NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Busy in Boise - Public Art Bonanza

Maybe neon signs aren't technically public art, but I certainly find them visually appealing.  The Idaho Camera sign has to be my all time favorite.

And the one on the side of an old bank on 8th Street was a winner as well.

And the vault in the basement made a cool office for someone.

The reflection of the Pie Hole sign was too good to pass by.

Cory and I tried some of the pizza there, and if the pizza isn't enough to wow you (I had the artichoke pesto slice!) you can simply enjoy the decorations on their walls.

Those girls in the mural are armed with a pizza cutter and a rolling pin!

They will defeat the dragon and lay claim to the mountains of pizza slices?

If that isn't artsy enough for you, pay attention to the traffic box art scattered around town.

across from the Boise Co-Op

"Enjoying the Ride"

"Electric Jelly"

And when you're ready for a coffee to perk you up I recommend Dawson Taylor on 8th Street.  Why?  Because they had the coolest mosaics!

My eyes were so tired from checking out public art that I had to put on my sunglasses and rest by the water fountain in front of City Hall.

Where I found more public art!

The "penny postcard" looks different when you view it from another angle...

"Greetings From Boise"

Another way to get to the public art in downtown is to take your bike or lace your sneakers and head down to the Boise Greenbelt.  I'm not the biggest fan of walking on concrete, but I needed  a walk and it was a good way to see another side of Boise.

pedestrian bridge across the Boise River

There was a nice memorial to the city's firemen.

And the best part was the shade provided by the trees!

Down on 8th Street there were a lot of shops, restaurants and more public art.

There was a lot of construction going on, and a few panels sported some temporary murals, including this one that brought attention to the issue of child neglect and abuse.  Unfortunately over the years we've known a lot of children who've been emotionally abused or suffered from parental neglect.  It isn't only fists that can hurt a child.

That's it from Idaho except more murals that I will share on Mondays.  Bye-bye, Boise!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

File Mile-Watchman-Three Bears Loop Near Boise

When I encountered that gentleman out at Kelton Ramp he suggested I try the Five Mile Gulch trailhead and make a loop that is just under 6 miles long by connecting with the Watchman and Three Bears trails of the Ridge to Rivers trail system.  Just fifteen minutes from downtown Boise I took Shaw Mountain Road to where it became a dirt road called Rocky Canyon road.

I parked at the first large pullout on the left and the Five Mile Gulch (#2) trailhead was just a few steps further down the road.

Right away I could see I was going to get greener views thanks to Five Mile Creek than on the other hikes I had encountered in the area.

I also got to see tiny Woodland Star flowers blooming here and there in the shadier spots.

 Within the first five minutes of hiking I heard sheep in the distance and spent some time being lulled as the ewes called back and forth to their lambs on the hillside.  I miss having sheep!  But I don't miss all the work involved, I must admit.

I didn't get close enough to the sheep to smell their wool, but I did get close enough to smell a variety of new-for-me wildflowers.

At the intersection with the Watchman (#3) trail I continued straight instead of turning right to follow the Five Mile Gulch trail.

As the trail gently climbed I crossed the creek a few times and then started seeing masses of Arrowleaf Balsamroot.

And the Lupine was just starting to open up on the sides of the hill.

I continued to make my way up the gulch, wondering what else I was going to find and enjoying my last big hike before I had to go back to Wisconsin's woods.

As the trail crossed a creek yet again it made a sharp left turn and started to climb the side of the hill.  Waterleaf was thriving in the shade of the Cottonwood and Locust trees near the water.

And tiny blue butterflies gathered to enjoy the shade and water too.

Now that I was on the side of the hill and not in the gulch the profusion of wildflowers increased.  If anyone knows what this one below is called please let me know!

The view and the wildflowers were so stunning I was inspired to make a short video!

I kept zigzagging from one hill to another as I circled one gulch and moved to another.  When I passed through a section that was particularly shrubby I spooked a grouse but it was gone too quickly for me to get a picture.

As the miles and the hours accumulated I started to worry a little bit.  I didn't realize the hike was so long since I had asked for a suggestion for a hike that was 2-5 miles in length.  I didn't see the dirt road, or my car, anywhere...

But eventually I came upon the intersection for Three Bears (#26), and then it was a steeper downhill route through some grazing land for a mile before I made my way back to Rocky Canyon Road.  If you take this loop make sure to keep your eyes open for the turn on Three Bears that says "To Rocky Canyon".

My knees were complaining, but my heart was happy after the challenging hike.  This one is definitely a keeper, just watch out for the mountain bike riders that started showing up after the work day was done!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Boise Birds

I've seen a lot of birds while staying in Boise.  When I walked from the rental house to the Capitol (6.5 miles round trip on the Boise Greenbelt!) I was amused by the Canada goose guarding the Porta-Potty.

Another day we drove out to the World Center for Birds of Prey where the focus is on their captive breeding program.  We saw a few captive birds, but we all felt that staring at birds behind heavy bars just wasn't much of a thrill.

Northern Aplomodo Falcon

The day we drove out to Celebration Park to see the petroglyphs we saw a raptor diving in the distance and that was much more interesting than watching the captive birds wait for a door to open and the already dead food arrive.  I was happy that our $21 will go to support the California Condor breeding program.

Orange Breasted Falcon

A better place to watch birds was the Flat Deer National Wildlife Refuge in nearby Nampa.

 Just steps from the visitor center are some nesting osprey.  Their website even has a nest webcam.

A little help with the identification of the bird below would be wonderful, hope Judy chimes in!

Same bird or something else?  I think I'm going to need a faster zoom lens to crisper shots!

I was able to get a little closer to what I think is an adult male California Quail.  I heard him calling and was able to quickly locate him.  Want to hear their call?  Follow this link.

On another hike I heard the song of the Western Meadowlark so close by that it startled me, and its bright yellow breast made it easy to find perched on a bush.  Unfortunately the only picture I got was one at the Deer Flat NWR Visitor Center.

More about that hike next time, it was a really good one!

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Three C's - Chocolate, Cupcakes and the Capitol

Unfortunately for my waistline I can't go anywhere without checking out their gourmet chocolate and their cupcakes.  The Chocolat Bar on Bannock Street has very smooth dark chocolate so it's a good thing  I won't be able to visit often!

A Cupcake Paradise was just a few doors down and luckily was only selling the normal sized cupcakes and not the giant ones.  I got four different flavors and while they were pretty good, they were a bit dry.

The Capitol building was completed in 1920 and the dome is topped with a bronze eagle.

The interior contains four different types of marble.  The first floor is set up as a self-guided tour of the history of Idaho and the function of its government.  During my visit I arrived at the lunch hour just as hordes of Junior Achievement high schools kids dressed in their finest were exiting the building.  Glad I missed that!

Missing from the Capitol was the usual display of art.  Even a quick glance in the chambers didn't reveal anything.  But that's okay because downtown Boise is FILLED with murals!