Kelsey & Louise: Solo Road Trip Part I
Louise is my Toyota Corolla. 2 years old, named so after my Mom's middle name, she has been a great car. We haven't been on many long adventures together apart from a weekend excursion to Bellingham (about 3 hours north of Seattle) and trips to visit family a little further north and south all within an hour of me. Truly just the day to day of work and life and, though not as exciting, the day to day is still pretty great.
As far as road trips go, I only have one under my belt. It was an awesome trip to San Francisco done with my friend Nicole. We made our way along Highway 101, loving every inch of coast and beautiful landscape in our view.
From that excursion I discovered one road trip isn't enough and the month of October allowed a couple great reasons to make a journey.
Destination no. 1: Boise, Idaho
Motivation: My Dad & step family
My Dad Jon and Step-mom Cathy moved back to Idaho after a brief time in Washington and though I loved having them closer, an 8 hour drive is more than worth it to come see them. Cathy is from Idaho and I had visited only once before for their wedding two years ago. The weekend of the 14th I had plans to attend a marketing conference in Las Vegas (Part II to come) and wanted to make a different kind of adventure than a flight...on the road with Louise, seeing parts of the U.S. I had never visited before, stretches of quiet contemplation broken up by audio books and rest stop breaks to stretch my legs. I fell in love with the wheat colored hills, massive yet soft in their smooth slopes, so opposite of the densely forested and rocky facades of Washington's hills. A different kind of beauty on the road to Idaho.
It was a relaxed and super engaging trip exploring nearby capitol Boise and the beautiful highlights of the city. It was great to spend time with family and Cathy was such an awesome guide! And great company. She kindly took me to some of the most famous and quintessential spots of the city.
Boise: "The Land of Trees"
The Capitol Building
Designed and built after the Washington D.C. capitol, the massive Dome and Cupola gives a tender sense of grandeur and history next to the modern buildings of downtown Boise. Before walking up the steps you'll meet a reproduction of the liberty bell, the bell which was sounded at the U.S. independence in 1776. You can even ring it, which Cathy did, the loud gong reverberating in my ears and taking me even further back in time. I particularly loved the interior, which was made almost entirely of marble, acquired from quarries in Georgia, Alaska, Vermont, and Italy. It's an awakening to your senses, large ornate columns, detailed geometric tile floors full of contrasting black and red marble, antique brass light fixtures reminiscent of the Victorian age with large round opal glass shades. I loved it. Though a political career is far from my calling, I really want to work there. There was a lot to see and it's open to the public during the week from 7am-7pm and weekends from 9am-5pm with exhibits explaining the history of Idaho from it's formation in 1876 and covers many details on both the triumphs and struggles of the state. Super cool.
1924, on the 1st of August, the Boise train depot began construction. A landmark of of the city, I unfortunately only got to see the outside but it's an impressive architectural sight. Reminiscent of the Spanish style, the concrete building is covered with stucco and native Boise sandstone and the roof covered with terra cotta tile. In the sunlight of that day it created a stoic silhouette. We walked a little around the grounds, which include small winding paths and stairs between foliage and a small river. There is a tiny cave, where the sound of the water resounds surprisingly like the rush of the ocean. At the time we went, the grounds were rampant with high school cheerleaders getting their shots taken. Turns out it's a prime spot for professional photography and for local kids to hang. I can see why.
Table rock gives a spectacular view of the city. From here you can understand why the "city of trees" is such a fitting name because surrounded by the neutral desert landscape is a valley dense with trees. They almost blanket the whole area, the only breaks in the seemingly deep forest, are the buildings. Signs of fall were in full swing as gradations of rich reds and oranges colored the dark green. It is a really cool area that you can either hike up to or drive (about 20 minutes from downtown). We decided to drive that day so my first impression was not yet the view, but these amazing murals painted on the sides of the electrical maintenance buildings. I love street art, reflective of the character of the city and its people, these works of art were striking against the landscape. Nature, art, and industry existing cohesively together. It is a beautiful scenery that makes you pause a moment in reflection and appreciation.
One of the distinctive features of Table Rock, and certainly one you can appreciate from the city below, is this cross. It's about ___ feet high and was made in 1956 sponsored by the Boise Junior Chamber of Commerce. On the plaque it reads "may this cross inspire those who see it to better citizenship, higher ideals, and happier living".
the Most Awesome Coffee Shop in nampa
Nampa is about 30 minutes from Boise and includes, among a lot of cute shops and diner restaurants, the most awesome coffee shop called the Flying M. I wish it existed in Seattle, I might even write an email highly encouraging they add a third location (the original in downtown Boise). Though funnily enough the shop's humble beginnings were inspired by the coffee craze of the Northwest. Owners Kevin and Lisa Meyers and Kevin Montgomery opened Flying M after all living in Seattle and attending the University of Washington.
The Flying M is part coffee/pastry shop, lounge/study respite, and boutique. They carry an awesome array of journals, books, magnets, eco-friendly water bottles, postcards, and small dishware. I bought two candle coasters with the print of colorful llamas that made my day. It's a converted car maintenance shop, and the spacial layout is great, with ample cozy chairs and farmhouse tables, all a mismatch of styles, that encourage conversation and relaxation. I went while I was doing a cleanse (I might talk more about that :)) so I didn't try any of the pastries, but they smelled delicious, as did the brewed coffee. Oh and the bathroom was great too with a really charming and cool collection of art that filled the long, narrow cozy space.
This was a happenstance discovery while trying to visit the African American museum in Boise, which was sadly closed, but on the other side of the parking lot was this beautiful rose garden. Roses are one of my favorite flowers so I had to take at least a brief stroll through. It abuts the Boise art museum, a place I am determined to visit on my next stroll to the city and was created by the municipal
esther Simplot Park
This park is an awesome mix of colorful minimalistic art and thoughtful design, implementing paths that weave and stretch onto bridges and piers to look out over the river. I saw a family fishing, a couple skating back along the pier, a little boy playing along the waters edge of the sandy beach. The constructed waterways, like gentle rivers connect three major ponds, Quinn's and Simplot I and II, for kayakers and paddelboarders to enjoy. I walked around and saw that a trail extended further down and learned it's the Boise Greenbelt, about a 25 mile stretch of road that follows along the Boise river.
And the most interesting thing about it? It is part of a series of parks, called the "Ribbon of Jewels", named so for women who've held prominent roles in the Boise community as civic leaders. Alongside their husbands in different fields such as business and development, they helped mold different features of Boise as it's known today. There are eight parks currently, each devoted to expressing the legacy of eight influential and committed women of Boise.
In the case of Esther, she has played a critical role in funding and supporting the arts community in Boise. I read in this piece that she has helped ensure the success and continuation of the Boise Ballet, Opera, and Philharmonic as well as create the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy, which supports the Ballet. Her husband, J.R. Simplot, held an influential role in the agricultural industry of Boise for over 40 years. Together they made a huge difference for the area.
I departed from Cathy on Wednesday the 11th and began my way further south into the land of Nevada, to my final destination of Las Vegas.
But first, a stop in a cave.
Part II to come soon.