A family affair, huh!

Trip Start Jan 05, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
House of Joy
What I did
Skinnydipper Hotspring
Tablerock trail

Flag of United States  , Idaho
Thursday, May 10, 2012

My friends, other travellers, family members and random strangers all asked, "how did someone like you end up in Boise, Idaho of all places?"

How am I supposed to answer a question like that? Well, honestly of course! I looked at Google Maps and saw Boise on the map in larger letters and thought why not!

Let me tell you, taking chances like this is what travelling is all about. I knew nothing about Idaho and even less about Boise. My mother told me it was known for potatoes, someone mentioned Mormans and all I kept thinking was that is was full of unknown possibilities.

I arrived early in the morning via Greyhound and hadn't had any sleep because I spent all night afraid that if I dozed off I'd roll in the gum stuck near my seat. Using Google directions I headed for the hostel... I couldn't find it and no one seemed to know where it was. I decided to quit looking and chill in a cafe with free wifi; I was beginning to think travelling to Boise had been a terrible mistake because so far it wasn't going so well. Looking up the hostel online I discovered it didn't open until 3pm anyway so I declared a table at the cafe as my home-base for the day. I also figured it couldn't hurt to check what couchsurfing was available in Boise, turns out there were a lot of cool profiles for a place known for potatoes.

My luck turned when Joy accepted my request for a couch within about an hour of me putting it on there. She asked if I was okay with the fact that she had kids and I said I was as long as she was okay with the fact that I didn't. I figured that if they were brats I could just as easily bail out first chance I get and leave the town.

To describe Joy as energetic might be an understatement, she is a vibrant on-the-go woman who always has a calm laid-back demeanor and is usually either smiling or laughing about something. She was able to make me feel 100 per cent welcomed into her life, family and home, and understood completely when I told her I was pretty exhausted from staying up all night due to my extreme fear of pre-chewed gum! Joy is one of the most generous people I have met so far in my travels and I quickly decided she was someone worth admiring and respecting.

Her four children are equally as amazing in their own ways. Dillon, the oldest, is a focused young man who was extremely polite towards me. Christopher, the middle teen, is the chilled-out sweet kid who enjoys a good chuckle especially if it is at the expense of one of his siblings. Miriam, the 12-year-old, is a switched-on girl who is full of curiosity about the world, and comfortable in her own shoes. Brinn, the 3-year-old, is a confidently spoken little girl who knows what she wants and is still testing out the different methods of trying to get people to give it to her.

The underlining and most-important factor in this family is that it is extremely clear how much they love each other and how they are always making the effort to let each other know this.

I spent a lot of time getting to know his family and their extended family: Joy's mother and father, and brother and sister-in-law, nephew, uncle and, of course, the most important member of all her grandmother! The grandmother who was always ready to give you a packet of gum, a Hershey's chocolate bar or a great big hug. So, just to sum up and make it clear: I met four generations of Joy's family and felt welcomed by every single one of them.

Now that I have described the people, let me describe Boise. Boise is an active community full of sports like hiking, biking, mountain biking, and floating (similar to white water rapids). It is also a city that has somehow managed to survive without a feeling of hustle and bustle, instead the feeling in Boise is a calm and relaxed one. Boise residents are a friendly and cheerful bunch who say things like "oh heck", "darn it", "wth" instead of "wtf" and end almost every sentence with "huh?", "huh!" or "huh."

Joy took me to the skinny-dipper hot springs where mot people were wearing clothes but some weren't. I was. This was my first hot springs experience and the best word to describe my initial thought is HOT! This was not just me though, according to others it was much hotter than usual. Someone went and fiddled with settings and then it was still hot but less scalding. It is a very relaxing thing to do and it was made better by the positive company. There was Joy, her three teens and a couple from a neighboring state who were eery friendly as well. Later we stopped at Boise's own beach, a sandy area on the river and had a home-packed lunch. Also, just thought I'd add in that about a week after this Joy casually mentioned that a week before this trip to the hot springs some old fella had gone to the same hot springs and died... Luckily I'm not that squeamish.

Joy decided to take me to her home-away-from-home: the Sockeye, a local brewery where I had an IPA and a strange but decent Californian band was playing. Michael and Tanya, Joy's parents, met us there and decided to take me to a honky-tonk country bar called The Buffalo Club. I drank way too much which gave me enough dutch-courage to attempt line dancing and swing dancing. Swing dancing made me dizzy and was difficult for me and my two brick feet to follow.

Tanya is unlike anyone I've ever met. She is the same age as my mum but she parties like she's still in her early 20s or something. We did tequila shots together and were drinking cocktails. Michael ordered us three watermelon shots, which Tanya declined so I ended up drinking two. They managed to keep me drinking enough to give me enough extended courage to allow Michael to keep pulling me out of my comfort zone and onto the dance floor.

While on the dance floor I bumped into this group of girls and immediately apologised on behalf of my brick feet; they forgave me due to my nationality, somehow blaming Australia for my bad dance technique. I like how being an Australian gives me an instant out-of-jail-free card in most circumstances and suddenly I was sitting at their table chatting with the locals. They decided to test my 'shyness' by telling me to go chat up this cute blond hulky cowboy dude. I had no interest in Mr.Gym-membership but figured it might be good for a laugh so I headed in his direction. On closer inspection I noticed he wasn't blond but actually gray and when I informed the drunken girls of this fact they laughed and understood why I didn't go through with the challenge.

To top it all off, I won a $25 bar tab so I shouted the table a round and got myself another Cosmo. Tanya and Michael told me it was time to go and since I really didn't like the dancing or the music I was definitely welcoming the exit by that stage. The table of girls told me I couldn't go until I'd finished my cocktail so I skulled it and said 'good bye'.

When I got to Joy's place I found her waiting up for me... sorry for being home late house-mum! But really, it was very sweet of her to stay up. Plus, she had a glass of water by my bedside ready for my soon to be hungover dehydrated self.

The next day feeling a little worse for wear, as I expected, I woke to a very accommodating host Joy making me breakfast! We went for a bike ride with Tanya and Michael, during which Tanya told Joy about my previous night and they both laughed at me. I laughed at myself as well.

We rode downtown to the markets and then to a lunch place for pizza. There I met Joy's brother, sister-in-law and nephew. They were nice but I was way too hungover to take it all in.

Joy and I decided to go out that night to check out an all-girl ACDC cover band called Hell's Belles. They weren't bad but there was something that just didn't work. I'm not the biggest ACDC fan or anything but I knew their versions of their songs had an enjoyable element which this band was missing. Their entire act depended on the guitarist who was jumping around the stage like a chicken with its head cut off, and most of the time a face full of expressions more indicative of a stroke patient than  a rock star. To top that off she started stripping mid concert which was just dodgy and made me feel like I was at some seedy underground bar full of middle-aged men living out the sexual desires they've never been able to bring to life. Although it was funny when she mooned the crowd and had ACDC written on her behind.

We left that concert (and Joy's man) early and went to a local club with no cover charge. There I saw an older lady perform and learnt that she was a Boise institution. She was a good entertainer as well, spending most of her time on the dance floor instead of on the stage. joy and I people-watched for a while and then decided to call it a night.

Mother's Day and Joy felt sick-as-a-dog with most of her morning spent with her head over the toilet. She hadn't drank very much the night before but something had hit her hard. She has a family brunch and afterwards snoozed for a few hours while I looked after Brinn. I basically just kept giving Brinn sugary products to keep her quiet. Later Joy wondered why Brinn was being so hyperactive and I had to fess up about my child-minding technique!

We woke up early and went for a hike to Tablerock. Tanya and I had to leave Joy behind (because she was carrying Brinn). A large cross which lights up at night stands on top of Tablerock, named cause of its flat surface at the top. The myth behind the cross is that it was built to keep vampires away. I enjoyed the hike and love the view of the rippled surface of the land, a landscape I don't think you could ever get sick of.

So to wrap it all up, I went to Boise Idaho to see if there was anything worth seeing and found myself a home-away-from-home with fantastic people who I will always remember as my Boise family. Pretty good for a bunch of unknown possibilities, huh?

Speaking of unknown possibilities, after all this I was enjoying my time with this family so much I joined them for a very unique road trip... but I'll save that story for my next entry!

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