John R Beyer
My beautiful wife Laureen and I recently decided to travel to Idaho. More specifically, to the city of Meridian to meet our brand new grandson. We also wanted to spend some time with our daughter and son-in-law, but actually we wanted to see our grandson.
We have met our daughter and son-in-law before.
“I’m so excited to meet Eli for the first time,” Laureen said.
I nodded. So was I and had decided to drive to Meridian rather than fly to spend some time along the road to see what we could see.
We like the journey.
At that time, medium grade gasoline was hovering around $200 a gallon. So I cashed in some life insurance policies a few days before the trip so we could afford the gas for the trip.
“You know,” said Laureen, “hotels are getting expensive too.”
“Hotel? Yes,” I replied while discreetly tossing the two bedrolls back into the closet.
Located west of Boise, the city of Meridian is the second largest city in Idaho. Meridian is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.
That could be due to the business-friendly vibe, lush, vast green spaces, pet-friendly parks, people-friendly parks, long greenbelt next to the Boise River, and more.
I’ve thought about it a lot and I believe people flock to this Ada County town for a compelling reason.
The reason: Meridian houses the largest Albertsons supermarket in the world.
Enough said, apart from meeting the new grandson – I went shopping.
Meridian was founded in 1891 at a place known as Onweiler Farm, just north of where the city is today. In 1893 an IOOF (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) was organized and named their lodge Meridian after realizing that it was on the Boise Meridian.
In 1903 the founding municipality of Meridian was incorporated.
In all honesty, I don’t know much about the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, but I found it strange that an organization should come up with that name.
“Let’s come up with something unique,” someone might have suggested.
“How about an independent Order of Cool Guys?” another may have replied.
“Guys, that sounds pretty weird,” came the reply.
“Okay, let’s do that.”
The city of Meridian is said to be semi-arid, similar to the desert. The Cascade and Blue Mountain Ranges in Oregon and Washington retain most of the moisture from the Pacific Ocean, so rain doesn’t fall as much as in those regions. The Rocky Mountains to the east also stop many of the big winter storms that plague the country east of the high and long mountain range, allowing Meridian to have a fairly mild winter.
“It says here,” Laureen said, looking at a travel book, “that Meridian and Boise are in a high desert.”
I shook my head. “These people have no idea what a high desert is. Look at all that green.”
As we drove through different parts of the city, tree-lined avenues were everywhere. People walk their dogs and cats through knee-high, grassy public areas. Children romped through tree-covered parks, and teenagers sat at picnic tables texting each other.
“I don’t like it here,” I said.
“What?” Laureen asked incredulously.
“It’s too green and it’s not even a real desert,” I replied. “Where’s the dirt, the never-ending wind that throws tumblewees in the lanes of cars, the Joshua trees that reminded me of my grandmother’s friends? Desert – bah, humbug.”
“Sounds like you’re a little jealous of all the trees and greenery.”
And to add salt to my jealous nerves, the valley that Meridian sits in is called Treasure Valley.
“And I bet they have no treasure to look for,” I ground out.
For all its transparency, Meridian is a very pretty city that has grown from a small village into the vibrant and prosperous city it is today.
Meridian is the home of the Scentsy company – known worldwide and owned by Beyer as a company that produces wonderfully scented wax that is heated in various shaped light heaters. My study has two warmers – a pug and a trailer.
When they come up with a nice mix of something that blows in the air, it makes me a better writer. Maybe it should be warmed up more next time I’m behind the keyboard.
The Idaho State Police Academy is located in Meridian, and the healthcare provider is Blue Cross.
According to some things I read and hear from our daughter Kelly and her husband Travis, tech companies are moving to Idaho at record speed – I’m not sure what record speed really means. Still, many tech giants are moving to Meridian.
“I just drove by this empty lot yesterday,” someone was heard saying, “and now there’s a million square foot building with a bunch of tech nerds running around.”
That would be a fast record indeed.
And again, it’s home to the largest Albertsons in the world. It’s huge, and I mean huge.
The grocery store opened in March 2019 and is a 100,010 square foot shopper’s paradise.
According to Supermarket News – yes, that’s a recent publication: “Albertson’s retail innovation is in full force at two of its marquee stores: Albertsons Market Street in Meridian, Idaho, and the Safeway Supermarket in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC.”
I looked up the term marquee and was surprised to learn that it is a large tent for an outdoor party, reception or exhibition. Or a fixed canopy, often made of metal and glass, overhanging an entrance.
That didn’t sound right.
The third definition was the treasure I was looking for, turns out it’s a business term meaning the ‘flagship’ or ‘crown jewel’. This Albertsons is just that – the big bomb in the food chain.
Within these thousands of square feet is a full adult beverage bar called Talon Tap and Spirits, as well as a restaurant-style food court, walk-in wine cellar, and a wide selection of cheeses from around the world It would take a week to sample each, and so much more to offer the buyer.
I snuck into old Talon Top and Spirits and ordered an adult libation.
“Can I carry this through the store?” I asked the bartender.
“Of course. Pleasant shopping.”
I told her I would never go home after meeting Laureen by the glass walk-in wine cellar.
They also have a division called Big Pet Supplies. I didn’t venture into this area of the store as we recently saw Jurassic World: Dominion.
Cheese, bread, seafood and other tastings can be found throughout the store. So many tastings that the sound of smacking lips almost drowned out sips from the variety of drinks being thrown back at the bar.
The store even has live entertainment. Various musicians play everything from Rock N Roll to Bach. As we were there early afternoon we had a chance to sit in front of a band called Rolling Stones or maybe it was Tumbling Pebbles. In truth, I can’t remember the name of the group – but the lead singer had movements like Jagger.
A few hours later, Laureen whispered, “It’s time to go.”
“We told the kids we’d stop by right after visiting the store.”
I nodded. “Yes, parental responsibilities come first.” Off for another day with our grandson.
It was later suggested that we visit the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, which sits on the edge of the Boise River. The nearly one hectare park was created in 2002 and is based on the young girl’s belief in humanity, even in her desperate situation during the Holocaust.
The purpose of the memorial is to “promote respect for human dignity and diversity through education and to strengthen individual responsibility for working for justice and peace”.
It’s a beautiful place. Long paths winding through natural rock walls, with quotes from world famous to lesser known – all speak to the fact that we can all be better to each other.
Waterfalls, babbling brooks and native plants give the entire memorial a relaxing yet soul-searching atmosphere.
If we try a little harder, maybe we could be nicer and more respectful to each other.
It’s a sobering place – but one to be experienced.
Is Meridian worth visiting? Only if the traveler wants to see blue skies, greenery in every direction, crystal clear rivers meandering here and there, historic sites and the world’s largest Albertsons.
Then the answer would be a resounding yes.
Email John R. Beyer at email@example.com.