Sunday, August 31, 2008

"The Mall"

It's not a common destination in my family, but we went there Saturday. This is Boise Towne Square Mall. Kind of like any mall, anywhere, USA, with JC Penney, Macy's, Dillards and all the usual "mall stores" - Disney Store, Williams-Sonoma, Sears...When it first opened, there were quite a few mom-and-pop places - and I knew people who owned stores. They all basically told me the same story over the years, they were kicked out to make room for national names. The "national name" I was interested in was Coldwater Creek. They had sent me $100 to use in the store, and it expired today so I needed to collect my freebies.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hey! Hay!

Really big bales just a skosh outside the official city limits. Another field nearby had bales of alfalfa. I have a friend stocking up on hay supplies for the winter. And we're in for a cold spell that the forecasters say will feel like fall. Bummer for those up camping for the Labor Day Weekend, it might snow on them. As regular visitors know, I document the tradition of wagon wheel yard art on this blog, and this weekend, it's "Wagon Days" in posh Sun Valley. Wayne, does this look more like Boise?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Rapunzel's Tower

My daughter and her friend call this Rapunzel's Tower. It's really the bell tower at the Holy Apostle Catholic Church - which is in Meridian, where a lot of Boise workers live, I think of it as a suburb of Boise. Not everyone will agree with that thought.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Leap Frog

At first, I thought this little girl had horns, but it is just her pony tails flying in the game. These bronze figures are in the front lawn of the Boise Children's Home. It's celebrating 100 years this year. It used to be an "orphanage." Poor families in rural areas used to send their children there when they couldn't afford to keep them. I know a man who carries that story. Now, the building houses offices where people focus on helping in adoption and foster care.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"I Spy" a Wagon Wheel - More Proof of their Value

Another wagon wheel to add to my "I spy" game - scroll down on the right for links to my collection so far. And more proof that they're valuable. This one is chained to the mailbox, which is itself a re-used old item - a pump. I recently found another set of valuable wagon wheels.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Good Morning Boise!

Sunrise from my favorite sagebrush encrusted view of the foothills. We have pretty sudden sunrises because they pop over the mountain range. Our sunsets are more gradual on the horizon. While this sunrise brings positive thoughts, Boise is struggling with bad news today. We had a perfect storm for fires late yesterday, and a grassfire spread to several homes on the southeastern edge of town. Nine homes were destroyed, and 10 more were damaged.
Update: a woman's body was found this morning in one of the destroyed homes, sad day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Yes, Virginia, There Really are Reindeer in Boise

Yep, to answer yesterday's query, there really are reindeer in Cloverdale Memorial Park. Why? I don't know. There's no explanation, just a sign that says, "please do not feed the animals." When I visited them, someone had fed them, and they wouldn't even smile for the camera.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Reindeer in a Cemetery?

Well, someone recently asked if I knew why there were reindeer fenced up near the back of the Cloverdale Park Cemetery. I had never heard about reindeer being in the cemetery, so, I went to see if it was true, or just a rumor. I'll have the proof to share either way tomorrow. We did see swans in the pond at the entrance to the cemetery, and swans aren't found around here much.
Of course, this is one of those times when I wish I was more than a point-and-shoot photographer because the sun was so bright and the swan was so white, it hurt my eyes just to look too long.
BTW: we went to Barnes and Noble yesterday, and when we were leaving, we saw Sally's Van. It's always there. Hi Sally! Someday, we'll figure out who she is.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fair Time

We made it to the Western Idaho Fair - the closest thing to a state fair we have here in Idaho. We saw hundreds of animals, home goods entries, one of my neighbors won a special award for her embroidery, we played games, rode carnival rides, had fabulous icy cold lemonade, and then some churros. Great weather, highs in the 80s instead of our usual 100s this time of year.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Celebrating Toys

We got back into Boise last night from our trip to the Oregon Coast. Instead of going home right away, we went to the Children's Store - which was celebrating its remodeling and letting kids put their handprints on the columns outside the store. And, boy, were kids having fun doing that! It's a great store not just because of the toys, but because of "Willow," the resident cat. Willow was abandoned as a kitten in the alley in back of the store's old location. She's a sweet and patient kitty.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wet paint...and a Cow - #6 in the series

We "met" this cow just north of Boise, and yes, the ranch owners were just painting the fence that incredible red. This is cow #6 in my series of Boise bovines - trying to bolster my theory that you see a cow, even if it's not real, every day, if you just look. There are "Cows of Boise" links on the right hand side of the page.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cooling Off at The Beanery

We went to lunch at the Brick Oven Beanery downtown Boise. We call it the Beanery, even though they've officially changed their name to "Bistro" - which sounds more hip, I guess. We love the turkey, bacon, lettuce sandwich. They serve it on fresh-baked bread with homemade mayonnaise. The gumbo is good, too, and all sorts of shakes and malts. This is the outdoor seating with a small water-art feature that kids are always soaking their toes, and more, in.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The View - Headed Dowtown

This is the view straight north on Vista Avenue - which runs straight into the State Capitol. Boise downtown "proper" can't be seen from a distance beyond this because it's in a hole. The landscape steps up from this level, and each step up is called a "bench." One area of the city is called the "Boise Bench," and there are three benches you notice when driving away from downtown.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sally's Van

We don't really "know" Sally, but we have seen her van often at Barnes and Noble bookstore, and on the roads in the Boise Bench area. My daughter has insisted the bird (an eagle) in the window is real. We always wonder which person she is when we're inside the bookstore - haven't figured it out yet, though. Hi Sally!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wagon Wheel Yard Art...and a Warning!

A shadowy cowboy watches over this wagon at a home in West Boise. I've been playing an "I spy" wagon wheel game over the past few months, and I've wondered where people get wagon wheels and how much they cost. They must be worth a lot! Here's a close-up of the sign on this wagon that makes me think so. More wagon wheel yard art can be seen by clicking on the links on the right hand side of this page.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Grove Fountain

This is the fountain in "The Grove" in downtown Boise. It's a public plaza by the convention center, an arena, and a couple of banks. Every Wednesday, there's a free concert here - and we stopped by during the Saturday market - full of art, flowers, and food. In Arizona, there are fountains similar to this all over the place, they call them "splash pads."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Time for the Western Idaho Fair

The Western Idaho Fair starts this weekend. We saw this load of ticket booths waiting in a parking lot when we went to buy our tickets - but the tickets weren't for sale at these stands. We'll make our trip for "fair fun" next week. I have friends and neighbors with entries in homegoods and animal divisions, and I want to see what they win. We'll do the carnival and have a food adventure, too. And, hopefully, it won't be 100 degrees the day we go.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Boise's Platt Gardens

This is Boise's Platt Gardens, right in front of the Boise Depot. Yep, it's a passenger train depot but we have no passenger trains coming through Boise. This park has LOTS of koi and grassy areas. It used to be popular for people to picnic here while waiting for friends and family on the train. There are a couple of connecting ponds and little waterfalls. And the fish are really friendly. They were swimming towards us, probably because they heard that my daughter was going to give them a snack.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Westside Drive In

The "Famous" Westside Drive In - that's how it bills itself. It has an extensive menu, and the most "famous" item is the ice cream potato. It looks like a baked potato complete with sour cream - but it's all ice cream. We didn't order that because there was no room in our tummies after dinner. In fact, there wasn't enough room in our tummies for the dinner. Big portions of food!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wal-Mart Cows - Cows of Boise #5 in the Series

These are "Wal-Mart" cows, very close to the shopping complex on Overland Road. I'll add them to my "Cows of Boise" collection. You can see more Boise bovines through the links on the right hand side (scroll down). Along the fence were milkweed plants. I snapped off a pod. I'd like to grow some milkweed for butterfly friends in a corner of my yard.

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Big Mike" at His New Boise Home

"Big Mike" is a retired locomotive steam engine who used to sit in Julia Davis Park. That's the park where we rented paddleboats recently. He was moved for safety reasons. Kids would climb on him and his attached tender when he was in the park, and there was an asbestos risk. Moving him wasn't as easy as rolling along the rails. A big truck was involved and it cost several thousand dollars. His new home is at the Boise Depot. A plaza is being constructed across the way and there are plans for a posting of the locomotive's history. "Big Mike" was the last steam engine to run between Pocatello and Boise. More about him here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Paddleboats in Julia Davis Park

We rented a paddleboat to take out on the Julia Davis Park Pond Saturday. Yep, this pond looks a lot like the one I posted the other day, but it's a different location. I took this picture of another paddleboater while my daughter fed ducks and geese from our paddleboat. We really WANTED to rent a swan or pelican boat from the picture below...but the water was too low and we would have scraped bottom. There were also VERY large fish swimming around in the murky waters. They might have been catfish.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Idaho Saguaro

Our family calls this the Idaho Saguaro - because it resembles the saguaro (cactus) of Arizona and Mexico. See a real one here. The "Idaho Saguaro" is a common roadside weed. This one was found along the road near the Boise River. It could be an important exotic or native plant? It's not on the state "noxious weeds" list. Maybe someone checking this blog can identify it. On a side note, there is a subdivision in the suburbs called "Saguaro Canyon" - which is funny because the true saguaro can't possibly grow here. And we noticed that the cactus plants they did install quickly died.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Natural Shrub-Steppe Habitat of the Boise Area

This is what Boise, the "City of Trees," would look like if it wasn't irrigated. This is a sample of the natural shrub-steppe habitat view from the backyard of a home just north of Boise. No trees grow naturally, just lots of low-growing sagebrush, native grasses and shrubs. Compare to yesterday's post of the lush Parkcenter Pond area. This is the view looking southwest. Lewis and Clark described just this sort of shrub-steppe habitat in their journals while traveling through eastern Washington State.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Parkcenter Pond and Park

This is Parkcenter Pond and Park in southeast Boise. It's stocked with fish and there are docks on the east end for the public to use, but they're not for boat-launching. The west end, where I stood to take the picture, is lined with restaurants. Sometimes, sailboarders take to the pond. The flat hill in the background is Table Rock - home to a myriad of antennas and a giant, lighted cross. There are hiking trails up to the top.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Boise....uh...??

This is a piece of machinery on display in front of what used to be the Morrison Knudsen headquarters. It's a company that built many big things in this country, like Hoover Dam and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline - but M-K had a big financial crisis in the mid 1990s. Now, it's known as Washington Group International. Any idea what this equipment was used for? Mining? Railroads?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Boise's Diversion Dam

This small dam is on the Boise River below Lucky Peak Dam. Diversion Dam is 100 years old this year. It generates some electricity, I think, but it's main purpose is to "divert" part of the Boise River into the New York Canal. It's part of the irrigation system that waters farms, and now yards, through Boise and west to just beyond Nampa.
This is the power house. You used to be able to walk over the top of the dam and right up to the big windows, and look inside at all the gears and machinery turning. You can see the security gate that keeps people away from the power house now. I'm not sure you can even walk across the dam. Thanks to my husband for taking these pictures while riding his bike along the Boise River Greenbelt.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Boise Ice Company - Warm Springs Avenue

This possibly authentic ice wagon is parked in front of a home along Warm Springs Avenue. I really don't know if there ever was a "Boise Ice Co." but the history of Warm Springs Avenue is well-documented. Some tidbits here. I had a post a couple of days ago mentioning geothermal water, and this road is named after the natural hot springs found near here. The first home that tapped into the geothermal line is on this street. Many of the houses are historic, and huge, even by today's standards. I'll also count this as a wagon wheel entry in my "I spy" wagon wheel game. See my collection links on the right-hand side.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Bird in the Hand - Black Chinned Hummingbird

The Southwest Idaho Birders Association held a hummingbird banding event yesterday just north of Boise. Fred Bassett from Alabama was there, one of only about 200 certified hummingbird banders in the country. I took my daughter, and she really enjoyed touching and holding the precious hummingbirds. And so did I. Feeling their heart beat is incredible. This is a black chinned hummingbird, just like the ones that feed from flowers in our yard. Things we learned: their bills/beaks are flexible. Each bird weighs about the same as a penny. And underneath the feathers on their belly, their skin is transparent - and that's where you check for a small pocket of yellow fat. Fat is good, it means the hummingbird is getting ready to migrate. Black chinned hummingbirds like to winter in Mexico. The birds stay still when they're weighed, measured and banded. Then, they're held in hand until they realize they are free to go.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Old Oak Tree in Boise's North End

No yellow ribbon tied around this old oak tree, but there is a yellowed sign. This is one of the huge trees in Boise's North End. You'll find this one near Hyde Park, and it's the only one I've seen with a note on it. I like the bark on this white oak, it looks like layers of frosting. Here are the plaque and bark up close....
I like to imagine that Joseph Woods was a boy when he planted the tree in 1897.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Boise City Hall Fountain - Geothermal

This is the fountain in front of Boise City Hall. It runs year-round, even in the icy-cold winter. It uses geothermal water, although, I'm sure not so much in the summer because we put our hands in it and it felt cool. A geothermal aquifer runs under Boise and the naturally-hot water is used to heat several buildings, including some of the Capitol. Congress is looking at giving Boise some money to expand geothermal use, including to heat buildings at Boise State University. While the water itself is "free" from the earth, it does take electricity to pump it up, and then pump it back into the aquifer after it's been "used."