Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Osprey, Blackberries and The Beach-Day 9

July 28- Grangeville, ID to Near Syringa - 41 miles

Taking our time this morning we avoided a small smattering of rain and Gregory got to play on the playground after we had a leisurely breakfast visiting with folks. Another great downhill day we met several cyclists headed in the opposite direction including a couple on a recumbent tandem and another couple, Robin and Ben, who began their trip in St. Louis, Missouri. We came through the Nez Pearce Indian Reservation and rode along the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway and the Lewis and Clark trail. This is an area rich in history and scenic beauty. After getting groceries in Kooskia (Koos-kee) and eating a 4:00 lunch we decided to ride on and enjoy the cool evening and flat riding. Another friendly Idahoan pulled over to give us tips on the area. We sought out the big beach area on the Clearwater River for camping. We stopped to pick wild plums and blackberries and soaked in the breathtaking views along the Clearwater. We had a white sandy beach all to ourselves for the evening. We soaked our feet and used our Katadyn water filter for the first time. The pink and purple sunset offset a magnificent moon perched just atop the tree line and Canadian geese honked and flew overhead.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 8-July 27- Near Lucile to Grangeville, ID -34 miles + 9 miles (by truck)

We had a glorious morning by the Salmon River and were packed up and ready to go by 7:30. Gregory and I had a driftwood sword fight while Mike did the last bit of packing. We had relatively flat riding with just a couple of small hills on our way to White Bird and got in at around 10:30 A.M. with 23 miles under our belts. We had hoped to find a restaurant in White Bird but as we pedaled through town nothing looked open. We stopped to figure out what to do next when Darlene pulled up in her car and we started to chat. When she asked where we were going next, Mike offhandedly said, “We were hoping we might hitch a ride up White Bird pass.” (This pass is either taking the new highway at 7%+ grade for 9 miles or the old highway that is an even longer climb with a series of long switchbacks.) Darlene immediately tried to come up with a solution for us. The next truck that pulled by just happened to be Brian, President of the White Bird Chamber of Commerce (pop. 100) and he generously offered us a lift. He went off and switched his small truck for his larger one, came back within a couple of minutes, loaded us up and drove us to the top of White Bird pass. We thanked him profusely and as he drove off we celebrated our good fortune. We hopped on the bike only to realize that I was the only one with a helmet on. Mike and Gregory had left theirs on the side of the road in White Bird. Ugh! We waited for a while in hopes that Brian either saw them or had them in the back of his truck but I finally convinced Mike to hitch a ride down the hill and back up once he found the helmets. As he walked into White Bird he saw Brian pulling into his brother’s house and he and Brian found the helmets right beside the road where we’d left them. Brian once again drove Mike up to the pass and we were finally off at around 1:30. One of the great things that came from all of this was that we met Matt & Ross, TransAm cyclists originally from Ohio (where Mike grew up) and they are riding for the ABTA (American Brain Tumor Association). It turns out that Ross (I think it was Ross and not Matt. I apologize if I have it backwards.) had a pituitary tumor that was discovered when he was 8 years old and this is such a coincidence because I had a pituitary tumor also. It wrecked havoc on my body for over 10 years before I was diagnosed and had 1/3 of my pituitary removed in 1999. Anyhow, they put us in touch with the association they are riding for. Their blog is: The downhill to White Bird was an exhilarating one though we did run into some gravel spray as the truckers passed us near town. We rejoiced when we saw the Subway sign since all we had eaten that morning was fruit, carrots and a bit of jerky. Mike’s 15-year old SIDI shoes finally started falling apart so ACE Hardware was a must where he picked up some epoxy and duck tape. He also went online and ordered up a new pair to be sent General Delivery to Missoula, MT. We are free camping at the city park and had a delicious pizza at The Depot before heading over to the city pool for a dip and a shower. We topped off the evening with a large chocolate frozen yogurt (split 3 ways) and cycled back to camp under an orange and pink sky. I’m typing at a picnic table in the pitch dark using my backlit keyboard and enjoying the cool night air. Mike is keeping me company as Gregory snoozes in his comfy sleeping bag only a few feet away. I enjoy keeping in touch with everyone via the blog but now I understand what other fellow cycling bloggers warned me. There is often not enough time in the day. I’m making the most of every minute of it.

Free Camping and Fruit-Day 7

July 26-New Meadows almost to Lucile (Free camping on the Salmon River)-39 miles

Today was one big downhill. We were definitely getting spoiled but it was sure pleasant riding and with a nice wide shoulder. We made the mistake of showing Gregory how to signal to the trucks to honk their horns (grab the sky and pretend you are pulling down on a rope). Most of the time the truckers accommodate his requests, much to his delight. It is a bit unnerving for Mom and Dad though especially when they honk right next to us. It isn’t quite as bad if they’ve passed us already. We originally planned to stay in Riggins and had an incredible pesto chicken sandwich on foccacia bread at the River City Café before heading down to the recommended RV Park. However, they wanted $15 for a tent and 2 people, an extra $4 for Gregory and $3 each to shower! After a fellow biker advised us that there was a fruit stand 3 miles away we decided to be adventurous and look for free camping along the Salmon River. The fruit stand was amazing. We sampled juicy peaches and apricots, huckleberry pie filling and my favorite apricot-pineapple filling! We bought peaches, pluots, fresh green beans, apples and cherries! Just as we left the stand it started to sprinkle. We had two miles to our camping spot and the rain steadily increased along the way. We pulled off the road and Gregory and I tried to hold a tarp over the B.O.B. trailer while Mike dug out the footprint (tent ground cloth) and the tent. This wasn’t ideal but worked pretty well considering that Gregory is quite a bit shorter than I am and his little arms don’t stretch quite as far. Fortunately the rain stopped while we were setting up the tent and the sun peaked out from the behind the clouds. We warmed up instantly and all stripped off our jerseys and finished setting up camp. We took a delightful swim in the Salmon River as we watched the rafters and kayakers drift by. After relaxing for a while we decided to cook our dinner on the sand shores. We first cooked fresh green beans, took them out of the boiling water, added more water and brought that back to a boil, then cooked our macaroni for Deluxe Mac & Cheese. It is not a favorite but we always carry some in case we miss the store and want to free camp like tonight. We also had fresh juicy peaches and cherries from the stand. There’s nothing quite like preparing and eating a meal along side a rushing river. It thundered as we prepared our meal and we had a plan if it started raining, and rain it did. We all grabbed our assigned items and hightailed it to the tent. We finished dinner in the tent but once again it cleared out and we spent the last couple of hours of the evening sitting on the sandy beach enjoying the cool breeze and the sights and sounds of the river. What a glorious day!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hot Springs - Day 6 - July 25, 2009 - Council, ID to New Meadows -33 miles

Zim's Hot Springs 4 miles outside New Meadows, Idaho. Though it was 93 degrees F outside we still enjoyed the relaxing hot springs. One pool was 105 degrees while the other was in the low 90's. A cool shower afterwards and we were just like new.

45th Parallel-Day 6 - July 25, 2009 - Council, ID to New Meadows -33 miles

Giddy-up Cowboy

Adam's County Rodeo in Council, Idaho

Day 6 - July 25, 2009 - Council, ID to New Meadows -33 miles

We had a great time at the Adam’s County Rodeo last night. Gregory’s favorite event was the bull riding. We said our goodbyes to Quincy and Tina last night and were off this morning before they woke up. Today we did our first off road riding. We followed the Weiser (Weez-er) River Trail (rails to trails) rather than busy highway 95 with very little shoulder. For the most part it was great with a nice gradual grade however we did run into some sandy patches that caused some near accidents. Gregory had a rough morning saying goodbye to his new doggie friend Samantha and it took some time for him to get out of his funk. This makes for difficult pedaling because Mike and I have a hard time enjoying ourselves when he is down. The second half of the trail proved much more enjoyed after we stopped for a snack and met up with Andy McCarthy and Cammie from Adventure Cycling. They were running the sweep for an Adventure Cycling group and though the rest of the group stayed on the highway to enjoy a speedy downhill they chose the more scenic route. Andy took our picture and said we just might see ourselves in an issue of Adventure Cycling. Wouldn’t that be fun?! Shortly after their departure we met up with some campers collecting firewood. While we chatted, Gregory helped the two boys bring the firewood to their site. During our conversation Mike mentioned the 145-psi needed for our tires and that we were probably running low but that we wouldn’t be able to top them off until Missoula, Montana. In the blink of an eye they produced a bike pump and Mike aired the tires up to maximum pressure. Again just another example of how generous people can be. In New Meadows we realized it was the town where we had encountered our one broken spoke during our 1994 crossing. We had breakfast at 2:00 P.M. in the Granite Café and met Dave who insisted we stop by his place, 4 blocks away, to check out a sample from his Rhodonite mine. (Rhodonite is an attractive mineral that is often carved and use in jewelry. It is named after the Greek word for rose and has a pink color mixed with black.) Gregory and I were talking to him about our love of rocks and minerals. After a visit with Dave we headed 4 more miles north out of town to Zim’s Hot Springs (recommended by Andy). On the way we crossed the 45th parallel and Gregory got a mini geography lesson. Though it was 93 degrees outside we sat in 105-degree hot springs pools and soaked our tired muscles. There was also a cooler pool that was much more relaxing and we lounged about for a good while. We have the campsite almost entirely to ourselves with an amazing view of mountains on all sides. With a slight breeze the temperature was ideal. We stayed in our suits well into the evening cooking our pasta and setting up camp. The “clubhouse” has a couple of pool tables and Mike and Gregory are shooting a game at this very moment.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gus The Fawn-Council, Idaho

This little guy was so darn cute I decided he need a post all his own. His mother was killed by a mountain lion and our new friends Quincy and Tina have been taking care of him. Quincy found him with his umbilical cord still attached and later found the mom in the woods. The fawn is left to the wild but will come when called. He is really sweet and will nibble on your ear and plays around with their dog Samantha.

Idaho Hospitality-Day 4 & 5-July 23, 2009 – Cambridge, Idaho to Council, ID-24 miles and July 24 Rest Day

Enjoying our decadent motel stay we slept in and took our time getting ready. Mike and Gregory had to have just one more peach smoothie (we had one the afternoon prior) but I needed real food so we went back to Ms. G’s for breakfast. Owner Tammy talked with us for a long while and took our picture before we headed across the street to the market for sunscreen. At the market they told us that she had called and we needed to stop by before we headed out of town. A couple sitting near us (Qunicy and Tina) had overheard our conversation during which time we had mentioned that sometimes people offer to have us stay during our journey. They live in Council (our destination for the day) and offered us a place for the evening. Idaho hospitality at its finest. They cooked us an amazing meal of porterhouse steaks and veggies, did a load of our laundry, let us take showers and gave us a bed for the night. That evening Gregory got to ride in the Yamaha Rhino with Quincy and drive the Kawasaki 4-wheeler with his dad. He was in heaven. When they found out we were interested in the rodeo, one night turned into two. The next day we had an incredible breakfast of steak and eggs and pancakes (with homemade apricot and strawberry rhubarb jams) and then they took us out on Lost Lake in their pontoon boat. Gregory did some fishing and got to drive the boat so again he was thrilled. To top it off they took us to see their cabin and the fawn that they have been taking care of since the mother was killed by a mountain lion. They called out for Gus when we arrived and sure enough out of the woods he came. It was a thrill to pet the little guy and let him nibble on our ears. He is obviously very comfortable in the presence of humans and their dog Samantha. We came home and had another fabulous meal including spaghetti with sausage and veggies and a huge salad. Soon we are off to the rodeo to watch some bull riding and barrel racing! It has been an amazing time. Thank you Quincy and Tina!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hells Canyon-110 Degrees F - Day 3

July 22, 2009 – Copperfield RV Park near Oxbow Dam (OR) to Cambridge, Idaho (Mountain Time) Hells Canyon-40 miles

Swallowtails and sweltering describes our day. It was another scorcher. The temperature in Hells Canyon reached 110 degrees! It nearly did us in with over 2,000 feet of climbing in a 7-mile stretch. We started out at 3 A.M. Pacific Time (4 A.M. Mountain Time-the time changed at the campground) to avoid the heat and enjoyed our morning cycling along the Snake River. It was a glorious morning and the river was like glass except for the fish nibbling at the surface for their breakfast. We were delighted when a passing Idaho Power worker treated us to home baked scones. Yum! We inquired with some folks beside the road who were picking fruit and it turns out they were picking choke cherries. Gregory and I tried some but they were bitter. Apparently they make fabulous syrup though. We found a cell phone on the road and about 10 minutes after picking it up it rang and was the owner on the line. He was also an Idaho Power employee and arranged for a couple of his coworkers to pick up his cell since we were on our ascent up to Brownlee Dam and there was no turning back. Jeremy and Leland chatted with us for a bit after they retrieved Darryl’s phone and we were climbing once again. The whole morning was one continuous climb and once it heated up it was brutal. We stopped to rest in every scrap of shade and we were on and off the bike continuously depending on the grade. 3-4% was doable but 7-10% was just unthinkable on our 3rd day of touring. Even though Mike and I both wear knee braces it was just too much for us. Pushing the bike is worse but we just didn’t have much choice. We were sizzling and Gregory was fading (not enjoying the walking at all) so we finally parked the bike and made our way down a steep embankment to the creek below. It was freezing and heaven! We dunked our heads and stripped off our jerseys and shoes and brought our core body temperature down a few notches. We did this a couple of times during the day and though it came from necessity we realized the importance of slowing down to enjoy things like a dip in the creek. We felt like kids again and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Also, amidst our walking/biking we ran into a couple of “road kill” snakes (one was directly in our path and freaked us out a bit as we thought it was alive) and we also saw tons of swallowtail butterflies. Gregory is pictured with one he found beside the road. After trying to climb this grade all day I began to get concerned about the heat and our ability to make it to the summit. We had a friendly driver stop and give us a bottle of water yet we were still low. (We had our water filter and if it came down to it we could have filtered the river water.) I think Mike and I were each praying for some assistance or a place to pitch the tent just off the road. If we could make it two and half more miles to the summit we could ride a mile off the road to a campground but that seemed very daunting given our day. Fortunately, the friendly folks of Idaho came through again. Bob and Chet came by in a pickup, filled us up with cold water and gave us a lift of 3 miles to the summit since they knew we’d enjoy the 16-mile downhill into Cambridge. How do you get a 10-foot bike in the bed of a truck? You’ll see from the picture that the trailer and panniers went in the bed, as did the front wheel. Mike and I balanced the bike and we took a slow cruise with the rear wheel (and our bike computer) still racking up miles! Our spirits lifted instantly and we counted our blessings as we enjoyed the 16-mile downhill to Cambridge. We promised ourselves that we’d camp as much as possible on this trip, however, the 110-degree heat and grueling day totally zapped us. Mike was on the lookout for AC (air conditioning) and we broke down and checked in to the local motel complete with pool, spa and a heavenly bathtub. I appreciate little things like a bath so much more when I’m touring.