Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Looking Into Boise from the East Foothills

Here is a taste of the view the lucky ones in the Boise foothills get to see every day. In the middle left, you can see the tip of the Capitol building. I went downtown last week to get some photos of the Capitol, and well, I couldn't get an angle. Everything is torn up as they add underground wings. Folks with the big windows and balconies in this neighborhood pictured can see the whole Treasure Valley. My apologies for missing a post yesterday. I was traveling to England and am still time-zone reversed!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Boise Snow Line is Rising

As you can see, the snow line is rising and is just on the tip-tops of the mountains we see from town. Behind this view, the mountains are still very snowy, but this all faces south so our view of it disappears first. I flew out of Boise the other day and saw the solid white that extends to the Northern Rockies. We're still having a fairly cool spring. Usually, by this time of year, people are tempted to start their gardens - although our last frost date is May 9-10 just to be safe.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Chickens of Boise

I was driving through a neighborhood and couldn't resist getting the chickens' portrait - especially after yesterday's cows. Yes, some people keep chickens, I've even thought about it. I'm not exactly sure that anyone was "keeping" this chickens, though. The house was empty and for sale. Some nurseries around here employ chickens for bug control. I've never had a "theory" about seeing chickens in Boise everyday, (see yesterday's post for my Boise cow theory). I know there is a woman in Boise who sells specially-made, portable metal chicken coops. The "special" design is so that raccoons and foxes can't get to them, and they look like little travel trailers.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Cows of Boise

One of the things I used to tell everyone about Boise is that you see cows every day, either real or not. That was back in the days when cows used to pasture in a field right next to our regional Boise Towne Square mall. Now, it's all developed and real cows are becoming a rare sight, although horses are still a feature in many of the older, bigger subdivisions. Here are some cow statues I saw the other day. Technically, they're in Meridian, just right at the edge of the Boise City limits line.

Art in the Parking Lot

Every once in a while, we get to see art in parking lots, usually on busy street corners. It's probably the same for every town! It's amazing how fast this artist can produce a piece. Some are copies of well-known pieces, and he'll paint anything you want, too. Other popular parking lot stands around here sell sun glasses.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

An Isolated Ice Storm?

I can’t tell if this was done on purpose, or was just an accident. I see a hose, and I also saw a sprinkler, although it’s not in this picture. Obviously, the sprinkler was running during the overnight freeze. There was an advisory that one way to protect soft fruit trees during the deep freeze was to coat them with water, and the ice might protect them. I don’t think that was the goal here, though. My neighbor covered his plum tree with a giant blue tarp. I don’t think the freeze was as hard here up on the Boise Bench. I live on the first bench, this “ice storm” happened at a home down near the Boise River. I remember several years ago when we had no snow, a man knew how much his wife wanted a white Christmas, so he ran a sprinkler in the front yard all night so there would be white frost and ice to see Christmas Day.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Boise River Creeping Up its Banks

The Boise River has grown to three times its size compared to just a few weeks ago. Here is my latest shot of it. Look along the bank on the left and compare it to here, and here. I haven’t heard of any flooding. And we don’t know yet if the river will grow again soon. It all depends on how fast the snow in the mountains melts and drains into reservoirs upstream. If it happens fast, more water may have to be released quickly. So far, it’s been a cold spring so the melting has been gradual.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Gas Up at the Stinker

Stinker Stations have been around Idaho since the 1930s. It’s a gas station chain started by a man with a keen sense of humor - the skunk used to be the big star. The skunk has taken more of a background role since the chain was sold, and since the chain became affiliated with Sinclair. The chains also used to use Burma Shave-style roadside signs for promotion – with sayings something like “Nudist Camp – keep your eyes on the road,” and there would be cutouts of discarded clothing nearby, and maybe a naked mannequin. A recent bus bench banner for Stinker Stations here in Boise said “If you think no one cares, miss a payment.” Stinker was one of the first stations to offer bio-fuels.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

This Used To Be Idaho's Tallest Building

A downtown Boise relic - the Idanha Hotel, which is no longer a hotel. It is home to apartments, offices and retail, the official name is "Idanha Building." When this hotel went up in the early 1900s, it was the tallest in the state, and the first Idaho building with an elevator. The turrets on the corners helped create its romantic reputation, and it used to be "the honeymoon hotel" when there wasn't much else around. This view is from Idaho Street, which I think is interesting because I've heard several times that "new owners" were going to rescue and renovate the hotel, and it looks like there is still some work to be done. The main entrance is on Main Street.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

“The Torch” – Legendary Inventor of Finger Steaks

I wish I had a photo of the original “Torch” lounge – this is what it looks like today, and you can see that is has changed into a “adult” entertainment venue that I didn’t think was open anymore, but the sign says they’re re-opening. The interesting thing about the Torch is that, supposedly, finger steaks were invented there. And until the Torch became what it is today, people I used to work with downtown would go there for finger steak lunches and dinners. Finger steaks are evidently a regional food. Although I see them on menus around Boise and Southwest Idaho, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them any place else. They’re usually small strips of sirloin, dipped in a batter and deep-fried. We used to get finger steaks and fries at Red Steer – a regional restaurant chain that shut down quite a few years ago. Fans of the original Torch finger steaks have tried to copy the recipe. Every once in a while, the local newspaper will print those recipes, and my husband clips them out hoping I’ll cook up a batch. I haven’t yet. It is, however, on my culinary “to-do” list.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Boise River Surge

I'll be posting Boise River photos throughout the weekend because the river is supposed to rise quite a bit. Those in charge of the spigots at the dams upstream are opening them wide. River flows where I took this photo will soon be around 1,500 cfs (cubic feet per second) - so a warning has been issued to stay out of the water. Although, it might entice the hardcore kayakers. But standing in the middle of the river to fish is not advised. A downside for the wildlife is that some ducks and Canada geese that nested along the banks may find their nests and eggs washed away. Those with homes along the river shouldn't see any major problems, the "real" flood stage for the river is somewhere around 7,000 cfs, although with all the development along the river in the Eagle area in recent years, I'm sure some of the giant homes would be flooded long before the river reached that stage. Compare water levels in this picture with April 3 here, it's always easier for me to look along the bank to see the difference. The bit of gravel and shrubs in the middle is not the other bank, it's just a little gravel bar-island - there are lots of those in the river.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

“Delsa’s Ice Cream Parlour” – CLOSED

A Boise landmark ice cream parlor has closed, and lots of people are wondering if it can ever re-open. “Delsa’s Ice Cream Parlour” on Ustick has been there for more than 45 years. New owners took over last year, but didn’t keep it open long…a sign on the door says the business and property is in bankruptcy. And although it looks unassuming, the ice cream has had a strong following for years. One of the first things I heard about Boise when I was a teen was that you had to go to Delsa’s for ice cream. And when I was involved with projects at the Western Idaho Fair, I remember one of Delsa’s staff bringing me a wonderful blackberry milkshake on a particularly hot day – it was much appreciated! Delsa’s scooped up ice cream for the fair for years. I drove by the restaurant last night and it wasn’t easy. Ustick is torn up and the project has wrecked Delsa’s small front parking lot. I peeked in the windows, the chairs are all stacked upside down on the tables. Tim Woodward wrote an article at the Idaho Statesman you can read here. If Delsa’s has a place in your heart, drive by soon because I have a feeling it may disappear quickly.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Obvious How Table Rock Got Its Name

The center-left in this photo is Table Rock - its natural flatness makes it easy to see how it got its name. There are several trails for hiking and biking up to the top. When you start from the bottom, it's about an 800-foot ascent. I have friends who hike to the top for fun, friends who are in much better shape than I. Along the way to the top, you can see interesting chunks of rock, mostly chunks of sandstone. Some are natural, most are not because they're leftovers from the old quarry up there. The sandstone from that quarry is seen on many old buildings downtown, including the Capitol.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Five Mile Sunset

Normally, this isn't one of the most memorable views in Boise, driving along Five Mile road near the railroad tracks just north of Franklin. There's razor wire topping the fence around power company equipment. And, industrial-looking buildings along the tracks. But the sunset is pretty right behind some small storm clouds. The railroad tracks run right by Boise Towne Square, the regional shopping mall. And yes, trains do come through, only freight trains, though. Amtrak passenger service stopped about ten years ago. Everyone once in a while, a car gets too close to the tracks when the trains come through and there's a small accident. The trains move slow through these areas. I remember an incident from about 20 years ago when a man ran his truck into the train as it was moving through the crossing. He was an older gentleman. He told police he thought he was too close to the tracks, so he popped his truck into "reverse" and gunned the engine to get back quick - only he put the engine in "drive" instead.

Monday, April 14, 2008

This Snowy View May Not Last Much Longer

The snow-capped mountains may not be in our view shed much longer. Boise's high temperature was 81 degrees yesterday, and the snow line in the view has risen. The warmer temperatures have greened things up in the valley, most trees are still without leaves, though. This picture was taken from along McMillan Road. This section doesn't have curbs or sidewalks on the north side of the street, and there is a canal running along the road.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Welcome to Boise from I-84

I don't drive on the I-84 highway very often, it's big through Boise until right after Overland, then it "skinnies" to two lanes in both directions - although they're going to expand it soon. This is approaching from the west. Traffic moves fast (for me) on the interstate. The speed limit is 65, so drivers cruise closer to 75 if traffic isn't heavy. If that overpass wasn't "in the way," you'd see the mountains again, kinda. We had warmer temperatures, so the haze I have mentioned in other posts appeared. The mountain views became more blurry throughout the day.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Another "Mountain View"

I snapped this picture while driving on State Street, technically in Eagle, I think. The lines between Boise, Meridian and Eagle are a bit blurred for most of us because they seem to run into each other. I'm enjoying these mountain views every day, because soon - the view won't contain so much contrast. When the snow melts, the mountains and hills may show a bit of green, but they go to brown quickly. We're going to see our temperatures here in the valley get close to 80 this weekend, but our warm weather is not here to stay yet, although people may be tempted and starting putting young tender plants outside. Our average last frost date is May 9. And there are some around here who say never plant outside until all the snow melts off Schaeffer Butte - which is the highest peak we see from the valley.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Water is Here!

It's not very pretty, but this is the water that will nourish our yards and gardens starting this week. And water farms further downstream. I happened to drive by just as the water was turned on for the canal system in my area of Boise. You can see bits of dead plants and trash in this photo, people were standing near the grills and gates downstream to fish out the debris. This particular canal is not lined with concrete, it's just a dirt trench. Canals criss-cross town and most of the state - Idaho is the most irrigated state in the nation. I remember being totally surprised when driving across the country that all those farm fields in the Midwest didn't have any canals, ditches or giant sprinkler systems, I always thought that was the only way to farm. People die in these canals every year. They think it looks like a nice place to swim, but the appeal is deceiving. The water is always very cold, it moves very fast and the banks are steep - making it hard to get out. About twenty years ago, kids would tie boards to canal bridges and "boogie board surf" against the current. I think a law was passed to try to stop that.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hyatt Wetlands Waiting for Spring

This is the view folks using the fairly-new Maple Grove connection off the Boise Bench see. Hyatt Wetlands used to be only a private view for the folks who live in the subdivision lining the area - which wasn't such a grand view in the past, when the area was a gravel mine pit. The wetlands naturally restored themselves a bit when the mining was done, then serious rehab work took place. I always remember a panicked story about the area about five years ago. Someone who lives in one of those houses overlooking the wetlands called 9-1-1 to report that a man had been seen walking into the wetlands with a baby in his arms and a shovel, and he walked out without the baby. Searching went on for days with volunteers and trained dogs but nothing was ever found. The man was also never located - it's forever a mystery.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

April Snow Showers Bring....

A surprise to wake up to snow this morning. It probably won't stick around all day, but there is more forecast for tonight. We always joke at our house that it snows late in the season when the snow peas start coming up. We checked yesterday and sure enough, the snow peas were peaking through the soil. This is a shot of the Boise River. I went for a short walk along the greenbelt this morning to see how much the river has risen. River flows will be increased through next week, as water is released from upstream dams to make room for melting mountain snow. I could hear the rushing water before I saw the water, and if you look here you can see just how much the river has risen in just under a week.

Going to the...Opera?

A mega theater along I-84, 21 screens inside. We went out to the theater complex to visit Goody's, an ice cream and candy shop, and look at the cute fountain in the plaza. Goody's is out of business at that location. The fountain was dry. Businesses across from the theater seem to have a tough time making it, except for Pronto Pup. My last visit to Edwards 21 was a few weeks back, and I wasn't there to see a movie. I was there to see the simulcast of the Met Opera's performance of Hansel and Gretel. That shanty-looking shelter in front of the theater is for sound system setups, I think. I've seen promotions that they have outdoor events in the plaza. We woke up to snow in Boise this morning - so there will be a second daily photo posting later this morning!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Burnin' Down the House

This is why some areas on the West Boise Bench were smoky and hazy yesterday. It was a house fire, on purpose. Firefighters demolished this house for training. I drove by several times on errands and noticed that they set fires in different areas of the house, then practiced rescues, then put the fire out, then started another one. At the end of the day, the house was a pile of smoldering ashes. A few days before the practice run, all the large trees near the house were cut down - I assume to reduce the risk of the fire spreading.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Historic Boise Children's Home

The Boise Children's Home on Warm Springs Avenue. It used to be an orphanage, and served that role until 1966. There are people I know who grew up there, and they weren't true "orphans." They were shipped there by their parents for various reasons - they were too much trouble, the family didn't have money, that sort of thing. When the foster care system was developed, the Children's Home role was phased out. The building is now home to counseling services for children and training for those who help children. The building's cornerstone was laid 100 years ago - May 1908. The sandstone used for the building came from the Table Rock quarry, just as did the sandstone used for the State Capitol.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The East Boise Foothills

This picture is close to the eastern edge of the Boise Foothills. This plateau is called Table Rock. The cross is lighted at night. The cross has caused controversy in past years. Until I drove out this way yesterday, I hadn't realized such a forest of antennas had joined the cross. Native Americans consider the site to be sacred. It's an official reserve because of the native plants tucked into the rocks and on the hillsides - plants that no longer live along most of the foothills. There are several hiking trails up to, and around, the plateau - and the nearby Castle Rock. Evidence of the old quarry can be seen along several of the trails. Much of the sandstone seen in older buildings around town came from the quarry.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The West Edge of the Boise Foothills

Another cloudy, dark day in Boise. This is a shot of the west edge of the Boise Foothills. We'll be going up to the central and east side today. The homes on the ridge are big - at least 3,000 square feet and up. The scrub and grass hillsides match up with what the desert south of town looks like. Unless a tree is deliberately planted, it doesn't grow naturally in these areas. Cloud cover obscures the mountains beyond, normally, you can see the "tree line" - where mostly evergreens grow.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sign of Spring in Boise, and a "Get to Work" Sign

A forsythia shrub, a wild-looking one that hasn't been trimmed to within an inch of its life. When they're aggressively trimmed, they don't bloom as profusely. Forsythia used be a very common foundation and landscape shrub in this area, although like the juniper, I see it less often these days. Our home used to have forsythia shrubs at the foundation in the front and I couldn't wait to dig them out - they were infested with earwigs, little earwig breeding centers. I do like to see them in other people's yards, though! There's a saying around here that when the forsythia blooms, it's time to "get to work" and trim the roses. I know all roses are different, so it's a general rule. But under the "general rule" I have a lot of rose trimming to do in the coming weeks. Also, I've heard some people refer to the forsythia as the "state flower of Idaho." The state flower is another shrub - the syringa, which has fewer flowers, white flowers, and darker glossier leaves.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Boise River at Breakfast

A shot of the Boise River at breakfast time. The water looks a little more blue in the morning. The river is still running low, although that will change as water is released from the system of dams upstream to make room for all the new water melting off the mountains.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A "little" Bit of Color Along the Boise River

I was walking on the Greenbelt along the Boise River yesterday...just looking for some color. Everything looks monotone right now as we wait for the real spring (the rumor is it might warm to 70 degrees this weekend - that'd do it). I found a little bit of scruffy green grass and a lonely mallard along the river bank.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Boise Puzzle Favorite

This is a shot of the box of our favorite Boise puzzle. I'm loaning it to someone this week - it's a nice 500-piece project. It's from an Eric Dowdle folk art painting. I ordered a dozen of these puzzles a few years ago to give as Christmas presents. Interestingly, I found the puzzles in the bargain bin at an online puzzle shopping site - and the description didn't say anything about Boise. But that Train Depot clued me in that it was a depiction of the City of Trees. It also features our now-defunct Boise River Festival - with all the hot air balloons. I don't know if the 500-piece edition is still available, but there is a 1000-piece version of this puzzle that's easily found. Last year, Eric Dowdle was one of the featured artists at Art in the Park. He also sells prints of his original painting.