Boise, ID: Low Expectations – Amazing Time!

Nature Center Boise
Nature Center Boise

There’s some truth to the connection between low expectations and having a great time. Part of the reason for our success in this trip so far is because we are not tied to very many great expectations. We know we want to explore as much of the Western United States as we can this year, but we don’t have a hard schedule or rigid agenda. We have only planned for the month ahead, and in some cases, just the week or the day ahead! While that uncertainty has probably caused a bit of uneasiness for myself at times, the benefits of the freedom and surprises have been totally worth it.

Camel's Back Park
Camel’s Back Park, North End

Boise, Idaho was one of those sweet surprises for our family. Thanks to the government shut-down, we had to cut short our time around Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Jackson, WY. We had about 10 days to kill before our rental in Seattle, so we decided to visit Boise, ID. We’d actually met a mom and her two sons while hiking around Mt. Rushmore in August, and she sold us on Boise. Come to find out that another old-time friend was living just outside the city as well. So, we split our visit between downtown Boise and the suburban Meridian.

Powell's Candy Shop
Sugar Rush – Powell’s Candy Shop

The few days in the “Northend” of Boise were perfect! We stayed in a pink house cottage, which totally fascinated Jadyn. (“Is it really pink?!!” she asked.) The homeowner, Sherry was most hospitable and made our stay so comfortable. The location was close enough to walk or run to downtown restaurants, the local co-op, or nature hikes. One morning, Don and Gabe walked to a nearby coffee shop to work while Isaac and Jadyn worked with me at home. Another afternoon, we dropped off Don at  a different coffee shop while the kids and I hiked and biked around Camel’s Back Park. And another evening we ran along the river trail while the kids biked and geocached. And we all even visited the Old State Penitentiary for an education in our prison system.

Old State Pen
Old State Pen

But I have to say that the most memorable part of Boise was hanging out for a week with our friends the Maculley’s. We used to be neighbors back in Utah in 2003. But time passed, and lots of changes happened, and we just kinda lost track of each other. So when John invited us to stay with him, I have to admit – and he will admit the same – that we had very low expectations of our week together! lol! He was hoping we’d survive without him having to request us to leave (because of past experiences with guests), and I was thinking I’d just be grateful for an empty home to get some work done while John was at Micron and the kids were at school!

Lucky Peak Dam

But the reality was that we kinda became a little extended family that week – our kids couldn’t wait for his kids to come home from school, we were eating dinner together every night, and we were squeezing in as much activity as we could!

With a few phone calls and texts, John moved his “Mexican Monday” night to Sunday and had a house full of guests. As the “token Mexican,” I cooked Mexican Street Corn, Spanish Rice, and Albondigas. Everyone else also brought delicious food to share, and so it turned out to be a fun night getting to know several people around Boise. Chris Anderson sang several songs for us, our favorite being Society. And before I knew it, I was having a ball country dancing in his living room! Fun, late night! His girls amazed me when they, at ages 9 & 12, just made their lunches for the next day, got themselves ready for bed, and said goodnight with a house full of people!

Geocaching 12 Finds on Gabe’s Bday

Don had to fly back to Texas for business meetings, so we missed him the following night. But the kids were impressive. I don’t know who started it, but in the evening, within a few minutes, all the kids were focused and drawing something. We left a little art gallery of their productions on the table for John when he left to work the next morning.


The rest of the week was full of memories. One night we headed out for a double date to my first hot springs spa!! Aside from the faint sulfuric smell (my daughter never would have acclamated!), we relaxed with wine and cheese under the stars. Another night we grilled burgers and then cheered for their son, Blake who was a Center for his high school football team. In the middle of the game, Gabe asked me why the announcer kept saying, “Mountain Dew.” His school was Mountain View 😉

Happy 12th Bday, Gabe!
Happy 12th Bday, Gabe!

But the fun highlight for all were the two days we spent celebrating Gabe’s 12th birthday. Poor kid knew his b-day would fall in Boise and that he wouldn’t likely have any friends around. We joked, saying that we’d put an ad out on Craigslist to hire out friends to come to a party for him. But in the end, he had a total blast. He was blessed with cards and gifts all day long from family and friends who sent him books and money! Brooke and Ava Maculley had 2 days off school, so we pretty much had a two-day party, hitting the donut shop, toy shop, YMCA for rock climbing and b-ball, skate rink, and yogurt shop, mixed in between geocaching for 12 finds, playing soccer with Mt. Rushmore friends, and watching School of Rock. Whew!


When we said goodbye, we all hoped that we’d get to see each other again sometime soon perhaps. They kept trying to sell us on staying in Boise again for a winter month of skiing/snowboarding . . . you never know.

Foam Pit at Jump Place
Foam Pit at Jump Place

One of the things we love giving and receiving is books. I feel like it’s a sort of family trademark. Picture books, like Let Me Hold You Longer or You Are Special are always great momento gifts. But for the Maculley’s we left a few more recent favorites like Wonder, The Princess and the Goblin, The Blue Fairy Book, Mud, Sweat and Tears, The 48 Laws of Power, and The Trusted Advisor. We hope they are enjoyable and inspiring to read, as well as just another opportunity for connecting as friends.



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