Hike
Rock Wren On The Trail
Sunset At Heyburn State Park, ID
Silvery Beaver Trail At Sunset
Overlooking The Marsh
Cattails In The Marsh
Biking The Coeur D'Alene Trail
Chatcolet Bridge
Biking Along Lake Coeur D'Alene
Downtown Wallace, ID
Old Mining Town
The Fainting Goat, Wallace
Inside The Fainting Goat
Spinach Salad & Lamb Sliders
Beavertail Hill State Park, MT
Downtown Bozeman
Checking Out Downtown Bozeman
On The Street In Bozeman
Hotel Lobby Bozeman
Neon Bison
Owl In Bozeman Art Gallery
Bozeman Food Co-Op
Wonderful Bozeman Coffee Shop
Bozeman Gallery
Bozeman Brewery
With Kimberly In Her Studio:Home
Heading East, Into The West  thumbnail
Tweets In Edison  thumbnail
Inside Tweets  thumbnail
Edison Bakery  thumbnail
Yum—Cocoa Nib Cookies  thumbnail
Doily Teepee At Edison Art Gallery  thumbnail
Curio Shop In Edison  thumbnail
Spare Esthetic At Edison Art Gallery  thumbnail
Lincoln Rock State Park, WA  thumbnail
Sunset At Lincoln Rock State Park  thumbnail
Riverside State Park, WA  thumbnail
Hike Along The Spokane River  thumbnail
Spokane River Hike thumbnail
Rock Wren On The Trail thumbnail
Sunset At Heyburn State Park, ID  thumbnail
Silvery Beaver Trail At Sunset  thumbnail
Overlooking The Marsh  thumbnail
Cattails In The Marsh  thumbnail
Biking The Coeur D'Alene Trail  thumbnail
Chatcolet Bridge thumbnail
Biking Along Lake Coeur D'Alene  thumbnail
Downtown Wallace, ID thumbnail
Old Mining Town  thumbnail
The Fainting Goat, Wallace  thumbnail
Inside The Fainting Goat  thumbnail
Spinach Salad & Lamb Sliders  thumbnail
Beavertail Hill State Park, MT  thumbnail
Downtown Bozeman  thumbnail
Checking Out Downtown Bozeman  thumbnail
On The Street In Bozeman  thumbnail
Hotel Lobby Bozeman  thumbnail
Neon Bison thumbnail
Owl In Bozeman Art Gallery  thumbnail
Bozeman Food Co-Op thumbnail
Wonderful Bozeman Coffee Shop  thumbnail
Bozeman Gallery  thumbnail
Bozeman Brewery  thumbnail
With Kimberly In Her Studio:Home  thumbnail

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