Saturday, June 23, 2012

Picnic at Boise Depot

The weather here in Boise has been amazing the last few weeks!  And by amazing, I mean that "Chamber of Commerce"  kind of beautiful that the brochures always capture.  Lots of green trees with warm days and cool evenings that lend themselves to occasional bouts of daydreaming.  As I watch the weather reports from my previous home in Too Dang Hot, Arizona - also known as Phoenix, I can't help but feel gleeful that we chose to relocate to a cooler, greener version of "desert."

Now I personally would never refer to Boise as desert, but the locals continue to inform me that Boise is indeed considered desert and that the temps will reach the triple digits for a week or two each summer.  I just nod politely when they talk about the hot local climate.  I'm not a native, so I won't pretend to know anything just yet about how the weather plays out here.  But I can tell you this...there is no way that this place will ever get as hot as Phoenix does.  Even when it is hot here, there is a crisp, cool breeze coming off the mountains that makes the heat bearable.  So call this place a desert if you like, but from one desert dweller to another, if this "City of Trees" is truly desert?  Then it's the OASIS part of the desert.  I'm just sayin'.

So...our little tribe took advantage of the gorgeous days we've been having here in Boise and took a trip to the Boise Depot a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately, we did not time our visit well, as the museum part of the Depot was closed!  Awwww.  I should've checked the hours before we headed out, but it was kind of an impromptu stop, so we just enjoyed the park and the quiet surroundings. 

The depot building itself was first opened in 1925.  It has a Spanish Mission type influence, with lots of red tile on the roof. The white stucco tower and rust colored roof tiles contrasted beautifully against the blue Idaho sky the day we were there.  I can't wait to see the inside of the Depot! 

In front of the old Depot is an expansive garden and koi pond, called Platt Gardens.  The 7 acre park was designed by Spanish landscape architect Ricardo Espino and provides the perfect backdrop for a relaxing family outing or an outdoor photoshoot. 

We loved walking across the lush, green lawn, shaded by giant trees. It provided a soft carpet for frolicking children and busy squirrels alike.  A few picnic tables are scattered around the garden, allowing for spur of the moment meals and offering seating to those of us who don't want to bend over so far to sit down on the ground.

There is a walkway that winds around the koi ponds and a lava rock monument that gives meandering guests a chance to walk off lunch while enjoying the flower-filled gardens.  I spent my time on the walkway following my youngest son through every nook and cranny of the path trying to get some good pictures of him doing what he does best - exploring. 

He was too busy looking at the koi fish and climbing on the rocks to notice the fragrant flowers that lined the trail and surrounded the koi ponds.  I tried to take some good pictures and really enjoyed the panoramic view of the city that one gets as they look out from the Depot.   

The boys and my husband enjoyed looking at "Big Mike", a Mikado-type steam locomotive, that was built in 1920 by the American Locomotive Co.  The engine got it's nickname from railroad men.  Boise's Big Mike was used as an all-purpose freight engine along Union Pacific’s main line from North Platte., Neb., to Fruitland, Idaho.

You can find out more about "Big Mike" here.   I have to be honest, I left the train stuff to the guys and took more pics of the building and the gardens.  I think I spent more time imagining the depot in it's heyday, bustling with people dressed in traveling suits, maybe some local farmers shipping produce and livestock and possibly even a family or two, sitting on the grass having lunch and gazing down at the little town below while waiting for the big steam engine to take them to another place. For me, it evoked thoughts of a time I've only seen in movies. I'm so glad the Depot has been restored and maintained.  It is a wonderful reminder of Boise's past.

If you're new to Boise (or even if you are a native Boisean and haven't been by the Depot for a while) I would definitely recommend you stop by while the weather is lovely and the flowers are in full bloom.  Take a picnic lunch, tour the museum, then stroll through Platt Gardens and check out Big Mike.  It will be a day well spent! 

Free Public Hours: May - September Sundays, 10a.m.-6p.m. Mondays, 1p.m.-8p.m. October -April Sundays, Noon-4p.m. Mondays, 2p.m.-6p.m.


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