Boise is now one of our favorite places in the USA! Not only are the people very friendly, and the bike trails perfect for us “mature riders”, but we had a great rafting trip on the Boise River. We discovered this opportunity while riding on the Greenbelt Trail, when we stopped at a city park that happened to offer raft rentals. We arrived the next morning 30 minutes prior to the concession opening, and were the very first rafters on the river.
In fact, there were no other rafts, canoes or kayaks on the river the entire two hours of our float. We did see some fishermen, and some neat cairns on a gravel bar.
The river was running at a moderate pace, tumbling over minor riffles and a couple of low diversion dams. The white water was fun but safe, and the water temperature only a trifle chilly. We saw kingfishers, hummingbirds, ducks, great blue herons and hawks. My Lovely Bride did a great job of paddling…
… while I relaxed and observed the many birds and a few trout jumping. My only complaint was that MLB had forgotten the wine and grapes; in spite of that, we continued to enjoy our time in Boise.
After our rafting trip, we went into Boise. While enjoying an al fresco dinner, we were intrigued by the sign on this bus, “Vandals Work”; the takeaway line is that 90% of University of Idaho students have jobs or plans for graduate education upon graduation, an amazing and admirable achievement. And yes, their mascots are the Vandals, a name given their basketball team almost 100 years ago by a sports writer after Idaho gave an opposing team a drubbing.
Boise did surprise us with this business: a local convenience store chain named Stinker Stores, with a skunk logo. Their logo reminds me of road-kill, but obviously the brand is doing well here in Idaho. “Think Stinker”, indeed!
The weather out in Idaho has been a bit warm, in the 90s in Boise, and one of our three roof air conditioners went out. I ordered and installed two new capacitors, but that didn’t fix the problem of the compressor drawing excessive amperage on start-up. Calling around to local RV repair places didn’t help, because the unit would have to be ordered and shipped, and the timing wouldn’t work out until we get to Denver in 3 weeks. Here I am on the roof – MLB had hoped that this photo would be a Victory Shot when the unit ran flawlessly, but alas, it was not to be…
Firefighters are like Marines. You don’t know how much you need them until the poop hits the fan, and then you call for help. While returning to our Gowen Field campground one day, we met Boise Fire Department Safety Captain Jeremy Kircher and a dozen of the BFD firefighters training in 95 degree heat and full firefighting suits. Captain Kircher took the time to tell me about his firefighters and their training, which is similar to Navy firefighting training – very realistic, and conducted in whatever environmental conditions you have on that day – extreme heat, snow and ice, or rain. Also, our good Forest Service friend Brad Bernardi, mentioned in the previous post, has been coordinating the efforts of 12 helicopters and 6 fixed wing aircraft fighting the Pioneer fire in Idaho, which covers 137 square miles north of Idaho City. The smoke from that fire occasionally drifted south over Boise during our four day stay. We too often take our firefighters, police, EMTs and military service members for granted, until we really, really need them…
As we prepared to depart Boise, we decided to eat breakfast at the base galley (a Navy term for a dining facility, what the Army calls a mess hall). There is a Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Center on Gowen Field, and I suspect that in the division of responsibilities, the Navy was assigned the dining facility. This makes sense, because Marines and Army soldiers would be getting much better food than the normal Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs) that they are used to, and if the Air Force was assigned the task, the costs of steak and lobsters every night would be prohibitive. On the subject of food prep, as I was fixing breakfast the next day, I asked Suzanne, “Sweetheart, do you know what the Indians in South Dakota call the person who prepares their meals? A Sioux chef… Har, har, har…” For some reason, she looked at me a little funny and didn’t laugh.
While on the subject of food, I have to recount an incident that occurred at our next stop, in Layton, Utah, between Ogden and Salt Lake City. We had set up camp at Hill Air Force Base and were driving around town when I spied a red sign that indicated that the local Krispy Kreme’s donuts were hot off the production line. I made a U-turn without telling Suzanne what I was doing, pulled into the parking lot and jumped out of the car without a word. I heard her say, “Oh, no…” On entering the donut shop, a nice young lady grabbed a donut off the conveyor belt and handed it to me with a smile.
I ate it on the spot, and got another couple along with a coffee and a neat hat. Unfortunately, I had to eat them all myself, Suzanne being on a healthy nutrition crusade. Darn the bad luck!
As we returned to Hill Air Force Base, there was almost no traffic at the gate, so we stopped to chat for a moment with the young gate guard, whose name tag read “Lanros”. I asked her if it was a Greek name. With a wry smile, she said, “No, sir. Our family lives in Minnesota, and our grandfather’s name was actually Larson, but he was so tired of getting other people’s mail that he changed the name to Lanros.” Yup, that would sure solve that excess mail problem… those Minnesnowtans are sure different!
On the drive to Pinedale, Wyoming, our next destination, we stopped for 80 gallons of diesel fuel, and I had to go into the truck stop to pay the bill. I was taken aback by the display of chocolate bars at the register. I asked the friendly cashier, Beverly, if she would hold one up for the camera. She said that they were popular among truckers, but that I might be sitting out in the parking lot alone at the end of the day if I brought one back to the coach for My Lovely Bride. (I wisely decided not to find out if she was right… the label reads “PMS Chocolate for Women”.)
Finally, I was doing the washing up after dinner the other night, and as I was about to scrub the plates, MLB says to me, in a tone of voice I rarely hear… “Ty… Stop! What are you doing with that yucky scrubbie? Where has it been?” “Um, well, I think, I mean, oh, I remember, I used it on the windshield, you know, to scrub the bugs and road dirt off, but I surely wasn’t going to use it on the dishes. Heavens, I know better than that! I was going to use this fresh, new, sweet-smelling scrubbie on the dishes, and throw this dirty, stinking scrubbie in the trash.” “Ty, if I didn’t know better, I might think you were tap dancing right now…”