Thursday, June 7, 2018

Potato Diaries, Days 5-7: Connecting Loose Ends and Finally Riding in Boise

I've ended up combining days five through seven together here. I just couldn't get to posting and I've had some issues with connectivity on the computer, so it is what it is. But, here we are now. Three days, smashed together. If you've missed out on the prior posts, Day 1 is here, Day 2 is here, Day 3 is here and Day 4 can be found here.

Day Five:

I keep saying that I have plans to get to Boise to ride, and it just never seems to happen. For one reason or another, there's always an excuse not to get there. Now, time is slipping away and I don't want to miss out on riding in the actual city before I'm gone. Not that I can't or won't return, but it would be nice to actually ride there during this trip.

Yesterday, I was supposed to go into Boise to ride. That didn't happen. The day just got away from me and it was one of those when an hour feels like a minute. Those days are rough because nothing seems to get accomplished. Since things were moving a bit fast, I decided to go back and further explore the Nampa greenway system to try to make some sense of it.

An earlier post highlighted the fact that the map I received shows not only the path that is currently constructed, but also future plans for the greenway. I wanted to see how well the current version works and if the actual greenway is less confusing than the map makes it seem.

The plan was to ride from one side of the city to the other, hopefully only using the greenway, but that didn't quite work out. From the southeast side of the city to the northwest side, there are several locations that drop off suddenly. One of the connections uses surface streets, but the main artery is actually on a very busy road (it's a highway that turns into a street in the city, and spans five lanes through town) and users really find themselves sticking to the sidewalk unless they want to take a pretty great risk of getting hit on the road (I did see one person doing this, so it's not impossible). There are several cars pulling out of parking lots too, so riding on the sidewalk is probably just as potentially dangerous.
One part of the Nampa trail system. The dotted lines indicate future pathways, but unfortunately the map doesn't seem to be entirely accurate and it also leaves riders and walkers in random places without directions in certain spots.
As I was trying to calculate where to go (the signs are somewhat usable, but seem to be placed in areas that make it a little difficult to find them in some spots), I was pedaling on the road and saw a woman in front of me who looked vaguely familiar, but I passed it off as a coincidence. This happens often when I travel. I frequently see people who look like other people I know, so I tend to not make much of these situations.

As we came closer together the woman smiled and said, "Hey! Dog lady!" Realizing that she recognized me too, I took a better glance. It was the same woman who had stopped on Day 3 to help find the owner of the loose dogs roaming the street. We had a very brief conversation and off I went, still trying to connect to the next portion of the path. Had I had any sort of awareness, I should've asked the woman I'd just been talking to, but that hadn't occurred to me in the moment.

Eventually, I found a path again - whether it was what I was looking for or not, I'm still not entirely certain. But, then I was soon back on roads again as it just dumped me in the middle of nothing. I ended up riding the streets for awhile and then heading back to the house.

Ultimately, there are several sections of the Nampa trail that seem to drop off into nothingness. It's unfortunate because it seems like a great way to actually get through this area, but at the present time, it appears to have limitations for usability throughout different parts of the city.

Day 6:

The plan (as had been the plan for several days to this point) was to get the dogs worn out early so that I could go and ride in Boise. I took an extra amount of time to ensure that they would be nice and tired so that leaving them for a few hours wouldn't be a huge deal. Unfortunately, my plan seemed to backfire and when we returned from what should've been an exhausting walk for the dogs, they seemed to have more energy than before we left. Ugh. My plan to shape up these two little pups was definitely working against me.

Instead, I took the dogs with me to Boise and figured we could walk the greenway together and get an idea of what it's like. Plus, I figured if it didn't seem like a good place to ride, I could always choose another spot when I came back without them.

The timing of our arrival could not have been worse though. We arrived to the greenway just about the time everyone was going to lunch, so there were walker, joggers and cyclists everywhere. On one hand I thought this was so fantastic. To have such a great space that so many people want to use is truly wonderful; however, I had three dogs pulling in three different directions and people trying to pass us, especially those on bicycles, weren't too happy with attempting to avoid running over the dogs.
Boise Green Bike docking station on the greenway. What a perfect place to have these for visitors and locals alike!
I noticed right away that Boise's bike share has a dock on the greenway (and several others as well). If only I could've thrown the three dogs on the bike with me, things would've been so much easier!
It's so cool to see a large river running right through a city. I know there are other cities with large rivers, but it's been awhile since I've experienced something like this firsthand.
There was so much green all around. This had been what I remembered of Boise from years ago, so it was exciting to see that the green still very much remains. Green and more green was definitely the theme. That and people. Lots and lots of people.
The Boise Greenbelt path ... and a Golden Retriever who just couldn't resist staying out of my photo. I took advantage of the brief moment when there weren't people passing in every direction.
The pathway itself is really nice too. There are spots that are in need of some repair, but I think that's a typical find on most MUP's of any significant length. Overall, it seemed to be in pretty decent shape and the fact that there are so many outlets to get users to various destinations around the city is truly fantastic.

Although I really wanted to explore the path more on foot, the dogs were being particularly bad, so I knew that the trip was going to get wrapped up quickly, unfortunately. We said our goodbye to Boise and headed away from all the people and the green.

Day 7:

A week in, and I was pretty convinced that riding in Boise just wasn't going to happen. The universe seemed to be working against me. Today, it was supposed to rain, so that didn't bode well. I don't mind riding in the rain, but it's also been quite windy, so I wasn't sure if I wanted to venture out into that sort of weather. Still, I was determined, so I went to work wearing out the pups and then prepared to get on my way to Boise to ride -- finally.

I got all that I would need together and went to grab the bike. I figured I should probably check the air pressure in the tires (since I hadn't checked it on any of the other rides), but when I went to attach the nozzle, I realized the front tire was completely flat.

Dammit, I thought. The old me would've freaked out and decided it was a bad omen and skipped the ride, but new me decided that this wasn't a big deal (because it isn't) and at least it happened at home so that I could take my time and not have to worry about it on the side of the road. Still, I have pretty puncture proof tires, so the fact that I got a flat was a little annoying. I can't even remember the last time I had a flat on this bike with these tires.

Deep down, I knew it was a goathead without even looking at the tire. Damn you Idaho and your thorny little spiky weeds. We have them at home too, but they seem to be everywhere here in much greater numbers. As I changed the flat I couldn't help but think that Sam would be so proud. There was a time when I would've been calling him crying about the flat tire and telling him I couldn't deal with it. He would've had to talk me off a ledge and then I would've used it as an excuse to avoid riding.

As it turned out, it was in fact a goathead that had broken off and was poking through just the very smallest amount, but enough to puncture the tube. Like I said, I knew what the issue was without even finding it.
The Boise River
Finally, I was off and headed to Boise. I ended up arriving just about the same time as I had with the dogs the day prior, but it would be far less difficult to maneuver through people on a bike than it was with three dogs at my side (or not at my side as the case was). 

My plan was to ride a good portion of the greenway and then head off around the city and possibly up into the foothills. It was probably a little ambitious, but I really wanted to see as much as possible of the city while I was there.
Cottonwood fluff -- This was not even close to the worst of it, but I took this picture while I was stopped so that there would be some kind of photo reference.
The first thing I noticed were the enormous number of Cottonwood trees. We have these at home as well and when they are blooming it is one of the most horrible things to deal with for allergy sufferers. Plumes of white fluff littered the pathway and air. My eyes and throat were definitely feeling it.

Nothing would deter me from my ride today though. Not allergies, nor rain or wind, or flat tires.

Remember that lovely Boise bikeway map I'd picked up a few days earlier? That map that was going to see me all around the city and help me out if I happened to get lost? Yep. I left it sitting on the counter at the house. So, I was on my own and knew I'd have to figure out how to connect to places using whatever was available on the trail system.
Different types of river and pond-use items can be rented in this spot.
This greenway in Boise is really a treat to ride. There are so many things going on in various areas and I should've taken far more photos than I did, but you'll just have to take my word for it that it's not only beautiful, but a great spot for all ages to use and hang out. There are different little pond areas, beach areas, spots where people kayak and use stand up paddleboards. People fishing, swimming, using rafts or other flotation devices were all over too. There is even a little shop that rents different river-use products and a place to grab a bite to eat. Frankly, I couldn't help but be a bit jealous that there are so many possibilities in such a central location in the city. 
People were "surfing" in this area of the river
Tried to get a photo of one of the surfers, but he was a bit too far away for a decent picture
When I passed one area of the river, I noticed a lovely area where people were "surfing" in the river. Who would've thought? I guess when you want to surf and you're not on a coast, you make things work.

Another really cool feature of the greenway were signs that directed people toward various attractions around the city such as art, food, and other things people would want to see or do. The city (or I suppose county, as I've been told the system is taken care of by Ada County) does a great job of making this a very user-friendly system. There were a couple of times when I wasn't entirely sure what direction to go, but it also didn't matter as I really just wanted to explore the area.
As I continued to ride, things got a little more quiet. I wasn't seeing quite as many people, though there were still walkers, joggers and cyclists to be found. I thought it was extremely pleasant that the majority of the greenway has a lot of trees, so there are few times when there are long stretches of being exposed to the sun.

Continuing on, I wasn't really sure where I was or when the path would end (Note to self: Remember the map next time and you won't have this problem!), but since it was still going, I decided to keep on riding.
I couldn't help but wonder if there were snipers in the bushes, waiting to shoot at me as I rode through this area
Then, things changed. There weren't as many trees and I was exposed much more to the sun. The path was still going though, so I persevered. Signage changed and then became non-existent. Where was I exactly? I hadn't traveled that far. At that point, I was only about 13 miles from my starting point.
The map told the story later - I had wandered into another city.
When I got home later, I would realize that I was almost in Eagle, which is just outside of Boise. Had I continued on about another mile, I would've hit the end of the path, but at that point I was concerned that I needed to get back to the pooches, so I started heading back to the start. I would loved to have had more time to explore. The other side of the river has an entire other stretch of path, and there is a portion that runs farther south-east as well. All told, I believe I read there are approximately 45 miles of pathway to run, walk, and ride. Pretty cool.

Having water next to me for nearly the entire stretch of the ride was really quite a nice feature. At home, there are several cities that have waterways and MUPs that run parallel, but I don't think any are quite like this, even in Denver. Though, the Cherry Creek path is awfully nice and nearly as long, it still can't compare to what is available to users along the Boise River greenway.  Of course, Denver is a completely different city that has built up in a way that made sense for the area.

If I had more time, I would like to have the opportunity to explore Boise more by bike and to ride up to Bogus Basin. I received word that my folks have wrapped up their to-dos and should be home late Friday evening, so I don't know if I'll have that opportunity on this trip -- but, there's always next time. I have one more day to see what I can in this area, so whether it's on foot or bike, I look forward to another day outside.

2 comments:

  1. So glad you finally got into the city. That path looks wonderful. I love to get on a greenline and just see where it goes. It’s so nice not having to think about traffic, and MUPs are often nicely shaded. I have a little bit of an obsession with bike share systems. Any time I am in a city that has one, I absolutely have to try it out!

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    Replies
    1. I was glad to finally get to ride in the city too. I was amazed at how far a person can actually travel on the MUP.

      Next time, I'll have to try the bike share system and see how well that works. :)

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