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Out and About in Boise, Finally

Even though I'd been to Boise two times before, I'd never really done anything in Boise until this summer. This more extended stay gave me the opportunity to hit up some of the big tourist sites. 

Old Idaho Penitentiary

The displays in the Old Pen are really well done - the timeline of major prison events (like riots) in the United States, the exhibit on child prisoners, the exhibit on the female prisoners, and the really cool weapons museum with everything - even medieval swords with the most beautiful hilts. I spent more time here than I expected to.  

They also had a room with some other random historical artifacts, like the Merci Train, a gift from France as a thank you for humanitarian assistance we provided during World War II. I've never heard of this. 

And this bus from 1932 that a preacher and his whole family lived out of while traveling the country and spreading their religion. You thought van life was a new thing. 

Birds of Prey World Center

I felt a little conflicted about going here because it's in that gray zone between zoo (which I won't go to) and sanctuary/rescue (which I will go to). But ultimately, this place is run by an organization that is doing a lot of great work with birds of prey and I guess you need to keep a few "ambassador" birds for education purposes. Seeing all those stunning birds was special. I didn't know the peregrine falcon can fly up to 240 miles per hour, but has to slow down to 120 before it can swoop up its prey, otherwise they'd both die from the impact. It also has five separate ways to dispatch its prey. And this massive owl that they let fly over our heads only weighs six pounds. Looking at it, you'd guess at least 30 pounds, like a mammal of its size would weigh. 

Bruneau Dunes State Park

This park is less than an hour and a half from Boise, an easy drive down 84. There are lots of camping sites, the cool dunes to play around and sandboard down, and a small lake for fishing or kayaking, which I did with my brand new inflatable kayak! I'm glad I bought it and hope to get more chances to use it. I went to this park on a holiday weekend (Father's Day and Juneteenth) and the campgrounds were only about half full. There were about 20 people playing on the little dune, but absolutely no one on the big dune, and the short walk out to it was really pretty.


And of course I did a ton of trail running while I was in town. I know I say this about a lot of places, but Boise is truly the motherload of trail systems and they all seem to connect. I'm pretty sure I could start at one place and run 1,000 miles crisscrossing through all them without repeating. It's incredible, and because Boise is in a valley, all these trails are up in the hills, so you can get lots of elevation gain on your runs. I had to take a break one day and just run the flat Boise River Greenbelt because the gain was getting to be too much for me. Public land is truly one of the best things about the west. 

Some of the trail systems I ran on were:


I've never claimed to write a real travel blog, so these might not have any appeal to most people, but here are a few other things I enjoyed on this trip. 
  • Tone Fitness - A Lagree studio opened up in Boise. This was not here last summer and I was glad to find it.
  • Alyonka - A Russian restaurant. I love Russian food still, after all these years, and don't get to enjoy it nearly enough.
  • Idaho City - This is an old mining town that is worth a day trip. There's an excellent museum, lots of artifacts, fun restaurants, and the drive up the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Way truly is scenic.
  • The Cabin - I didn't actually go to this writing center because no in-person events were going on while I was in town. But I love that this is here. I did go to a few writing sessions with the Boise/Meridian chapter of Shut Up and Write, and it was a good group. Very different from the Lexington group. Not good or bad, just different.
  • The Basque Center - I did actually try to go here on my first trip to Boise back in 2017, but that was over the 4th of July holiday and it was all shut down, so I had to make it this time. It's so interesting how people end up congregating in different places, like the Marshallese in northwest Arkansas. Here, it's the Basque people. This was literally the last thing I did in Boise - swung by for some delicious tapas right before I headed up to Stanley.