Idaho Botanical Gardens in Boy-see, Idaho

On my weekend pass through Boise, Idaho, I spent my Monday morning at the Idaho Botanical Gardens. The gardens are approximately 15 cultivated acres located on the NE edge of Boise at the base of the Boise foothills.  There are a number of hiking trails around the ridges just behind the garden. And from this photo you can tell that what is not irrigated is arid. Boise gets about 12 inches of rain per year. 

What makes this Botanical garden unique: The entire garden is located inside the prison yard of what was once Idaho's Territorial Prison and later became the first Idaho State Penitentiary. It is a unique experience to walk around a botanical garden and see sights like this one...

Or this one (Yup, that is a guard tower)...

Or this one.

There are lots of hardscape items made out of the same stone as the prison, like this entryway...

Or this arbor...

 Or this one...

Or these bed edges...

Or these path stairs.

There were also pathways paved with prisoner-made bricks. 

Normally I like to hit gardens early, but this one didn't open until 9 am. I didn't find the sundial until a little after 10. I had the garden almost completely to myself until noon.

 This garden showcases plants that can grow in the Treasure Valley and the Intermountain West. 

 I am a sucker for good garden art. 

I found this swing, a skinny mocha, and a good book (Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell) and swung away the morning. I highly recommend it if you pass through Boise and you love plants. 

There was no sign, but I feel like the swing might have been made from some prison remnants as well - look at that chain. 

Boy-see fun

First lesson learned. People from Boise Idaho pronounce the name of their city Boy-see not Boy-zee as I have grown up pronouncing it. Hence, the title. 

I drove into town on the weekend of June 21-23, 2014. I found a nice, affordable Hampton Inn in the heart of downtown which served as a great launching point to see the city. Guess where my first stop was? I will give you a hint (well, it will be a hint if you know Boy-see).

Along the way to my first destination, I walked past the public library. Or LIBRARY!

I then walked almost the entire length of the Julia Davis Park.

The park had this collection of frontier-era homes. 

And people paddle boating. Which made me think out loud - "Why didn't the Paddle Boats at Dan Nicholas park come with an awning?" Genius.

There were also people rafting down the Idaho River. This river runs through the heart of town and runs along the line between Julia Davis park and Boise State University's campus.

I watched these geniuses decide to feed all of the Canada Geese which sounds like a good idea - except geese are mean. By the time I got my camera ready, they were standing on this picnic table screaming at geese!

I finally made it to my desintation: Chic-fil-A. Yup, that is my first intentional destination once arriving in Boise. My family was not even a little surprised when they read that! If there had been a Bojangles, I would have walked there instead. But, I do love some Atlanta-based Chic-fil-A and there is not one in the state of Oregon. It was delicious. And then I walked back via the rose garden in Julia Davis Park.

If I worked in this area, I would leave my office to eat Chic-fil-A in this garden just about everyday when the roses were in bloom. Beautiful. I love plants. 

(I actually started my Sunday morning with coffee and a trek to the Idaho Botanical garden, but I am saving that for a separate blog post. If you love grainy iPhone photos of plants, you will be on the edge of your seat for that one!) So, we will start with lunch: at the Boise Fry Company because, well, Idaho and potatoes.

It was pretty yummy. You choose the kind of potato and the cut (in this case Yukon Gold Curly) and the burger is the side-dish. The way life should be.

I then walked back to the LIBRARY! because they were having their annual book sale. Believe it or not, I didn't find anything here. Do not fear - I brought 3 books with me from Corvallis and bought 4 other books while on this whole trip. And I've finished 3 already.

After the book sale, I walked to the Idaho State Capital and looked around a little. It was Sunday afternoon so I was one of the only people in the building.

Boy-see, I will be back. And I promise to stop calling you Boy-zee.



Jamaica was Amazing-Mon

This is Claire. To be fair, she isn't normally in a tree, but she is normally a ton of fun. Let's start at the beginning.

We met while both working on PhD's at the University of Missouri. We were both members of that higher education seeking club of academics - a small, slightly nerdy club. My area of study was Agricultural Education and hers was Human Development and Family Studies - specifically early childhood, but we worked in the same building and ended up in the same statistics courses. What started as a friendship over homework became a connection over the TV Sitcom "The Office" with Steve Carell. Claire and her friends gathered to watch this show (I had never seen before) and I needed friends, so I came to eat and watch as well. I was a fast fan of the show and forever grateful that Claire's natural gift is making people feel special, included and appreciated.

When she called and said she was getting married, there was no question I was going. I am good at choosing friends because it was a destination wedding in Jamaica! I took off May 14 for a long wedding weekend.

The views were amazing. I am not a sun-worshiper. I think I could be but my dermatologist would disown me, right after she chopped me to bits looking for atypical cells. I am not built for the sun. And, I don't know why I have never gone somewhere with shady beaches before, but this place is made for me. Amazingness. This was the view looking forward.

And this shady philodendron-covered cliffside was right behind me. Oh yea, and they kept the all-inclusive Pina coladas coming. Did I say it was amazing? It was.

There were something like 19 pools to hang out in and around - and yes, that is a swim-up bar. Thanks for noticing. This was the main pool up on the mountainside half of the resort. It is a shuttle ride away from the ocean, but I think it was my favorite of the pools

Of course, there was always the option to swim in the crystal clear Caribbean. Did that, too!

I was lucky enough to be able to share with one of Claire's bridesmaids (a Texas friend), Lisa. She is a pediatric nurse and all-around fun gal. Almost everyone else (besides Claire's younger brother) were coupled up so it was nice to have a couple single friends in the mix to hang out. Lisa, Marshall and I could usually be found together. 

The accommodations were great, but put my OCD to the test. (It is not normally like this - They had moved the bed to bring us a rollaway.)

This was the view from our balcony. Not a bad way to start the day. Well, that and some Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. Ah-mazing.

And then it was wedding time. The clouds rolled in but it didn't matter - the bride was radiant walked down the aisle by her mom and dad.

And surrounded by her brothers, sister-in-law and new hubby.

The wedding party was the funnest bunch of people you ever met. This is by far my favorite photo from any wedding I have attended ever. 

The clouds came, but the rain never really fell. May sunshine follow you both the all the days of your marriage. Congratulations Jane and Justin... Or Claire and Justin... Or Claire and Shep... Or Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd... Or Mr. and Dr. Shepherd....Or Mr. Shepherd and Dr. Cook? The details can work themselves out. 

And Jamaica, you will see me again sometime - hopefully soon.