Hard to believe this is our last weekend here in the Boise area! On Saturday morning, we met at Jerry’s for breakfast again and this time a different cast of characters! Not only going to see Scott and Rick again, but to see Scott’s oldest, Brandon and meet his new bride Shauna!
Brandon and Shauna are here visiting for the weekend for a memorial tribute to Scott’s parents at a family get together. So we were so pleased Scott was able to get some time for me to see Brandon again – last time I saw him he was seven years old, or twenty-three years ago! Ouch! I always thought he was a darling little seven year old, but now at thirty, he’s grown into a very handsome young man. Shauna, his bride of approximately eight months was equally delightful and just precious! It was a fun time “reconnecting” and hearing about their lives in our nation’s capital city.
This morning Jerry and I got up and drove to downtown Boise to get some pictures of the city without the traffic impeding our progress. The first stop was in the Julia Davis Park. Thomas Jefferson Davis was one of Boise’s earliest pioneer settlers. He and his brother homesteaded 360-acres in 1863 raising vegetables they sold to the Boise Basin mining communities. Davis, along with a group of other pioneers laid out the foundation for downtown Boise. Later he married Julia McCrum of Canada and their agricultural empire grew over the years and they continued to add to their real estate holdings in the valley. At the beginning of the 20th century, they offered the city 40 acres along the river for a park and in 1907 it became a reality.
Today this park is the queen of Boise’s park system holding many of the city’s major attractions and plenty of open space. Our first stop was at the Pioneer Park that houses the log cabin the Davis’s lived in when they arrived in what is now called Boise. The park also has the Boise Art Museum, the Idaho Historical Museum, Idaho Black History Museum and the Boise Zoo as well as the Rose Garden. Naturally all were closed on Sunday morning, but it didn’t prevent us from walking through the grounds and through the rose garden to enjoy the magnificent scents from acres of rose bushes. It was heavenly!
From the park we continued down Capitol Avenue with our next destination in clear sight: the Idaho State Capitol building! Can you see it’s an exact replica, albeit on a smaller scale as the U.S. Capitol building? Construction began in 1905 and was completed in 1920 at the cost of $2.3M. It is the only capitol in the country heated with geo-thermal hot water. However, the outside does not gleam like its inspiration in Washington, DC, but is instead a rather drab tan, thanks to the exterior use of Boise sand stone, multi-ton blocks were quarried behind the old Idaho State Penitentiary and hauled to the site by convicts. We are hopeful time will allow us to return and visit the inside of the capitol building to see the various ever-changing exhibits. There are 60-foot-high faux-marble pillars supporting the dome and the very top of which is painted on the underside with 43 stars – Idaho was the 43rd state in the union – against a blue background.
We also visited the Basque Block of the city. Basques began settling here in significant numbers in the late 1890s. Today Boise’s Basque population is one of the largest in the country. There’s a museum and a Basque Center, naturally closed today, but we were able to walk around the block taking in some of the sights and plaques telling us more about the culture. We had been to the Basque region in Spain and were a bit familiar with the history of the Basques as well as their unique language that defies origins to historians studying their culture and history. So, this was a fascinating find to us both. Their native language is still alive here in Boise along with several restaurants specializing in the Basque cuisine. We have reservations at one of the renowned Basque restaurants in the area on Tuesday evening with Linda and Steve called Epi’s!
Also spied while we were driving around was the old, now defunct grand dame hotel called the Idanha (pronounced EYE-din-ha), built in 1901. This was designed by the French chateau-style masterpiece architect, W.S. Campbell and Idaho’s first six-story building and the first in the state to have an electric elevator. It was completed at the cost of $125,000 and considered the finest hotel west of the Mississippi and featured bay windows, claw foot tubs and the finest furnishings. In the hotel glory days, such notables as Teddy Roosevelt, John and Ethel Barrymore, Buffalo Bill, William Borah and Clarence Darrow all spent the night here. Now the rooms have been converted to apartments and the ground floor is a restaurant and lounge.
Eighth Street is blocked off to traffic and comprises of shops and quaint restaurants, cafes and markets – there’s so much to see and do and we have only just scratched the surface of this charming western city! When we left the capital area we finally caught a glimpse of the Greenbelt (the bike path running adjacent to the Boise River for 28-miles) and then caught a glimpse of the Boise Depot/Platt Gardens. The city of Boise owns the beautiful old Union Pacific Depot where the Amtrak route had once stopped. Has been abandoned since 1977 and is a small landscaped hill-side with fountains, ponds and trees.
We both wish we had experienced better weather while here to allow more time to explore this enchanting city. It’s definitely on the list to return to see and explore more in the future.
Till the next time . . .