Idaho State Capitol| Boise, Idaho

The Capitol building in Boise was on the top of my list for our Boise bucket list. When our final week in Idaho came, I was getting a little anxious. Packing up and getting organized to leave took a great deal more time than I had anticipated. I swear, the small amount of stuff we brought from home multiplied by 3 by the time we left! Crazy how that happens – especially with kids!

I had wanted to schedule a full tour, which you can do here , but was not able to as you need at least two weeks notice. So, I opted to just walk in, which anyone can do during their business hours, and we gave ourselves a personalized tour. The website has tons of information, so I was ready to give my kids as best a tour as I could just by myself. There are also informational videos you can watch, as well as a printable scavenger hunt that you and your kids can do! It’s a very well done website.

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The gardens surrounding the Capitol were gorgeous!

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Memphis knocked but Butch was not there

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All the Governors of Idaho

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I loved this statue of Washington on the 3rd floor

There is so much to see! It’s best to start on the bottom floor. Inside there is a small museum about Idaho history, a gift shop (which I avoided at all costs with my kids. I didn’t want to hear “Can I have this? Can I have this?!”) , and some informational videos that you can view.

Since my children’s attention spans are about as big as a goldfish, we didn’t spent much time in the museum area. Instead, we went up one floor to the rotunda. This was my favorite floor! Why you ask? Because you had the complete view to the top of the dome. It’s gorgeous!

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There are 43 stars inside the faux oculus. Why? because Idaho is the 43rd state!

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The above photo was taken while I was laying flat on my back in the center of the rotunda. My kids ended up laying down with me, and this group of older women just thought it was hilarious. They all ended up laying down with us too and we gazed up at the dome together for a few minutes. I wish we could have gotten a selfie with all of us laying there. Ah well.

It really is a gorgeous building. It was built in 1905, and was recently rennovated and rededicated in 2010.

We had a great time exploring the House and Senate rooms. Thankfully neither was in session the day we went, so we were able to go inside. The kids were really excited about the soft chairs they could sit in.

 

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One of my favorite things about the building itself was the replica of the Liberty Bell outside of it! It made this Philly girl’s heart sing! The bell even works, (we tried with permission of the security guard who also snapped our photo).

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If you’re in the neighborhood and have some free time the Capitol building is definitely a must see!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

 

 

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Table Rock | Boise, Idaho

Perhaps one of the most iconic spots in the Boise area is that of Table Rock. It’s easy to see why once you’re standing at the top with a beautiful panoramic view of Treasure Valley,  as well as the Owyhee Mountain range. The 60 foot high white cross that adorns the summit of the butte is equally loved and hated by native Boiseans. The area itself is sacred ground of the Northern Shoshone tribe, who apparently used the butte and surrounding caves for ceremonial purposes. Apparently, it’s a sore spot why nothing is there to preserve or respect the Shoshone tribe, and instead the white cross stands tall.  IMG_4693IMG_4697IMG_4694

The cross actually stands on private land, owned by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, (Jaycees), who purchased the land in a very shady auction which the general public was not even made aware of. So, the cross itself has a pretty turbulent and controversial history. BUT, controversy aside, it still is extremely cool to hike to the top and explore the surrounding caves. It’s become quite the graffiti mecca, and there is always new artwork to admire.

You can either start from the bottom where the trail starts by the old Idaho State Penitentiary, (which is also highly recommended to go and see!) The littles and I started at the bottom of the trail, but only made it about half a mile and had to turn back. It didn’t help that it was 96 degrees out when we started. So, we got back in the car and decided to drive to the top of the bluff instead. It ended up working out much better for us, and we were able to explore all the little caves and crevices.

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clearly, they were thrilled to hike up. You can see the cross that’s blurry in the top right corner. We had a ways to go.

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Even the artwork on the electrical buildings on the hike up from the parking lot are impressive! The details on them are phenomenal.

Once we sat on the summit for a few minutes and took in the gorgeous panoramic views, we hiked down to the caves right below that encircle the entire bluff. Memphis is really into Batman right now, so he kept exclaiming “I found a Batman cave Momma!” Too cute.

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Table Rock is a must see on my list of things to do in Boise! If you’re in the area, definitely go! Me and my littles had a great time exploring it and maybe one day we can go back and actually hike up to the top instead of drive.

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XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

A Kitschy Surprise in Melba, Idaho

When I packed the kids in the van and drove over to Melba, Idaho a few weeks ago I was under the impression that we were going to a “fairy” trail. Shay my daughter is obsessed with all things fairy and magical so I was sure she would love it. When we pulled in to Cleo’s Ferry Museum and Nature Trail I was a little confused but pleasantly surprised to find it was in fact a “ferry” museum which was a nod to the still standing 150-year-old buildings which at one time housed the ferry services across the Snake River. What I soon discovered was that a man by the name of Dr. Samuel “Pappy” Swayne and his wife Cleo purchased this land and constructed buildings to house his medical practice and for them to reside in. When Pappy passed away in 1976, Cleo decided to turn their property into a religious nature trail.

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The sign that we passed as we entered says it’s a “faith adventure”. Anyone could see as you start your journey walking the trail that it is heavily influenced by Christian religious beliefs whether the various decorations are subtle or not so subtle. Cleo put up bird houses along the trail which all have included signs with whimsical and religious quotes on them about life, love, and family. Judging just by looking, there must be thousands of houses so that feat was amazing in itself to achieve! This part of the trail also houses a cemetery which is the final resting place of the beloved Pappy Swayne and various other family members.

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There’s also a kitschy side of this trail. Mixed amongst the Christian decor are spectacularly kooky lawn decorations including life-sized African safari animals, a full Hansel and Gretel set, a random rocket ship housing an alien with included “Take me to your leader” sign, and a collection of bronze sculptures including historical figures. I took a photo with William Shakespeare because I recently discovered he is a distant cousin of mine! (And by distant I mean like 14th cousin twice removed or something crazy like that!) The dichotomy of different worlds just kind of makes you cock your head and say “Huh.”. But it’s also a very interesting contrast and just makes you feel like you’re in a giant attic of your favorite grandma. Despite it being almost 100 degrees that day, we enjoyed our nature walk. There are also chickens roaming free, and there is a muster of peacocks which the kids had a phenomenal time feeding, and we loved seeing the babies!

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If you’re in the neighborhood, head on over to Cleo’s Ferry Museum and Nature Walk. It was a very unique discovery for us, and whether you’re religious or not you can appreciate all the time and work that went into this beautiful space.

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

 

Fourth of July

We spent the 3rd and 4th of July with my husband’s company Envi Pest and Lawn in Nampa, Idaho. Our Fourth of July was renting a boat and taking on Lake Lowell. It’s besutiful and the water level is so high this year that it covered some of the trees which made it look kind of magical. There is also plenty of shade which was a major plus.  We took turns tubing, wake surfing, and wakeboarding for two days and had a great time.

Our two days were FULL and fun days! We were all exhausted when we got home which just meant we had the time of our lives! We rented a boat and took turns riding the tubes, wake boarding, and wake surfing. When we weren’t in the boat we played in the water, played various games and ate LOTS of food! I’ll be honest though, the kids had a few meltdowns. And by kids, I mean Memphis, and by a few, I meant a lot! He was playing so hard and so long that both days he just completely fell apart. Poor kid! It’s so hard being 3!

We also had an extremely intoxicated man literally fall to the ground and start violently puking by our food table. My older kids asked me why that man was throwing up. So, that was cool. Way to keep it classy in front of the kids buddy! But despite all of that we had a great time.

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If you need Pest control or lawn service and live in the Boise, or Twin Falls areas make sure to check out Envi Pest and Lawn ! Also, we ended our day watching some local fireworks and doing sparklers- what could be better right?

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XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Jump Creek Falls

Just outside of a small town called Marsing, Idaho is Jump Creek Canyon. Without GPS it would have been impossible to find as we maneuvered around private land. This one neighbor is obviously FED up with travellers thinking his property was the way to Jump Creek.

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Yikes. We get the hint!

There is an upper trail and a lower trail. The upper one looked a little too advanced for the littles, so we decided to do the lower one. I’m so glad we did! It was not a super long hike, but it was windy and uphill with lots of rocks and slippery gravel. It winds along the stream that comes down from the falls. So, we took our time with the kids, and that was just fine. There were lots of caves and cool rocks to explore on our way.

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The mouth of Jump Creek Canyon

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One of the many caves and caverns we discovered!

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Once we made it to the end of the trail we were pleasantly surprised by the waterfall! It’s not as full as it would be at the end of spring/beginning of summer with most of the snow melt but it was still very awesome. There a good-sized pool underneath that’s perfect for swimming in. It happened to be an extremely hot day too (98) so the kids didn’t mind the chilly water. Shay discovered a cool tunnel right by the waterfall that she liked to explore and climb through. Memphis was content to stand in the shallows and throw rocks, but Calvin and Jess and I braved the cold water for a few minutes.

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When we had our fun with the water, we decided to climb up some rock formations to get a better look at the top of the waterfall.  I asked a very drunk gentleman to take our family pic, and thankfully there was one good one, because the rest had his finger in the way!

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On our hike back through the canyon we decided to follow the stream instead of the trail and it was a whole different experience! We had to hold Memphis through some of the deeper water, but most of it he was fine wading through.

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Jump Creek Falls was totally worth it, and I cannot wait to go back and do the upper trail one day!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

MK Nature Center in Boise

You know what sucks? Sinus infections. Even more so in the middle of the heat of June. Thankfully, a visit to the local Urgent Care has gotten me some meds so hopefully I will be feeling back to my normal self by tomorrow.

So, while I am sick at our temporary home here in Boise it gives me some time to sit down and write about our adventures last week to the Morris Knudsen Nature Center. It’s located on Walnut street behind the Idaho Fish and Game Headquarters. It’s also situated right on the Boise river and the green belt of the city.

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The littles LOVED these fish signs!

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We always have a HOOT!

The best thing about the MK Nature Center is it’s FREE! I love some good free fun, and this place offers so much. It’s 4.6 acres of gorgeous forest with an enormous pond and stream in the middle that has board walks to walk and observe the fish. They had some GIANT white sturgeon which the species itself is about 200 Million years old. My kids could not even wrap their heads around the fact that they were looking at something as old as dinosaurs. The longer one was about 7 feet long and 200 lbs!

rawbrunettemknature1rawbrunettemknature2rawbrunettemknauture3rawbrunettemknature12rawbrunettemknature13I could have watched the fish swim around all day, but my littles have much shorter attention spans. So, we kept walking along the stream walk. As you go further up, there are these cool viewing windows that give you a look under the water. There were lots of charts and signs telling us what we were looking at, and the kids really enjoyed it.

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As we made our way down the stream walk, I took a tremendous fall. I was attempting to take a photo, and thought that standing on a log would help me get a better view. Unfortunately for me, the log was not stable so the moment I put my weight on it, the thing rolled from under me. My legs literally went up over my head and I landed on top of the log with my back and my elbow went directly into the ground. It hurt, but thankfully other than some nasty scrapes and bruises I am alright. I am, however, grateful that no one other than my children witnessed my epic fall! After a trip back to the visitor center and some band aids, we continued on our adventures.

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Once we completed the stream walk, we visited the Butterfly Gardens, and then headed back to the visitor center where there was plenty to see and do. They had the cutest little burrowing owl named Hoots, a turtle named Splashy, and a one-eyed American Kestrel named Fiona who were outside that the kids had a good time watching for a while. A very informative employee had a table set up outside with various horns and antlers that the kids could touch and pick up. She even taught us how to tell the animals ages by counting the rings on their horns!

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We finished our day exploring the inside of the visitor center which had plenty to do and see. The kids looked at the different stuffed animals who are native to Idaho. My daughter particularly loved the display about bats, since bats are one of her favorite animals. They also got to say hello to a gopher snake named George, and three adorable tiger salamanders. They made rubbings of different animals and charts, guess what skulls belonged to what animals, and even got to guess how much a newborn black bear cub weighs, (spoiler: it weighs 8 oz! I was surprised too!)

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XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Car Troubles that broke the Camels Back

I took my van in yesterday for what (I thought) was just a routine alignment before I head back to Utah for a few days this weekend. After an hour and a half of sitting in the Meineke lobby with my kids in tow, they told me the bad news. Turns out, they could not align my van’s tires until they replaced a part that was broken. Don’t worry, I was skeptical too. I feel like women always get swindled at car shops, ( hey, if you’re offended by that I’m sorry but it is how I feel from many experiences). They even took off the part and came and showed me up close, and YES, it was beyond broken. A few more weeks or even days and it may have broken completely off which would have been big trouble.

Even better news? It was going to be $800. UGH. I mean, no one wants to put that kind of money into a car repair, but if I didn’t align my van, my brand new tires would be ruined quick, and that would be another $400.

After then spending ALL day at Meineke when I had only planned on about 45 minutes the kids were all going crazy and Mommy was DONE. So, when we finally got our van back and were going to head home, the traffic was insane because of rush hour. Not wanting to sit in traffic for an hour, I decided to look for a park and wait out the traffic.  One popped up on Google Maps called Camels Back Park, and with a name like that I thought it must be cool!

We were all pleasantly surprised with just how cool it was!

First, we noticed just how large, clean, and fun the playground/outdoor workout area was.

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Memphis thoroughly enjoying the outdoor gym

The playground area alone, kept my kids busy for over an hour. I really liked how clean the whole park was. Definitely one of the cleanest I have been to!

Once we had our fill playing, we decided to go hiking. The main unique characteristic of Camel’s Back Park is the sand dune!

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Memphis for scale

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Heading up!

So, the hard way, would be to walk straight up, which we opted not to do. If it was just me I would have, but I had six pairs of little legs who would not have been able to make it, and I was not about to carry them up! So, we took one of several trails that went up and around to the top.

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Once we got to the top, the views were amazing! The littles were pretty proud of themselves, because even though we went the “easier” way, it was still very steep, and the sand was slippery. We stayed up at the top of Camel’s Back for a while and soaked in the view.

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There are many trails up there, and I definitely want to go back and explore more of them! I think I should keep hiking essentials handy in my van for the rare occasion that we stumble upon another cool hike! Oh, and if you go here, do NOT try and go down the sand dune. I made that mistake thinking it would be faster, and boy was I wrong! The kids were all slipping, and I did too. So, our solution was to all sit on our butts and slide down the sand! Just don’t do what I did, because I am still picking sand out of my crack!If you are ever in Boise, go check out this unique park!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette