Great American Road Trip Day 2 – Onward to Boise

With ourselves and the car fueled, we enjoyed the drive past snow-covered mountains to Boise, Idaho.

Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains

Boise is the state capital, with big domed building in its downtown area.  We arrived on a Sunday around 7:30 pm and I was surprised that the joint was jumping.  Boise’s downtown has several streets (not just a strip) of restaurants, clubs and interesting stores that were packed with people.

It had been a while since we’d been to a nice restaurant, so we found a highly-rated one a few blocks from the downtown, Richard’s Café Vicino.  It was really excellent, with an innovative take on Italian food without getting cutesy or overdone.  Café Vicino seems very comfortable with what it’s doing, and it’s doing it very well.  We thought our meal ranked among the best we’ve had in the last two or three years.  Highly recommended for a special night out.

Café Vicino is located right next to the Boise Co-op, which started as a typical food cooperative many years ago.  Perhaps you’re familiar with the food co-op which was big in the 60’s and 70’s – housed in a creaky old building, selling bulk lentils, raw honey in bring-your-own containers, and an assortment of a few sad root vegetables.  Wow, how this has changed!  The Boise Coop is now like Whole Foods, only better.  Negotiating this path from communal roots to economic success reminds me of Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) in Seattle which now has stores all over the country.

The Snake River in Idaho

Based on what we’re seeing here in Boise, I’d say it’s where Portland was about twenty years ago.  This is actually a very good thing, since Portland is approaching unaffordability for many of the young people who want to live there.  Boise is developing some interesting lifestyle options that would be wise for you to check out.

Now we’re going to check out Goldy’s for some breakfast, which seems to be on everyone’s restaurant list for Boise.  And maybe we’ll grab a doughnut for the road; there seem to be an overabundance (if possible) of doughnut shops in the area.

1 thought on “Great American Road Trip Day 2 – Onward to Boise”

  1. I have lived a number of places in my life. This is the first time I have written about a city. I am having a lumpy, bumpy, painful, harassed 2015. I am a transplant. I have lived in Boise for two years. It has been two years of ongoing torment, financial exploitation, and unending poor manners. Normally, I would embrace my environment as the new adventure. I would be exploring the few museums, libraries, hiking trails etc. available and marveling and the newness of it all.

    This move has been different. My sole adventures, if that is what I should call them, are health and soul related. I have been bilked out of my small savings, told that I have no rights as a consumer, home owner, and single, elderly woman. While some might think health issues and the rest of my this list would comprise an adventure of sorts, I am finding each to be a burden and a source of constant disappointment and discomfort no that I am enduring but not appreciating.

    Each time I think I have resolved my most recent health issue, financial scam, or cultural slight another one crops up to eclipse the last. After over ten years of managing my health incredibly well, I am currently fighting a losing battle. I have just gone through hell week. If you think I am exaggerating. Unfortunately, I can assure I am not. As the soul of understatement, I tend to downplay the terrible. Boise has forced me out of this habit.

    My health has taken a marked decline. All the indiscriminate spraying, burning, poor hygiene and poor health practices prevalent here keep knocking me on my ass. The view from this inauspicious position is not great. It puts me in a very poor position to fend off the chronic poor behavior and rudeness that permeates the exchanges I endure at the hands of ignorant if not oblivious “natives”.

    I moved here to attend school. I launched into my first semester and fought my way through poor teaching, out-of-date textbooks, combative professors and students only to face an unexpected battle with asthma and then chronic psoriasis (neither of which I had prior to moving here).

    I then regained my academic enthusiasm to begin a new project only to have some thoughtless individual expose me to scabies. I went to the gym and used the treadmill not knowing that 24 hour fitness meant 24 hour exposure to parasites. As a result, I am washing everything I own every day, spraying my bedding, floors and house and smearing toxic cream over my body. It has been two weeks since my exposure. There has been no reprieve from the itching, swelling and embarrassment of this avoidable infestation.

    And the beat goes on. Last week, I called the police on the five middle aged men living in the house across the street from mine in my supposedly “nice” suburban neighborhood because they were manufacturing meth and the fumes were saturating my home. Having an auto-immune disorder, I had become sick as a dog.

    I was shocked and pleased when the police actually responded to my plea for help. The five of men moved out by the end of the week. I suspect that means it was a serious drug operation. However, the score is now still only one to 100 in my battle with the chronic environmental, toxic and contagious elements negatively impacting my health.

    I am telling you my woes not because I expect you to care or be able to help. After all, like all of us you have your own worries and challenges. However, my frustration and lack of moving forward is driving me crazy. I am a conscientious person and all these set-backs out of my control are wearing me down. I can’t keep battling the environment and shoring up my diminishing health every day and expect to move forward with school or my life. So my school and life are now in a precarious holding pattern as I wait “with bated breath” for the next challenge from the scam artist to show up to my door to the next ailment some unconscious citizen gives me standing in line at the bank.

    Is it normal for people living here to experience an unending barrage of pestilence and plagues? All that is left on my personal list of the apocalypse is famine. I am metaphorically knocking on wood that I will be spared this one at least. Perhaps, Idaho is the most Biblical state I have every lived in. Health, even for someone who lives a healthy lifestyle and makes healthy choices, is certainly hard to come by in this state.

    In a state that boasts of its tiny population of 1.634 million people, 457-477 people per 100,000 develop or die from cancer each year. Considering how small our communities and cities are, it is beyond belief that we generate the vast amount of air pollution that we do. We rank 44th out of the 50 states in air pollution (Micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter). Yet, out of all 50 states we rank 50th in the number of primary care physicians per capita.

    Translated into real time, this means if you get sick here, I can tell you based upon personal experience that you will you not have a choice who you see as your physician but you will be “pre-screened” by whichever physician you approach to see if you are worthy of his or her efforts. Then when you “establish” with your physician you can count on him or her never calling or contacting you if you receive negative labs or other test results, never following up on a health matter no matter how serious it may be unless you constantly remind him or her that it is of concern to you and never asking you that standard question professionals should ask their clients and patients, “How are you doing?” These standard bedside manner events rarely if ever occur in Idaho.

    I will work diligently on the proposal tomorrow if I do not wake up five times again tonight (like I have the last three nights from the itching caused by the scabies). Today these wee but merciless miniscule beasts are enjoying the delicate flavor of my ear. The doctor gave me a pyrethrum cream but they seem to think it is a condiment like ketchup. It has not slowed them down but seems to have added to their frenzy instead. I have pulled out my natural remedies in the hope that they may not have already evolved beyond them. However, my experience in the last five hours of use, has not made me hopeful. Do people living here become immune to the ravages of such ongoing pestilence and plagues or are they just oblivious to being eaten from the inside out?

    I have to admit it is wonderful stepping outside my front door and smelling air rather than the noxious fumes of meth production. It is also nice to have my water now filtered so the psoriasis is now gone. I have bought super filters for the poorly designed central heating and air system and I have paid a mint for room air filters. I have even had to get a CPAP machine to make up for the high carbon dioxide and nitrogen content of the ambient air that has resulted from our unhealthy farming practices in the Treasure valley.

    At this point, I am beginning to feel like I am living on an alien planet. I look about me and wonder why we are not all wearing protective space suits to protect us from the perils of this alien environment.

    Perhaps, I made a wrong turn on the freeway and I have landed in hell on Earth rather than Boise, Idaho. Or maybe Boise, Idaho is hell on Earth. I know natives Boise of will argue with me about my observations, but we are 49th out of 50th on every list from health rates, to educational achievements, income and other markers that indicate a civilized reasonable community. Perhaps the prevalence of scabies, meth manufacturing, illiteracy, lower than national average income and other factors are just the byproducts of a community and culture that is rotting from the inside out. Or, perhaps, the very few wealthy enough to insulate themselves from the ravages of all these challenges are too busy patting themselves on the back and arming their children in the schools to notice we are a culture with very little to warrant any semblance of civic pride. The false pride that is served up daily by Butch Otter and other community leaders is embarrassing to those of us who have lived elsewhere and know what a healthy community looks and feels like.

    A new arrival.

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