For Mother's Day Eric planned a little road trip to Idaho City. For those of you who haven't been, it's an old gold and silver mining town that once was home to several thousand residents and something like 41 saloons and hotels. It was a thriving and thrilling Western town, complete with gunfights and burlesque dancers and a Chinese herb shop. Now, it's become a tourist attraction, as it lies about an hour outside of Boise en route to Stanley and Redfish Lake, both popular destination spots. We've been to Idaho City several times, but mainly, like I mentioned, going to or from somewhere else, so we haven't had the time to really explore it.

That Sunday morning we headed out early to get breakfast at one of my favorite restaurants in the area, Hilltop Cafe Kodiak Grill. Unfortunately for us, we didn't make reservations in advance and apparently lots of other fans flocked to the joint before us. So, we headed into Idaho City and found a saloon serving an all you can eat buffet that, um, sucked, to say it nicely.

We didn't let our bad buffet deter us, however, and were excited to find out that lots of the local touristy venues had just reopened for the summer season, including the Boise Basin Museum. Like all other tiny Idaho historical museums that I love so much, this one was filled with local artifacts donated by families and business owners. There were great old maps, stunning glass bottles, the mail slots from the original post office, and an original James Castle drawing (Castle is Idaho's most famous outsider artist and grew up in a town near there). Of course, the place was run by a super sweet volunteer who tried to answer my questions about the architectural preservation efforts of the city and sold the girls 25cent old fashioned stick candy from their gift shop.

Right near the museum grounds, in the heart of the city, also lies the old jail. You can walk through the thick wooden walls and inside the three cells and see the spot where hangings occurred. We took a break in the city park to have some snacks, kick around the ball and watch the birds. The girls ran around, up and over bridged creeks, enjoying the warm spring day.

Of course, since it was Mother's Day after all, I took advantage of it and Eric watched the girls while I perused several of Idaho City's antique shops, which also had just opened for the season. They had some pretty fun things, but, like all tourist cities, I thought they were way over-priced and left with a handful of vintage matchbooks from Waikiki and Scottsdale, AZ.

This, however, might just be the greatest junk/thrift palace I've ever seen. It holds court on a downtown street corner and has, unfortunately, been closed to the public for years. I'd love to know the status of this place and get a chance to go inside.

The highlight of our trip, however, was Pioneer Cemetery. As a death art historian, I worked for Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis in graduate school, one of the most famous cemeteries in the country. I'm a fan of these beautiful landscapes and have converted my family as well. They are so peaceful and lovely and a natural haven in the heart of the city. And the West is home to some fantastic old pioneer cemeteries that are little gems to our communities.

This one was no exception. It spreads for acres across a wooded mountainside, with winding dirt paths leading from one gated resting spot to another. It's been well preserved and is still an active cemetery, with a section dedicated to the burial of the more recently deceased. This is a haven for photographers, as the architecture of this cemetery is stunning to capture and see.

We ended our day at the Sarsaparilla Ice Cream Parlor for homemade huckleberry ice cream cones. Sitting outside on the covered wooden sidewalk of Main Street watching dogs and ATVs cruise up and down the road was the perfect way to end our Idaho City staycation. We're lucky our state boasts a number of these Old West towns, preserved for future generations, and Idaho City is a real treasure.