Category Archives: Places

Going Home Again

Carol and I met in Sacramento.  I flew down from Boise yesterday, and she drove down from Fallon and picked me up at the airport.


Might seem like a strange place to have a sisters visit. But there’s a great five-day pickleball clinic/camp we’ve signed up for that served as a great excuse to get away…

This visit is exactly what the doctor ordered for me.

The clinic is great, but even better is the time I’m spending with Carol.

bullfrogWe lived in Sacramento while we were kids up until we were nearly seven. And we used to live a few blocks from the American River where we used to hunt bullfrogs in the reeds along the river.

After the clinic’s first day, we went for a short drive up Highway 49 and went for a hike along the north fork of the American River. It felt like going home again…

There’s been so much rain recently that everything is sprouting up in spring-time green.


The hike crosses the Mountain Quarries Railroad  Bridge and there are several trails to take. We took the trail towards the Auburn Staging Area. I’d love to hike to “Ruck-a-Chuky” just because it’s so fun to say.  🙂0125161436The bridge was built in 1921 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.


It’s a beautiful bridge and has withstood multiple floods in its nearly 100 years.

While I’m in awe of the trees, the bridge, and the structures, Carol’s looking for birds and was thrilled to see her first hummingbird of the year.  🙂

Here are a few random pictures from our hike…

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World Traveler

Richie is off traveling again.  He’s starting in Vietnam hopes to visit other Asian countries during his 25 day trip.

And he’s one happy traveler!


If you’d like, you can travel vicariously through him by checking out his blog at (And if you want to receive an email to alert you when there’s a new post, click on the Follow link in the lower right hand corner.)

He doesn’t post every day. But when he does post, he  writes something so intriguing and engaging that you’ll think you’re almost there right alongside him.

(Yes, I’m biased because I’m his mother… But I really do think that his travelogues are the best ever!)


And his pictures are interesting as well.

Here’s part of his first post, written as he was leaving Seattle on Christmas day.

vnI’m starting in the south in HCMC and in about 3.5 weeks I’ll be flying out of the north and Hanoi. I know I want to do some hiking,  some diving (weather permitting), see the Mekong delta,  cruise through Ha Long Bay… But I’ve got no set plan… Just going to wander around for a couple weeks.

PS Took me a while to figure out that HCMC is Ho Chi Minh City. And I only knew that because I knew he was going to Vietnam.  🙂

World’s Largest Yogurt Factory

About two hours east of Boise is the world’s largest yogurt factory.

The Chobani Greek Yogurt factory is the city of Twin Falls, and it was the focus of tonight’s Idaho Life segment on KTVB news.

Chobani has been great for the community and is helping establish beneficial programs within the Twin Falls area.

Yogurt has been made the same way for more than a thousand years: milk is fermented, whey is filtered from the curds, and so on and so forth. At the Chobani Greek Yogurt facility in Twin Falls they don’t do it much differently; they just do it on a much larger scale.

In 2012, Chobani expanded its foothold on America’s yogurt industry when the company built the world’s largest yogurt plant on 200 acres in Twin Falls. It took 2,000 workers less than a year to build the massive facility, which, at one million square feet, is big enough to fill 20 football fields.

It also stands as an extension of its founder, Hamdi Ulukaya.

“Hamdi always says if we cannot do it great we don’t do it at all,” said Kai Sacher, vice president of research and development for Chobani. He says things have changed a lot since the company started in 2007. Like back then they had only 12 flavors. Now they have 60.

In the process, Chobani has cornered the market on Greek yogurt in the United States, securing nearly a billion dollars in sales annually.

Built in 2012, the Twin Falls Chobani plant is the When Chobani started in 2007, they had just 12 flavors. Built in 2012, the Twin Falls Chobani plant is the Built in 2012, the Twin Falls Chobani plant is the Each day, dozens of trucks roll in to the Chobani factory Each day, dozens of trucks roll in to the Chobani factory.

And to make Greek yogurt you need a lot of milk. In fact, the Greek variety requires three times more milk than regular yogurt. So each day, dozens of trucks roll in to the Chobani factory carrying 8,000 gallons of local, hormone-free milk.

That is a big reason for the sheer size of the Twin Falls factory. They use several giant storage tanks that have the approximate combined capacity of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

In three years, Chobani’s Idaho operation has swollen to about 1,000 employees, making it the second largest employer in Twin Falls.

At some point during their shift, most of those workers will wind up in the 900-foot hallway that is the arterial axis of the superstructure. “It’s the main connection point from the offices, the [quality assurance] lab, the chemistry lab,” said Paul Casey, Chobani’s quality manager.

It takes three minutes to walk from one end to the other. Behind a door somewhere in the middle, you can find Ermin Masic, a supervisor in the sleeving department, and one of the plant’s original employees.

“We can sleeve 500 cups per minute on a single line,” said Masic.

So you see, it’s all super-sized here at Chobani. However, like yogurt itself, the company’s grand plan to change the eating habits of Americans seems philosophically simple.

“We are not a yogurt company,” said Sacher. “We are a food company making better food, all natural food. That is our company. And that’s where I think we are very different from the big guys.”

Believe it or not, the facility has the capability to double the amount of yogurt it produces.

As a way to say “thank you” to the entire Twin Falls community, Chobani is having a Greek Yogurt give-away. Anyone who stops by the College of Southern Idaho Fine Arts building on Saturday, December 5, from 9 – 11 a.m., will get a free case of yogurt.

It’s BOY-see Not boy-ZEE

Not long after Melissa first started at Boise State in 1999, she gave us a lecture on how to say “Boise”.

“It’s pronounced BOY-see not boy-ZEE.”

It took both Rich and I while to consistently get it correct.

The next city name pronunciation to work on was for the small nearby town of Kuna. Then Coeur d’Alene, or Pend Oreille. How about the really tricky ones like Kootenai or Pahsimeroi?

Now there’s a song that teaches newcomers and visitors how to pronounce Idaho cities names.


Ewww… That’s Gross!

Seattle’s Pike Place Market has a gum wall.


Who knew? I sure didn’t…

Apparently the gum wall is a well-known tourist attraction.

The gum wall is scheduled to be de-gummed of 20 year’s worth of chews and plops… 🙂

From the Seattle Times

Once named the world’s second-germiest tourist attraction, Pike Place Market’s gum wall will soon be scrubbed of 20 years’ buildup of sugary stickum.

Emily Crawford, a spokeswoman for the Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority (PDA) said the gum wall is cleaned “every other month” by the PDA with a steamer, but this will be the first time all the gum is removed from the original wall.

Silvia Lim CQ, visiting from Sweden, takes a self-portrait at the the Gum Wall attraction in Post Alley. It's her first visit having read about it in a tour guide. The covered brick walls are to be cleaned in a week. Tuesday Nov 3, 2015 Ref to on line gallery
Silvia Lim CQ, visiting from Sweden, takes a self-portrait at the the Gum Wall attraction in Post Alley. It’s her first visit having read about it in a tour guide.

The PDA has hired a contractor, Cascadian Building Maintenance, “because it’s going to be a very large job,” Crawford said.

Kelly Foster, of Cascadian Building Maintenance, said the gum will be removed with an “industrial steam machine that works like a pressure washer.”

The machine will melt the gum with 280-degree steam; it will fall to the ground, and a two- to three-man crew will collect the gum in five-gallon buckets.

It's virtually impossible to read the No Parking sign covered with pieces of gum on the west wall of Post Alley. Tuesday Nov 3, 2015
It’s virtually impossible to read the No Parking sign covered with pieces of gum on the west wall of Post Alley.

“This is probably the weirdest job we’ve done,” Foster said.

Crawford said the PDA estimates 1 million pieces of gum are adhered to the walls of Post Alley, and the buildup is in some places 6 inches thick. The cleaning job is expected to cost $4,000.

It's hard to see out this window with all the gum attached in Post Alley at the Pike Place Market. The Gum Wall attraction has spread well along the west wall of Post Alley, so much that the Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority (PDA) PDA will steam clean the walls in a week. Tuesday Nov 3, 2015
It’s hard to see out this window with all the gum attached in Post Alley at the Pike Place Market.

More accurate figures on the amount of gum could be forthcoming.

“We want to weigh it,” she said.

Crawford said the gum needs to be cleaned off the walls to preserve the historic buildings in the Market district.

“It was never part of the charter or the history of the Market to have the walls covered with gum,” she said. “Gum is made of chemicals, sugar, additives. Things that aren’t good for us. I can’t imagine it’s good for brick.”

Evoking lips by Man Ray, many pieces of gum went into this attachment to Post Alley's Gum Wall. to be cleaned in a week. Tuesday Nov 3, 2015
Evoking lips by Man Ray, many pieces of gum went into this attachment to Post Alley’s Gum Wall. to be cleaned in a week.

Crawford said cleaning will begin Nov. 10. The job will likely take three or four days.

Colorful globs of salivated chew will no doubt return shortly, the PDA expects.

“We’re not saying it can’t come back,” Crawford said. “We need to wipe the canvas clean and keep (it) fresh.”

The PDA hopes that fresh start hinders gum-wall sprawl. In recent years, Crawford said gum has advanced to new turf “far beyond the original wall.”

One more piece of gum is added to the estimated more than 750,000 pieces in Post Alley. The Gum Wall attraction in Post Alley with visitors to the covered brick, to be cleaned in a week. Tuesday Nov 3, 2015
One more piece of gum is added to the estimated more than 750,000 pieces in Post Alley.
The Gum Wall attraction in Post Alley with visitors to the covered brick, to be cleaned in a week.

Her theory: “It’s so gross,” she said. “People don’t actually want to touch or get near the gum wall. They’re looking for empty surfaces.”

The PDA plans to place more public art in the alleyway and hopes having 20 years of gum removed will keep future visitors more targeted when in placing their gum.

Meantime, the Market is holding a photo contest on its Facebook page, where people can vote on favorite gum-wall pictures.

Only Three Votes Count

Just read about a tiny town in north eastern Idaho that’s got a ‘big’ election coming up. Clayton, Idaho bills itself as “The Town That Refuses to Die!”

Vote-Counts1The population sign reads “7” and there’s going to be an election next week to fill the mayoral position and three city seats.

Guess that means that only three votes count if four of the people vote for themselves. 🙂

This is a fun read and a bit of Americana…


CLAYTON, Idaho – On Tuesday, voters around the state head to the polls to weigh in on mayoral and city council races, and the tiny central Idaho town of Clayton is no exception.

Clayton, with an official population of seven as of the 2010 census, is looking to elect four people to city seats.


Set snugly against the Salmon River and in the shadows of the Sawtooth Mountains, Clayton was founded in 1881 as a mining community. It was once home to a couple hundred residents. Now it’s the second smallest city in the state.

The sign on the edge of town puts Clayton’s population at seven, although there are about a dozen registered voters. Still, a big drop from the 2000 census when 27 people called the town home.

“We had a couple get divorced and the lady left town and crossed out 27 and made it 26,” said resident Cheryl Baker, who is also in charge of the town’s election.


“We’re going to elect a mayor and three council members,” she said.

That means about a third of the population will be running the one-road town, which is how it’s been for the last decade or so. But it hasn’t always run smoothly.

“Everything had just fallen apart here,” said Bill Odom, Clayton’s city clerk.

Within the last two years, the city in the center of Custer County has had two mayors resign, leaving Clayton without a governing body.

That is, until Wendi McKnight was asked to step up.

“I’m the only one that’s dumb enough to do it,” said McKnight, Clayton’s interim mayor.

So the owner and operator of the Liar’s Lounge is looking to extend her mayoral term in what is strictly a write-in election.


“Well, if one person gets one vote and nobody else, then they’ve got it, so, it’s pretty simple,” said Odom, who has only been city clerk since September.

He took on the job for two reason:

“One, was they desperately need one and, secondly, because I stepped in a trap and got caught,” said Odom.

While it seems all who hold office here do so reluctantly, that’s not exactly the case. They do it to keep the city a city.

“If there’s no mayor, and there’s no council then we go to county and we don’t want to go to county,” said McKnight.

So this election is pretty important.


“It is a very big deal, you betcha,” said Odom. “This is a funky little town that we are trying to keep alive”

Even if it’s not really hotly contested.

“It’s not hotly contested that’s for sure,” said Baker. “What’s hot about it is if you’re picked, you’re stuck, you gotta come.”


A Walk in the Neighborhood

Sophie and I try to go for a couple of strolls in the neighborhood each day.

And here’s what we saw today…

Most all of the houses have pumpkins in decorative displays.


Trees have lots of fall colors.



There are lots of patriots who also happen to be Boise State University fans.


There are wide walkways in parts of the neighborhood.



This mum bush was HUGE–about 3′ x 5′.


This is Sophie’s favorite place to stop, sniff, and poop AND pee as I drag her along trying to not let her poop OR pee…


I fell in love with these ‘toadstools’. The owner made them with small pumpkins sitting on top of decorative winter squash. 1021151058c 1021151058b1021151058

It never ceases to amaze me how many Halloween decorations people put up.


This guy is upset because Boise State football lost another football game…


Everywhere one looks, pumpkins are popping out.


This is the prettiest time of year with fall colors AND summer blooms still hanging on.


Some of the flowers are rather strange and ‘grown’ in Boise State Football colors.


And yet more Halloween decorations…

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There are lots of fountains in the subdivision, but this one is by far my favorite.  I introduced myself to the owner one day and asked him if the paint was John Deere green. He smiled and said, “Well, yes, it is.” I asked if he had been a farmer, and he smiled again and said, “Yep, for almost fifty years.” 🙂


And then Sophie and I were back at home…


And while we might not have the coolest Halloween decorations up, we do have the coolest mail box cover in the neighborhood.


I specifically chose unperfect pumpkins so that they’d have a good home.


And we walked in the front door to get ready for a nap…


My New Hill Trails

Sophie and I took off yesterday to find a new place to go for a walk and/or jog.

The one we tried a few weeks ago just didn’t feel right. I think we found a good fit yesterday…

It’s at the Eagle Sports Complex which houses a lot of sport venues including a skateboard park, bike trails and a BMX course.

A few random pictures from our virgin hike…

It has just the right amount of ups and downs and curves and swirls.


The views of the Treasure Valley are pretty spectacular.


The myriad of trails are well marked.


There is a lot of wildlife as indicated by huge badger holes. Didn’t see one thankfully, but I did see a jackrabbit. Sophie only smelled it and stopped in her tracks to figure out what was going on.


Some of the bike trails were indicated as MOST DIFFICULT.

When I saw these bridges to nowhere, I never thought anyone would jump off of them…


But I was very wrong.  This is where they land about 15′ below the bridge. 

There were lots of bicycle racers competing for prizes. 


And there are lots more trails to explore next time we go…



Cuckoo, Cuckoo, Cuckoo…

I’m in Fallon a few days visiting my dad.

For as long as I can remember, well at least 45 years, my parents have had a cuckoo clock. Here’s the one Dad has right now:

0904152055While we’ve been visiting and all during the last few nights, the cuckoo has performed twice per hour. One cuckoo on the half hour, and one cuckoo for each hour on the hour.

The amazing thing is that even though I’ve been away for so long and not lived with my parents for nearly 40 years, the clock’s cuckoos don’t wake me or sound strange.

Sounds like home… 🙂

Burning Man

Burning Man is a week-long annual event that began in San Francisco’s Baker Beach in 1986 and migrated to the Black Rock Desert near Reno in northern Nevada, in the United States.

It’s hard to describe both in terms of what it is and how the experience affects people. Burners travel to it from all over the world. It’s an amazing experience to those of us who have been.

My favorite part of the Burning Man experience?  Fire Poi Dancers.

My least favorite thing?  Playa dust storms.


Here is a article about it that highlights parts of the Burning Man experience. (Thanks to Andrea for posting it on Facebook. 🙂 )

12 Things you Need to Experience at Burning Man 

Love it or hate it, Burning Man does provide some of the most unique experiences you can find on the globe – there isn’t really an argument for that.

A couple weeks back, we wrote a sarcastic piece about why people should not go to Burning Man. While the sarcasm was lost on some who take the whole event a bit too seriously, the bottom line is that we love Burning Man.

But instead of telling people why they should go, we figured it would be more effective to tell you what specifically you may love if you go. Everyone has to find their own way at Burning Man, so plenty of things on this list may not apply to you, but these are experiences we have had and will remember forever. Plus, how do you really know if they apply to you unless you actually give them a shot?

Isn’t that the whole point of Burning Man?

Spend an afternoon exploring the Playa endlessly on your bike


So many people get stuck dancing, drinking and partying at Burning Man that they forget what makes this place so special: the art and the surprises. The best way to experience this is to grab a few friends – or even just solo – and just look far out onto the horizon, point at something and ride to it. It’s truly unbelievable what you will encounter out there and the effort these artists put into creating something that only lasts a week. Half the fun is the random sights you run into along the way. The other half is guessing what that is 500 yards off in the distance – and finding out you were completely wrong when you arrive.

Enjoy random conversations with strangers


Yes, the art and the parties are a huge part of the Burning Man experience. But without the crazy and wonderful people who build Black Rock City and fill it up, this would just be a festival in the desert. There truly are the weirdest, kindest and most amazing people – from all over the world and all walks of life – you encounter in your time on the Playa. Take the time to engage in some conversations and enjoy the experience of learning about and from other people. Those new friends you make are what you remember most.

Climb all over stuff


Burning Man isn’t your average art show. No, this is a true adult playground where unless there is a sign or a rope saying otherwise, you are free – and encouraged at your own risk – to climb on anything you want. Whether it’s a tower in the middle of nowhere with an amazing view at the top, a giant hammock on the Playa or the inside of a huge scuplture, get off your bike and be a kid again.

Experience the Dr. Bronner’s shower


Showering on the Playa can be a challenge, especially depending on your camp situation or if you’re not a tech billionaire. But there is a solution to get cleaned up – as long as you don’t mind doing it with a few new friends. The ‘Magic Foam Experience’ at Camp Abraxas (4&G) will shoot a bunch of Dr. Bronner’s foam all over you, let you scrub up and then rinse you off. It might be the most refreshing experience out there. Lines do get long though, so be prepared to wait a bit.

Pay your respects in the Temple


The Temple is an annual display of love, devotion and remembrance, but it’s also filled with a lot of sadness. Any place where so many people come to honor their lost ones is going to have tears. But Burning Man isn’t just about partying. It’s about love, relationships and reflection. Some people are intimidated to go into the Temple, but it’s a must-do. It’s one place on the Playa where there is total peace and tranquility and it’s cathartic to have a good cry. Plus, we have all experienced some kind of loss in our lives and this is a spot like no other where we can honor those that we miss.

Dance your ass off at Pink Mammoth or Distrikt


It’s hard to miss two of the city’s best daily dance parties. Distrikt for its huge fog horn that blasts off intermittently during the afternoon and Pink Mammoth for its unmissable, bright pink shade structure and bar. Cold drinks are flowing non-stop throughtout the day, which is unbeatable in the desert heat. But if you came to party, you’ll find thousands of like-minded friends – and some of the best DJs in the world – at these two camps. Tip: Lee Burridge’s All Day I Dream set on Sunday afternoon is always a perfect way to wrap your week.

Walk around the Playa at night


This may sound elementary, but until you have done it, you won’t know why it’s so cool. Most of the time, when you are getting around Black Rock City, you are riding your bike and have to – somewhat – keep your eyes on the path in front of you. But when you ditch your bike and just go for a walk at night, you can truly – and safely – take in all the sights and craziness going on around you. Crane your head in any direction you want, stop whenever you want and take your time without fear of a wipeout. Burning Man at night is a sight to behold, so make sure you take it in.

Stop into a random bar


How many times do you just go to the same spots to party or dance or drink or visit friends during the week? It’s easy to forget that there is so much going on around us, most of which we completely miss. So when you are cruising around on your bike, instead of just looking at that bar and wondering how it is, pull over and grab a seat for some free drinks – you’ll be amazed the stories you hear and the things you see. Where else can you do that without ever spending a dollar?

Have some alone time


There are 68,000 people at Burning Man in a pretty tightly-packed area. It’s a lot to deal with for even the most social person. Because there is so much going on and so many friends to keep up with, it’s a challenge to grab some moments for yourself to take it all in and reflect. Whether that be walking away from the dance floor at Robot Heart and laying on your back in the middle of the pitch black desert or taking a bike ride by yourself or sitting on top of a bus and watching the sunrise, other than your trips to the toilets, make time for you.

Ride an art car


This is one of the few places on Earth where you will see the most ridiculous mutant vehicles (or art cars) cruising all over the place in front of you. Yeah, they are cool to look at, but they are even better to ride on. Whether you know someone who built one or you ask to jump on a random one that you encounter on the Playa, make it happen. It’s something you likely will never be able to experience anywhere else.

Watch the sunrise at Robot Heart


There is a reason Robot Heart has become world famous. Sure, the world-class DJ lineups are insane and create some unforgettable moments. But what’s more special and will forever remain etched in your brain is when the Robot Heart bus is parked way out on the Deep Playa and the sun starts to creep over the horizon. Many of the thousands walk from the dance floor over for a front row seat on the dry desert lakebed to pay homage to the blazing ball of fire that keeps this world living. The best part is whoever is DJing at that moment always has something special in store for the sunrise. Truly monumental.

Go out of your way to give


Much is made of the “gifting” system at Burning Man. Yes, there is no money exchanged there for drinks, food or services, but you don’t necessarily need to have something to give away to everyone to take part in this concept. We all have something to give, whether it’s a hug, a conversation, advice, a drink, a tool or a ride. And whether it’s for complete strangers, a ranger or people in your camp, step out of society’s normal comfort zone and give without any expectation. The simplest thing can make someone else’s experience complete.