Saturday, June 2, 2018

Potato Diaries, Day Two: No Bike for Me!

As you know after reading yesterday's post, I am dog sitting for my parents in Idaho. What I didn't mention then is how very (very, very, very, very - and did I mention, very) attached my parent's dogs are to them, and specifically my mother. One of the two dogs simply gets mopey and doesn't want to move from his perch where he can look longingly out the window, waiting for her return. The other, while also sad that she is gone, is easier to get moving. However, he has a horrible habit of waking in the middle of the night and alarm-barking at nothing in particular. Of course, being fast asleep myself, this extreme and sudden noise scares the bejesus out of me and then I can't get back to sleep.

So, after being woke a few times this way overnight, I finally got up in the wee hours of the morning, feeling as though I'd been drugged and beaten. I decided that it probably wasn't a great choice to be out on a bicycle since my balance felt off and I feel the need to be very focused on what I'm doing riding the roads here.

Instead, the dogs and I explored the area on foot. Mom's dogs are pretty out of shape. They get regular walks, but very short ones, so taking them any sort of distance becomes an exercise in patience as they need to stop every quarter to half a mile for a breather (thankfully, they're both pretty young, so they recover fast). It makes things challenging to actually get anywhere though. Still, I want to see what is around, so off we went to explore an area around Lake Lowell which borders Caldwell and Nampa, Idaho.

While looking at maps for possible bike routes, I saw that there is a lake in the area and thought it might be an interesting place to visit on a warmer day, so we were off and walking at a spot called Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. What I didn't expect was that everything would be so dry. The weather has been moderately wet over the last several weeks, so I assumed that there would be more greenery. Instead, we were greeted by what felt like endless desert tan. I know this area is considered a high desert, but then again, so is Colorado, so I was bit shocked to see so much dryness so early in the season.
There is a certain interest to me though, even in more desert-like scenery. I was taken a bit off guard by how much it reminded me of camping in the California deserts as a kid. But, then again, I'm always a little surprised by how similar different states appear in regard to the terrain and plant life. I suppose it's all more similar than different, but the little differences are what make it interesting, I think.

After the fact, I learned that the greener areas are on the other side of the lake (leave it to me to find the barren land), so I suppose it could explain why more lush plant life seemed to be missing from much of our hiking time.
Early on, we spotted a fenced off area that appears to be a track of some sort. Whether it's used to race dirt bikes, dune buggies or perhaps neither of these was uncertain, but I couldn't help but think the entire hiking trail would be a good place to test out a mountain bike. Unfortunately, that is not the bike I brought along for this trip.
It seems this area is a bird habitat/observatory, as there were several signs that warned users of the path to stay on the trail and to leave the birds alone.  We didn't see many birds (at least up close) while we walked, but they could be seen flying in the distance. Not being a student of fowl, I have absolutely no idea what type of birds were around, but if we get out that way again, I'll try to take better notes and/or photos for those who have interest in such matters.
We took the path up to this overlook because I could see the binoculars for viewing while approaching; however, when I tried to take a look through them, they didn't seem to be operational. This could be entirely user error as I tend to have problems with even the most basic equipment and having three dogs pulling in multiple directions wasn't helping matters.
Much of the trail is dusty - or at least the portion we walked. Again, I'm told that other portions of the lake are greener, so if we get out that way again, we'll have to investigate. I'd also like to figure out a good path to ride here, if possible.

Having stopped into one of the bike shops today to inquire about rides that shouldn't be missed in the area, they didn't have any helpful information to give, but rather provided me the city bike map. The problem is that while the map's helpful to find the paths around town that allow riders and walkers to avoid city surface streets, I was hoping to find some longer rides to experience.

My hope is to also get in to Boise proper at some point. Perhaps early in the week when the weekend traffic has dispersed back to 9-5's I can find a way into the city to see if there are better rides there.

Of interest to me personally is the difference in how the day's temperatures progress here. Being approximately 800 miles away from home (which isn't so great a distance to make me think things would be terribly different), I find that the days start and stay cool much longer than at home. For example, this morning was in the low 50F degree range and it stayed fairly cool until about 2p or so before it really heated up. At home, as soon as the sun is visible, things start to warm quickly, and even if the actual temperature isn't too high, it feels hot much sooner in the day during spring and summer.

My guess is that it has to do with the altitude difference. I've kind of taken the elevation in Colorado pretty lightly over the years, as it doesn't affect me on a day to day basis, but I hear people joke about being closer to the sun, so perhaps there's validity in these statements and explains why it takes a bit longer to warm up here in Idaho.

I'm looking forward to getting back on a bike tomorrow and hopefully finding some roads better suited to traveling by bicycle. While traversing the city today I actually exclaimed aloud, "Hey! A bike lane!" Nearly as soon as the words were spoken, the lane disappeared, but it was nice to see that they actually do exist. Maybe that bike map will come in handy after all.

**Day 3 can be found here.


  1. Thank you for taking us on this journey in Idaho. I have hazy memories of traveling across Idaho in the 80's. What I recall is that the middle i s fairly desert like. But it becomes more lush the further west you get and that Boise is a tree city. Things change!

    1. I apologize, Annie. I thought I'd responded to you, but the comment seems to have vanished.

      I visited Idaho (and specifically Boise) in the mid-90s and it has changed a lot from that time, just as I'm sure it has since your visit in the 80s. There are still a lot of trees in the area - I think I was just taken aback by how much of the area is desert-like. I'd love to see Idaho Falls because I've heard it's quite lovely, but I really, really don't want to spend more time in the car (and it's about a 4 hour drive from my current location). I'd have to take the dogs along too, which creates other things to deal with, so I'm not sure that's going to happen, unfortunately.


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