Friday, February 27, 2009

Old Idaho Penitentiary

We had planned on hiking on Monday and the only trail head I knew about was attached to the parking lot of the Old Idaho Penitentiary. When we finally found it, there was an office so we went in to ask them if they knew where the different trails went. Adam found a brochure for the Pen. It’s $5 per adult and it sounded interesting so we decided to take a tour before we went hiking.

The brochure read: “Idaho Territory was less than ten years old when the territorial prison was built east of Boise in 1870. The penitentiary grew from a single cell house into a complex of several distinctive buildings surrounded by a high sandstone wall. Convicts quarried the stone from the nearby ridges and completed all the later construction.

Over its century of operation, the penitentiary received more than 13,000 convicts, of whom 215 were women. Spurred in part by conditions that sparked a general riot in 1971 and an even more severe riot in 1973, the inmate population was moved to a modern penitentiary south of Boise and the Old Idaho Penitentiary was closed on December 3, 1973. After the Penitentiary closed in 1973, the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Begin your visit with our video presentation recalling prison history, notorious inmates, and daily prison life. Once inside the Yard, imagine life in the foreboding sandstone cell houses, see the contrasting beauty of the historic rose gardens, and view the effects of the 1973 riot. Visit Solitary Confinement, known as "Siberia," as well as Death Row and the Gallows. Exhibits are located throughout the site.”

There’s an 18 minute video you can watch first. While it was not the most interesting video it was informative about the buildings and some of what went on in them. We took our map and went through the different buildings. I can’t find the map so I have no idea which building was what.

The first building we went into was the first building to get indoor plumbing. Even in 1973, not all the buildings had plumbing. Some of the cells had plastic buckets that could be pushed into a ventilation pipe when not being used. In that building, the doors were made out of flat iron bars, instead of the round bars. They were easier to break out of but cheaper to make. Unfortunately for the prisoners in those cells, they made for less ventilation and light. The paint was peeling off the ceilings and walls from years of neglect.

All the buildings had 2-3 heaters placed under the windows on the ground floor level. I seriously doubt that they did much to keep anyone inside very warm. I know that the heaters weren’t on while we were there but it was so cold inside. At least one of the buildings had fire damage from the final riot which caused everyone to be moved to the new prison that had just been built sooner than they would have been moved. The dining hall was destroyed in the same riot.

There is a maximum security building which was the last building to be built sometime in the 50’s with a gallows room and a room below where the prisoner would fall into. That was where they witnessed the death.

They had a shirt factory where they made shirts. Later, a laundry room and shower room was added. The prisoners did laundry for the air force bases as well as the laundry for the inmates. There are exhibits on either side of the laundry room. One is a weapons exhibit and the other is a transportation exhibit. Further away, in an old building that I don’t know what it used to be, is a prison tattoo art exhibit and an electricity exhibit that has seen better days.

Then there’s the solitary confinement. One of the signs said that the prisoners were each given a blanket or two, a meal, or sometimes 2 meals, a day and that’s it. The only light available was from a small air tube at the top of the cell and if the small hatch door was left open, they could get a little light that way as well. There were 2 little heaters in that building but the thick metal doors would have certainly kept most of the heat out while the small air tune was letting in outside air. They had no mattresses, only the 2 blankets they were issued and there was a small covered hole in the floor. I am assuming that that was where they were able to go to the bathroom but I’m not sure about that. They didn’t know how long they’d be in there when they were put in. It could last anywhere from a few days to a year. The last door is open so you can step inside. Even knowing that there was no one to lock me in and no reason to be paranoid about it, I felt very vulnerable and scared when I stepped into it. I imagined living in one for even a few days. It was cold and dark (but lighter than it would have been for anyone locked in it since the door was still open). I knew that 2 blankets wouldn’t have been enough. I can understand why there was such a high rate of insanity or suicide while staying in there. What a scary fate for someone. I got Adam to go in it and I closed the door most of the way. He wasn't too thrilled with that...I'm assuming he was having some of the same feelings that I had. The room wasn't much bigger than Adam. The hole Adam is looking through is the hole where they got light, food and blankets through.

There’s a woman’s section as well but we didn’t make it to that one before it closed. It’s outside the main gates into a second sandstone fortress.

There is a rose garden behind the min fortress near the barn. It is supposed to be beautiful but it is dormant right now so we didn’t get to see it. From there, we picked up a foothills trail.

There were only a handful of other people there and we usually weren’t in the same building at the same time. I think that helped. It was so quiet, eerie almost and I got to really think about how I felt looking at certain things. I am so grateful for the upbringing I had that led me to live a fairly good life…one where I am in no danger of ever living in such a place, where all your freedoms are taken away. It’s obvious that the people who end up in prison don’t care about the people they harm, but how can they be so indifferent about how what they do will affect their futures? They are missing out on so much in life; sadly, few will ever realize that.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Our 8th anniversary

On Tuesday, Adam and I celebrated our 8th anniversary. In some ways, it seems we’ve always been together, but at other times, I can hardly believe that it’s been 8 years. We were both able to take Monday & Tuesday off to spend some time together. Adam and I may have a tendency to argue but I truly do love him and he has taught me to be a better person. I am thankful he’s my husband.

We had planned to go hiking in Balanced Rock State Park, about 2 hours away. But the sky was dark and the forecast called for rain. So instead, we drove to the Old Idaho Penitentiary to pick up some hiking trails from the parking lot. When we got there, we found out that it was open for touring so we went in and paid. We walked around examining all the buildings we were allowed in. By the time we were finished, it was 3 hours later. I’ll discuss the prison more in another post. It was very interesting and an eye opener for me. Adam and I both enjoyed ourselves. Afterward, we went for a short hike. We had to turn around when the rain started spitting on us.
We went back home to give the dogs a break and eat dinner. Then, we went and saw a movie, Seven Pounds. It was a strange and depressing movie.

On Tuesday, we had lunch out, went shopping for Adam’s Christmas/birthday/anniversary present. He’s been waiting since Christmas for a winch for his Yukon. We spent about 1 ½ hours at Harbor Freight Tools browsing the shelves. Then, we went to REI for about 30 minutes before I gave up trying on new biking shoes.

I went to Jasmine’s last class. I finished up the first half of my classes. From here on out, I’ll be doing some of the teaching in the classes. I’m pretty nervous. After I got back, we went to Cheesecake Factory for dinner & dessert.

It was nice to be able to spend some time with him since we generally don’t have the same days off.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ride into the wind

That's what Jasmine and I did last night. There's always this thought in the back of my mind that the wind is good because once I turn around to go home, it will push me back faster than I am able to pedal on my own so it's worth it in the end. (But that doesn't make it any easier on my knees.)

I can't seem to get started early enough to get over ten miles with Jasmine but today we did it. We went 15 miles! I know it doesn't sound like something I'd be happy about but I was very happy to make it finally.

There were two pastures next to each other. In the first pasture, the 3 horses ran from across the field to see us. Jasmine was curious so I walked over to the fence with her where she sniffed them over and over. The next pasture had 5 horses that had come over to the fence as well but as soon as we were in front of them, they all took off. Jasmine just watched them as they went crazy, almost crashing into each other a few times.

I thought I was slow when I bike by myself, it was fast compared to this. We went 14.92 miles and it took us 3 & 1/2 hours! Jasmine got a couple of rests in the trailer on the way out. I made myself pull her for 15 minutes so she could get a good rest but I really had a hard time figthing the headwind and going uphill with the 80 lbs being towed behind me (Jasmine & the trailer). I pushed through it and the rest did amazingly for her. I pulled her out. We sat and had some snacks and water. When we started our ride, we had 3 hours until sunset. I had lost track of time and when I looked at the clock, it was about 15 minutes until sunset. We turned around and headed back. I was stressing about being in the dark for an hour. I was beating myself up about losing track of time. I turned on the rear blinky light (the only light I had with me) and we went.

Maybe Jasmine felt my stress, or maybe the rest was the key but Jasmine just took off running and pretty much didn't stop until I put her in the trailer for a downhill a couple of miles later. I went until the next uphill was too much and let her out again. She ran her heart out again. I think she ran another couple of miles. A cop drove by and I was worried I was going to get a ticket for not enough lights...some states will actually do that... but he just drove on by.

watching the sunset

The sun was down and the red had already faded from the sky. Darkness was really closing in and I could only see the road when cars' headlights lit the road for me. But by that point, we had already made it to the best shoulder in the world so I was no longer stressed about it. Jasmine quit running but was trotting at a prety good pace.

Before long, I could see the stop light where our car was parked. I had to go to the bathroom SOOOOO bad over half the time we were out. I was so happy to use the restroom at the gas station the car was parked aat. I asked for permission to bring Jasmine in so I wouldn't have to leave her alone out there. The cashier told me to quickly sneak her in and out and it would be ok. So I did.

Jasmine actually found the dirt shoulder on this ride. I haven't been able to entice her to walk in it before. She doesn't like getting dirty or wet. But, I think it must have finally hit her that it feels nicer than asphalt. She actually used it most of the ride out which helped out so I could ride closer to the edge of the road, out of traffic. However, when running, she still prefers the asphalt.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hidden Wedges by Spencer W. Kimball

I've been going through boxes to see if there is anything in them I am willing to give up or if I can consolidate things better to make more room. I am currently working on my boxes of books. There are some books I am willing to give up but some I would really like to read or just keep around even though I have already read them. I used to collect small books, most of them by Ora Pate Stewart but there were a few others as well. One of them was a book by Spencer W. Kimball called "Hidden Wedges". I'd actually call it a booklet. It's only 24 pages long and since the pages are half the size of most books, it's is even shorter than 24 pages sounds.

I read it back when I bought it but haven't looked at it again since then so this is one of the books I will be giving up. It had a good message in it so I thought I'd share it my favorite parts.

He quotes an article by Samuel T. Whitman:

The ice storm wasn’t generally destructive. True, a few wires came down, and there was a sudden jump in accidents on the highway. Walking out of doors became unpleasant and difficult. It was disagreeable weather, but it was not serious. Normally, the big walnut tree could easily have borne the weight that formed on its spreading limbs. It was the iron wedge in its heart that caused the damage.

The story of the iron wedge began years ago when the white-haired farmer was a lad on his father’s homestead. The sawmill had then only recently been moved from the valley and the settlers were still finding tools and odd pieces of equipment scattered about where they had been lost or abandoned.

On this particular day, it was a faller’s wedge – wide, flat, and heavy, a foot or more long, and splayed from mighty poundings. The path from the south pasture did not pass the woodshed; and because he was already late for dinner, the lad laid the wedge, edge up, between the limbs of the young walnut tree his father had planted near the front gate. He would take the wedge to the shed right after dinner, or sometime when he was going that way.

He truly meant to, but he never did. It was there between the limbs, a little tight, when he attained his manhood. It was there, now firmly gripped, when he married and took over his father’s farm. It was half grown over on the day the threshing crew ate dinner under the tree. A corner of the blade still protruded when he reorganized the yard and left the tree in an out-of-the-way corner. After that, it was forgotten, except at rare intervals. The farmer’s hair turned white. Old age beckoned just around the corner. Grown in and healed over, the wedge , the wedge was still in the tree the winter the ice storm came.

In the chill silence of that wintry night, with the mist like rain sifting down and freezing where it fell, one of the three major limbs split away from the trunk and crashed to the ground. This so unbalanced the remainder of the top that it, too, split apart and went down. When the storm was over, not a twig of the once proud tree remained.

Early the next morning, the farmer went out to mourn his loss. “Wouldn’t have had that happen for a thousand dollars, “ he said. “Prettiest tree in the valley, that was.”

Then, his eyes caught sight of something in the splintered ruin. “The wedge,” he muttered reproachfully. “The wedge I found in the south pasture.” A glance told him why the tree had fallen. Growing, edge up, in the trunk, the wedge had prevented the limb fibers from knitting together as they should.

President Kimball went on to say “Forgotten wedges! Hidden weaknesses grown over and invisible, waiting until some winter night to work their ruin. What better symbolizes the presence and effect of sin in our lives.”

A little later in the book, he quotes Ralph Parlett: “Strength and struggle travel together. The supreme reward of struggle is strength. Life is a battle and the greatest joy is to overcome. The pursuit of easy things makes men weak….”

His book went into more detail about how sin (especially procrastinating repenting from sin) can work its way into our hearts and destroy us and really brought it together with the story of the hidden wedge. It was a short, but good read.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Jasmine is an attraction

Jasmine saw the Temple for the first time today. We were stopped on the side of the road for a short break when we were approached by 2 sister missionaries. They chatted for a minute then introduced themselves as missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints. I shook their hands since they were already offering them. I told them I was a member of their church. They chatted for a couple more minutes. They thought Jasmine's trailer was pretty cool. They had never seen one made for dogs before. The sisters got into their car and we only had made it 2 houses away when 2 pugs, on the other side of a fence, were barking their heads off at Jasmine and she was feeling a little threatened so she wouldn't move. I was just about to load her in the trailer when an older man ran by. He stopped and was very excited about my bike setup. He asked me a bunch of questions about it and even commented on my homemade mud flaps. He asked me how far I had ever ridden in one day so I told him 113 miles but that was a very long time ago, he was blown away. He left after asking me if I believed in God. I told him that I do. He said "God belss you." and continued running. Jasmine got quite a bit of attention today but they were the only people who stopped to talk to us. Mostly it was people pointing or laughing or smiling as we crossed the streets.

Our last ride, before today, was up in the foothills. That was a really hard ride! She got to walk while I struggled up the hill. Then, she rode down in her trailer. It took us about 1 hour 15 minutes to get to the top and took 10 minutes to get down.

The start of agility

I've been working with the dogs on learning how to do some agility things. I have some new bicycle tires that I haven't put on my bike yet so I pulled one out and taught the dogs how to walk through it. I didn't know how hard getting a dog to walk through a hoop would be!! Bear wasn't too put off by it so he started pretty quickly. Jasmine was freaking out about it but finally did it after a few minutes of working with her. Then Jack had to be leashed because he kept running away from the tire. Finally, he braved it for the hot dog treats I had waiting on the other side. I tried raising the tire slightly and we were back to square one, except for with Bear. He acts concerned about it but will walk through. I haven't gotten more than a few inches off the floor with anyone.

I set up a couple of bars, at different heights, in the back yard last night and leashed up Bear and ran toward the bars and jumped over them. We kept running back and forth. I gave Jasmine a turn. She stoped short and pulled right out of her collar. We worked from a stand still directly in front of the bar. She hopped over it. A couple more times around and she had it. Jack will only do it if there is food involved and when he jumps over, he turns toward me at the same time to get his treat so we only could do one jump at a time. All three of them still have to be leashed or else they go around the jumps instead.

Some of the other equipment will be hard to do make shift. I don't ever plan on doing competitions it's just for exercise and fun. One thing a dog has to have to enjoy agility is a love of running...being brave helps too. Mine aren't too brave but Jasmine and Bear both love running so maybe it will work out. Jack...I doubt he will ever enjoy this kind of thing but he will learn how to do it anyway.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Adam's shoes

Adam's been telling me for quite some time now that he needs new shoes. I pointed out a hole in one of them a few days ago. We spent a little time shoe shopping but he didn't find any. He went by himself later and found a pair. I pulled them out of the box and they were the same shoe he's had for the last 2 years...only new. I laughed at that and told him that he must really like those shoes.

We both keep our last pair of shoes for painting and other household work. They really come in handy. I was going through a trash bag of stuff that I haven't opened since we moved here. I thought it was all blankets but it turns out that it was blankets, shoes and clothes. I pulled out a pair of shoes that matched the other two. They were his previous shoes he had before the old ones wore out. I couldn't believe was the same pair!! So I just had to share with everyone because I think it's pretty funny that Adam can't get away from these shoes. So this is about 5-6 years worth of shoes in the picture.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Arrowrock Reservoir

Yesterday, Jasmine and I went for a ride. Unfortunately, we didn't get started until 2 hours before sunset so while I had hoped to do about 15 miles, I knew that wasn't going to happen. Having a dog along on rides really slows things down quite a bit but I really do enjoy having her with me.

This is Jasmine's 4th ride. She's becoming a seasoned veteran now. She actually waited in the car until I had everything set up. I had forgotten her blanket and was going to call the ride off but I improvised with the blankets I have on the seats to keep dirt and dog fur off the upholstery. It wasn't as good as her blanket but it worked well enough.

This was a pretty hilly ride so Jasmine got to shine. She really likes running uphill but goes very slow on downhills...very strange. She was going pretty slowly at first, though we were climbing and I thought maybe it was the chip seal hurting her feet. So I put her boots on and we got going. She ran uphill until we started going downhill. We were going so slow, I was having trouble keeping the bike upright. She got to take a ride in the trailer until we got to the bottom.

Everyone who passed us waved at friendly. There were probably 15-20 cars the whole 2 hours we were out so traffic wasn't an issue really. There must have been a marina up ahead somewhere because most people were towing a boat.
I lost a glove and told Jasmine we'd have to look for it on the way back but I looked back after we hadn't gone too far and it was in the road. It must have been under the trailer. I was glad to have it since it was a little cold out.

We turned around at Macks Creek Park because it was getting dark and a little colder back in the hills. Jasmine was trotting along most of the time but she would muster up some energy and really start running. I'd have to really work to keep up with her on the uphills.

At the top, she loaded in one last time. But I decided to see how Jasmine would do with the front screen open now that she was a little more used to the trailer. I didn't dare go too fast in case she jumped out. I didn't tether her in because I figured if she did decide to jump, she would be better off being able to get out of the way of the trailer. I kept glancing back at her but she never tried to get out. She just had her head sticking slightly out and she was sniffing the air.

A man in a car passed us with his window down. I waved and he said something. I think he said that there were deer on the hill. He pointed up. I looked up and kept looking up but never saw anything. I hope he said deer and not bear. He didn't seem too concerned though so I think it was deer.

I let Jasmine out once we on flat ground again and she was ready to go another few miles full steam ahead. Unfortunately for her, we were less than a mile from the car so I passed the parking lot and rode a little further before heading back. As soon as I unhooked her from the bike, she went straight to the rear door and sat down. I let her in and she laid down. I gave her a snack and she didn't move until we got home.

It was a really pretty place and I will hopefully be able to come back here a lot to ride.
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