Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Extra curricular.

I promise that this is, in fact, a Charlie and Ariel blog... searching and applying for jobs (while not far from a full-time job in and of itself) leaves me with a little more down time than Charlie has had recently to post updates. I’m sure than when our internet is up and running, you’ll hear from him a little more frequently.

Aside from all the moving in and job-hunting stuff, we’ve been pretty busy since we arrived.

To begin, as an amazing welcome to Boise gift, Brian and Marsha (friends of the Varlands), gave Charlie and I tickets to attend a performance of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, put on by the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. It was an impressive show. The acting was exquisite, and the subject, though a little somber for a typical Fourth of July, was poignant and thought-provoking.

The setting for their plays couldn’t have been more perfect. The performances take place around sunset, a little outside of town, in a sleek amphitheater tucked into a bend of the Boise river. Before the show, you package up a picnic (including beer or a bottle of wine!), and bring it and your blanket or lawn chairs to the theater. The seating is terraced, and you can find your assigned grassy plot, and set up camp. They also have tables and chairs set up further back for those less naturally-inclined (or with more extravagant picnics). Watching live theater in the cool night air (a relief after those 100-degree days!), with a bottle of wine and picnic is really about as good as it gets. I can appreciate why it’s such a beloved staple of Boise culture.

We’ve done a little biking up and down the Greenbelt (probably 5 miles in each direction, east and west), and have taken several walks around the North End (the historic district our apartment borders upon). It’s interesting to see a climate so different from that which we’re accustomed. Cottonwood trees thronging the river banks, "puncture vines" (still not sure what they are specifically except that they sound BAD) in the open areas surrounding the bike trail, and dry, dry, dry once you get away from the river. Despite all my "woe is me" over the brown hills and the lack of count-able trees, the countryside here is growing on me. The hills not sit in my mind as more "golden" than brown, and the scarcity of trees outside of the city makes the ones we have here a little more special.

Part of my "coming around" might have had to do with the short little hike Charlie and I took up at the Bogus Basin ski area a couple weeks ago. We drove up on a Friday (before he started work) and wove our way through the summer version of ski runs (dirt trails and double-tracks) to the top of the Schafer Saddle. Our trail was choked with wildflowers and thick with butterflies. To the north and east we could see acre upon acre of woods and mountains. To the south and west, dry, flat, "golden." We really do live on the edge of where the climate changes from one to the other. It’s a unique place. We had a nice picnic on the summit and enjoyed the views of the Treasure Valley and the Sawtooth Mountains. Given my skiing ability (or pronounced lack thereof), upon looking at the signs for the different runs up there at the top I gave that view an extra-hard look--it could be the only season in which I’m able to enjoy it. Unless, of course, they start allowing people to ride the lifts up and then back DOWN again.

Most recently, we were able to catch the Twilight Criterion bike race in downtown Boise. The final two races of the day (the ones we made it there for) were the top women and men racing that night--for those bike folks "in the know" I believe I heard someone say that the top riders were Category 2 racers. Included among them was Kristen Armstrong who walloped the ladies’ field in her final race before the Beijing Olympics. We had a great spot on the last corner before the finish line, and were thoroughly impressed by how fast and how nimble everyone rode. Ms. Armstrong in particular was outstanding. By the end of the race, she had left the pack in the dust--lapping them on her way to the finish line. I sent a text message to one of my bikey friends back in Portland exclaiming over this feat. Her response was "Wow, she must be a professional." It was later that we realized we’d seen someone headed for the Olympics. Explained a lot.

The men’s race was also exciting, though from our position it was difficult to tell how many laps they had left or how close they were to one another at the finish. Not exceedingly familiar with the competition, it also made it difficult to keep track of who was ahead and to not lose them in the pack. Despite that, the teamwork and strategy involved in the race was apparent, and we had a fantastic time watching it all unfold (even though we may not have completely understood what it was we were seeing at all times).

This coming weekend, we’re planning on putting together a short hike and overnight up in the mountains somewhere. We had some exciting thunderstorms blow through yesterday, so we’ll have to do some research and make sure there’s nothing washed out or burning where we intend to head. I think that we’re both excited to get out of the city (at last!) and see a little more of the state that we now call "home."

Until then,


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