The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.
~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
Breakfast: Cottage Cheese and fruit
The Girls Next Door
TODAY on TV
The Frasier Finale
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A PLAGUE OF LOCUST
14 May 2004
It was really quite a nice day, if you don’t count the plague of locusts.
Olivia’s employee Alicia read my journal yesterday and decided that I needed help, so she told Olivia she should leave work and do something to show me some of Idaho. And so she did.
It wasn’t simply a matter of “come home….go out,” of course. She had an appointment with a landscape guy at 3 p.m., so we just went downtown and had a lovely lunch, then went to CompUSA to get a connecting cord they were supposed to have (but which they didn’t, of course), and then came back here to meet the landscape guy, who didn’t show up, of course. It wasn’t starting out well.
But it got better. Once she had called and found out the guy wasn’t going to come, we just got in the car and set out.
First stop was Doggie Day Care, otherwise known as The Hounds Lounge, so we could pick up Skippy. I got to sneak in and take a few photos…
The great dane in the insert is Apollo, who seemed to take a shine to me and declared himself my protector. He stuck right by my side wherever I went and whenever any other dog came near me, he growled. He was a real sweetheart.
The whole set up is pretty…amazing. If you love dogs, this is definitely the job for you. The guy who runs it says it was the best job he’d ever had. I could see that he really loves his work.
We packed Skippy in the car and set out of Boise for Idaho City, about 40 miles out of town. The scenery was breathtaking—and amazingly varied for only 40 miles. From the city out into the rural countryside with rolling hills and buttes that made you feel like this would be the perfect place to film an old fashioned western.
Around every curve was something beautiful. Olivia had said it was “rural,” and I was thinking about rural areas in, say, the Sierras, where there are little shacks hidden in among the trees, dotting the hillside. Outside of Boise can only be described as “posh rural.” The “little shacks” were multi-thousand dollar homes (in California they’d be multi-million dollar homes!), all with lots of land, views of the river, nestled under the bluffs. Boy, if it weren’t an hour drive to get a quart of milk, I might be tempted!
But then there was the plague of locust.
Technically, it wasn’t really locust, but the famous Mormon crickets. Here's a description I found on the internet:
Mormon crickets hatch during the spring, and depending on elevation usually around the first few weeks of April. Young Mormon crickets are called nymphs. These nymphs develop during the spring months. They undergo seven stages of development called in-stars. It takes 60 to 90 days for the Mormon cricket to pass through these seven stages and obtain the adult stage. The female Mormon cricket lays its eggs during the summer months. The incubation of the eggs occurs during the fall and winter months. The eggs start hatching when soil temperatures reach 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The Mormon cricket cannot fly, but is still an extremely mobile insect. When the crickets are young, they do not migrate long distances. After about the fourth in-star and during the adult stage the Mormon crickets become ravenous and start banding together. Once the crickets have banded together, they begin migrating. During their migrations they destroy everything in their path. Mormon crickets are usually found migrating when skies are clear and temperatures are around 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In Utah, the crickets migrate under favorable conditions around 10:00 a.m. until about 2:00 p.m. Mormon crickets in the adult stage can cover a mile a day and up to 50 miles in a single season. During the night and during cold, wet weather, Mormon crickets clump together and can be seen clinging together on grasses and brush. They will also burrow underneath grass and brush to keep warm. The Mormon cricket is a hearty insect. They have been seen feeding when temperatures were less than 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
So we stopped at this incredibly gorgeous historical marker, by a bridge over a dam and overlooking the blue, blue water and the beautiful bluffs and I grabbed the camera and started to get out of the car. I had the door opened and suddenly Olivia spoke sharply.
“Uh…I don’t think you want to get out here.”
My eyes focused on the wall ahead of me and this is a very small example of what I saw.
I can’t guess how long the stretch of wall these crickets covered, but it was enough to get me back in the car very quickly.
However, I’m the person who croaked out “Walt, get the camera,” when I lay on the sidewalk after flying off my bike. And this was a beautiful area…I wasn’t going to leave without taking at least one photo of the lake. Getting out of the car was a bit more “fear factor” than I had in mind, but I did check and realized that the critters seemed to be crawling not flying, so I opened the window and quickly snapped a photo. Mission accomplished.
On we went to Idaho City, once the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, now probably still the same size, population 458, by the welcome sign coming into town. It’s a delightful old town where many of the buildings look as they must have looked 100 years ago. We got out at one point and walked around a bit, taking photos. (Well, I took photos, Olivia waited while Skippy peed on every wall in town).
In front of Diamond Lil’s Steakhouse, we ran into Tim and Kim, wearing “waiter-type” clothes. We chatted with them for a bit and then Tim pointed to a kind of a closet in the side of the building. We peeked in and this (along with Tim and Kim) is what we saw:
It was quite a surprise to find our former president in jail in this pioneer town. Some people have a good sense of humor. (We promised Tim and Kim that we would put them on the Internet—so here you are, guys! Thanks for the fun afternoon!)
It was getting late in the afternoon, but we were both still full from lunch, so we thought that we’d just get dessert. We stopped at Trudy’s Café, which advertised home baked desserts. We both lit up when we saw huckleberry cheesecake on the menu. We both ordered it. But unfortunately they were out of huckleberry cheesecake and any other kind of cheesecake. They offered us the choice of banana cream pie or coconut cream pie. We both chose coconut. We should have shared a piece. It was the most humongous piece of pie I’ve ever seen. It was so big even I couldn’t finish it.
We ended our time in Idaho City with a visit to the old Pioneer Cemetery (don’t tell the city council of Davis that we brought Skippy into the cemetery with us!). It reminded me of the old Highgate Cemetery in London, with no seeming rhyme or reason to it, graves seeming to appear haphazardly all over the place. They are apparently doing a lot of fixing up, since there were new headstones for very old graves, and a lot of graves with “unknown” on the markers. But I do like old cemeteries and this one was pretty cool.
It was almost time for Frasier when we got back, so we settled in, watched the cast say their goodbyes, and we have called it a night. Olivia has been long asleep as I’ve written this and worked with the photos. It was a good day. We may not have had a lot of time during the week I’ve been here, but we sure made up for it in one day!
Tomorrow I will be off to Davis again (with a four hour lay over in Portland!) and my week of vacation will have come to and end (but first I finally get a chance to see Olivia’s office and we’ll have the opportunity to have lunch before she takes me to the airport).
Because it will be very, very late before I get home, I've cheated and written tomorrow's entry already. I won't get the link to it up on the front page until I get home, and I won't fill in the left column until I get home, but anybody who wants to look ahead and read the entry itself can press "next" below and read it early...or you can wait and read it on the right day after I get home! As for reporting on what we do tomorrow, or on the flight home, that will have to wait for the next day!