The End of the Bucket List

Simply put, this has been one of the best and most rewarding summers of my life. At the start of the summer, I laid out four goals that I wanted to work towards in the months before I left for Austria:

  1. Bring together and spend time with people I care about.
  2. Appreciate Idaho and all the things I know I will miss.
  3. Do the things I should have done by now as an Idahoan.
  4. Don’t¬†go bankrupt in the process.

To accomplish these goals, I made a Very Idahoan Summer Bucket List. There’s a simple little quote that encapsulates my attitude¬†about adventure and¬†my list, and that is “bloom where you are planted”. It doesn’t matter where you are, how far away¬†you go,¬†or for how long, or how crazy your activity is.¬†“Adventure” is a mindset.¬†This list was about living with the intent to explore, celebrate, and appreciate your surroundings, and to share that with others. I feel like we accomplished that this summer, and it has been an journey I will always treasure.

With¬†the support of my friends and family,¬†the original list grew from around ten little ideas to more than¬†thirty adventures. I was challenged to creativity and actively seek¬†out new things to try and places to visit, and was lucky enough that the people I care about also¬†committed to my bucket list and helped me add to it.¬†Each adventure below marked with a¬†* is an adventure I didn’t plan or come up with the idea for.¬†Having the¬†input and enthusiasm of¬†the people around me has been incredibly special, and I want to thank everyone who helped me come up with ideas or who went with me on all these activities.

Here are just some of the things we got up to this summer, and when I say we I mean any combination of Molly, my mom, my dad, Charles, Alethea, Brent, Malik, Emily, Jacob, Cody, Harbor, Olivia, Vanessa, Jade, Jake, my grandmother, my grandfather, Jim, Shona, Saul, Kasie, Tawnya, Grace, Tyler, Melissa, Jessica, Jerry, and Sarah, and more!


APRIL 15 We kicked off the adventures with a mini-road trip to celebrate my being accepted into the USTA program in Austria. Talking to Molly on this adventure inspired me to write the original Very Idahoan Summer Bucket List.


MAY 25¬†We visited St. John’s Cathedral to admire the stained glass windows.


MAY 28 We got a little chilly in the Shoshone Indian Ice Caves.


JUNE 4 We brought our fiercest legging game to the Nampa Rollerdrome.


JUNE 10 We rode the motorcycle to the site of the failed Evel Knievel jump at the Snake River Canyon.


JUNE 10 We watched BASE jumpers leap from the Perrine Bridge, which was the highest bridge in the world in 1927.


JUNE 11 I flew to Seattle and back in a single day to complete my Austrian residency permit application.


JUNE 17 Boise celebrated World Refugee Day and the Pride Festival.


JUNE 23-25 We endured awful views like this in the Sawtooths.*


JUNE 27 I got first aid, CPR, and AED certified at Young Hearts Education.


JULY 8 We jumped at Jumptime.



JULY 11 We took advantage of the photos ops at Zoo Boise to recreate some old favorites.


JULY 15-16 We were adorable at the Pendleton Whiskey Fesival.*


JULY 18¬†The Snake River Stampede¬†wasn’t our first rodeo.


JULY 20 We celebrated her birthday at Aloha Tattoo, and she learned that rib tattoos are no joke.


AUGUST 6 We road tripped through the smoke to McCall just for fun.


AUGUST 10 We braved the famous habanero pizza at Flying Pie Pizzaria.


AUGUST 12 We paid Shoshone Falls a visit.*


AUGUST 12 We went to the Shoshone-Bannock Indian Festival on the Fort Hall reservation, and got very lost on the way.*


AUGUST 13 I celebrated being vegetarian for 1 year and we had a big dinner party.


AUGUST 14 We went to Roaring Springs water park after hours.*


AUGUST 19 We tried not to go overboard with Cascade Raft and Kayak.* (Professional photo by Cascade Raft and Kayak)


AUGUST 20 We had too much fun at the Western Idaho Fair.


SEPTEMBER 1 “We looked good” at the Lady Antebellum concert.*


SEPTEMBER 2 We wandered the Saturday market and got the best sandwiches in town at the Boise Co-op.


SEPTEMBER 3 We watched¬†a pre-Austria essential, “The Sound of Music”, which I had never seen.


SEPTEMBER 10 We strode in memory of Peggy to find a cure for pancreatic cancer.*

SEPTEMBER 9 We sampled eight of the Sweetest Things in Life at the STIL. 


SEPTEMBER 10 Molly and I enlisted some help in our quest for a series of truly ridiculous photos at my farewell party.


SEPTEMBER 12 We took in a performance of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” under the stars at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.

It has been one heck of a summer, and I’m thankful I got to spend it seeing and doing so many things with my favorite people. I highly recommend¬†making your own list, or just¬†remembering to¬†make adventures out of the little things as well as the big things.¬†I intend to continue on in that mindset as I start a whole new chapter of adventures on Saturday, when I move to Austria. I look forward to a whole new round of adventures, and I’ll be taking you all along with me!


All photos taken by Sandra Walker and friends unless otherwise noted. Idaho, 2017.


Western Idaho Fair

Growing up, the Western Idaho Fair was the highlight of my summer. I loved going with my family and eating fair food, riding rides, petting the animals in the petting zoo, getting my face painted, and going to the concerts. As I get older, I still love the fair just as much! I was really excited to go with one of my oldest friends, Molly, for the first time this year. We grew up together and our families were really close, but somehow she and I had never made it to the fair together.

Naturally, Molly and I wanted to experience the fair to the fullest, so we made a list of our fair goals:

1. Get our palms read.
2. Hug all the cows.
3. Get an ice cream potato for Sandy, and a funnel cake for Molly.
4. Scoop our hands into the Orbeez. (water ball things)
5. Ride a scary ride because we ain’t scared.
6. Learn to lasso.
7. Browse and consider purchasing a hot tub.
8. Say I’m not going to waste $8 on a tor-tato (tornado potato), and then do it anyway.
9. Sweat a cute amount.
10. Almost run over 10-14 10-14 year olds.
11. Rediscover my love for the water buffalo in the petting zoo.
12. Look at the corn on the cob and want it very badly but not buy it because of the atrocity of eating it in public.
13. Laugh mildly at the joke of one street performer guy who may or may not be riding a unicycle.

As you can see, we pretty much covered all our bases here, and I’m happy to report that we checked off everything on the list. The most important thing of all was that we get our palms read. This goes years back, when Molly and I decided it would be interesting to get our palms read one summer. We searched high and low, drove around, and made a ton of phone calls but simply could not find anyone in the Treasure Valley who did palm reading. We even tried to learn how to do it ourselves, but to no avail. There is always¬†a psychic at the fair, so we knew this would be our chance.

We mainly wanted to see what the psychic would get right and wrong, and have fun with it. Neither Molly nor I really believes in psychics, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t entertained by the concept of palm reading or auras or horoscopes!¬†I was up first,¬†so I placed my extraordinarily creased palms in front of the psychic. Molly has¬†just few very distinct lines on her palms, and mine look like crumpled maps, so we thought this would be very interesting. Overall, I would say that what the psychic had to say was very accurate, and a couple things especially so. She got a few key things in Molly and I’s lives that I don’t think were obvious and that were very current, so we were both impressed and very amused. It was nice to finally have it done after years of searching!


It was¬†a gorgeous day for the fair, because a lot of the smoke had cleared out of the valley and it wasn’t outrageously hot like it can be. Molly and I didn’t go to the fair by ourselves, we also had her boyfriend and two friends with us. We wandered around and basically had a grand ole time.



World’s largest horse!


I love being at the fair at sunset and into the night, just for the gorgeous views.


Our fear-facing ride was technically the swings, but I happen to really hate and fear ferris wheels. I hate heights, and the slow moving ferris wheels are like torture for me, but we made it through!


I was rewarded for enduring the terror of the ferris wheel with this view.


Behold, the ice cream potato. For those not from Idaho, this is no ordinary potato. It’s a hard frozen vanilla ice cream tumbled in cocoa powder and sliced to look like a potato. It’s one of the best parts of the fair, in my opinion. The legendary ice cream potato simply had to be on my Very Idahoan Summer Bucket List.


The Western Idaho Fair is one of the best events in the Treasure Valley each summer, and I’m so glad I got to go with my friends this year. Molly and I were the two happiest, cutest corn dogs at the fair.


Photos taken by Sandra Walker and friends. Boise, Idaho. August 2017.

White Water Adventure

They always say time flies when you are having fun, and I have been having a lot of fun this summer. Still, I cannot believe we are rapidly approaching the end of August already! Last weekend was another weekend full of Very Idahoan Summer Bucket List adventures, and today’s blog is about how my mom, step-dad Jim, and I loaded up and headed for Cascade to raft the South Fork of the Payette with Cascade Raft and Kayak.

We went rafting on Saturday, August 19th, two days before the historic total solar eclipse. We anticipated a crush of traffic, as Cascade is right on the highway that leads toward the “zone of totality” in Idaho, but found not much more than usual. That left us with plenty of time for a little exploration of the route we’d be taking.



I think this is a rapid called Staircase. We paused here for a bit to jump around the rocks,




Here are some other rafters attempting it! After our mini-recon mission, it was time to head to Cascade Raft and Kayak.


From this little headquarters we loaded onto school buses and were taken farther upriver to begin. They outfitted us with life jackets and helmets, we listened to a crash course in river safety, and off we went! Our guide was Gary, and he was really nice. Overall, it was a pleasant day on the river, and the rapids were fun and a bit more challenging than the last rafting trip we had taken a few years ago. I highly recommend booking a trip with Cascade Raft and Kayak, because they were lovely to work with the whole trip!


Here is a pro shot by the photographer at Cascade Raft. All image rights go to the photographer.


Photos taken by Sandra Walker and Cristen Iris unless otherwise noted. Cascade/Banks/Horseshoe Bend, Idaho. August 2017.

How Many Scovilles?

I love spicy food.

About 3 months into studying abroad in Germany, a land of the mild food, my friends and I were suffering. We missed all things hot. Then, one of my friends received the greatest care package of all time: a box containing two large jars of Frank’s Red Hot sauce. We quickly arranged a little dinner party, and my friend made a spicy chicken dip that basically consisted of shredded chicken, Frank’s Red Hot, cream cheese, and butter. We sat around the table and took turns eating directly out of the pot with our forks, and I remember vividly how great it was to have something spicy again and how hilarious it was that it didn’t even occur to us to use plates until we had consumed the entire pot.

So yeah, I really love everything spicy, and the hotter the better. When I was putting together my summer bucket list, I knew I would have to go to Flying Pie Pizzaria. Flying Pie is a local pizza place that is beloved in the Treasure Valley, and I’m a bad Idahoan for having not been already. Onto the bucket list it went, but I didn’t just want to eat any old pizza. I knew Flying Pie had an August special: the Habanero pizza. I grabbed my spicy food partner in crime, Molly, and off we went.


First, there are a few things you should know about “Habanero¬†Season” and the pizzas they offer at Flying Pie. All of this information is paraphrased from Flying Pie’s website, which I will provide the link for below.

  1. These habanero peppers are supposedly spicier than the ones you can usually purchase at the grocery store.
  2. There are three versions of the pizza: Single, Double, and Triple Habanero.
  3. Single means about 6 habaneros, double is about 12, and triple is about 18.
  4. This pizza was once featured on Man vs. Food.

Molly and I didn’t read the website very carefully, so we selected the modest¬†“Single” option. Molly has a lower tolerance for spicy food than I do, but we still often add two habaneros in when we cook. Had we realized it was only 6 habaneros for an entire pizza we would have leveled up! Here is the pizza:



The standard pizza comes with chicken, which we obviously had omitted. In the red lighting of the restaurant it is hard to tell, but the top of the pizza is littered with little habanero pieces. This was an exciting moment, and Molly and I braced ourselves for the worst. We took our first bites, and…….nothing. After about two slices, Molly was definitely feeling the burn, and after three she had downed her glass of water and mine. After my three slices I was totally fine. My nose didn’t even run! Turns out, we regularly cook spicier food at home than this pizza was.

I was a little disappointed, and wish we had at least gone for the double, but it was still¬†fun and a good pizza! That’s the 17th thing I’ve crossed off of my Very Idahoan Summer Bucket List, and it was worth it. As the summer is slowly winding down, I still have a bunch of adventures on the calendar, so stay tuned!


Flying Pie Pizzaria:

Photos taken by Sandra Walker. August 2017.


Where There’s Smoke…

We aren’t threatened with many natural disasters here in Idaho.¬†We get¬†a minor flood here and there, the occasional tremor of an earthquake, and one tornado watch when I was a kid. The one thing we have to be very aware of is wildfire. As I write this, wildfires in northern Idaho, Canada, and Oregon are raging and filling the Pacific Northwest with a thick haze of smoke. It’s so bad that an orange air quality alert has been issued for Boise, meaning that those who are particularly sensitive to air quality may suffer more serious effects, but all are advised to stay inside. Smoke tends to linger in the valley, so¬†this weekend my friend Molly and I decided to take a trip up and out of the valley into McCall, Idaho.

We had expected the air to be clearer in McCall, as it so often is when Boise is plagued by the dreaded “inversion”. As we drove further into the mountains, we realized that would not be the case. In fact, McCall is under a red alert for air quality, meaning that not only those sensitive to air quality could experience serious negative side effects from being outside. Sure enough, by the end of our mini road trip both Molly and I had headaches and felt vaguely ill. The whole journey we couldn’t help but remark on how awful the air looked, and how weird it was to not be able to see the foothills and mountains clearly.


Actually from the night before the trip to McCall, this is the sun setting through the smoke in Boise.




Molly and her gorgeous hair. You should be able to see so much further!




This is Payette Lake in McCall. It’s so eerie when the smoke and the water blend together.

Despite the poor air quality, Molly and I had a nice little day trip. We wandered around the little shops, petted as many dogs as owners would let us, had a nice lunch, and goofed around on the beaches. It was nice to see McCall again before I go, and it was one of the little adventures I had planned on my Very Idahoan Summer Bucket List. I suppose the smoke just made it more typical of an Idahoan summer.


Aside from the little McCall trip, I also have been hanging out with family and friends this past week. Last night was the Bachelorette finale (boo) which I enjoyed watching with Molly and her boyfriend, as well as Grandmother. I also got to swim and have dinner with my aunt and cousins this weekend.

IMG_2659Reagan and I, the oldest and youngest grandchildren.

I’ve also been working on some photography skills. I usually like to take wide shots of landscapes, but I’ve been trying to get better at some more detailed shots, and with the macro setting on my camera. Here are just some shots of smaller objects that¬†I liked, coincidentally mostly of flowers and bugs.


The water lily in our backyard pond.


Lucy ‚̧


Just taking a little swim.


That wraps up the adventures for last week, but I have a few special things planned for this week that I can’t wait to share….


Photos taken by Sandra Walker. McCall, Idaho. August 2017.

The Snake River Stampede

No, this wasn’t my first rodeo. In fact, this is my third time at the Snake River Stampede! ¬†I¬†knew I had to get a little bit of the Wild West onto my Very Idahoan Bucket List, and what says Western more than a good ole rodeo?


Snacks in hand and ready for some rodeo!



These are three world champions, but I forget in which events. It’s interesting to me that the people who compete in rodeos have to travel so much! They basically travel like rock stars on world tours, taking their animals around all over and competing in different rodeos every weekend. There’s a certain kind of glamour at the rodeo that fascinates me.


A bucking bronco! This will be a short post, because¬†I didn’t take many photos at the rodeo. Kudos to rodeo photographers, because every event is unpredictable and the subjects are always moving fast,¬†but only¬†for about 10 seconds!¬†I decided it was better to live in the moment and enjoy the show and leave the photography to the professionals.


This is perhaps the most Idahoan thing I’ve ever seen, so let’s break this down. That is a cowboy. The horse was previously wild, and was tamed and trained by that cowboy, who also trained those two herding mutts you see there on the hood of that old fashioned car. So he trained that horse to sit down in that car, and to ride around the arena.¬†It’s a lot to take in.

That’s about all I’ve got to share about the rodeo, but I had a really good time and it was nice to hang out with my dad. Otherwise I have just been working, organizing more summer bucket list adventures, and getting everything set up for Austria. I’m really excited to¬†finally have my Austrian address! I know exactly where I’ll be living and teaching now. I’m starting to slowly pack my things, which is turning out to be way more of a challenge than when I packed for Germany. I thought it would be easier since I have a full size suitcase this time instead of a backpack, but nope. Everything I have to bring just takes so much space!

Coming up on my Very Idahoan Summer Bucket List: my friends and I will take on the Flying Pie Habe√Īero pizza, and I am hosting a big dinner party to celebrate being vegetarian for an entire year!

Thanks for reading!



Photos taken by Sandra Walker, July 2017. Boise, Idaho

Party in Pendleton

A few months ago, my best friend Alethea called me up and asked if I wanted to join a trip with her dad and his girlfriend to see Maroon 5 at the Pendleton Whisky Music Festival. Oh, and it would be free. Um, yes, of course, sign me up. Last weekend had basically everything I enjoy the most: time with Alethea, road trips, concerts, food, and new experiences.


Saturday morning we set out on the easy road trip to¬†Pendleton, which is only a few hours away from Boise. It’s not difficult to understand how we get massive wildfires every summer when you see how dry all the brush is in the hills! I don’t usually head further West on my road trips, so when we got to the hotel I was shocked that it seemed to just appear and exist in the middle of nowhere. You look out the window and there is nothing but low hills in every direction. I imagine it’s quite a sight in winter!

We stayed at the Wildhorse Resort and Casino on the Umatilla Reservation. I always like new experiences, and this was my first time on a reservation and at a casino. Alethea and I had planned to at least try to cash in on our beginner’s luck at a slot machine or something, and we wandered around the casino for a while. Eventually we decided the casino was too overwhelming for us and we wandered out without placing a single bet.


Having failed to win big at the casino, we popped up to the room to get done up for the evening and for a glass of wine before dinner. We were treated to an amazing dinner at the Plateau in the resort. As a vegetarian, I have noticed that fancy restaurants usually aren’t worth bothering with because most of their fancy and expensive dishes are so expensive because of the steak and seafood in every entr√©e. At the Plateau, they had a total of zero vegetarian entrees, but I was able to get a pasta without the meat elements and it was actually very impressive for a simple alfredo! I don’t know¬†what makes¬†the sauce so tasty, but I suspect I’d rather not know.


The view from the restaurant.

After dinner it was time for the main event: the Pendleton Whisky Music Fest. Maroon 5 headlined the music festival, and it was a great performance! You can’t tell from the photo, but the venue was huge! The festival was held at the Pendleton Round Up grounds, which apparently is known for the grass arena and for being huge.


After only one night in Pendleton, it was time to head back. We had a slight detour on the way home though, and we stopped by the Sumpter Nugget in the town of Sumpter to visit Alethea’s uncle. The Sumpter Nugget just so happens to be a marijuana dispensary, which is legal in Oregon. Here’s Alethea and I looking very entertained after a brief lesson in all things weed.


Entertaining, but I like my drug-free life as is. We joked about the weekend as a weekend of vices- alcohol, gambling, food, and weed- but we stuck to the food and drink only. After that quick stop we headed back through the hills to Boise.


Since we still liked each other after spending a whole weekend together, Alethea and I decided we should check out the grand opening of a new ice cream parlor in downtown Boise. We picked up her husband and headed to “The STIL”, which stands for the Sweetest Things in Life. I had a scoop of Huckleberry Lavender, and I was really impressed and would definitely go back! It was a sweet end to a fun weekend adventure.

Things may have been quiet here on the blog the past two weeks, but they have been anything but quiet for me. My brother has been in town on leave from the Army, so in the last two weeks we had several family dinners with both sides of the family, we went to the zoo, we went to Jumptime, we celebrated the 4th of July, the family came together to send of my cousin to the Navy, I got to hang out with my friend Olivia at last, my friend Emily and I went to 1st Thursday downtown to hang out and¬†practice German, and last night I watched the Game of Thrones premiere with my dad and his girlfriend’s family. It has been a great couple of weeks, but¬†having¬†plans almost every evening for two weeks straight is exhausting. The fun isn’t slowing down any time soon though, so stay tuned for more summer adventures!


P.S. Less than two months to go until Austria!