Boy-o-Boise!

ImageBoise, Idaho. It’s certainly not an area frequently advertised in destination brochures. And it’s not that I had ever thought anything negative about the city, frankly it has just never been on my radar. The only association I had ever had with Idaho (along with most others I am sure) is “home of the potato”. Well, I must say that it far exceeded any (or lack of) expectations I had! What a pleasant little place! Boise rings of a sweet mix of Portland, Oregon meets high desert- an oasis of green in the heart of the city with sprawling, vast and open landscapes beyond its borders- mostly conservative housing a healthy level of Mormon population with pockets of liberal, hipster and granola type folk- mild winters, plentiful sunlight and an array of outdoor activities for all ages. Could it be? Is this the “perfect” place the husband and I have spent our lives seeking?

The only actual reason we had given any thought to visiting was that a dear friend of our had recently relocated there to cohabitate with his awesome girlfriend. After spending close to a week camping in the woods, they had graciously opened up their home and welcomed us with a bed, shower and most delicious dinner. We always enjoy ourselves around good friends and good food. This time was no different. Image

Though we were on vacation, our friends were not so we spent the day cruising around this unknown place, walking the streets and taking in the sights. Our extremely artistic and talented friend Aaron had drawn us a map to downtown highlighting the best route to get there. We did a little shopping, stopped for dessert and then did a little hiking. A movie was also taken in before heading back to the house to dine at a lovely establishment thanks to Brown Betty as a most reliable mode of transportation (Aaron’s “vintage” VW van). 

Our hospitable friends are also fellow camping lovers so we all packed up and drove out. Deep in the heart of the Boise National Forest, we found a pristine spot on the Boise River. The beach was sandy and white while the water was crystal clear providing us with an idyllic, granted cold, swimming spot. It was private, it was quiet and it was beautiful. Meg brought her dog Koa, which normally I would have slightly complained about (as anyone who knows me knows I am not the biggest dog lover) but this dog is super cool and actually kind of made me like dogs a little more. He’s really not irritating and added to the humor and playfulness of the weekend. We also ate really well! Turns out camping cuisine does not have to be dull and boring at all when you have a duel stove top and dutch oven. There were even appetizers. 

ImageProbably the highlight of the weekend had to be learning to hold and shoot a gun(s) for the first time. I felt it really got me in touch with my inner badass/redneck. Aaron has been a lover of the sport for some time and came fully stocked and loaded. A .22 shotgun, a .357 revolver and a .45 1911 WWI/II era were the weapons of choice. Naturally we made sure we were in a safe area with no other humans around to get caught in the line of fire. I can also honestly say that I have a whole new level of appreciation and respect for the power these weapons contain.

It was a wonderful, fun and adventure filled weekend with good laughs and awesome company. We now have an excellent reason to revisit this newly discovered happy land and look forward to next time. Boise, ID. Who knew?

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Familiar places and faces

ImageI love coming back to our old stomping grounds. Every time we are in Ashland we are greeted with hugs, squeals and smiles. We lived here for about 2 1/2 years, which isn’t terribly long, but this is just the type of town that is easy to flow right back in to. It is comfortable in the best way and we feel at ease hopping from one favorite spot to another.

We arrived Saturday, with rains battering our truck and just enough time to spend with our lovely hostess (thank you Arica!) before we had to get ready for our other friends wedding. We donned our best (and looked quite spiffy I might add) and headed up the mountain. The wedding was taking place at the top of Mt. Ashland at the ski lodge. It is still June mind you, so the weather can be unpredictable. Rains were pouring in town but as we climbed, those little water droplets quickly transformed into snowflakes. Initially, the ceremony was to take place outdoors but it was obvious that this was no longer going to happen. The delicate flakes that danced around our vehicle suddenly became a sideways blizzard with almost whiteout conditions. The husband dropped me off at the door which was ever so gentlemanly of him as I was not dressed for the occasion- a little black dress and red heels is not snow weather attire. I found a familiar face and was directed to the bridal dressing area where I was welcomed with anticipating and happy faces. The wedding was beautiful of course and we ate, danced and spent the evening laughing uproariously.

Apparently, we arrived during a cold front because the next day was full of ominous clouds and sprinkling rains as well. After waking, we made our way to one of our favorite parks where I used to have weekly hoop jams. Which is why we were there this day! I got out the hoops, waited for the friends to arrive and spent an hour twirling and swirling until we all decided we were famished and ready for sushi! Now Kobe is one of my all-time favorite places to eat in Ashland. The crunchy cheese roll is out of this world amazing- almost dessert like. Stuffing ourselves silly and leaving with the biggest smile on my face, we were ready for darts at the Black Sheep! So many epic and fun memories have been spent here and this time was no less great. More friends arrived and we stayed until closing time. Image

Of course by this point, you are pretty wiped out but since you are on vacation and have such a short period of time with your amazing friends, you suck it up and keep going. We were a bit more lazy and struggled getting out of bed by day 3 but we felt we should get out. We wandered to a place we have driven past many times but never spent time at. The trails and gardens at the North Mountain Nature Center are beautiful! I have always dreamed of having gardens like these in my backyard but now that we are in the desert, the possibilities are not quite the same. We strolled along some of the paths, took a nap in the grass but the rain was back again (that’s Oregon for ya), so we left and went to a friends house to hot tub (and yes, I am using that as a verb). Soaking and relaxing so deeply that it was hard not to fall asleep, is just awesome. Soon it was once again time to prepare for the evenings next outing- jazz at Martinos- which used to be one of our Monday night rituals. My girlfriend has been singing with the jazz trio for a couple of years and she gets better and better every time I see her perform!

Yesterday was spent walking Main Street to do some shopping. And cupcake eating. Larry’s has the best cupcakes and I make it a point to go anytime I am in town! The sun had finally come out so our walkabout was much more enjoyable. The time had come and our final evening was upon us. And what better way to spend it than with a BBQ and gathering of our closest friends? The food was amazing of course. We drank wine, cuddled and giggled, smoked from the hookah, took endless photos and sighed through the night at our upcoming departure. 

So here I am on our final morning, cleaning up the happy messes from the blissful night before and reliving the wonderful events of our time spent in this heart warming town. I will be out of touch for the next number of days as we backpack along the Rogue River and ultimately make our way a bit south to the Redwoods. To our favorite places, super amazing friends and more memories to someday come- thank you all! Ashland, you will always hold a place in our hearts. We love you!