Mizzou’s going to Boise! I’m from there!

I hate to step on the sports desk’s toes on this one, but I reckon I’ve got as many random personal connections to Mizzou’s first-round tournament game against Cornell as you can have without actually being on the team.

(If you have a high-tolerance for self-indulgent nonsense or, for some reason, want to see what’s hip in Boise… read on. Otherwise, skip the rest!)

Mizzou, where I’m getting my MA in Journalism, is taking on Cornell, where my father earned his MS in Agricultural Economics. Even wackier, the game’s taking place in Boise, Idaho, the town where I spent a decade of my youth, and where my dad ran a small calf-raising operation, among other things.

Boise’s totally rad. I hope at least a few Mizzou fans are able to afford the chance to experience what our state seal claims is the Great State of Idaho this weekend. The “Treasure Valley” is no Columbia, but that may or may not be a good thing.

Boise’s sort of a mix of clean, Mormon Salt Lake City, Utah, weird, indy Portland and an old-school Western, outdoor-obsessed place like Bozeman, Mont. In 2004, Idaho voted more heavily for George Bush than any state but Utah, but Boise itself’s got a democratic mayor and a growing progressive vibe that makes it a pretty sweet place to live.

Image courtesy of icadrews at flickr.com/photos/jesspics/

Boise skyline, including State Capitol and Foothills, courtesy of icadrews at flickr.com/photos/jesspics/

Its park and trail system exemplify what Columbia’s trying to work towards with Getabout and park acquisition, and its going through similar growing pains as the metropolitan area pushes the half-million mark.

Anyway, in case you’ve read this far and you’re actually looking for something useful…

  • Best food near Taco Bell Arena: Brick Oven Bistro (Quirky, wholesome, cafeteria-style)
  • Most famous Pizza: Flying Pie (Like Shakespeare’s, but spicier and more rebellious)
  • Sushi my brother-in-law liked: Superb Sushi Downtown (his review)
  • Trendiest coffee: Flying M Coffeehouse (500 W. Idaho)
  • Hugest, cheapest grocery store: Winco (Western chain that, like Albertsons, started in Boise)
  • Best thing to do at the governor’s mansion when it’s late and you’ve had a few beverages: Ride blocks of ice down the huge, grassy hill (Idaho’s still kinda sticks)
  • Best restaurant for teenagers/trailer-dwellers/milkshakes: Merritts Country Cafe (Home of the scones!)

For local coverage, stop by my friends at The Idaho Press-Tribune, the Boise-area newspaper I reported for before I moved here. It’s always a huge deal when the NCAA tournament comes to town, and folks come out in force to watch the games. I myself won’t be able to make the game due to prior travel plans, but I’m sure my friends and fellow Treasure Valleyers will more than compensate for my absence.

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