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Ronald McDonald House and Boise

August 30, 2013

Idaho – Tuesday, August 20

Last night I stayed in one of the little “mom and pop” motels and the green bathroom told me it probably hadn’t been updated since the 50s! But it was clean. A couple of the bigger chains of motels in town were full of firefighting personnel. When I got up this morning, it was a little hard to tell if there was just a general heat haze in the air (it has been hot in Idaho – probably the hottest state so far) or if some of what I was seeing was a bit of a smoke haze. I had tried to find some Red Cross information online, but the only thing that popped up was a temporary shelter at a high school in Hailey, but people were being allowed to go home. And since Hailey was about 100 miles away, I couldn’t go that far on a wild goose chase.

So I stuck with my original plan for today, which was to make a donation to the Ronald McDonald House in Boise. Their website had a wish list of items they needed, and it said that individual snack size items were most needed at the moment. So I found a grocery store and got granola bars, fruit snacks, nutrigrain bars, peanut butter and crackers, and applesauce cups. They also really needed laundry detergent and dryer sheets so I got some of that too. Then I finished driving to Boise, and found the Ronald McDonald House. There I met Ingrid and a couple other volunteers, and they were very appreciative of the donation, and Ingrid gave me a tour through the whole house. The house was built somewhere around the turn of the century, and was a private residence (a big one!) for a long time, and then was given to the Ronald McDonald House. Although the house has been updated, and they were able to add on to it for more bedrooms, it still retains its elegant old-style charm. There are hot springs south of town a ways, and the original hot water radiators still work so they’re able to save some money on heating bills. It’s very welcoming and cozy, and the unoccupied bedrooms we were able to look at are furnished with cribs if needed, and private bathrooms and there are lots of little home-like details to try to make it as comfortable as possible for the families who are dealing with some critically ill children. The kitchen has 2 stoves and refrigerators, and washers and dryers, and the second floor also has a small kitchen and another washer and dryer. People are free to help themselves to any available food, and there’s usually homemade cookies and/or brownies on hand, which even visitors like me get 🙂 The length of time that people stay varies – it can be a couple of months while their kids are in treatment, and one family even stayed for nearly a year as their child battled leukemia. Although I’ve made donations to a couple other Ronald McDonald Houses, this was the first time I got to take a little tour through the whole house. And Ingrid suggested a couple good walking places – I knew about the greenway, and she suggested a street that had a lot of the old mansions from back when the town was first built.

So after we took some pictures, I drove over to one of the old residential areas, and Tula and I walked a couple miles and admired all the different homes. Then I went downtown to the state capital area, and covered another mile and a half there while Tula waited in the car with the air conditioning. This part of the state is also along the old Oregon Trail, and there was a monument dedicated to the pioneers. Then we found the greenway, and it was a wonderful, shady path along the river that stretches for miles, and Tula and I walked another 3 miles. We crossed a bridge at one point, and went down by the water’s edge, where Tula waded in to the river for a quick dip. She dried off on our way back to the van. Then I headed out for another 2 1/2 miles in a slightly different area, and at one point I walked around a bend, and saw some people looking up in the trees (I thought) and wondered what was up there – it turned out they were looking at giraffes! I certainly didn’t expect to see a couple giraffes while out walking in a city in Idaho, but there was a zoo in town and the bike trail happened to go by the giraffe habitat. They’re one of my all-time favorite animals, and it was fun to just stand there and watch them for a while.

By this time I had walked over 8 1/2 miles, and my Idaho week was almost wrapped up, but I had enough time to drive out to the Western Idaho Fair for a couple hours. I was missing the Chelsea Community Fair back home for the first time in about 30 years, so I was looking forward to walking around a different fair. I found all the exhibits and enjoyed looking at all the entries – baked goods, needlework, photos, artwork, and I found the clock that Julie had entered (1st place!) and the mosaic horse head her son entered (2nd place!). Then I walked through the hustle-bustle of the midway, and found the animal barns, although I missed the horses. I even found a few fun Christmas presents in the merchant barn. I ended my visit by enjoying a really good corn dog – fair food at its best!

And then Idaho was complete. I didn’t see everything I had hoped to because of the wildfires, but I visited other places I wouldn’t have otherwise, so it all works out in the end. I walked more than 56 miles, and made all 7 donations – the Backpack Program in Post Falls, the Bonner Community Food Bank and School Backpacks in Sandpoint, the Wall that Heals, the YWCA School Supply Drive in Lewiston, McPaws in McCall, and the Ronald McDonald House in Boise. I left Idaho in the dark, and stayed just on the other side of the state line in Oregon, ready to begin a new week of adventure.

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