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The Trey McIntyre Project

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Read About Modern Dance

Yep, it’s just like I thought. Idaho: nothing but potatoes and world-renowned modern dance. It’s so tiring when a place conforms exactly to the preconceived stereotypes you have about it. I mean, come on, Trey McIntyre. Boise? How conventional.

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Alright, so Boise is a completely unexpected city in which to find an award-winning modern dance troupe. And, five years ago, when he announced Idaho as the base for his new project, Trey McIntyre caused a minor sensation in the world of dance. Not San Francisco? Not New York? What could Boise possibly have to offer one of America’s premiere choreographers?

Turns out, a lot. The Trey McIntyre Project is a big fish in Boise’s tiny cultural pond, and the city has eagerly claimed the troupe as its own. Mr. McIntyre and his dancers enjoy something akin to celebrity status in Idaho. They’re recognized on the streets. Their shows sell out. And they have sponsors falling over themselves to shower them in funds. Unlike most companies, Trey McIntyre’s dancers are individually sponsored by private patrons, and Boise’s cultural elite have signed on with enthusiasm.

Though they’re based in Boise, the Trey McIntyre Project spends much of its time travelling around the world. So it was a lucky coincidence that they happened to be putting on a show during our short stay in the city. The company had just returned from a four-country tour of Asia, and had picked up a couple dancers from Korea in a cultural exchange. The Koreans and Americans spent weeks working together on a new piece called The Unkindess of Ravens, whose premier performance we had the chance to see.

Trey McIntyre’s choreography is instantly accessible. I’m not any kind of dance fan, but found the show in Boise’s Morrison Center captivating. Of course, I had no idea what was happening during The Unkindess of Ravens, and I won’t bore you with any ridiculous attempt at critical insight… but gosh were it pretty to look at. The other pieces performed during the show were just as compelling, and I couldn’t believe that after 90 minutes of dance, my attention hadn’t wandered a bit.

The Trey McIntyre Project – Website

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January 7, 2013 at 2:21 pm Comments (2)

Oh, To Be Rich in Coeur d’Alene

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Hotels In Coeur d’Alene

Coeur d’Alene is the largest city in the Idaho panhandle; a mix of remote nature, urban ease and ostentatious wealth. It’s well-known in the Pacific Northwest as a resort destination, with a prime location on the lovely lake which shares its name. We had been eagerly anticipating our short, two-day stay there, and found it to be just as memorable as advertised.

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On the banks of gorgeous Lake Coeur d’Alene, you might not see another person for hours. We drove up and down Highway 97, through the historic town of Harrison and right alongside the eastern coast of the lake. On an old dock sticking out into the water, we took a lunch break, with nothing but a cool breeze for company. The faraway sound of a boat motor eventually broke the spell; Coeur d’Alene is actually one of the most popular lakes in Idaho for water sports, especially among the rich weekenders who come in from Washington and California. (See more pictures of the scenic drive.)

No, Coeur d’Alene is no hidden gem. A stroll along the boardwalk of the Coeur d’Alene Resort should convince us of that. Hundreds of expensive speedboats, sailboats and cruisers anchor in hotel’s marina. It was hard not to feel inferior while passing by. Even the floating boardwalk is over the top: the world’s longest. We stood on the bridge for awhile, watching a sun-tanned gentleman and his young, unnaturally voluptuous wife (we’ll be kind, and assume “wife”) steer their yacht underneath us and into its parking spot. A parking spot which is probably more valuable than my life.

With the lakeside resort as its nucleus, downtown Coeur d’Alene extends to the west, where there’s a beach and park, and also to the north, where we found art galleries, upscale souvenir shops, slow traffic, a couple good bars and cafes, and … hipsters? Yes, Coeur d’Alene harbors a healthy population of trendy young hipsters, complete with tight-fitting jeans and thin mustaches. We spent a couple hours in Java on Sherman, sitting next to a couple fashionable young dudes who were playing chess and discussing Grizzly Bear’s new album (their verdict: it’s great). I almost felt like I was back in Savannah!

CDA, as the cool kids call the city, takes its name from the Coeur d’Alene people … who take their name from the French for Heart of an Awl. This strange name was bestowed upon the tribe by a French Canadian fur trader, who was impressed and frustrated by their unforgiving negotiating style. If there are any tribe members left in the city, they stay out of sight; like the rest of Northern Idaho, CDA is overwhelmingly white. 96%, in fact.

We stayed in Coeur d’Alene’s Best Western, just north of the city center along Highway 95 — it was a comfortable place to rest, with decent restaurants in walking distance. After a long day of sight-seeing, we had dinner at Tomato Street, where one portion was enough for a small family. I slept well that night, belly bursting with pasta, and dreamed that I was a rich playboy tooling around the lake in my new mini-yacht. Coeur d’Alene is the kind of town that inspires such dreams of grandeur when you’re asleep. And fits of jealousy, when awake.

Location of Coeur d’Alene on our Map

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October 25, 2012 at 11:22 pm Comments (4)

A Walk About Historic Wallace

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Without a doubt, Wallace is among the most unique towns that we’ve ever set foot in. The entire downtown district is on the National Register of Historic Places. It had active bordellos until 1988. And leading theoretical physicists agree that Wallace is the exact center of the universe!

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Fine, perhaps it wasn’t physicists who decided that Wallace was of such cosmic importance, so much as drunken locals who, after a rowdy night of drinking in the Smokehouse Saloon, laid down a plaque in the intersection of Bank and 6th Street which reads “Wallace: Center of the Universe”. Despite the questionable science, the nickname stuck. And extra-terrestrials seem to agree; we saw two spaceships during our walk around town.

Though “center of the universe” might be a stretch, Wallace is certainly the center of the Silver Valley mining area. Only 700 people live here today, but it was once one of the largest towns in the Pacific Northwest, and probably its most notorious. Wallace was a hard-drinking, brawling mining town famous for its bordellos, which remained open until 1988.

Originally, Wallace was constructed mostly of wood, leaving it defenseless against the horrific 1910 wildfire that ravaged northern Idaho. Thereafter, all buildings constructed in the town center used brick. The result is an exquisitely-preserved mining town from the turn of the century. The entire historic district has survived the years, and visiting is like stepping back in time.

The official walking tour of Wallace starts at the old Train Depot, then leads visitors around on a comprehensive tour of 43 historic buildings. Hotels, brothels, bars, banks… just about every single building in the old town has a story to share. Despite the town’s diminutive size, we were exhausted by the end of our tour. Somehow, though, we found the fortitude to grab a seat in the 1313 Club, and treat ourselves to a delicious dinner of burgers and home-brewed beer.

Location on our Idaho Map

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October 12, 2012 at 1:05 am Comments (3)

Moose Sighting in the Payette River

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Moose Candy Dispenser (Funny)

On a whim, we decided to return to McCall from Warren by looping around the east side of the Payette Lake. We’d done the western road a few times, and wanted to see something new. And we certainly did: there, standing knee-deep in the North Fork of the Payette River, were two moose.

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Two young moose, a bull and a cow, were chilling on the far side of the river, probably 50 feet away. They raised their heads, registering our presence, and then went right back to eating and drinking, utterly unconcerned. We stayed for fifteen minutes watching them.

Of course, the first thing I did when I got home was get on the internet and read up on moose. The ones we spotted must have been young, because they weren’t as large as fully-grown adults. Bulls can reach seven feet in height, and weigh up to 1500 pounds. Next to bison, moose are the largest land mammal in North America. The ones we had seen weren’t that big, and the bull still had velvet on his antlers.

I also learned it was good that a river had been separating us. Moose can get surprisingly aggressive, particularly when their young are involved. In fact, more people are attacked by moose than by wolves and bears combined! They’re herbivores, with no interest in munching on human bones, so won’t pursue if you run away. Against predators, though, they fight ferociously; battles pitting wolves against moose can last days.

Perhaps the most surprising thing I learned about moose is that they’re not considered endangered at all. I had always just assumed that they were among the rare creatures we’re duty-bound to protect, but they’re so common that they can even be hunted. The non-resident license to kill a moose currently runs at $2100. Funny, since that’s about the same price I would pay to save one.

Location of our Moose Sighting


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September 19, 2012 at 1:38 am Comments (3)

The Craziest House in Idaho

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We enjoyed our self-guided walking tour of historic Idaho City immensely, but our favorite house didn’t appear anywhere in the brochure. We decided to just call it the Crazy House, because it’s among the most eccentric structures we’ve seen anywhere in the States.

Strangest House In Idaho

It looks as though someone coated a normal two-story house in super glue, then dumped the contents of a well-stocked second-hand store on top of it. And then left it to rust and age for twenty years. It’s all been shuttered up, and peering through the windows, it’s clear that nobody has been inside for quite awhile. What did this building used to be? A crazy person’s home? An antique store? Who knows? The only thing not in doubt, is that this was the strangest and coolest house we had yet seen in Idaho, and we spent a long time admiring it from every angle. Enjoy our pics of this Idahoan curiosity — and if you know anything about it, please share!

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September 12, 2012 at 2:32 am Comments (3)