Sunday, August 3, 2008

Boise

After all of the mosquito swatting that we did in the Sawtooths, we were very happy to arrive in Boise and be inside again. We had definitely hit bug overdose.

It was generally a quiet and restful week, as we took a vacation from our vacationing. It used to be that camping was a vacation, but these days *not* camping is a vacation. We enjoyed the hotel pool and hot tub multiple times, lounged around, and took in some Boise sights and general city amenities.

On Tuesday afternoon, we found the $1 movie theater and went to see the afternoon showing of Prince Caspian (the Chronicles of Narnia movie). We were surrounded by kids, some of whom hadn’t yet mastered the skill of keeping their mouths closed during movies, but it was nonetheless an enjoyable outing.

The day had started out cool, but after the movie the temperature was nearing 90 degrees. It seemed like the perfect time to check out the local water park, which was touted as “the biggest water park in the Northwest”. Unfortunately, when we got there, there wasn’t a soul in site. Signs informed us that the park was shut due to inclement weather. The weather seemed perfect now for water parking, but apparently the early afternoon thunderstorms had shut the place down for the day. Bummer.

On Wednesday, we went to the Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site. Oddly, multiple guide books cite this as the attraction to see in Boise. The prison was in use from the late 1800s until it was closed after an inmate riot and fire in the 1970s. Now some of the buildings are open for public tours.

Here’s Sarah in one of the cell blocks:

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Most of the cells had multiple layers of peeling paint and funny toilet seats / chairs.

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Some cells were for two inmates and others were for four. Many were surprisingly very colorful.

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In addition to the prison memorabilia, the grounds housed several random historical exhibits covering topics such as electricity, prison tattoo history, and transportation. We thought this perspective on the telephone was pretty interesting.

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The label next to the Mickey Mouse phone says “one of many recent models”. Made us wonder how old the exhibit was.

Back to touring the prison, we saw the solitary confinement building (also known as “Siberia”) and more cell blocks. We also saw the laundry facility, which housed enormous and very antique-looking washing machines.

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Finally we walked back through the stone entrance (under the tower) and viewed the Women’s Ward, which was oddly outside of the stone wall encompassing the rest of the prison.

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After our tour, we went to the Alive After Five festivity in downtown Boise. All summer, there are free Wednesday night performances featuring local bands. The band wasn’t especially exciting, but it was fun to kick back under the shade of the trees in the square and watch the crowd, including the numerous kids running around through the fountain and squealing loudly.

That night, we stayed at the On the River RV Park since we’d only booked the Holiday Inn for two nights. We generally avoid RV parks because they are typically large parking lots that are not very tent-friendly. There weren’t a lot of camping options in Boise, though, and this place was located right next to the minor league baseball stadium. Since we wanted to see a game anyway, it seemed like a convenient place to spend the night.

As it turns out, our tent site was really close to the baseball stadium (as in, about twenty feet from the center field wall). We set up our tent and then walked over to the stadium where we discovered that it was $1 ticket night. Score! We also got $1 popcorn and hotdogs. What a deal. The game featured the Everett Aquasox (a Seattle Mariners minor league team) facing off against the Boise Hawks (a Chicago Cubs minor league team). The game was a comedy of errors – nine total errors during the game – but the Hawks prevailed, earning each of us a free Frosty from Wendy’s in the process by winning the game with more than 11 runs.

After the game, we walked across the street to Dairy Queen in search of a Thin Mint Blizzard that we’d seen advertised. We finally got one, after walking through the drive-through because the main store was closed.

Thursday morning, we hung around the RV park for a while making use of the free internet to plan our next stops before going back to downtown Boise to check into our bed and breakfast for Sarah’s birthday celebration. The bed and breakfast was the J.J. Shaw House – a historic house in downtown. It was quite cute, and our room even had a clawfoot bathtub. For dinner, we went to the Old Spaghetti Factory. All in all, Sarah had a much better “birthday observed” than real birthday.

On Friday, we spent the morning hanging out at the bed and breakfast and enjoying a full breakfast of stuffed French toast with berry syrup and bacon. Yum. Then we packed up to drive west to Oregon.

Overall, we were surprised at how much we liked Boise. It was nicely situated near mountains, easy to get around, and had city amenities but wasn’t too big. Next stop, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon.

3 comments:

Rake said...

You have presented Boise in such a way that I wouldn't mind taking a visit there. Thanks!

twoinatent said...

No problem! Glad you liked it!

Lisa said...

Your trip to Boise sounded like fun. I saw Prince Caspian as well. And what luck you saw a seattle team in Idaho.