It was June 1999. I was sitting in a booth at the Sunrise Cafe in Caldwell, sharing lunch with my dad, who had driven me the eight hours from Sandpoint to the then-Albertson College of Idaho. We were silently chewing our food and looking out the window at cars passing by on Cleveland Boulevard.
I had never been to Caldwell before. Never seen Farm City or the late-Ralph Smeed's updating billboard of libertarian chest-beating. Never smelled the indescribable funk of sugar beet processing and how it clings to your sinuses in the winter.
My stuff had been unloaded in a dorm room in Hayman Hall, with its cinder block walls and '60s-era furnishings. It was hot. Far, far hotter than North Idaho, and no bodies of water to be found--except Indian Creek, which back then probably could have been ignited by an errant cigarette butt.
"Are you sure about this?" my dad asked, looking over his glasses at me. To be honest, with a view of the sun-blasted sidewalks and chain-link fences outside, I wasn't.
In retrospect, it probably would have been reasonable to visit the campus before ransoming myself with student loans for four years in the sometimes-stinky sage of Canyon County. But if I had, and decided that I wasn't "sure about this," I wouldn't have met my wife. Wouldn't have made the connections that led to my opening a newspaper in Sandpoint. Wouldn't have this job. I certainly wouldn't have received the stellar education I did. When it comes to my adult life and nearly all the most important events in it, all roads traveled started in C-Town.
On a personal level, I have a soft spot in my heart for Canyon County, which often gets looked down on as a desperately conservative, gritty, low-income growth on the hard-charging "livability" regime of the Great State of Ada.
In this week's paper, we take a closer look at 2C, with a feature package exploring an area where Canyon County both excels and faces some of its biggest challenges: education. Starting on Page 9, find an examination of the Nampa School District's budget woes--and what it's doing to dig out from under them--as well as a profile on the institutions of higher learning, including my alma mater, where some of the state's best teachers receive their training. Plus, on Page 26, Boise Weekly food writer Tara Morgan dines in a unique restaurant that's bringing a taste of the Ukraine to Canyon County. We also review a few 2C wines, to boot.