After three months of meandering along the extensive coastlines of Florida, we were eager to finally point Betsy west. In early December we began our winter sojourn along the Atlantic Ocean, exiting on the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico in March. This was our second winter in the Sunshine State, and we visited about half of its coastal regions, exploring many natural settings and strolling an array of fabulous beaches – all while being entertained by wildlife unique to the area. An added bonus was the great time we spent visiting with friends old and new.
Leaving beautiful Stanley behind, we headed down, down, down the rugged mountains to Garden City, just a few miles outside of Boise. Steve was totally focused on driving Betsy as I enjoyed the scenery along the Ponderosa Scenic Byway, Wild Canyon Scenic Byway and the Payette River Scenic Byway. The 130-mile drive took us from an elevation of 6,253′ in Stanley to 2,566′ at our destination- the airbed mattress was totally flat when we arrived 🙂
After a week of feasting our eyes on stunning natural scenery, we shifted gears to check out some man-made creations. Garden City, Idaho is only a few miles west of Boise, the state capital. What do we do when in a capital city? Tour their capitol building!
Our interest in touring capitol buildings began when we were very impressed while touring the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka. Since then we’ve made it a point to visit other capitol buildings when we can, including the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln and the North Dakota State Capitol in Bizmark. And they were all impressive.
The Idaho State Capitol was constructed in 1905, and a recent restoration,preservation and rehabilitation led to its rededication in 2010.
Boise’s capitol building was deserted when we arrived on a Sunday morning, so we enjoyed the quiet until we heard screaming from a toddler echoing through the building a while later. It’s bothersome enough to hear that outdoors, but inside a cavernous building it can make you want to tear your hair out! Don’t get me wrong, I like kids – I have more than 2 dozen nieces and nephews. But in a situation like this I got a bit cranky – but I digress 😦
Leaving the government building behind, we walked a few blocks to see another of man’s creations known as Freak Alley of Boise, Idaho. It runs west between 8th and 9th streets, and has been re-decorated constantly since 2002. Walking through the alley we saw a range of painting styles, abstract art and graffiti-like images. We’ve seen similar use of spaces that have being transformed into unusual urban attractions. As always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder…
Meandering along the wet city streets, our thoughts turned to quenching our thirst via some handcrafted Idaho beers. Locals we talked with were happy to tell us about their favorite brews, and we listened intently while taking copious notes. We were able to visit three breweries within the city, and we both enjoyed at least one beer at 10 Barrel Brewing, Barbarian Brewing and Cloud Nine Brewery.
Steve and I have different tastes in beer; he likes stouts and porters, while I go for the lighter Hefeweizens and wheat beers. But for once at Cloud Nine Brewery we both enjoyed the same beer – The Salted Caramel Stout – agreeing it was flavorful and delicious.
We camped at Hi Valley RV Park north of Boise, in close proximity to the Ridge to River network, 190 miles of trails in the Boise Foothills. After replenishing supplies, completing household chores, ticking items off Betsy’s to-do list, and exploring the city it was time to head for the hills.
With dozens of trails to choose from, we settled on three – Spring Valley Creek, Hulls Gulch and Polecat Loop. They were all moderate and followed numerous finger ridges with decent ups and downs. We enjoyed great views of the Boise Ridgeline, Treasure Valley and the city skyline.
Along the trails, several bugs and wildflowers caught our attention:
It must have been breeding season, as we heard several Lazuli Buntings singing from the shrubs. Hearing them and the Meadowlarks made the hikes even more delightful. Wildflowers, birds, bugs and beautiful views were the highlights of our treks.
In less than a week we had gotten some good vibes from Boise and its suburbs – maybe a contender as a place we’ll settle down one day?
Next up: A fabulous week in the Wallowas!