September 29, 2010

MY TOWN WITH TARYN CRESSY, BEX KUNZ AND KELSIE CLEGG: BOISE, IDAHO

"My Town" is a new feature to VCUathletics.com where we give an in-depth look into the hometowns of one or several of our student-athletes. Our next trip is off to Boise, Idaho with three of our fall student-athletes. VCU Athletic Communications Graduate Assistant Mollie Wallace sat down with the trio to learn about what Boise has to offer besides a blue football field.

When you think of Boise, Idaho, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it the law that states, “Residents may not fish from a giraffe’s neck”? Probably not. Potatoes would be a better answer. The state of Idaho produces one third of the nation’s potatoes and is the official state vegetable. But Boise has so much more offer than just potatoes.  

With over 205,000 people, Boise is the third largest city in the Pacific Northwest. After crossing the state’s flat dry plains, French-Canadian trappers stumbled onto a forest by the river. Apparently one guide was so excited that he started shouting, “Les bois! Les bois!” This is French for “The woods! The woods!” in case you didn’t know. The oasis had lush green towering trees and was a picturesque location to settle a new town.  Boise is now known as the “City of Trees” thanks to that overly excited French-Canadian fur trapper.

In 2009, the US News and World Report voted Boise as one of the Best Places to Live. This might be why former MLB player Bill Buckner and CSI actor William Petersen call Boise home. But Boise is also the hometown of women’s soccer freshmen Taryn Cressy and Bex Kunz and volleyball senior Kelsie Clegg. Clegg and Kunz were both born in the “City of Trees” and Cressy moved there when she was eight.

The general consensus is that Boise was a great place to grow up. “I love the atmosphere,” commented Kunz. “It’s not really a small town but I don’t see it as a big city at all.” Cressy added, “There are a lot of outdoorsy things to do.” “It is very friendly to be such a big city,” said Clegg, “It is growing a lot but it has still maintained a small town feel.”

The Boise natives describe their town as safe with little to no crime. Cressy stated, “I leave my keys in the car, unlocked, all of the time.” “If someone saw that your door was unlocked, they would probably lock it for you,” added Kunz, “It is just that kind of place.”

They are not kidding. In 2006, Boise was named the Most Secure Place to Live by Farmer Insurance. That would make a person sleep well at night.

Now some cities have Chinatown but Boise is not like other cities.

“There is a substantial Basque population in Boise which I don’t think people really know about,” said Clegg.

With over 15,000 residents, Boise is home to one of the largest Basque populations outside of the Basque Region in Northern Spain. The “Basque Block” is home to restaurants, a museum, and a cultural center. The Basque Cultural Center plays host to the annual Sheepherders Ball which began in 1929. So put on your dancing shoes, have some chorizo, and enjoy an evening of dancing to some great Basque tunes.

The Oinkari Dancers are performers who are devoted to preserving the traditions of their Basque culture. They perform not only in Boise but all over the country. The Oinkari Dancers have over 40 different routines that represent each of the seven provinces of the old country. Their numbers are filled with bright colors, fast moving feet, snapping fingers, and enthusiastic shouts. They are truly a sight to behold.

You can’t read a story about Boise, Idaho and not expect there to be some kind of mention of the blue field. Even if you aren’t from the west coast or a big sports fan, you probably know about the blue field. Clegg commented, “The blue field is pretty much the most famous thing.” Bronco Stadium seats 32,000 of your closest friends and is known as “The Blue.” In 1986, it was the first non-green field turf installed in the country. Although other schools have adopted non-green playing surfaces, Bronco Stadium will forever be a trail blazer in this category.

Kunz, Cressy and Clegg all commented that Lucky Peak is a really great place to visit. It is a state park located just eight miles east of Boise. Discovery Park is a picturesque spot which is wonderful for picnics, fishing in the Boise River, or taking your dog for a walk. It would probably be okay to walk your cat, ferret or llama there as well. At Spring Shores, there is lake access for amphibious individuals who like to swim or do other aquatic activities. Sandy Point is located at the base of Lucky Peak Dam and is the most popular attraction due to its sandy beaches. 

Table Rock mountain is located above downtown and is part of the Boise Mountains. It is a relatively rounded hill but the summit is flat which makes it appear like a giant table (hence the name). “On the weekends we would normally hike up Table Rock, which has a great look out over the city,” said Clegg.

If the weather is nice and warm, you will probably find Cressy on the Boise River. “In the summer, we float the river,” stated Cressy, “It is really fun and relaxing.” While floating down the river, individuals can enjoy the tranquil surroundings and listen to the sound track that nature provides. But don’t worry there are shuttles that will take you back to your car. There are also pit stops along the river as well which every floater knows is important. 

What to Do in Boise

Walk or ride bikes down the Greenbelt

Have coffee at the Flying M

Hang out in Camels Back Park

Go to Bruno Sand Dunes

Sightseeing in downtown

Hike Table Rock

Buy some potatoes

Ride the Carousel in Julia Davis Park

The Western Idaho State Fair happens in the late summer. Kunz stated, “The fair is something that we go to every year.” There are concerts, exhibitions, a petting zoo and every type of fried food imaginable. Make sure you have on your party hat, bring your hand sanitizer and don’t forget the Tums.  

The fair is pretty much the like ever other state fair but there is one thing that puts this fair above all others…the LEGO Experience!!! No, that was not a typo. You can go to the Western Idaho State Fair and have a LEGO experience. Your experience would include building creations in the Construction Zone, completing a project in the Family Challenge Tent and watching your toddler play in the LEGO DUPLO Zone which is designed specifically for children two to four. The Center Piece is a major attraction which is a completed structure that was designed and built by the LEGO Masters Builders.

Also if you are in Boise you should check out the newly renovated Capital. “It is completely marble on the inside and it has a gold dome,” commented Clegg. “They modeled it after the US capital.”

There is so much to do in Boise that it could not all fit in this article. But do not fret, there is a list of things to do and see if you are ever so inclined to visit “The City of Trees.”

Kunz sums up Boise very nicely, “You can’t really describe Boise. You just have to go there to fully appreciate it.”

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