BEST REASON TO BEAT UP A SPECTATOR AT THE BOISE OPEN
Last year's tour stop was a momentous one, as 13-year-old golf wunderkind Michelle Wie out-drove pros twice her age in her first ever men's tour event. If only she wasn't visibly distracted by the dozens of cell-phone rings that erupted far too often from the careless Boise crowd, then the nationally-covered event would have gone off without a hitch. Just remember, as modern cells get smaller and sleeker, they also get easier to cram into people's ... pockets.
BEST PUBLIC POOL
Boise's children have a bounty of public pools and private athletic facilities to choose from when they want to cool their tootsies, but none of these slick, modern joints have the charm of Lowell Pool. From the ground, it looks like a giant art-deco sardine can, like an above ground pool for the Hilton's. From poolside, it has the appeal of feeling suspended somehow above the earth, and despite its size, the water is usually less crowded than the bigger "ce-ment ponds."
BEST SPORT YOU DIDN'T KNOW WAS STILL A SPORT
In those heady, white-nosed days of the 1970s, foosball professionals were able to pull down in excess of $300,000 merely by manipulating little plastic soccer players. While Atari and Nintendo may have permanently buried that dream under a steaming pile of Donkey Kong, foosball is currently in the middle of a rather impressive renaissance throughout the Northwest. The $12,000 Utah State Championship may be the regional pinnacle, but nostalgic foosers looking for an outlet need only head over to the Crescent "No Lawyers" Grill and Bar on Monday nights to find a handful of Idaho's most dedicated wrist-letes competing for small purses and big bragging rights. Bring your own quarters ...
BEST WAY TO RUIN THE OUTDOORS
Bring the Indoors to the Outdoors
Okay people ... if there's one thing we simply cannot abide (besides obscene callers who don't send flowers), it's the kind of people who bring the bulk of their earthly possessions along on a "camping" trip. How are you camping if you have a fully functional bio-sphere/motor-home with running water, beds, a sound system, bowling lanes, a boutique and a karaoke bar? Heaven forbid you should set foot outside of the beast and actually breathe some fresh air! And what's with the caravan of trailers pulling all manner of noisy off-road equipment? We prefer to commune with Mother Nature, not shove a hot poker up her ass.
BEST FRENZIED EQUIPMENT EXCHANGE
BBSRA's Annual Ski Swap
There are quite a few opportunities to sell and buy used gear for everything from kayaking to-well, maybe there aren't that many. But of the few big events, The Ski Swap sponsored by Bogus Basin Ski Racing Alliance held every November at the fairground, is the most anticipated and worth the wait in line, the elbow-checking and the way other shoppers burst into your changing tent while you're squeezing into a spandex racing suit. The selection is vast, with skis, boots, poles, boards, gear and other stuff, all of which has been priced really low. There are local snow folks around in case you need some advice, and you can walk away with an entire ski package for less than $200.
BEST PLACE TO TAKE A DOG
Foothills Off-Leash Areas
After watching a golden retriever from New York play fetch on a leash in a mountain lake because apparently, dogs are not allowed unrestrained, we gained a new appreciation for the foothills off-leash areas. They weave through sagebrush, rolling hills and muddy creek beds, perfect for safari-style fetch and between play refreshment (for the dogs, that is). But don't bring your jaw locking, trained-to-attack meanies or ankle biting dust mops doubling as dogs. Take your big (and little) sweeties and let 'em run, fetch and sniff canine tail, but be a good friend, and pick up what comes out the end.
BEST IDIOTIC SPORT
Cooler Riding at the Riggins Rodeo
The Riggins Rodeo crowd should be proud of the fact that they managed to invent something super sadistic/stupid before the guys from Jackass could get it on TV. This "sport" consists of A) a severely drunk individual holding a can of PBR B) a very, very, very steep dirt hillside above the rodeo grounds C) a plastic cooler that (hopefully) has been emptied of its contents. What follows is usually a hush as the drunken individual holds the cooler above his head before slamming it into the hillside and jumping on. Starting points vary depending on the bravery/blood alcohol level of the rider, and the spectacle as he flips, skids and rolls down the hill is absolutely unmatched.
BEST ARCADE GAME
Sega Bass Fishing
We're not sure who still has this game in the area, but it's the best time we've ever had catching fish on a screen. First of all, the graphics are stellar. It's obvious that a lot of time was spent in the Sega Nerdery studying bass markings, movements and behaviors. There is also great detail in the lures, casting mechanism, shadows, and our all-time favorite bonus-an actual reel with a corresponding tension gauge to let you know if your whopper is about to snap the line! The action is so realistic that it's hard not to hoot and holler as you bring in fish after fish. And just like real fishing, you can even catch an old boot.
BEST PLACE TO STEP IN GOOSE SHIT
Any city park in town
Geese, like people, tend to relieve themselves in comfortable surroundings. Let's face it, there's no better place to "go" than one's home turf. If you've been paying attention at all, you should have noticed that our city parks are packed with these feathered friends. (But remember this: the Boise River system was home to geese long before it was home to city folk-we are the invaders.) And, where birds of a feather flock together, there will be feces. As you pick your way from parking lot to picnic area, try and remind yourself that stepping in goose shit is just another perk of living in Boise.
BEST SOAP OPERA
Les Bois Racetrack
And they're off! Wait. No they aren't. Hey? Who pulled our liquor license? Can someone please get the HBPA off our backs? Manure piles? Where? We don't see no stinkin' manure piles. Yes, that's the way we intended the infield landscaping to look. No, he doesn't work here as an official employee, he just sort of volunteers and helps out, because he's my husband. Our books are in perfect in order, take a look. What? An audit? Absolutely unnecessary. But we have nothing to hide. New owners? Who?
BEST PLACE TO GO FISHING
Pete Zimowsky's Front Yard
Ha, don't think you'll find any honey-holes here. After witnessing too many "Owyhee Rivers" go from enjoyable to "great fishing, but bring your own rock" because everyone's favorite daily paper keeps spilling the beans, we propose the following "Idaho Outdoors Improvement Project": Bring your rock-throwing kids, loud obnoxious wife and your brother-in-law with his Red Hills Brothers can o' worms and put your name in a hat. Every day, we'll draw a few names, the most rowdy of which will show up at Pete Zimowsky's (and the "other guy's") house in the morning. The plan is this: Follow them to all their secret spots as they try to "escape from it all" and obnoxiousize. Stand right next to them, cast over their shoulders and loudly exclaim: "Whooee! It's hot out here. Think I'll take a dip." If they hole up inside, no worries, just dig a hole, fill it with hose water and throw your line in with the biggest, ugliest spinner you have-that, or a can of corn chowder. Just e-mail the Statesman and get directions to Zimowsky (and pal)'s front door. They'll love it.
BEST CAMPING, KAYAKING, HIKING, RUNNING, CLIMBING, FISHING, HUNTING, CYCLING
The Whole Damn State
BEST BOW SHOP
Idaho Outdoor Outfitters
They have everything. Not the kind of everything that is boxes and boxes of the same thing and whatever widgets have the highest profit margins, but the best stuff because it is the best. These guys know what they're talking about. They go out of their way to help you get what you need and make sure you leave with your bow tuned, your gear in order, and they won't charge you to breathe or go to the bathroom. And if you see a guy making bowstrings, venture over and say hi, you'll most likely have a good laugh.
BEST HUNTING GEAR
A Great Pack Job
A well-thought-out pack is worth its weight (or lack thereof) in gold. It should be comfortable, light yet fully stocked and most importantly-quiet. Doing a crazy hippie-like body jive in a sporting goods store to listen for excessive noise is always a good idea, and it can also be entertaining for the surrounding shoppers. Make sure to have more than enough emergency gear in case you get fiercely confused (lost) when you are trekking through the woods. After all, nobody wants to be infamous for spooning with a buddy "to keep warm" all night when you are lost 10 feet from the trail ... Zing!!
BEST WAY TO GET INTO FLY FISHING
Find a Friend
Everyone was a newbie at one time, a fact that some of the pretentious fly shop personas around town tend to forget. If you were recently exposed to the sport and see some "pro" with pictures of himself holding giant fish lining his wall, dear God, don't buy into his idea that a $600 rod and $400 reel will make learning easier. Seek out a fly fishing club or ask around for advice. A spendy rod looks and feels just as ugly as a cheapy when the line is mummifying your upper body. Find a patient fly-fisherman and ask for lessons, but be prepared to hear answers like: "Good luck with that," "I'd like to teach you ... but I'm not going to," or the more straightforward, "Fuck off." Don't be discouraged. Someday, you'll be the one grimacing and repeating it's a four-count rhythm from 10-to-2.
BEST SUMMER TRAFFIC GRIDLOCK
Boise River Tubers
We once tried fishing the Boise River on a warmish day in July. Bad idea. Every other cast ended up perilously close to some drunk dude in a tube. When your city river looks like the Jersey Turnpike at rush hour, there's a problem. On a particularly busy weekend, it is possible to walk across the river on the sunburned stomachs of river tubers. We understand that tubing the river is one of the last, true moments of summer recreation bliss left for people with inner tubes [see: Best Spontaneous Winter Sport with Fascist Tendencies]. Still, can we please have some tubing decorum? Please?
BEST SPONTANEOUS WINTER SPORT WITH FASCIST TENDENCIES
Pepsi Goldrush Tubing Hill
Wha? In the early days of snow tubing, it was customary, nay, obligatory, to just pull off the side of the road with a big ol' truck inner tube and go nuts. It was cold, it was wet, and it was fun. Most of all, though, it was free. But the jack-booted thugs that run the snow-crusted mountain just north of town have taken a perfectly good, cheap and spontaneous winter thrill and exploited it-with corporate soda jerks as sponsors. Fascist pigs! When you are encouraged to make reservations to tube a hill, something has gone horribly awry with society. There's also a child height restriction. Worst of all: you have to buy a ticket with a specifically scheduled two-hour time slot! A ticket for tubing! Scheduled time slot! Brothers and Sisters, we say, not just "no" but "hell no." Let the revolution begin!
BEST PLACE FOR POSEUR CYCLISTS
We see you leaning oh so nonchalantly against the outside benches on your new $2,400 titanium Tommaso, bike shorts and shirt all shiny and new, feet securely ensconced in your Sidi Ergo shoes. You look great with your shaved legs and your dual water bottles. Did you win your race? Of course not ... because there is no race! It's just another Saturday afternoon pizza stop. Just because you wear the gear doesn't make you a racer. But pretending that you are a racer does make you a loser. Keep pedaling, poseur.
BEST FOOTBALL TEAM WITHIN EASY DRIVING DISTANCE
Boise State Broncos
The kick-butt Broncos, who proved this year-in no uncertain terms-that those pitiful Vandals have no business in the same stadium with Coach Hawkins' blue and orangesters. In fact, as a U of I grad myself, this writer would happily volunteer to go to Moscow and suggest to those U of I eggheads that they ought to quit pretending there's a real football team associated with their university ... just as soon as Boise State quits pretending there's a real university associated with their football team.
BEST DEATH MARCH GOLF COURSE
Really, we mean it as a compliment. Only this immaculate championship course in Kuna could ever challenge Boise's Quail Hollow as the most miserable course to walk in the sweltering summer heat. A golf cart isn't just an option here, it is something that you either utilize, or get carried to the ambulance in. Why do we pay for the misery, you ask? Until you taste that pint waiting at the 19th hole, you'll never understand.
The problem with most waterslides is that after waiting for 20 minutes to see the mouth, you hop on and in a flash there's a rush of agua up the nose. Frankly, the longer the waterslide ride, the better. And the longest, bestest is the Natatorium Hydrotube on Warm Springs. It's so long you may even get a little slide burn on your lower spine. That's like this year's branding.
BEST FREE PLACE FOR YOUTH TO GAME
You betcha, the foosball at Fort Boise's teen activity center is fabulously free for Boise students ages 12 to 17 who can flash a student ID on their way in. Fort Boise's teen center is also equipped with air hockey, ping pong, pool table and computers which makes for a more than satisfactory afternoon 'o good, clean, coin-free fun. Teens can drop in from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 to 11 p.m. on Friday nights. On Friday nights, there is also open gym time to play basketball and volleyball and access to the computer lab, weight room and art classes.
BEST POTENTIAL NEW MOUNTAIN
Ada County Landfill
Imagine a mountain high pile of refuse that cascades down into a sandy beach dotted with dirty diapers. Now, imagine yourself at the summit, pushing off an upturned washing machine, schussing down the slope of garbage, traversing moguls of shredded tires and old sofas. When the snow flies, the county landfill becomes a winter wonderland of waste. A bit closer to town than Bogus, the dump offers a chance to ski without all the crowds, the lift tickets, or the traffic hassle (though you may have to wait for the occasional BFI truck to clear the runs). The best part: each season, the summit gains altitude. Think trash!