The Dutch Oven Cafe, Boise

The Dutch Oven Cafe is a little spot that we ended up moving in next to, when we opened our computer repair shop in Boise.  It is apparently a Boise staple and has been around for 30 years or more.  Originally owned and operated by Tom Sweeney, it is now operated by Nick, but still owned by Sweeney.  Although Nick maybe doing the cooking, I doubt much has changed in the manner of how they do business.  There is no menu and you are there for either breakfast or lunch.

You come in and are greeted by Nick.  He brings you a bowl of fruit, your coffee, and utensils.  Breakfast is 2 eggs cooked to order, hashbrowns, sourdough pancakes, and you have your choice of bacon, ham, or smokies.  Lunch is a burger with cottage cheese and fruit.  Food is good, and once you have gone a few times, Nick will let you customize the menu, and he cooks the bacon nice and crispy, just how I like it.

This is the place where old guys have been coming for years, they come for the food, but more than that, they come to just hang out with other old guys and talk.

It is a neighborhood staple and we hope it stays that way.

The Egg Factory, Boise

We were recently told that we needed to try out the Egg Factory in Boise (8061 W. Fairview Ave, Boise). Knowing that we have had some less-than-stellar breakfast experiences lately we were skeptical when we pulled into the strip mall on Fairview and saw the loud Egg Factory sign.

We walked in and waited quietly near the register, when a waitress zoomed by and told us to sit anywhere.  We quickly spied an empty table at the back, and the three of us took our seats.  We now have been told that there is usually a 20 minute wait to get in, so we must have gotten there just in time.

We perused the giant menu and came across many options that looked good.  I am the type of person that believes adding bacon and avocado to a meal makes it complete.  So I was overjoyed to see the Bacado Omelet, the California Benedict with bacon and avocado, and the Avocado, Bacon and Tomato Spudsation…need I say more?  This is the place for me!  I ordered the Bacado omelet hoping that it would come as crispy fillings loaded into a pocket of eggy goodness.  I was NOT disappointed.  Just what I expect from an omelet.  Not all melded together like a fritata.  And a nice amount of monterey-jack cheese, not over loaded or skimpy.  Crispy bacon that was chopped up and layered with avocado.  This has taken the top spot in my book for best omelets in Boise.  A spot that has been empty for far too long. For my bread, I decided on the biscuit with gravy, and actually had tasty gravy with a buttermilk drop biscuit, maybe  a little dry, but all the better to soak up the gravy goodness.

My breakfast buddies were equally impressed with their omelets, the Whole Farm Omelet, and the Whole Hog Omelet.  Nary a complaint passed their lips.  We ate greedily and hungrily, and reviewed out meal with smiles all around.  Each of our breakfasts were under $9.  We found our new favorite breakfast place.

We want to continue to try new places for breakfast, but it will be hard to decide to go somewhere other than the Egg Factory.

8061 W Fairview Ave

The Tolley House, East Boise

In our new goal of trying out the local fare over the chain restaurants in Boise, we had more than one person suggest we try The Trolley House in east Boise for breakfast (1821 Warm Springs Ave, Boise, ID 83712). We live on the west edge of Boise, but don’t mind a drive to find some good grub.  So four of us headed out on a Sunday morning and arrived at The Trolley House at about 11:30am.  Although the place was rather busy, a spot on the patio opened up immediately, and since it was a nice sunny morning we took it.

The patio is on the small side, especially for all the tables that are out there.  The wait staff must constantly squeeze between chairs to reach all the tables.  A slight annoyance, but one that can be overlooked.  We were finally given menus when the waitress realized that the table behind us was still holding their menus, so she ran over, took their order, then gave us their menus.  The menus are large, with more than enough options to choose from.  I ordered my old favorite, bacon and eggs with a side biscuit and gravy.  One friend had an omelet with ham, spinach, tomatoes, hollandaise sauce, and she asked for cheddar instead of swiss cheese.  Another friend had a ham and cheese omelet, and the third friend had ham and eggs with toast. And we ordered a pancake to share, because they are famous for their giant pancakes. We are not coffee drinkers so we all ordered diet cokes, and one regular coke and waters all around. 

The service was the thing that I found the most lacking.  At one time a waitress comes out to the patio and fills up the water glasses of the people on one half of the patio, then goes back inside.  I guess she was only in charge of that side, the rest of us sat there with empty glasses, kind of bewildered.  The food finally arrives, but they were really busy so we couldn’t really complain about that.  Everything looked good, except that they had ignored the request for cheddar instead of swiss, oh well.  Then we all dug in.

Hmmm, well bacon and eggs not too bad, where can you go wrong, right?  The biscuit and gravy, however, were bland, and the biscuit was hard and burnt on the bottom.  The ham and eggs and toast were as ordered, ham steak was grilled and pretty good.  The ham, spinach, tomato omelet left much to be desired.  Forgetting that they ignored the request for cheddar instead of swiss, the ham was water packed ham with little flavor, not even grilled on the skillet before it was loaded in the omelet.  The tomatoes were from a can, and the spinach was frozen, yuck, yuck, and yuck.  What a disappointment. The ham and cheese omelet had the same ham complaint, watery packed and bland.  Now remember the ham from the “ham and eggs”?  I mention this because the ham steak is not the same ham they use in the omelet, if it had been, there might have been some flavor to it.  And now for the famous pancake…overcooked so much that the edges were hard and needed a knife to cut through it.  Really?…Come on, this is what you are famous for?  Sheesh.

So other than the food that needs improvement, the service was just silly.  At one point our waitress finally makes it over to fill out water glasses, and when I make a point to move my water glass close to her so she can fill it, she just walks away, obviously not paying attention.  The coup de grace is when our watress takes our cups to refill our diet cokes.  She returns with the cups, puts them on the table in a group and says, “I don’t remember who’s cup belong to who.”  Now, granted we are pretty good friends and don’t mind each others germs too much, we divided up the cups and proceeded to pick through breakfast.  We finally paid our bill and left our half picked through breakfasts speechless. 

Maybe they just had an off day, but from other recent reviews I have read, I think the days of the The Trolley House are numbered.

The Griddle, Eagle, Idaho

Now we have eaten at The Griddle in Eagle before and we like it.  So we headed out mid-morning on a Sunday in search of sustenance.  It was not until we arrived at The Griddle and saw the crowd gathered around the door that we were reminded that it was Mother’s Day.

I’m not going to talk much about the food in this post, other than to say, it is good food.  I little pricey for my tastes, but good.  You can get traditional breakfasts or tasty lunch sandwiches.  We have never had a bad meal here.  And we recommend it as a “local chain.”  They have two locations in Idaho: 177 Eagle River St, Eagle, ID and 2310 E Overland Road, Suite 130, Meridian.  And their original location is in Winnemucca, NV.  We have been to both locations in Idaho and they are both equally good.

But on this Sunday, we walked in, and made our way to the podium.  After a minute or two a waitress asked for our name and said it should be about a ten minute wait.  No problem, we can wait 10 minutes.  However, there was nowhere to sit in their waiting area so we headed outside.  While we were waiting we walked around the outside of the building to check out their patio.  Decent sized, and low and behold, there are two empty tables.  We all agreed that we wouldn’t mind sitting outside , so I went inside to to let the gal know that we were available to take a table on the patio.  As I waited for the gal to come back, I took a peek at the dining room area.  And there were at least 4 empty tables inside! I looked around at the other 4 or 5 parties squeezed into the waiting area waiting for a table and wondered, why on earth they would leave people out here to stand when there are empty tables ready to be sat?

Resisting the urge to don an apron and begin seating people at empty tables,we waited….and waited.  When they finally started calling out names to seat people, they called out at least 4 names that went unanswered before the came to ours.  We can only imagine that those four customers were as puzzled as we were about the empty tables, and full waiting area.  We were finally sat, had our breakfast, and went on with our day.

The only thing I can imagine is that The Griddle just was not prepared for a Mother’s Day crowd, and did not have enough staff to clear and clean the empty tables and get them ready for the next customers.  But it left me to wonder, where was the manager who could have taken the roll of host and managed the Mother’s Day crowd a little better.  We may never know.

Flatbread Community Oven Pizzeria

Last night we went to Flatbread Community Oven Pizzeria in Meridian on Main Street.

Flatbread front

Flatbread in Meridian, ID

It’s been here awhile, but looks from the outside it looks like an overpriced pizza joint, so it was never really on the top of our list of places to try.  But we are trying to get out and try new things lately, so we invited some friends to meet us for dinner, and we all decided to give this place a try.  One of the reasons we did was because they have a great wine selection, and we were all in the mood for a little wine and/or beer.

There were five of us, and our two friends had arrived before we had, and were waiting for us at a table booth.  Lori had tried their Tuscan Chicken Pizza for lunch before, so she recommended that we give it a try.  Since the rest of us had never been here before, we decided to order a few different things and share it all.  We all started with some beverages.  All the wine was great, I started with the Riesling. Donna was drinking a Chardonnay and Lori had the Pietra Santa Super Tuscan which was a favorite at our table (we all had a little sip) although admittedly, it was the priciest at $8.75 a glass.  Matt had the Hefeweisen, and Mark had the Fat Tire.  For our second glass, Donna wanted something a little dryer than the Chardonnay and the waiter recommended the Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon, which she and I both agreed to.

FlatbreadFor the food we started out with two types of flatbread, the Sea Salt and Parmesan &  the Fire Roasted Tomato and Mozzarella.  The Sea Salt and Parm came with a trio of dipping sauces, a marinara, hot pepper oil, and and herb oil.  Very tasty on all counts.  The faltbreads were a great starter for the 5 of us while we talked and enjoyed our wine.

We ended up ordering 3 pizzas to share so we ordered the TUSCAN CHICKEN with Herbed Olive Oil, Feta, Chicken, Artichoke Hearts, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Spinich, Green Onions.  A more traditional ITALIAN SAUSAGE, PEPPERONI with Cascioppo Bros. Itailian Sausage, Pepperoni, Fresh Mozzarella. And one of their Neopolitan pizzas: the QUATTRO FORMAGGI with Fior di Latte, Fontina, Romano, Parmesan, Fresh Basil, Garlic, Pomodoro.

All three were fantastic, the pepperoni and sausage was better than you r average pepperoni and sausage, but I have to say that the Tuscan Chicken was my favorite.  It had such a great flavor to it. The four cheese also had great flavor with the cheese and garlic…except that it was a challenge to keep the cheese on top of the pizza slices.

Pizza

Sausage, Pepperoni, and Portabello Mushroom Pizza

To top it all off we ordered a dozen cookies to share, Chocolate Chip and Peanut butter, but we skipped the ice cold milk, because it did not sound great with the wine we were drinking.  In the end, the peanut butter were better in my opinion.

All in all, we enjoyed the Flatbread Community Oven.  It was a great place to meet with some friends to have some non traditional pizza and great wine.  We also had a great waiter who gave us recommendations for the food and drinks, and was pretty darn attentive.  Of course, having rock hard biceps and adorable dimples wasn’t hurting him either!  We all had a great time, and would recommend Flatbread to others, and we will definitely come back again.


Ouray, Colorado

July, 2009.  My sister and her family have been going to Ouray, Colorado for 4th of July for the past 4 years, or so.  This past year, my parents joined them, and Matt & I decided to head out that way since they were all going to be there.  Ouray is a small town in Colorado located in the lower South-West corner of the the State, north of Durango but south of Grand Junction.  Every year they do a big 4th of July celebration where they do a parade, firehouse water fight, fireworks, etc.  The whole town gets in on it.

Ouray, 4th of July

4th of July Parade in Ouray, CO (courtesy of my sis)

But there is more to do in Ouray than just celebrate the 4th of July.  Ouray is situated in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, and there are boundless outdoor activities to take part in, included Jeep trails.  As a matter of fact, we bought a t-shirt that says, “Ouray: a nice drinking town, with a slight jeeping problem.”

There are Jeeps everywhere.  People bring their own to ride the trials and explore the mountains, or you can rent one from various places in town.  We of course had recently acquired our $200 Range Rover, and knew this would be a great opportunity to see if the mighty Range Rover could keep up with my brother-in-law and his jeeping expertise.

A few things to know before you consider going to Ouray:  This is a beautiful area.  Think Telluride without the snobby rich folks. There are lodges to stay at, but we like to camp, and since we got the tent-trailer this year, this was a great time to use it.  If you want to go for 4th of July make your reservations early, like a year in advance!

There are a few campgrounds in the vicinity that we checked out.  My sister prefers 4J+1+1 RV Park.  This RV park is right in town.   You can walk from the campground to the local main street where the parade, stores, and restaurants are.  But a city street runs right through the middle of the campground, which seems to be a well used street for locals commuting in the morning.  There are full hook-ups for RVs but only in the middle section pull-through sites (between roads), and there is no shade in this area.  The shady spots are on the left side of the road, but you only get water, and electrical hook-ups.  I’ll just say, by the middle of the of the week my brother-in-law was telling my sister to not use the toilet or sinks because he didn’t want to have to unhook everything to go make a dump run.   But for my sister, she likes the shade, and the close vicinity to everything in town.  There are hot showers, bathrooms, and laundry nearby,  and a small old playground for the kids.  Rates are around $30/night, though I’m not sure what my sister paid.  My sister makes her reservations each year in advance when they leave the previous year.  And you have to call back at some point during March or May to confirm your reservations if you want to stay here over 4th of July.  Matt & I don’t really make our plans that far in advance, so we were just kind of winging it.

Our decision to meet them there was pretty much made the week of July 4th, so we figured we would skip the big 4th of July celebration and see if we could get a camping spot for the 5 or 6 days after Independence Day.  We started calling around on July 3rd.  We called 4J, who of course was booked, I could almost hear them laughing at us for even calling to check. The next place we called was Timber Ridge Campground on the outskirts of Ouray, but still walking distance to everything in town.  They didn’t even answer their phone. And, after we saw the place, I’m glad they didn’t.  It is literally a gravel parking lot.  I couldn’t imagine camping here for 4 or 5 days.  Next on our list was the Ouray KOA.  Jackpot!  They had a space with electricity so we could hook up our tent trailer, and they allowed pets, so we could bring our puppy.

Archie camping

Archie, our faithful traveling companion, 4 month old.

At $32.50/night it was more than I would usually pay, but it was a busy week, so we were not going to be picky.

Now, a KOA is not usually my first choice of campgrounds to stay at.  We don’t have kids, and KOAs seem to be a magnet for kids, so we try to avoid them.  And they are usually very commercial, and well just not very outdoorsy.  But this KOA was surprisingly nice. The first thing we noticed were all the trees.

Ouray KOA hammock

View from our tent trailer of our hammock at our camp site

Shade everywhere, a nice forested look to the whole place.  They have a little store at the front.  They even have little Kabins you can rent. And once we walked around, we realized how big the place was.  They have tent area, RV areas, and tent trailer areas.  And one of our favorite parts was the little cafe open for breakfast and dinner, and a BBQ dinner with live bluegrass entertainment on the weekends.  We were five miles from town, but never had an issue finding a parking spot when we came to town.  And while we were there to visit with family, it was kind of nice to have our own spot to go back to each night.

We invited my parents to come over and hang out with us for the afternoon, and they changed they reservation for the next year to the KOA!

Mom & dad Ouray KOA

Mom & Dad relaxing with us at the KOA

The whole place was accessible to my mom who uses a motorized scooter to get around, and they had multiple pull through sites with shade and full hook ups, and my parents liked that it was quiet and not on a main road.  We enjoyed our stay at the KOA and were pleasantly surprised.

We left Boise on July 4th and started the 725 mile trip to Ouray on July 4th.  It’s a 13 hour drive so we figured we would stop half-way, pull out the tent trailer for the night, and go the rest of the way the next morning.  We headed east on 84 through southern Idaho, dropping down in to Utah to catch the 15 south.  Saw multiple fireworks shows from the road as we approached Salt Lake City.  Our goal for the night was to make it to Price, Utah south of Salt Lake where there is a Walmart.  The story is, walmart allows RV to park in their lots overnight, as a courtesy.  Although there are some stores that do not allow it because they have had bad experiences.  If you do not see a sign forbidding it, it is generally accepted.  We have a tent-trailer, and even with it fully set up, we can leave it attached to the car.  And it isn’t too bad.  We arrived late, probably 1am.  There was one other RV parked on one side of the parking lot, we parked on the other.  We set up the trailer, hit the sack, got up in the morning, went into the Walmart bathroom to brush our teeth and freshen up.  Grabbed some breakfast items, filled the cooler, and grabbed some snacks from Walmart before we left.  We packed up the tent trailer and were on our way, within 30 minutes of waking up.  Not bad for free overnight parking.  we headed south out of Price, heading for the 70 which would take us east to Grand Junction, CO.  From Grand Junction we caught the 50 east toward Montrose.

We arrived in Ouray on July 6th in the afternoon and it was raining.  More like a torrential downpour with hail.  But it did not last long and cleared up for a nice night.  My sister and her family were rafting on the river that day, the next day was the jeep trip over Imogene Pass into Telluride.

Hildy in the Jeep

Hildy, mom & dad's pup, ready to hit the jeep trail

They left camp at 7am, and I had a phone interview scheduled at noon on the 7th, so I sat out the Imogene Pass trip and met everyone in Telluride for lunch.  We left out of Telluride for Ophir Pass around 3pm, and looped back to Ouray for dinner.  The views are just stunning, and you can see why this area is nicknamed the Switzerland of America.

Imogene trails

Imogene trail

Being able to explore on these trails is part of the beauty of the area, and most of the trails are not technically difficult.  No need to bring your own 4-wheel drive vehicle, my parents and sister rented from Switzerland of America in Ouray.  Costs range from $150-$185/day.  Little Pricey for my pocketbook, which is why we put the mighty range Rover to the test.  Happy to say, other than a few altitude issues (we were up over 13,ooo feet!) the RR kept up with all the jeeps without complaint!

Imogene RR

The Range Rover on Imogene Pass trail

Imogene Pass Elevation sign

Elevation sign at teh top of Imogene Pass

On the 8th, half the group headed out for another early morning jaunt across the mountains.  Matt & I met up with my Parents, packed a picnic and did the trail to Yankee Boy Basin.  On July 9th, we headed out to Box Canyon Falls with the whole

Sign for Imogene Pass

Trail sign for Imogene Pass

group.

Box Canyon group pic

All of us resting after Box Canyon

A really interesting display of the power of rushing water.  There is a $3 fee to enter this park, but well worth it.

Box Canyon Dan & Cass

Grandpa & Cassie at the Falls

We later tried out the Ouray Hot Springs.  This is a large public pool that is heated by the underground geothermal springs in the area.  Daily rate was $10 per person.  A little steep, but a fun afternoon event with the family, especially when the rain started to pour.  Nothing like sitting in the rain in a nice warm pool.

Ouray Hot Springs Pool

Ouray Hot Springs Pool

We used Friday, July 10th to rest up.  We invited everyone from the other campground to come over to our campground for the BBQ dinner and live band.  Have to reserve your table for this, it does fill up.  It is a fun evening, and was a great way to wrap up our vacation.  Even if they food server got a little miffed when Matt went up for his 3rd helping of the all-you-can-eat BBQ dinner.

We headed home early on Saturday morning, wanting to make the trip home in one day.   After all, we did have a wedding to plan for the next three weeks.

Point Reyes Lighthouse

February, 2007.  Located about 30 miles north of San Francisco is a beautiful Lighthouse placed on a small peninsula which juts 10 miles out to the sea.  We lived in Sacramento as the time, so we made the 2+ hour drive over from Sacramento on the 80 to Vallejo, where we veered off and took 37 to Novato.  From Novato we took the Petaluma Point Reyes Road all the way into Point Reyes to Sir Francis Drake Blvd.

Wipers

Matt changing the wipers

It had been a cold day in Sacramento, and we had a bit of cabin fever and just wanted to get out and explore a little.  We stopped in Novato, when it was clear that the windshield wipers in the ole beemer were just about toast.  Found a Napa Autoparts store and we were on our way again.

We made our way to Point Reyes and I just remember thinking that I would love to live in a place like this some day.  It was rainy and damp, but so green and luscious everywhere.  There was a little bakery along the way, where we stopped and got a couple chocolate filled croissants.

Keep in mind, once you get to Point Reyes (or more precisely, the Bear Valley Visitors Center) you still  have a 45 minute drive to get to the Lighthouse parking lot, and then a walk along the .4 mile long path that leads to the lighthouse visitor’s

parking lot

Lighthouse Parking Lot

center.  Then you have 300+ steps to go down to actually see inside the lighthouse.  So be prepared!!  The drive is gorgeous, just sit back, relax and enjoy it.

And it was windy and cold when we got out the car.  Luckily we had jackets in the trunk, because we are never that prepared for these little adventures.

matt parking lot

Matt showing hoe windy and cold it was

We found the path to the lighthouse and ventured down it.  And it is just amazing how much beauty is packed into this little spot on the earth.  Around every corner we found more views to ogle.

wind blown tree

Wind blown tree along the walkway to the lighthouse

It really is surprising how steep the steps are.  I mean you know there are 300 of them, and you think, “Well I can get down those, and I probably even get back up!”  But, really then when you actually do it, you realize that maybe you should be getting to the gym a little more often than just a few times a month.

Lighthouse steps

Matt climbing down the step to the Lighthouse

This is the picture when I’m saying, “No, honey, go ahead (huff, huff), I’m just going to stop here for a second (huff, huff), so I can get the perspective of the stairs (huff, huff) from above.”  Then you get down to the bottom.

old lighthouse

The old fashioned lighthouse

It’s a fun and interesting place to check out.  There are rangers at the Lighthouse who love when you ask questions.  They will tell you all they know about the Lighthouse and how it worked.  The old Fresnel lens is still there.  You can learn all kind of stories about the shipwrecks off this coast which were the impetus for the lighthouse being built here. The lighthouse was decommissioned back in 1975 and an automated light was installed. Now the automated light does all the work, and the old Lighthouse stands as a museum piece to Lighthouse keepers.

auto light

The automated light

From this location you can feel the moisture in the air, whether its from the natural fog or the ocean spray 600 feet below, it is hard to tell.  But as raindrops began to fall we headed back up the stairs to get back to the car.

stairway up

Stairs back up to the top

From this photo, taken near the lighthouse, you can see the stairway in the far back, heading back up the cliff to the visitor’s center.

matt and whale

Whale watching

Although this is an ideal place to see whales as they migrate north to south and then north again, and January through April are the best times to see the California gray whale migration, this skull at the visitor’s center was the only gray whale we witnessed.  Notice Matt’s hair plastered back against his head due to the strong winds that were blowing.  brrr!

After the Lighthouse, we had worked a a little bit of an appetite from the 3-story climb up the stairs and had to pee after downing a bottle of water when we reached the top!  The best place to go? Drake’s Beach Cafe.  Literally, at the end of the road.

Cafe

Inside Drake's Beach Cafe

They have a bathroom and warm food, which at this point was all it would take for us to be happy. The rain which had started while we were at the lighthouse, turned into torrential downpour once we had reached the car, and we were cold and wet! We had hot chocolate, a bag of chips and enjoyed the ambiance.

matt chips

Matt, thrilled to pose for yet another photo for me

And because it was still light outside and because we didn’t really want our adventure to end, we decided to head on up to Bodega Bay, another 35 miles up Hwy 1.  By the time we got up there, we knew we had to find dinner before we started back so we stopped at Lucas Warf, right along the highway in Bodega Bay.

Lucas Warf

Matt, outside, in the rain, at Lucas Warf

We walked in, sat at a small table in the bar near the fireplace.  We ordered a beer for me, Diet Coke for Matt, and we shared a couple appetizers.  The food was ok, the ambiance was perfect, and it was a great ending to a fun adventure day. All the information about Point Reyes can be found by clicking here.

mat and kat in the car

Matt & Kat in the car, happy, ready to head home

Hello world!

We have been wanting to blog about our adventures form some time, now.  So I will attempt to add some of the places we have been, as well as some of the places we will go to as they happen.