Welcome to my Idaho adventure blog!

Hi, my name is Chelle. I am a recent B.S.U. graduate and a lifelong Idaho resident. I have three loves in my life - my family, my writing, and my Idaho. The purpose of this blog is to share my extensive and intimate knowledge of Idaho with you, through my writing. As a woman with a family and a tight budget, I am often forced to make memories for pennies, and I want to take you along for the ride. The adventures I post will, almost always, focus on places or activities that are inexpensive and appropriate for children, without being a snore for adults. Some of the activities I write about are camping, fishing, rock hunting, history, environmental news, hot springs, hunting...Basically, anything Idaho.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Flash of Red - Kokanee Salmon

Salmon Story to Follow August 25th.

Downtown Nampa Nights

When we arrived at the corner of 1st St. So. and 12th Ave So.,I was stunned. The normally sleepy, four-way stop was cordoned of by a-frame partitions, and it was crawling with people. A man’s voice boomed through a microphone, then slowly bounced of the quaint and historic building fronts, before it wafted across the thick, hot air in our direction. I wiped the sweat from my forehead, and swung the Jeep into the US Bank parking lot.

I deposited the face of my stereo system, and my wallet in the locking console, while Severn helped his lovely, auburn-haired girlfriend out of the back seat. I felt incredibly strange and awkward meeting this girl again, knowing that my son thought they might have a future together. It is incredibly strange to think of my son having a future with anyone, but me. The sappy, doe-eyed way he looked at her made me happy, and I decided to follow the gracious example that mother-in-law set for me – all love, warmth, and friendship.

The three of us headed toward the crowd. I led, and they followed, holding hands. The sun was harsh and I scanned the area for some shade. I spotted an unoccupied bench across the street, and in front of the stage. It was also right next to the beer garden. I seriously considered buying one, but decided that I should set a firm example of no drinking and driving. Thankfully, a small tree provided some speckled cover and eased my thirst a little.

We slid into the bench just as the DJ introduced the evening’s act, Ms. Rebecca Scott. The music was good. I tapped my toes, and tried not feel like a third wheel on a date with the kids, while I crowd watched.

I don’t really know what I expected, but I saw a small slice of Nampa. There were late-teen boys, with their baggy skater pants and Vans, gathered in small bunches of three or four. There was a 30s something family, wearing khakis and baseball caps, pulling two toddlers along in a little red wagon. One very enthusiastic mother danced with her toddler on the lawn, below the wild mustang sculpture. The tiny girl bounced about, grinning from ear to ear, on her mother’s hip. Several distinguished older men, in slacks and polo shirts moseyed about, often with a drink in hand. I had not brought Jesse, my three year old, along because of the drinking, but this bunch posed no threat to anyone. I decided to bring her next time.

After a half an hour, Severn leaned over and hollered in my ear.
“ Hey Mom, this is great, but its damn hot,” he said, as he wiped the sweat from his neck. “Let’s go back to your place and BBQ. I’m buying.”

Though I was having fun, an evening of BBQ and a cold beer, with my growing up son and his significant other, sounded much more intimate. I left, reluctantly.

Downtown Nampa Nights Info.

There are two Downtown Nampa Nights events lefts. They are held every Thursday through the summer, and begin about 5:30 pm. The event is totally free. It’s wonderful adult fun, and family friendly.

o Thu., Aug. 26, 5:30 p.m. · The Legacy Band

o Thu., Sept. 2, 5:30 p.m.· The Flavors

Scuba Diving in Lucky Peak

On a recent family outing I witnessed a very strange sight – scuba divers in Lucky Peak. I stood back a respectful distance, and watched what appeared to be a scuba lesson is session. My interested was peaked. The high desert climate of the Treasure Valley is not exactly what comes to mind, when you think of scuba diving.

Turns out, Idaho is uniquely suited to scuba diving with its multitudes of different kinds of water. According to Mike Branchflower, co-owner of one of Boise’s two scuba diving shops, Dive Magic, there are a variety of diving experiences in or near the Treasure Valley. For a dive with great visibility Branchflower recommends Payette, Redfish and Stanley Lakes. For its close proximity – Lucky Peak, and for a “wild ride” you can’t beat the Boise River. Branchflower describes the Boise as “full of loot,” and "always changing". When I asked Branchflower about which Idaho waters he’s dived he said, “ If its got water we’ve tried to dive it.”

The diving lesson I witnessed on Sunday was part of the regular classes offered by Dive Magic. It was an open water class, where divers are brought to practice their skills in large, open bodies of water. Dive Magic teaches scuba diving using the PADI method. They offer a variety of class levels, beginning with the Seal Team for children, and progressing all the way up to Instructor. Becoming a certified diver at Dive Magic is reasonable. Lessons cost only $375.00 and include everything except mask, fins and snorkel, and can be completed in two short weekends.

Dive Magic is also committed to its diving community after the sale. All summer long, on every Wednesday night, the company supplies certified area divers with one free tank of air to use to explore Lucky Peak.

The company is also concerned about the environment and host’s annual “Clean up the Lake” outings. Dive Magic organizes teams of divers to clean up underwater, as well as diver support teams who work on dry land, to remove litter from area lakes. As incentive Dive Magic offers free food, air, and prizes for all who enter. Past year’s prizes included regulators, wetsuits and other diving gear. Regarding the company’s commitment to the environment Branchflower said: “We try to leave it better than we found it…it’s an easy thing to do.”

After watching the diving lesson at Lucky Peak and talking with Branchflower, I’ve come to realize that scuba diving lessons impart much more than just knowledge of the sport. If you discover diving at Dive Magic, you become a member of a close community, who enjoy spending time exploring a side of Idaho many of us never get to see, that which lies beneath the watery surface.

While scuba lessons do not fall into my normally low cost requirements, the idea is so intriguing to me that I’ve been considering options as to financing the venture. Regardless of whether or not I get to take diving lessons, I enjoyed watching them and I plan to join Dive Magic for a lake clean up. It’s an easy thing to do.

Out of sheer curiosity and fascination, I asked Dive Magic for some photos. They were kind enough to forward these.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Eagle Island Expansion Project Stalled

Eagle Island State Park established in 1983, and located eight miles northwest of Boise off of State Street, has temporarily suspended its expansion plans. Approved in 2006, by Governor Dirk Kempthorne and Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, the Eagle Island Master Plan called for an additional 130 acres of lakes and ponds, a campground, and an education center. The plan was to be implemented in four stages, beginning with the revenue generated by the millions of tons of gravel that must be excavated for the new ponds and waterways. According to Dave Ricks, Deputy Director of Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, bidding closed last week on the gravel, and unofficially they all fell short of the mark. Rick said of the bids, “They are not real promising... It’s a poor market.” Without the funds generated by the sale of the gravel the expansion plan has been temporarily stalled in Phase One.

Eagle Island - island

 Eagle Island Master Plan Document _ Includes a map and Eagle Island history

Eagle Island - A Valley Oasis

Temperatures in the valley were in the nineties and I was tired of sitting in the house sweating, when my girlfriend called and invited us to come along with her family, to Eagle Island. The idea of cooling down in the water, and enjoying the large, cool, shaded lawns sounded lovely. I agreed on the spot.

It took no time at all to throw the water toys, a few towels, a couple of coolers, and the kids in my van. It was a hot and noisy thirty-minute ride. The kids talked, loudly, about what they wanted to do. Cyrus, the oldest, bugged his mother about buying tickets for the water slide. Jesse, the youngest, announced her intentions to build a sand castle. Xylina and Trinity just wanted to swim. My husband, James, harassed me about getting in the water. The open windows of the van buffeted the hot air, sending vibrations and long hair flying. I responded to it all by turning up the radio.

I felt the air cool as we pulled up to the pay station, like someone had laid a cool washrag on my forehead. I sighed with relief. Gayle directed us to spot at the far end of the parking lot.

“But aren’t we too far from the beach for Jesse? I asked.

“Well, there isn’t a beach, but we won’t have to fight the crowds. And, there is a patch of sand, a place to swim, and we’ll have the huge shade trees to keep us cool,” she said.

“Sounds good,” I said. “Let's go.”

We divvied up the gear between the children and adults. It seemed an enormous amount of things for one afternoon; two large coolers, a bag of fun noodles and water wings for Gayle’s kids, three folding chairs, and a backpack full of sand toys, towels, and a life jacket for Jesse. Gayle lead the way and in couple of minutes we were settled on a picnic table, in the far corner of the park under an English walnut tree. A squirrel scolded us, from the cool of the upper branches, for invading his peace.

In a shot Gayle’s kids were running for the water. I had to snatch Jesse up and stuff her into her life jacket; she hated the thing. She struggled and squirmed, and cried for her friends, and the second I released her, my normally scared of the water toddler, plowed in.

I watched from the bank, as the three older kids worked their magic on my little one. Being taller,  they ventured further out into the water then she could easily follow, but she couldn’t stand being left behind, and tried to go anyway. In a matter of minutes, my daughter, who had been “testing” her life jacket all summer, began to rely on it entirely to keep her a float. In a few more minutes, she had learned to propel herself dogie-style through the water.

“Look Mom!” she said. “I can swim!” She paddled about, her long platinum braids dragging in the water, her bronze little face and blue eyes beamed up at me, blissfully unaware of how nervous she made me. Although I could swim, I had always been terrified of swimming in large waters, like lakes.

“That’s great baby,” I said, through gritted teeth. “Don’t go out to far.”

“She can’t drown,” said my husband, James. “She knows she’s safe, relax and get in with us.”

“Maybe later,” I said, with my eyes glued to my daughter.

James jumped in with the kids and I found myself sitting alone on the bank. With the kids safe with Gayle and James, I could focus on reacquainting myself with the park I hadn’t visited in ten years. Enormous Black Cottonwoods lined the property, the ponds were cool and inviting, and the giant water slide was still the center of it all. Hundreds of local families milled about enjoying the water, or looking for a cool spot to throw down a towel. I watched a few folks here and there disappear into the waist high grasses, on the edge of the property headed toward the trails. Not much had changed except for the grand new entrance off of State street, and that didn’t seem complete, as there was no way to access it yet.

“Mom!” yelled Jesse, pulling me out of my thoughts. “Look fish. Help me catch one.”

I stood up and grabbed her sand pail. I showed her how to submerge the bucket, and then use her hand to shoo to minnows into the bucket. In a couple of seconds she’d caught herself a mini smallmouth bass. She called it her “fishywishy.”

Gayle hauled herself out of the water and made us lunch, turkey sandwiches, chips, and cantaloupe. We all sat at the picnic table under the gracious branches of an old Black Cottonwood. The kids wolfed their food and then, the herd was back in the water splashing, swimming, and yelling.

Then my troubles began. James stood in the water up to his chest. Cyrus the oldest climbed onto his back, monkey style, until his feet were squarely planted onto my husband’s large, extremely white, and hairy shoulders. James slowly sunk into the water until Cyrus and he were both submerged, then he exploded from the water. The child on his shoulders was catapulted through the air like a cannon ball. Even the baby tried it once, but when she came up sputtering with water in her eyes, she called for her mommy.

“Mommy, I want you,” she sobbed.

“Your baby wants you,” said James, grinning from ear to ear. “You can’t disappoint your daughter, and the only way to show her there is nothing to be afraid of is to get in.”

The other children joined in, goading me into the water. The stricken look on my daughters face eventually drew me in. I swam across the thirty-foot channel, head above the water, while I shivered in fear. I popped up on the other side with a big smile on my face.

“See,” I said, wiping the water from my face. “Its OK, Mommy’s here.” My beautiful toddler leaped into my arms; I was a hero to my three year old.

I played with her on the shore for a few minutes before it was time to leave. As I loaded the kids up with all the gear, I tried to remember why I had stopped taking the children there in the first place. Nothing came to mind. I considered my day, for $2.50 (half the entrance fee) I had avoided the heat of the day, my daughter had learned to swim with the help of a life jacket, and I came out a hero because I managed to stifle my irrational phobia and swim to my daughter. As we drove down the Poplar lined exit, I was already planning another visit for the following weekend.
Jesse at Eagle Island - 2010
M. Gluch
An Eagle Island View - 2010
M. Gluch