I grew up in Iowa. I've spent at least the past two decades arguing that Iowa is the least famous state. It's not the worst state, just the least famous. As in, not really known for any famous cities, celebrities, exports, sports teams, natural wonders, etc. The state that most Americans couldn't pick out of a police lineup. When you say, "I'm from Iowa," the number one response you get is, "Iowa... I think I've driven through there." Have you been on Interstate 80? Well then, yes, you're correct, you have indeed driven through there. But the next most common response is, "Iowa... is that... potatoes?"
No! You're thinking of Idaho! An understandable mistake. They do sound similar. Turns out the exact opposite thing happens to Idahoans: people confuse them with Iowans! How cute!
My bearding/fecal adventures took me to the Gem State capital on June 1, 2018. In yet another kill-two-birds-with-one-stool maneuver, I attended the 2018 Boise Beard Bazaar so I could cross another crapitol off my list.
My United Airlines flight to Boise was delayed FIVE HOURS, but luckily I was able to spend that time waiting in luxury at the United Club. I can't recommend the United Mileage Explorer Card highly enough. They give you two United Club passes every year, and these can be a life saver in situations like this. Despite getting in at 2:30 AM that morning, I managed to drag myself out of bed to venture downtown to visit the capitol.
Idaho was admitted as the 43rd state in the Union in 1890. The territorial capital had been Lewiston, but the dastardly duo of Governor Caleb Lyon and Secretary Clinton Dewitt Smith, secretly packed up all the important government stuff and peaced out to Boise in 1866. This stood as the most reviled overnight departure in US history until Robert Irsay absconded to Indianapolis with the Colts in 1984. Lewistonians are still pissed about this. The capital thing, not the Colts.
Construction of the Idaho State Capitol was begun in 1905 and completed in 1920. It was designed by architect John Tourtellotte, who was obsessed with light. He wanted to make the place super duper bright, and boy did he deliver. The building has been affectionately dubbed the "Capitol of Light," and this Idaho Public Broadcasting documentary of the same name can tell you all about it's design, construction, and renovation. Did someone say renovation? Why yes, the renovation was completed in 2010, so nary a scaffold or tarp is to be found in the building, and the results are stunning.
Gleaming white marble, shimmering brass, the biggest damn indoor flag I've ever seen, and now, after renovation, more office space. Additionally, several Boise residents we're thrilled to inform me that it's the only US capitol building with geothermal heating and cooling. The building was an exceptionally comfortable temperature.
Here's a fun little aside: It's not all marble. Some of it is Scagliola. Scagliola was invented in 17th century Italy to mimic the look of marble, because marble is super expensive. The technique is a closely guarded secret known to only a handful of tradesmen today. It had me fooled!
The capitol in Boise offers no regularly-scheduled tours for visitors to just hop on, so I was left to my own devices. This was fine by me. As near as I could tell, there was no security whatsoever in the building. No checkpoints or metal detectors to pass through. A few cameras here and there, but seemingly no guards anywhere to respond to any possible security issues. All the better to find a nice private bathroom, which I did, in the Senate Chamber no less.
What do I look for in a public restroom? Pretty much two things: out-of-the-way privacy and spotless cleanliness. This restroom was top notch. I felt like the most powerful potato baron in six counties while pooping in there.
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After a successful dump I continued to wander throughout the capitol. Highlights included more views of the giant state flag that hung in the rotunda, a life mask bust of old Honest Abe Lincoln and the governor's office:
Having completed my quest, I proceeded to my next objective: National Donut Day! Hopefully you, dear readers, all got to celebrate this hole-y day of obligation at your local donut dealer. I attended services at Boise's Guru Donuts, and indulged in a PB&J donut and an old-fashioned sour cream.
The rest of my weekend in Boise was spent with the Boise Beardsmen drinking way too much craft beer and not comprehending the 10 PM sunsets (I was not prepared for this. It's disorienting to be drunk in what seems like perfect daylight at 9:00). I won second place in the Full Beard Natural Over 8" category at the Beard Bazaar, a splendid event that raised a lot of money for Ride for 22, a charity that does great work for veterans dealing with PTSD.
Boise was lovely, and will be a pleasure to get back there some day. For the next stop on my journey I'll finally be heading east, to the 2018 Great American Beard & Moustache Championships in Richmond, Virginia.