After being here for two-plus weeks, it’s high time we headed downtown and checked out Boise, Idaho’s state capital! We decided we’d do this in two parts and see some of the things located on the exterior portions of the city and then return on Sunday morning when traffic is lighter to see more of the interior and walk around. We discovered this was an excellent idea because the Iron Man races began in town today with the final race on Saturday.
But before I forget (again), here’s the last Spudology 101 question, and think this one was probably my favorite: The potato chip was invented by: a) Lay’s Diner in Hoboken, New Jersey; b) Mrs. Winifred P. Geuss (grandmother of Martha Geuss-Pringle), St. Louis, Missouri; c) Sands Resort Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada; d) Moon’s Lake Hotel in Saratoga, New York – and as always the answer’s below.
Our first stop was Boise State University (BSU), home of the Bronco’s and the infamous blue field, or affectionately called “smurf turf” by the locals. BSU has over 18,400 students pursuing their undergraduate and graduate degrees on the 153-acre campus lining the Boise River. BSU is the state’s highest-enrollment university and one of the West’s fastest growing schools. We found the stadium and fortunately parking right out front and went through the entrance housing their Hall of Fame as well as seeing the Humanitarian Hall of Fame also housed in the entrance to the stadium. This unusual museum honors the efforts of “those who go beyond the game”. Founded in 1994 and showcases such benevolent sports stars as Arthur Ashe, Roberto Clemente, Mary Lou Retton and the Harlem Globetrotters. Two or three newcomers are inducted each year.
Fortunately, we met a gentleman working there that told us our timing was great to be able to go into the stadium and walk around – and that’s just what we did. The team was not practicing and we could see lots of construction of new seats as well as all around the stadium. But, unfortunately couldn’t access the field to walk on the “smurf turf”, but did manage to get several pictures of it as well as around the stadium. From BSU we headed downtown and found the visitor’s information center to get loaded up with more literature and information about things to see around town.
For those of you not intimately aware of Boise, it’s the state’s most populous city and has a total population of just over 200,000, it’s located on the same latitude as Boston, Massachusetts, Marseilles, France and Sapporo, Japan and located at an elevation of about 2,800’. The city is nestled in the foothills of the Boise Mountains with the Boise River flowing through the center of town on its way to the confluence with the Snake River about forty miles west of town.
French trappers called the water Riviere Boisee (Wooded River), and the pleasant spot where they lingered awhile came to be known as Les Bois (The Woods). Today it’s called Boise (BOY-see to locals, BOY-zee to tourists) – and you really can hear the distinctly different pronunciation by the locals. It’s still an oasis, both physically and culturally in the middle of the high desert that dominates southern Idaho and it is an absolutely beautiful city. Crime rates are low, little or no graffiti and the climate is mild enough to be enjoyed year-round with mild winters and temperate summers. AND, much to our joy, a 28-mile greenbelt bike path along the Boise River on both sides with easy access throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. Surprisingly, we have both really fallen in love with the area!
We decided to next visit the Old Idaho Penitentiary via Warm Springs Avenue – this was one of early Boise’s most prestigious addresses, and home after stately turn of the 20th century home was prettier than the next one – what a gorgeous drive down the shady, tree-lined avenue. The street didn’t get its name for nothing; Boise’s abundant geothermal resources were developed early in the city’s history and today many of the homes here continue to be heated with naturally hot water!
We both opted to not take the 90-minute walk through the Old Pen and instead just around the grounds outside. It is one of only four U.S. territorial prisons still standing and was built in 1870 and remained in use for more than a century. There’s even a woman’s ward there. Hard to fathom a 19th century cell-block with no internal plumbing (“night buckets” were used) and this served inmates until the 1970s. When not surprisingly, the antiquated conditions led to a riot in 1973 that resulted in the gutting of a couple of the buildings and later the Old Pen was shut down. It definitely has a different look to it – it looks like something from another time, part Wild West hang-‘em high hoosegow, part medieval castle.
Knowing we were going to return on Sunday morning, we decided to head home after running a few errands before doing so. The weather’s been delightful and promises of a nice weekend ahead!
Answer is “d” – At Moon’s Lake Hotel in Saratoga, a picky customer regularly complained that his fried potatoes were soggy. So one day the chef sent out a batch that he’d literally fried to a crisp. The customer loved them and the potato chip was “born”. Hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about spuds!
Till the next time . . .