Valley County, Idaho

Our hot springs guidebook described our destination as “a turn out with rocks on the other side”. There were turnouts ever mile or so, and all were rocky, so it’s actually a bit of a surprise that we were able to find Trail Creek Hot Springs.

Things have been a bit busy here at the blog, and I have been getting a little behind on my posting. Rather than get overwhelmed, or worse, not post at all, I have decided to start a Throw Back Thursday post on the weeks that I need them. So, I would like to formally introduce you to my very first The Places We Live #TBT post: Valley County, Idaho!

Josh and I grew up in McCall, Idaho in Valley County, and had been debating on whether or not to return during our month in Boise. The answer should have been an obvious “Yes” since it is, in both of our opinions, one of the most beautiful areas in the world. But there is a sadness about going back to a home town that is no longer your town. Both of our families have left the area, as have most of our school friends, and the town has seen a growth spurt in the 18 years since we’ve been gone. Will we even recognize it? Will anyone recognize us? Will it still feel like home?

Thankfully, my step-sister saved the day and whisked us off to the emotionally safer neighboring town of Cascade, Idaho (also in Valley County) for a trip to a hot springs. Cascade is about 1.5 hours north of Boise along a beautiful, winding canyon highway. Once in Cascade, we pulled off onto Warm Lake Rd and drove for what felt like forever on the lightly plowed, snowy road. Our hot springs guidebook described our destination as “a turn out with rocks on the other side”. There were turnouts ever mile or so, and all were rocky, so it’s actually a bit of a surprise that we were able to find Trail Creek Hot Springs.

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It was an awesome, non-commercialized but still a well-constructed natural hot springs. There were a couple of ropes to help us climb down the steep and snowy slopes, and a couple of warmed rocks to put our clothes on while we were soaking.

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There were three different soaking pools, each with handy nozzles to let in some freezing river water and maintain a comfy temperature. It was empty of people when we arrived, so we had plenty of space to explore and relax.

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Then the time came to decide whether or not to make the 30 minute journey to McCall. To face our worries and fears in order to visit the most beautiful place on earth. How could we not?

McCall, Idaho is the most adorable town that anyone has ever seen, ever (at least, in the humble opinion of Mrs. Dr. Lowry). It is located 100 miles North of Boise and hosts a lake, ski resorts, camping, fishing, hiking, and so much more. The current population is around 3,000 people, but that increases significantly during the peak tourism seasons of summer and winter. Even when at night, when the lake is frozen over, the view will take your breath away.

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Like many of my irrational fears, it turned out to be… irrational. McCall was beautiful, we were recognized by a couple of locals, our favorite shops were still there, and the memories were still fresh. I love and will always love my foresty wonderland.

 

Idaho Brews – World Beer Collection

Idaho has a pretty decent beer scene and is growing in popularity for wineries as well. Here is my collection of Idaho brews!

Idaho, USA has a pretty decent beer scene and is growing in popularity for wineries as well. Since my birding in Idaho didn’t seem to be going very well, I figured I better put some extra effort into my world beer collection. We participated in a couple organized pub crawls and did some of our own Idaho brew adventuring as well. I was pretty happy with just about everything we tried.

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Idaho Brews

My favorite Idaho brew was Udaho Gold by Salmon River Brewing in McCall, Idaho. I didn’t get to try this while I was in McCall, but if you get the opportunity, I strong suggest going. McCall, Idaho is, in my humble opinion, one of the best places on earth.

Read about our short trip to McCall from Boise. ♥

I set up a Happy Hour tour for Josh and I with several stops scattered throughout downtown. We didn’t end up making it to a single planned stop because we kept getting distracted by other pubs and breweries along the way. One such place was Barbarian Brewing Downtown Tap Room. Very few locals I have talked to have even heard of it, which surprises us, since it ended up being our favorite Boise brewery! We only had time for three tasters, but each one was better than the last. We enjoyed the service, the vibe, and really enjoyed the delicious beers. My favorite was The Everman, a honey beer.

World Beer

Idaho ended up being a great stop along our world beer tasting journey. I only got a taste for the flavors around me, as there are so many local breweries. Please share your favorite Idaho brews in the comments, and if you’re an Untappd user, add us as friends.

More of the World Beer Collection ♥


Beer Update – December 2017

New Idaho Brews: 12

 New Idaho Breweries: 9

Flavor Life List: 35


Laughing Dog Brewing – Sandpoint, Idaho

  • Cream Ale

Salmon River Brewing – McCall, Idaho

  • Udaho Gold

Edge Brewing Company – Boise, Idaho

  • Edge Lager

Barbarian Brewing – Garden City, Idaho

  • The Everman Honey Beer
  • Wolf Pup Pale Ale
  • NeoWolf 001 IPA

Powderhaus Brewing Company – Garden City, Idaho

  • Hinterlander Porter

Wallace Brewing Company – Wallace, Idaho

  • Compressor SMaSH

Bear Island Brewing Company – Boise, Idaho

  • Christmas in Your Mouth Winter Warmer

Boise Brewing – Boise, Idaho

  • Broad St Blonde Ale

Payette Brewing Company – Boise, Idaho

  • North Fork Lager
  • Hazelnut Mutton Buster Brown Ale

 

Idaho Brews – December 2017

Idaho has a pretty decent beer scene and is growing in popularity for wineries as well. Here is my collection of Idaho brews!

Idaho has a pretty decent beer scene and is growing in popularity for wineries as well. Since my birding in Idaho didn’t seem to be going very well, I figured I better put some extra effort into my brew collecting. We participated in a couple organized pub crawls and did some of our own brew adventuring as well. I was pretty happy with just about everything we tried.

I think my favorite brew of the month was the DBA (Double Barrel Ale) from Firestone Walker Brewing Company in Paso Robles, California. My favorite local brew was Udaho Gold by Salmon River Brewing in McCall, Idaho.

I set up a Happy Hour tour for Josh and I with several stops scattered throughout downtown. We didn’t end up making it to a single planned stop because we kept getting distracted by other pubs and breweries along the way. One such place was Barbarian Brewing Downtown Tap Room. Very few locals I have talked to have even heard of it, which surprises us, since it ended up being our favorite brewery! We only had time for three tasters, but each one was better than the last. We enjoyed the service, the vibe, and really enjoyed the delicious beers. My favorite was The Everman, a honey beer.

I only got a taste for the flavors around me, as there are so many local breweries. Please share your favorite Idaho beers in the comments, and if you’re an Untappd user, add us as friends!


Brew Update – December 2017

New Idaho Flavors: 12

 New Idaho Breweries: 9

Flavor Life List: 35


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Laughing Dog Brewing – Sandpoint, Idaho

  • Cream Ale

Salmon River Brewing – McCall, Idaho

  • Udaho Gold

Edge Brewing Company – Boise, Idaho

  • Edge Lager

Barbarian Brewing – Garden City, Idaho

  • The Everman Honey Beer
  • Wolf Pup Pale Ale
  • NeoWolf 001 IPA

Powderhaus Brewing Company – Garden City, Idaho

  • Hinterlander Porter

Wallace Brewing Company – Wallace, Idaho

  • Compressor SMaSH

Bear Island Brewing Company – Boise, Idaho

  • Christmas in Your Mouth Winter Warmer

Boise Brewing – Boise, Idaho

  • Broad St Blonde Ale

Payette Brewing Company – Boise, Idaho

  • North Fork Lager
  • Hazelnut Mutton Buster Brown Ale

Idaho Birding – December 2017

I enjoyed an abundance of mallards and a few scattered magpies, but that was about it.

The birding in Idaho was a bit limited due to the cold weather and our proximity to the city and suburbs. I enjoyed an abundance of mallards and a few scattered magpies. I saw several raptors of one sort or another soaring or settled on lamp posts, but wasn’t able to get a firm identification on any of them.


Birding Update – December 2017

Identified: 4

New: 0

Life List: 89


  • American Coot
  • Black-billed Magpie
  • Canada Goose
  • Mallard

 

White Christmas

This was my first holiday back home since Christmas of 2004.

I’m super behind in my blogging (I have about five drafts half-written), but I don’t want to get bogged down by trying to post in order. Here is what happened for Christmas… you know… yesterday.

This was my first holiday back home since Christmas of 2004. We’ve heard horror stories about family holidays and have built some fun traditions of our own, so we were a little bit nervous diving in head-first. Buying gifts on our limited budget was a bit stressful, especially as it came right before our trip, but in the end, all of the chaos and stress was worth every second.

Half-way into the month, my sister came up with her husband and three kids from Nevada. We enjoyed a couple of meals, ice skating at The Village in Meridian, and some present-opening before she had to make the trip back home before Christmas.

Throughout the month, our schedules were jam-packed with dinner and lunch dates. We met with high school friends, cousins, aunts, nieces and nephews, and Grandma. It was so nice to finally have the time to catch up with everyone. We always feel like our time in Boise is way too short to visit with everyone, so we made sure to take advantage of our extended visit.

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On Christmas Eve, Tammy took us a out for an amazing brunch at 13th Street Grill. It snowed for most of the day and night, ensuring a white Christmas. For dinner, we all went over to Dad and Martina’s house. We sat around a long table and enjoyed some delicious prime rib along with the homemade horseradish sauce I always look forward to when I come to visit.

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We woke up a little earlier than usual on Christmas day, had some cookies and coffee for breakfast, then broke into the presents. Mom joined us on Skype and watched me win $15 on the scratch tickets from my stocking. Tammy heard I was a present-shaker, so she trick-wrapped all of the presents using multiple boxes and decoy items. It made each gift a little more exciting to open.

We all went over to Dad and Martina’s for Christmas supper. It was a full house with both my step-siblings and their families. We had various sausages and potato salads for dinner. I tried a little piece of each and decided the chicken sausage was my favorite.

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After supper, we played games and opened presents. Josh and I had a lot of fun watching the chaos of five kids collecting and opening their gifts. It was a storm of wrapping paper, amazon boxes, and tissue paper. There was some light chatter, but the bulk of the noise came from the seemingly random shouts of “Thank you, Oma and Opa!” from every corner of the room and the occasional, “Does anyone see the baby?”

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I found her!

It was a wonderful Christmas. We got all the perfect gifts (nothing bigger than 3 inches square) and had an amazing time with our families. This is the perfect send-off before we head out for our next big adventure, and something to look forward to when we come home next year.

Boise: Week One

 It has been a long, fun, and productive week and the calendar just keeps filling up. With just three weeks left here, I hope we can fit everything in.

One day I am sitting on the beach, the next I am freezing my butt off in Boise, Idaho.

Josh and I are both from Idaho, so although we have not been enjoying the cold, we have been enjoying the idea of coming home. It hasn’t been our home for nearly 15 years, but that doesn’t change the fact that our hearts will always be in our Idahome.

We are staying with Josh’s mom, Tammy who is a busy business woman and socialite. Her social schedule along with all of the family and old friends we have in town has made for a busy calendar.

Friday, 12/1 – We flew in to Boise, Idaho at 10:30PM.

Saturday 12/2 – Boise has a surprisingly awesome night life and lively downtown. So, when I heard about The 12 Bars of Christmas Pub Crawl, I couldn’t resist. There had to be over 100 people dressed in costume wandering the downtown area and filling every bar with holiday cheer.

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Immediately following our last drink of the crawl, we were ushered to Tammy’s company party. I’m not sure I have ever been to a company Christmas party before, so I guess it would be safe to say that this one was the best one I’ve ever been to! It was casino themed with an open bar, ongoing game show, and plenty of food. I didn’t win any prizes, but I pretty much ran the Texas Hold’em table and earned back my money ten fold… unfortunately, the chips didn’t actually pay out.

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Sunday 12/3 – My dad lives only 20 minutes away from Tammy. We joined him, my step-mom, step-sister, and nieces for their regular Sunday dinner. It was delicious, as always: chicken cutlets with mushroom sauce. The kids are learning how to play card games, so we had a fun time kicking their little butts in Speed.

Monday 12/4 – After a busy weekend, it was nice to take a day to just focus on our various projects. We also took some time to thank our host by building her table and cooking dinner.

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Tuesday 12/5 – After a productive day at home on Monday, we were looking forward to a little adventure. I spent the morning surfing the Boise travel guides. The research led us to the Boise Fry Company for lunch. We had fries and a burger. It wasn’t the best food we’ve ever eaten and the atmosphere wasn’t the best ever, but the concept was really cute.

The majority of the menu was customizable. We selected from six different types of potatoes for our fries (yams), then the cut of the fries (thick), the seasoning (garlic and rosemary salt), and the sauce (we got a flight of several). Then we selected our burger from several protein options (just beef). It was a lot of fun and I was pretty happy with the food. While there, we noticed they have happy hour from 4pm-6pm each day where there is BOGO on fries and beer. I’m looking forward to trying a few other fry combinations.

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For the evening, Tammy took us to a free line dancing lesson at The Buffalo Club (free every Tuesday). We learned two new dances and had some good drinks. I don’t want to brag, but Josh and I did pretty great.

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Wednesday 12/6 – Josh had to do some work, so I spent the day setting up the Christmas decorations.

Thursday 12/7 – We went to Dad’s house to help set up some of their Christmas decorations and for dinner. We had fried clams and baked potatoes.

Friday 12/8 – I unpacked and organized Tammy’s pantry in preparation to help her host Josh’s cousin for dinner. We had tacos and cobbler, then sat and talked late into the evening.

It has been a long, fun, and productive week and the calendar just keeps filling up. With just three weeks left here, I hope we can fit everything in.