I wore this t-shirt yesterday for the first time and just LOVE the sentiment. Eliza and I found it at Cotton On in Salt Lake City. As I wear it in the future, it will remind me of all the great cities we’ve seen that I’ve always dreamed of, and all the incredible people we’ve met in those cities, and through this blog. Life is good.
Nate and Eliza hanging out on Tablerock and checking out the Boise foothills. It was a hot hike up to the top! Ryan grew up nearby and Carrie does it all the time, but it was the first time for the rest of us. The view was worth the hike!
After a picnic lunch in the park, we walked through the Nature Center. Nate was the only mature enough to take this photo and not be in it. We’ve seen cutouts all over the country, but never of owls – so funny!
The night before we were able to hug Carrie’s side of the family, and tonight we hugged some of Ryan’s siblings and his dear parents. Just the nicest people ever and we wish they all lived next door. They were all grateful for Dan’s sacrifice and were kind about saying so. For Dan it wasn’t a sacrifice though, it was a gift he was glad to give. Seeing Ryan with his family made Dan’s kidney donation to Ryan even more poignant.
Another fun day in Boise; we’re exhausted!
Carrie and I were up early to exercise at her incredible gym, Shine Fitness, with 8 other ladies who value a good workout. Angela, the owner, was kind enough to allow me to attend her class at no charge, and gave me a wonderful t-shirt to remember them all by. It was a great, hard workout and they couldn’t have been more welcoming. Perfect way to start the week!
After a fun lunch at Big City, we all headed over to yet another bike shop to try to buy a tire for my recumbent bike. Lucky me, Dan was able to fix my flat months ago, but the replacement tube we had for this flat was too big for the tire – even though they were both 20’s. We didn’t know it needed to be a European 20, 406. Now we know!
Our next stop was the Boise State Capitol and here we are in front of Idaho’s replica of the Liberty Bell. Every state has one, with some being easy to find like this one, and others being hidden away. We weren’t able to take a tour of the capitol because you have to make reservations two weeks in advance, and I hadn’t done so because we never even suspected that we would have to. No other capitol we had been to required that! We wandered around on our own, however, which was just fine. Our LAST capitol of the trip and because we’d had an excellent tour in Salt Lake, we knew much of the area’s history.
Our LAST capitol, doesn’t seem possible. We’ve toured: Sacramento, CA, Phoenix, AZ, Austin, TX, Little Rock, AR, Nashville, TN, St. Paul, MN, Madison, WI, Montpelier, VT, Concord, NH, (we tried at Boston, MA, and Providence, RI), Washington, D.C., Richmond, VA, Jackson, MS, Little Rock, AR, Oklahoma City, OK, Denver, CO, Santa Fe, NM, Salt Lake City, UT and finally Boise, ID.
Sacramento is the most impressive, inside and out, and we thought it was funny that the tour guide said Arnold’s governor’s portrait wasn’t hanging in the capitol yet because Maria wouldn’t give it to him. Phoenix was dirty, small and sad, but their outdoor mall was really well done. Austin was huge and fun because we toured with friends. Little Rock was forgettable – so much so that we made plans to go back the next year when we went through because none of us remembered that we had been there before! Nashville had school tours going on, so we cut our tour short for the sake of sanity. We’ve always liked St. Paul for its history, location and view. Madison was another favorite. Right in the middle of town, they are so progressive that they have their farmers market on the grounds on Saturday and the place was hopping inside and out. The tour of tiny Montpelier was excellent from start to finish and the capitol is beautiful. You can skip Concord if you’re in the area, ick. Boston was closed for some strange, unusual reason, and Providence was closed for Victory Day, which we’d never heard of. They are the only state to still celebrate this day on the second Monday in August- Victory over Japan.
I’m a little biased about the nation’s capitol and I think everyone should visit! I loved seeing it again, and even with all the security changes, it’s a magical place. The story of our history depicted in the building and on the hill is incredible.
You can skip Richmond, too. Our guide thought Virginia was the only state in the nation and continually referred to everything as “we are #1” in this and that. It got to be a little bit much. The capitol served as headquarters for the Confederate Army, too, but the building itself isn’t noteworthy and they’ve done a weird visitors center underneath it.
Eliza and I toured Jackson one Saturday afternoon after washing the dogs, so we were filthy. We didn’t expect it to be open, then didn’t expect to be let inside. They were in a special session. We didn’t stay long, so I would go back someday for the full tour. Plus, I NEED to see the Sweet Potatoe Queen Parade.
Once again, Little Rock wasn’t memorable, but worth an hour to see the statue of the Little Rock 9 on the outdoor campus. Oklahoma City was the only capitol to have a working oil rig on the grounds, which is so appropriate for their area. Beautiful remodel on the inside. We’ve always liked the Denver capitol for its history, location, and the famous step outside which is one mile above sea level. The funny part is that different groups keep measuring and so they move the marker!
The Santa Fe capitol looks like any other corporate building from the outside, so we weren’t sure we were in the right place. It is in the shape of the Zia Sun Symbol, which is a circle with four points radiating outward. It is also on their state flag, too. It represents:
-the earth, with its four directions,
-the year, with its four seasons,
-the day, with sunrise, noon, evening, and night, and
-life, with its four divisions—childhood, youth, manhood, and old age
We had to make an appointment, but we called the same day and got one for an hour later. Our guide was a college student who was working there for the summer and was able to answer every question we had. Santa Fe is famous for its art and the capitol has over $6 million worth hanging on its walls. We could have spent a week and not seen it all. They are juried in and most of the art is by famous local artists. It’s the best art we’ve seen anywhere on the trip.
Salt Lake was a nice tour and a great view from their hill. Their remodel and earthquake prepping is amazing in its scope and expenditure. So Boise was fun because we toured with Ryan and Carrie and the kids.
We’ve been looking forward to spending time with Ryan and Carrie’s family for months! We finally got to meet their adorable daughters in person when they came to the RV for dinner. Dan donated a kidney to Ryan on July 2, 2012. Carrie is Dan’s cousin, Ryan is her husband. Dan’s mom and Carrie’s mom are sisters. It’s a miracle that the donation came together as it did, and this was the first time we were able to celebrate Ryan’s health and Dan’s donation together.
In 2012, Dan had started the process to donate a kidney anonymously. For years, he had wanted to give this gift. There are over 80,000 people on the waiting list for a kidney, so we knew it wouldn’t take long. Meanwhile, in Boise, Ryan’s kidneys were failing and he was going to be put on dialysis, waiting for a kidney. Carrie posted a prayer request online that Dan’s mom Helen forwarded to him and after Dan read it, he told his mom he would start looking into the chance that his kidney might be a match for Ryan. When Dan and Carrie talked on the phone the next day, it was the first time they had met! They are cousins, but Carrie is much younger and they had lived in different states their whole lives, so had never met. Ryan and Carrie then had to decide if they wanted Dan to start testing, as you can only test one donor at a time. Ryan has many siblings, but for health reasons, two of them were already unable to donate. In Ryan’s case, a sibling’s kidney might end up with the same damage as his own because his body would attack it, too.
Once they decided yes, Dan finished his testing in Bend and a date was set for all of us to be in Seattle. It all went very fast. We cancelled a vacation to Yosemite, and instead spent my 50th birthday literally running from doctor to doctor to make sure Dan was cleared to donate. We had a scare when spots were found on his lungs and had to make the informed decision that it wasn’t cancer, and many doctors agreed. (It was probably calcium deposits from inhaling grain dust and other things growing up on the farm in Iowa.) Still so scary that he was risking his life for someone else and might have health problems of his own.
But we were praying constantly. For guidance. For peace about the decision and the timing. For Dan’s safety during the surgery and for success and health for Ryan after the surgery. As you can see by the picture, Ryan is healthy! He had a harder time than Dan did after the surgery and still has to take medication, but he’s a different color than he was the first time we met him (3 days before surgery) and he’s living a full, happy life with his family, thanks to Dan. Dan’s recovery was minimal thanks to an incredible surgeon and the great physical shape he was in. (Anyone can donate, please look into it!)
We spent two weeks in Seattle before Dan was released to go home, but we didn’t spend much time with Ryan and Carrie because he was in the hospital for longer and having some difficulties. We were so glad that the surgery had gone well for him, but we didn’t want to be intrusive. Dan had undergone a battery of tests before the donation, including a psychological one regarding his feelings if the donation didn’t work out. He said that he’d be fine if the kidney “didn’t take” for Ryan, but in reality, he still felt responsible and so was happy that the surgery worked for Ryan.
The next few days are our chance to spend time with Ryan and Carrie and the girls and we are so grateful for the opportunity. Look out Boise, here we all come!