THE FIRST TRIP IN NEW BALEAU- AUTUMN OF 1981 A LEAVE OF ABSENCE LEADS TO A MOST MEMORABLE TRIP: PART XIII

I pulled in to Boise just in time to take advantage of the Holiday’s Happy Hour with free Hors d’oeuvres. I called Sam and she met me there with her friend, Dotti. We had a raucous good time, swilling some local brew (Spud’s Suds) and pigging out on barbeque chicken and, most appropriately, deep-fried potato balls. When I finally had to visit the restroom, I found the doors labeled in completely unidentifiable markings and, to add to my befuddlement, there were no sex symbols by which to fathom which one was the proper entry. Fortunately, my urgency was not overwhelming so as to have to do the stand-in-place poka jig.

I nonchalantly stood nearby and waited to see which gender emerged from, or entered into, the appropriate door. “Just goes to show you’ve never been to Hawaii if you don’t know what ‘Wahine’ and ‘Kane’ mean”, was my friend’s reply when I told her about my addleheaded condition. Dotti then embarked on a little historical dissertation related to the “Owyhee Territory”, as that part of Idaho was once called. Seemed as though back in the 1860’s, a team of Hawaiians was sent out to survey the hinterland, and when they didn’t return after several months, they were memorialized for their brave, but futile, efforts. And that’s the way it was, November 5th, 1981. I asked Sam if there was a legal and level parking space in front of her house, and she said, “No problem”. I followed her home and wouldn’t you know, her metal-sided abode was mounted on flat tires…more “Wheel Estate”. Before leaving for work, Sam allowed me free use of the facilities with one stipulation: I would have dinner on the table that evening. “How about meat and potatoes?”, I asked. “Fine with me”, she replied, “and how about making them scalloped?”.

After I showered to squeaky cleanliness, I cruised Boise, noting its clean and slow-paced atmosphere and the abundance of deciduous trees whose leaves were quickly falling off at maturity due to a brisk north wind. There was that chill in the air, just like in Reno, which made me want to ride that nor’western back to Denver. I visited the State Capitol and was enchanted by its modesty and reverence to its forefathers….the wall-mounted composites displaying all of the former state representatives in black and white portraits framed in oval cut-outs…and all of them had the same ethnological Wasp names.

I emerged from the Capitol Building to discover the daylight hours were fast getting shorter. I hurried back to the quasi-permanent house, picking up some pork chops and potatoes on the way. Sam had thoughtfully placed her recipe book on the kitchen counter, so I went to work, for the first time ever, scalloping the spuds. I not only surprised Sam with my culinary success, but I too was filled with astonishment at having outdone myself. I repaired to my Detroit-bed-of-luxury feeling very good about having made a semi-detour to Boy-see.

Boise wasn’t quite through with me, yet. It was Saturday and that meant Big Sky Conference football, and that meant hangin’ out at Jay’s Place on the Hill to watch Boise State clash with some school from Utah (or was it Montana?) on a local TV station. The home town team won again and I was swept up by the revelers to continue the celebration at another bistro, The Fireside Inn. There was more of the pigskin parade on the tube, only it was a couple of “big time” universities on a national network. The Boise boosters couldn’t have cared less about that contest, for they were hoisting a stein of suds in one hand and brandishing the index finger skyward with the other in a mock gesture of already claiming the mythical national championship. It was all done in good taste and good fun.

Then we all flowed over to the Navajo Inn for a final festive fling. My best recollection of that bar was my futile efforts at eight-ball against a lady named Frankie. It was one grandiose day. It was a little of a letdown saying goodnight and goodbye to all those fine friendly Idaho folks. But, I was sure I was ready for the homestretch to Denver.

I thanked Sam for offering me such a great time with some her friends, and said goodbye in an objective “I’ll see you when I see you” manner. I headed east on I-84 with a gas-saving tailwind behind me. Every now and then I would catch a glimpse of the Snake River’s sharply definable gorge which appeared as if the earth’s crust had been suddenly and violently rifted asunder.

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