May 11-17th: Potato Paradise

It’s been a great week! My inevitable 1/4 century crisis is still 45 days away, and I had an absolute blast these seven days.

Monday, I had planned to go to Salt Lake and have brunch with Emma, but she had work and cancelled last minute. I instead got some studying in, and then headed up to Boise. Yep, as in Idaho. I’ve been promising my friend Brian for almost 3 years that I would visit, and figured that now was the perfect time for a little golf trip.

The drive took 5.5 hours, was uneventful, rather peaceful, and I loved seeing the countryside. I haven’t been to Idaho since I was a baby, so everything was new. i arrived about 4:30pm, at Brian’s office, and we left from there for our 5:05 tee time at Banbury Golf Course nearby. The course was fantastic and in great shape (although the greens had been aerated, so they were a little slow). We played 18, enjoyed the great weather and I learned lots about Brian and his business.

This is the tenth hole, which was our first of the day. It runs through a residential neighborhood, but the houses are far enough away that you can barely even see them, and they *shouldn’t* come into play. Key word being shouldn’t. I’m unfairly blaming my bad shot on the long car ride. I stepped up to the tee above, and the easiest hole on the course, a straight 370 yard hole, and pushed my drive so far to to the right the houses did come into play, and for what felt like a long time, I was muttering, “don’t hit a window, don’t hit a window…” Then we heard the satisfying smack off the roof, and I could breathe again. No one came close to hitting a house after that.

This is on the 8th, our penultimate for the day, and a short little par-3 over a lake.

After the round, we went to Brian’s apt, had some snacks, and then joined his roommate Mike and some friends at the hot tub. After that, it was off to bed. I crashed on the couch and slept like a baby. Brian and his two roommates all left for work by 8, so I was alone and cranked out some studying in the morning. They subscribe to National Geographic, and I did take a break to check that out. Oops. Once you read, “Hundreds of Tiny Arachnids are Likely on Your Face Right Now,” there is no going back. Here is the link for those interested:

I had no idea all these mites were living on me, and don’t think I wanted to know either.

After studying, I headed to downtown Boise 15 minutes away for lunch and to sight see. I stopped at Westside Drive-In for a huge burger.

The size and deliciousness exceeded my expectations. They also have this on the menu:

Regrettably, I didn’t get this. It seemed a little expensive, the picture didn’t look appealing and 1/4 of the menu items were labelled world famous . I mentioned it to Brian later though and he said that the Ice Cream Potato is 1. huge 2. Beautiful looking 3. Delicious. So, if there are any Boise travelers out there, get the cold potato!

I continued my wanderings, and visited the Old Penitentiary compound, and walked around the capitol building and the surrounding area. Most everything was closed to visitors due to coronavirus, but I did check out a couple food stores and peeked at the state botanical garden as well.

The most interesting fact from the Idaho Capitol area relates to a statue of Frank Steunenberg that I stumbled across. Here is the inscription:

When in 1899 organized lawlessness challenged the power of Idaho, he upheld the dignity of the state, enforced its authority and restored LAW AND ORDER within its boundaries, for which he was assassinated in 1905.
“Rugged in body, resolute in mind, massive in the strength of his convictions, he was of the granite hewn.” In grateful memory of his courageous devotion to public duty, the people of Idaho have erected this monument.” 

The Western Federation of Miners (WFM) didn’t like Steunenberg to the extent that even though he had left office in 1901, the leadership under the direction of Big Bill Haywood called a hitman in, and had Steunenberg assassinated in 1905. It took a couple attempts, before Harry Orchard set a bomb and finished the job. Clarence Darrow represented Haywood at the trial and got him off the hook somehow, although Orchard, was sentenced to life in prison. He spent the next 46 years in prison, serving the most time ever in the Old Penitentiary, before dying at age 88. He never recanted his testimony, and and continued to admit that everything he had said (including the fact that he had killed 17 people for the WFM before Steunenberg) was true.

Talking about the penitentiary, here it is. Supposedly one of the better hikes in Boise, to Table Rock, is up a mountain nearby, and I went up a little bit before calling it a day.

This is the Bishop’s House, at the Penitentiary. Slightly more than 1/4 of the population of Idaho are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so I thought that might be why this house is called the Bishop’s House, as perhaps there was a chaplain assigned to it, but it belongs to the Catholic Diocese.

After my short tour of Boise, I went to meet up with Brian at Shadow Valley Golf Club. They have an evening special of $9 for 9 holes, and the manager was kind to give us that deal, and then let us play a few holes for free on the back to warm-up before our 6:20 tee time.

We made it through 5 holes when the ominous looking clouds began to dump rain on us. We hid behind a brick restroom building, and thought about calling it a day. After 15 minutes, it blew past us, and the weather was perfect. The rain had also chased everyone off, so we had the course to ourselves just about. And, I made a slight adjustment in my stance, sliding my right foot back two inches, which led to me hitting bombs and really wanting to finish the round.

This is the fourth hole, a 558 yard par 5. The clouds are moving in, but we thought might slip by us. 25 minutes later, we would know we were wrong on that.

And, after the storm. It’s overcast, but not raining. This is the other par 5, hole number 7. Each hole had lots of undulation and variety. The architect did a great job providing different options and lots of risk/reward shots. This hole was my best drive of the day, a bomb that started right and drew back to finish on the right side of the fairway….345 yards away.

I was really playing good and looking at a great score before the last two holes tripped me up, and my greediness cost me some strokes. Still a great round and a great course.

We returned to the apartment, and went hot tubbing again. It was so relaxing and felt great. Mike had made us steaks, and they were unbelievably good. He gave me some pointers, which i will have to try. For these, he seared them, then slow-cooked them for 2 hours, and finally added a homemade honeybutter glaze on top. 5/5 stars.

Golf, hot tub, steak. It was a great day!

Wednesday morning, (after another deep sleep, maybe due to the hot tub?) I had the place to myself and studied some more.

Part of my reasoning for making this trip was because Oregon is only about 40 miles from Boise. I have never been, and it would make state number 44/50, (leaving Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Alaska, and Hawaii). The other 4 in the continental US are all adjacent – and I figured this would be my best near-term shot at visiting the Beaver State.

So, after doing my study time, I headed out and made it to Ontario, Oregon, where I figured I would play one more round of golf. This is farming country (the grocery store in Boise had like 10 apple varieties – Pink apple variety is a new favorite), and while I had looked up the place before, I was still surprised. When I called to get a tee time asking for something around “10 or 11 am,” the manager said, “well, Bill’s group tee’s off at 11 am. So don’t come then.” That was it though, which left me confused until I got there and understood that every other time was open. Bill plays with four friends every Wednesday at 11 am, but no one else was on the course. The course is called Country View, and when i got there, that made sense too. It is on the top of a small mountain and one can see for miles in every direction. It was beautiful!


Hole #8, a short par 4. Alas, I missed this short putt.

This is hole #3. It’s 165 yards, straight downhill, and has the smallest green I have EVER seen on a golf course.

I am a huge fan of Treasure Valley. I talked with the owner, Scott McKinney for a while, then went out to play. My step was light, and it just felt pure. It wasn’t overly manicured, but it was natural and followed the land. The first few holes were good, holes 5-9 were incredible! On 5, i lost my first ball in 24 holes, ending a good streak, and hooking one into a farmers field. 5 is a par 5, and you have to play over a huge gully to reach the green in two, or you can play way to the right. Hole 6 is a par 3, also over a huge gully, and I had my best shot of the day. I drew my 8-iron 190 yards into a slight breeze and finished 5 feet behind the pin. It was perfect.

Hole number 5.

I finished well this time too, and returned to the clubhouse to talk a little more with Scott, and hear some history of the area, before going on the road again. I was tempted to swing down to Jackpot, NV on my way home, but that was pushing it, and I figured I’d save that for another trip. I did make two stops though.

The first was in Bliss, ID, population 318. With a name like that, and no rush, I thought I’d briefly visit and am glad I did. It has amazing views of the snake river.

I continued further, and stopped in Twin Falls, ID. Evil Knievel tried jumping the Snake River Canyon here in 1974, but was unsuccessful.  I had no idea how beautiful the canyon is. Shoshone Falls, called the “Niagra of the West” is just outside the town, and after eating I went to visit.

Shoshone Falls. The dams control the flow, so it’s not as wide as it once was. It’s not as powerful as Niagara either. However, it is taller. I felt woozy even looking down. The falls are 200+ feet tall, and I was higher than that. The canyon is simply incredible.

Perrine Bridge, crossing the snake river Canyon. When it was built, it was the highest bridge in the world.

I’m at the Visitor’s Center here, looking out on the canyon. The picture simply does not do justice. This was one of those times my breath was taken away, and I could imagine living in a house nearby, in perpetual awe of the grandeur of God’s creations. This is a few miles upstream from the falls, and in my mind it is prettier.

I stayed longer than I anticipated, but less than I wanted, before finally getting back on the road again for the last few hours. The final leg was uneventful, and I arrived home about 9:30 pm. This was an unforgettable trip, and I am very, very grateful for how everything turned out, the opportunity I had to go, and the memories I’ll forever treasure.

Saturday, I had my first date in 3 months. I met Haylie via mutual, and for our date we went to Kiwani’s park and played tennis. She won, and I had a blast. Then we went and got some ice cream at “Founding Flavors,” a new ice cream shop. It’s very historically themed, with the employees dressed up as revolutionary war soldiers and each flavor named after a founding fathers/someone from that era. I tried the “Aaron Burr Murderous Shot,” which was Madagascar black vanilla. Either flavors include “Franklin’s Black Raspberry Republic if you can keep it,” “Thomas Paine’s Peppermint Common Sense Concoction,” and “Give me Chocolate or give me Death.” Haylie is from Colorado, served a mission in Alberta, Canada, is finishing up her accounting degree, and justtjust signed her offer to work for KPMG. It was a way fun date.

Sunday, we had sacrament at our house again, and Porter came over for lunch. Then he whipped me, absolutely thrashed me, in Scrabble.

I went over to Tanmarie’s that evening, as Tanner had kindly offered to take some photos. He did a great job, then I hopped on the roof to take Tanmarie’s annual photo. While I was snapping that, they snuck one last shot of me.

It’s been a great week. I’m truly grateful for how blessed I am. What I am most grateful for however, are the things of eternity. So much of what we expend effort on, ultimately doesn’t matter and will be forgotten shortly. We must treasure the eternal.

D&C 132:13 reads, “And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me, or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain….”

Let us all seek to See his face, Feel his presence, and Trust his love.

One thought on “May 11-17th: Potato Paradise”

  1. Good afternoon, Hunter

    Such a newsy and wonderful letter. I loved reading about all your travels, playing golf, sitting in a hot tub (wish we still had ours here but it was removed when they did renovations two years ago). Loved all of your scenic pictures as well. I’m glad you had so much fun traveling with no problems. And that steak–that made my mouth water. It looked absolutely delicious. I haven’t had a good steak in I couldn’t tell you how long. When restaurants open up, I am planning on going to the Texas Roadhouse for a nice juicy steak which will be cooked to perfection.

    I love how your dates always end up at an ice cream place. You are a man after my own heart–I would LOVE that. I love ice cream.

    Life here is still boring with no activities. I made another apple cake today–the third one in a month and a half. Of course, I share it with other residents. One of them has a birthday today. He went to his daughter’s for a cookout. I gave him his card and told him I was baking something–he knew it was apple cake–and I would leave that on his shelf later. I did that and also tried to write :Happy Birthday, Dave. It came out o.k., but not the greatest. The cake itself came out great. It’s the taste that counts.

    I sat outside on my patio for a little bit and ate a nice salad for lunch along with some pita chips and hummus. I have to put that back in the fridge, as I didn’t finish it all. Can use it as a snack another day.

    There really isn’t anything going on here. We did have an outdoor concert on Mother’s Day and it was COLD and Windy!! I wore my down coat, fleece mitts, and a warm scarf around my neck that I could bring up over my head and Uncle David’s prayer shawl across my lap. I was nice and comfy, and I enjoyed the show. Other than that, there’s nothing going on.

    Enjoy the week and stay safe.

    Love, Aunt Shirley

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