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Excerpts of Idaho Travel Diary
State 16 - IDAHO 26 OCT 98 - 31 OCT 98

 

Getting fit for life

It's not hard enough that I try to be a healthy cook on the road, baking my own bread and all, but now I'm trying the "Fit for Life" diet, based on the popular book that claims a person should not eat starches and proteins together because starches need acid to digest and proteins need alkaline. Eat them together and -- Trouble! - -they nullify each other and the food "putrefies in the stomach,"preventing proper digestion and causing gas, bloating and other unpleasantness and discourtesies. Dairy foods are also prohibited. To adhere to this plan, then, means . . . . No meat-and-potato dishes. (What about Thanksgiving? Oh no!.) No pizza. No sandwiches. No bread & cheese and wine picnics. No cereal and milk. We try this insanity for a while, then go back to our old way of eating, as a control test. We were really hoping to prove the book wrong, but instead we are now converts, albeit reluctant converts, to "Fit for Life." Quite a challenge to the on-the-road cook. Especially this ardent cookbook collector -- all books now rendered useless. For every recipe in every cookbook combines the dreaded coupling of starches and proteins. The acceptable combination, according to "Fit for Life," is veggies & starches, (i.e., salad and bread) or protein & veggies (i.e., steak and salad.) But never, ever, protein and starches. Now, tonight I really want spaghetti and meatballs. But no can do. The pair will spar in my tummy like prized pugilists. Ken, the vegetable lover, suggests shredded carrots in place of spaghetti. The suggestion is carried out. Weird. Totally weird. But colorful.

What's the point?

Pass the Boise public library today. Can't miss it. Big shiny chrome letters on a tall building shout "Library!" (exclamation point included.) What's with the exclamation point? Usually exclamation marks are used to show emphasis, surprise, or to accompany an imperative sentence. Now, why did the library directors choose to incur the added expense for the exclamation point? Ken and I discuss this at length (an example of the depth of discussions between two people together 24-hours a day/365 days a year). Perhaps the company supplying the letters to the library said, "Hey. I've got an extra exclamation point here in the back room. Same typeface. I'll throw it in for ya -- Free." Or, maybe the library wants to make the point that it's imperative to read. Whatever the reason, the exclamation point is included on all library listings in the tourist brochures and city maps. Like this:

City Hall
Post Office
Library!
Statehouse
History Museum

We think this is quite odd. Will now start noticing if other localities do this too.

Go to jail

Go to jail today. Actually, to the old 1870 Idaho State Penitentiary, now a Historic Site and tourist spot. Am eager to see this jail because the brochure says that the inmates built much of it themselves with local sandstone from "Table Rock," located behind the site. What intrigues me even more is that the inmates also planted and maintained a rose garden that tourists can see on the grounds today. Well, this place exceeds my expectations. It looks more like a castle than a prison. It's got turrets and facades and a charming formal courtyard lined with the roses. The buildings: the laundry room, the cellblocks, the gallows, are all extremely interesting. But what grips me most, and still won't let go of me, is the Women's prison and the stories of its early inmates. For example, one woman reportedly killed her husband, saying, "this is the last time you'll ever hit me, John." The plaque says that in those days (the great Victorian era), it was a man's "natural right" to beat his wife for "disciplinary purposes." In fact, the wall plaque continues, a man could beat his wife with a stick, so long as the stick was "not thicker than his thumb." So this woman, seven months pregnant at the time, killed her husband and went to jail. The first woman in the new jail. The authorities didn't know what to do with her. They hadn't planned on a female criminal. (Evidently her husband failed to "discipline" her adequately.) So she was placed with the men, but in a cell of her own. Two months later, she gave birth. The baby was taken from her and given to a local family to raise. Later, when she reported to the Warden that she was pregnant again, she was forced to have an abortion. The wall plaque doesn't explain how she got pregnant again. Was she raped? Did she have a lover? Don't know. Another woman was imprisoned for forgery. Said it was the "only way to survive." That's just two of the many interesting cases in the women's prison. Unlike men, women prisoners didn't have a mess hall; they had to prepare their own meals. And they didn't get uniforms, either; they had to make their own clothes.I walk away feeling so sad for these women who had such few options open to them, and I feel relieved to live in this generation.

Beans . . .

The Idaho State Museum gift store sells a cookbook on Idaho bean recipes. (Beans? Shouldn't it be potatoes?) It's called "Idaho's Favorite Bean Recipes." Legumes are the most underused food today, I believe, so I purchase the cookbook, hoping it will expand my trailer cooking repertoire and help with the rigid, "Fit for Life" diet. First recipe is tried today. (Well, actually last night because beans have to soak overnight, which takes some advance planning. And a darned good memory, too.) The recipe is Chili Soup and it's a fabulous success. Tastes very Mexican. Very meaty, too, even though no meat is in it. The only thing is, as Ken moans, "It cries for corn chips!" It does. But corn chips not allowed. Eating this way is quite difficult. It's like trying to enter the door of a cinema just as the movie lets out. Society is moving the opposite way I want to go. All recipes, all restaurants, everything I know about food puts starches and proteins together. Will I stick with "Fit for Life" or will I succumb to the Twinkie in me?

Ken meets the Lt. Governor . . .

Ken returns to the statehouse today to see if he can capture some better pictures. I stay home and write the website travel tips. Later, Ken walks in the RV and says, "The Lt. Governor says Hi." Seems that while Ken was at the Capitol shooting away he decided to visit the Gov. But Governor Batt not in. The Lt. Governor, C.L. "Butch" Otter, was in and came out to meet Ken. A real nice guy. Everyone there very friendly. I ask Ken if he asked the Gov's office to explain why the library has an exclamation point. He says it didn't occur to him to ask. Though he did manage to get a picture of himself and Butch together.

Trick and treat

Halloween is here. The anniversary of our first date 13 years ago. Our favorite holiday. But no costume party this year. No celebration. This year we spend the day as strangers in a strange state, taking care of monstrous problems. Problems with just about everything, but mostly the computer. Head crashes and other technological violence. Gremlins and goblins abound in the trailer, too. Yuch. A dim and dreary day that is very UN-Halloweenish. But I do manage to buy a mask at the grocery store. The "Scream" mask, and a giant-sized Butterfinger candy bar for a treat later. Get home and squeeze the child-sized sock-mask over my adult head while still in the truck, so Ken won't see my ruse. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze the tight thing over my head like a too-tight turtleneck. Ugh. Mask is on snugly. Quietly slip out of the truck, carefully crawl below the windows of the RV and knock on door to scare the innocent and unsuspecting Ken inside. No good. He saw me in the truck wrestling with the mask. Saw the whole lame idea. Oh well, at least the Butterfinger is good. Even though I really wanted a Bolster bar, because at Craters of the Moon this week, some of the landscape looked like a broken up Bolster bar. So I've wanted one ever since. But I guess they don't make 'em anymore. Or maybe it's a regional candy bar that's only distributed in New England. Butterfinger is close enough. Tonight I get an Email from Susan back home telling me she's getting ready for Halloween and remembering all the Halloweens we spent together as kids, recalling to me how we'd map out the neighborhood months in advance to get the best treats in the shortest distance, in the shortest amount of time. The Email really hurts. I want to go home. I want to spend Halloween with my buddies. I want to get sick on candy corn in the company of other costumed kooks. Boo.

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