- Where We Started: Garden City, Idaho
- Where We Ended: Twin Falls, Idaho
- Miles Driven: 194 (14,232 total).
- New States: None.
- States So Far: 22 (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho)
THE DAY'S HIGHLIGHTS
The clouds, cold and rain that had left us alone on Sunday returned on Monday, so the FHMA crew chose to hunker down in Boise for most of the day to get caught up on sleep, e-mail and laundry. But we did make one stop of note before day's end, and Fred and Hank took full advantage of it.
After our 1am arrival on Monday, Joan requested some down time, and I immediately agreed we needed it. Yes, we have a schedule we're trying to adhere to in order to get home on time, but it's got some flexibility. So I got nine hours sleep, which I needed after a stressful late-night drive where I was awake but not sharp. Joan didn't get as much sleep, as she woke up hearing the call of St. Washer & Dryer. By the time we left the hotel at 2pm, Joan had done seven loads of laundry -- seriously. This epic performance, even by Joan standards, included the laundering of our coats and the dog's car beds and blankets.
After an excellent lunch in Boise, we decided to walk the dogs around Idaho's capital city. Now, Idaho was our absolute favorite state on the 2003 tour, thanks to the kindness of the people and the beauty of the state itself. In fact, we've been back to Coeur d'Alene -- a resort town in the far north of the state -- once already, and are heading back again this summer. We also had a wonderful experience in Boise on the first trip. But we couldn't match it this time, as the weather and a largely deserted downtown dampened our enthusiasm. Even the birds seemed bored.
Because we'd gotten a late start, it was already close to 4pm by the time we left Boise, so our plan to reach Craters of the Moon National Monument on Monday was toast. So, seeking another potential destination, I discovered Bruneau Dunes State Park, about 45 minutes east of Boise. Now, White Sands National Monument is one of our favorite places on Earth, so the idea of being able to see some dunes appealed to us. What we didn't anticipate was how much it would appeal to the dogs.
When we arrived at Bruneau, the dunes were cool, but the sand was not the striking white we love so much about White Sands. And the dunes were confined to a relatively small area, and not sprawling out over thousands of acres. Still, dunes were was an interesting sight in the middle of land-locked Idaho, so we took the dogs out of the car, and because the park was largely deserted, decided to let them run off-leash.
Now, we knew the dogs had just been through a bunch of boring days. The combination of long drives and bad weather had turned them into prisoners of our car and hotel rooms. But I don't think we knew to what extent they needed freedom until we unhooked their leashes and let them go. For the next half hour, Fred ran like he hasn't in years, and Hank followed suit. A few times, we had to call them back from a faraway dune. It was the happiest either of us had seen the dogs on the entire trip. It may well be that they're ready to go home, where they have the freedom of the invisible fence.
Anyway, without further ado, I will now shut up as we now present: "Fred & Hank: Sand Dudes."
The dunes at Bruneau were also interesting, even when they didn't have beagles trampling all over them.
Skip(Photo by Jim)
By the time we left Bruneau, we had two exhausted dogs and only a little time before dark. So we attempted a detour to the Minidoka Internment National Monument, near Hunt, Idaho. Minidoka was the location of a Japanese internment camp from August 1942 until October 1945, and held 13,000 internees from the states of Washington, Oregon and Alaska, making it the largest of all the internment camps. The site was declared a national monument in 2001, and last May, President Bush signed a bill expanding the borders of Minidoka. But the work to expand it has just begun, and the existing facility doesn't have a visitors' center or any personnel located there. So it was hard to know what was part of the monument and what wasn't. So Joan snapped some pictures, and I tried to match them up with photos on the official Minidoka site.
Unfortunately, without any map of Minidoka, there wasn't much we could do, so we headed to Twin Falls, where we put down for the night.
Reader Dennis Tuttle mentioned in the comments area that Boise was a stop of note on the Fred Takes America tour of 2003. He's got an excellent memory. Here's what I wrote about our Boise experience in 2003:
Sometimes you find the coolest places by accident. We had always planned to spend a little time in Boise, but our tire issues got us here faster. Once we found out we needed to leave the car at the dealer for three hours, we decided to take the shuttle downtown and walk around. Turned out to be a great call.
First of all, it is a very pretty, compact little city with a bit of a skyline. Our visit started with a great lunch, but more on that later. We then walked past what looked like a nice barber shop (it billed itself as a "salon for men"), so I decided to get my hair cut. Joan decided to go wait with Fred in the city's Center on the Grove.
While Joan sat there, two little girls in bathing suits ran into the fountain in the square and started playing. Then, a woman in her 60s, carrying a purse and a FedEx envelope, walked up, peeled off her clothes to reveal a bathing suit, and walked into the fountain. After she emerged, she dried off, put her clothes back on, picked up her stuff and walked off. Shortly thereafter, a bunch of young kids using plastic containers as drums set up in the square and started playing. Turns out they were part of a cultural group that meeting in town. They invited Joan -- who played the drums as a teenager -- to participate, but alas, she had the dog and I was still getting my hair cut. Meanwhile, people kept coming up and playing with Fred. All in all, she had a wonderful time just observing the people going about their way in this friendly city.
Meanwhile, I was back at the salon. I walked in expecting a quick visit, but I ended up being there for more than an hour, getting an absolutely incredible haircut. Turned out the guy cutting my hair was Sicilian and spoke only broken English, but I did pick up that he had six kids and taught break-dancing at the local community college at night. We ended up having a fascinating conversation about the differences in raising children in the U.S. and in Sicily (not that I had much to contribute). So I'm sitting there thinking about how I'm getting the best haircut of my life from Biagio Adornetto, who is without question the only Sicilian barber in Boise, Idaho who also teaches break-dancing. If meeting people like this is not precisely what this trip is about, I don't know what is.
So I headed back to the park, and Joan and I traded stories about what we did during our time apart. Meanwhile, more people came up to play with Fred and make conversation with us. I'm not sure how many of you saw the movie "Funny Farm" with Chevy Chase, but there's a scene where Chevy decides he wants to move from the little redneck town he has moved to, and to sell the potential buyers, he pays everyone in town to act like as if the town is the most bucolic place on Earth, so carolers walk the streets, women bring fresh pies by the house, etc. That is what Boise felt like.
An epilogue to this story: It turned out that I'd left a prized baseball cap at the "men's salon," which I only realized when the salon called our home phone in Virginia to let us know. The owner of the store said she'd be glad to mail it home, but since we were coming back through Boise a week later, we told her we'd call her when we knew our exact timing. It turned out we were coming back on a Sunday, when the shop is closed. She then volunteered to drive the cap from her home to the interstate, where we could meet up. We asked how long a drive that was, and she said, "40 minutes." We eventually told her that was crazy -- although maybe not as crazy as chasing a baseball cap around the country -- and went to her house to get the hat. This was typical of our Idaho experience, and why we've gone back a few times. The people are lovely and considerate, and the terrain is absolutely gorgeous.
- Reader Ken Sands sent along this link about the famous 1961 murders committed on the Crooked River Bridge, which we visited Saturday. This crime led to the first and only death sentence for a woman in the state of Oregon, though she was never executed. I always find it unsettling to be in the exact place where a horrible event once occurred. Just last week, I did a Google search to find something for my post about our visit to Yosemite National Park, and I happened upon a link about the four murders committed by Cary Stayner near Yosemite in 1999. I remembered the murders well, but not the details. It turned out that one of the victims, Juli Sund, had been murdered a few hundred yards away from a scenic overlook at the Don Pablo Reservoir. We'd just been to that overlook mere hours before. Creepy.
- Interesting trivia note about Twin Falls, Idaho: Among the graduating class of Twin Falls High School in 1931 is one Mark Felt, the former FBI man who turned out to be "Deep Throat." He was also born in Twin Falls.
- Sign of the Day: "Piehole: Pizza by the Slice," in Boise. This has to be the best-named pizza place ever. Unfortunately, great restaurant names -- there was once a 24-hour Chinese place in New York called "Wok Around the Clock" -- are rarely matched by the food. I guess if the food was good, you wouldn't need the cute name.
- Hilarious scene in the hotel room on Monday night. We stopped to pick up a pizza, then dropped it and the dogs off in the room before returning to the car to get the rest of our stuff. Now, we're not dummies, so we put the pizza on top of the ice bucket, which was on top of the piece of furniture that contained the microwave and the refrigerator. So the dogs were not going to reach that pizza. But when we came back to the room five minutes later, this is what we saw:
- Random iPod shuffle song of the day: "The Logical Song," by Supertramp. I love this song, but am admittedly lukewarm on the band. Supertramp made a few terrific songs, and one great album -- "Breakfast in America" -- but they never really spoke to me.
- Here's our Day 5 report on our A-to-Z iPod Exploration:
- First Song of the Day: "Back in Business," by Trevor Rabin (from "Armageddon").
- Last Song of the Day: "The Ballad of Ira Hayes," by Johnny Cash.
- Best Songs: "Back in the High Life Again," by Steve Winwood; "Backstreets," by Bruce Springsteen; "Bad," by U2; "Bad to the Bone," by George Thorogood & The Destroyers; "Badge," by Cream; "Badlands," by Bruce Springsteen; "Baker Street," by Gerry Rafferty.
- Pleasant Surprises: None, sadly.
- Bad Songs by Good Artists: "Back on the Chain Gang'," by The Pretenders; "Bad Day," by R.E.M.
- Lunch: Gernika Basque Pub & Eatery, Boise, Idaho: At 15,000, Boise has the second-largest Basque population in the United States and, as a result, there are a lot of restaurants in town that serve Basque cuisine. Because we wanted to try Basque food and this place was ranked No. 1 among all restaurants in Boise on tripadvisor.com, we gave it a whirl. Walking in, we weren't sure what we'd gotten ourselves into. First, no one was in the place. Second, it was so cramped that Joan had to climb over chairs to get to our table. Third, when Joan did arrive at the table, she was so close to the ladies' room that if she'd fallen backwards in her chair, she would have been in a toilet. Finally, the waiter was less than cheerful. Joan looked worried, so I reminded her that some of the best places we'd ever eaten at were dives had atmospheres just like this one. Thankfully, I was right for a change, as the chorizo sandwiches we both had were fantastic, full of taste and carrying a serious bite. To start, Joan had a good salad, and I had the spicy Basque vegetable soup. Oddly, once the food arrived, everything else seemed to change too. The waiter got nicer. What we'd originally viewed as cramped now looked homey. Amazing what can happen when a place handles its most important task -- the food -- so successfully. (By the way, don't you hate it when someone says something is the "second largest" and doesn't mention what's first? The answer: Bakersfield, Calif. has the largest Basque population in the U.S.) Jim Nutrition Rating: 1.5 stars (out of 5). I would have given myself two starts, since I eschewed the fries for soup, but I messed that up when I decided to get a second chorizo sandwich. Restaurant Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5).
- Dinner: Idaho Pizza Company, Twin Falls, Idaho: Joan had a hankering for pizza, and we all know that, when you think pizza, you think Idaho. OK, maybe not. But I was up for giving it a shot, and the gamble paid off, as our pepperoni pizza was delicious. Despite our success here, we'll probably skip the Nebraska Lobster Company. Jim Nutrition Rating: 1.5 stars (out of 5). Only because we didn't eat anything but the pizza. Restaurant Rating: 4 stars (out of 5).
- Comfort Inn & Suites, Twin Falls, Idaho: On our 2003 trip, Joan and I found Comfort Inns to be the most consistent budget hotel chain we stayed at. But, on this trip, we've been disappointed at how many Comfort Inns no longer accept dogs, so we've stayed there far less frequently. But when we have stayed, we've generally been happy, and this CI was no exception. We got a nice big room with the fastest wireless we've had in a while, with the only downside being we're on the second floor and there's no elevator, which is great fun for my back. The walls are also thin, to the point where the people in the next room can probably hear me typing this. Hotel rating: 4 stars (out of 5, on the budget hotel scale).
COMMENT OF THE DAY
BONUS BEAGLE PHOTO