Idaho, forest to desert

Day 69- August 8

It’s our rest day and we didn’t want to bike at all. We ate a measly breakfast of leftover grapes and some pastries from the office. We lounged around then went into town for lunch. We walked around downtown, very nice, and picked a local sandwich shop called Doc.

We got the special of half a sandwich and a cup of soup and ended up talking to the man sitting next to us, a pilot for Delta on a layover. This was after the whole thing with Delta, but he said he had no problems flying into Missoula the day before. We told him what we were doing and he was impressed. He told us about the bike path along the river then said “oh, I guess you wouldn’t want to bike more…” he wasn’t wrong.

We then went over to the ACA. They had old bikes that have ridden the country on the walls and right at the reception desk where photos of bikers from this year. We recognized a few faces. We had our photo taken and then got our free ice cream and a bandana for the celebration of the 40th year. While we were looking around a man came up to us and said he will take our photo like the professional portraits on the wall when we come back the next day to weigh our bikes. We said sure then the receptionist took us on a tour of the office and on tour she said that the man was one of the founders of the ACA- Greg S. (I don’t remember how to spell his last name). Dad was star struck.

We then went back to the motel and relaxed the rest of the day while watching the Olympics.

Day 70- August 9

We woke up and saw that the weather was supposed to be terrible that day. We were talking before of taking two rest days and this solidified it. However, we told ACA we would be there in the morning for the pictures so we extended our room stay then packed everything up.

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Greg took our photos behind the building then weighed our bikes. I came in at 80 pounds, I guessed 90. Dad came in at 76, he guessed 85. Of course 76 is a favorite number as that’s the centennial year.

We went back to the motel and lounged around as rain started pouring from dark clouds. We eventually wandered outside again for food. We rode 5 miles round trip to the Walmart and got some items then came back along the river. For dinner we went to the Indian restaurant next door that served a preset meal on these huge trays. Unfortunately, neither of us had our camera, but if you imagine those trays with sections for the different foods- that’s what we had and it was all delicious!

Day 71- August 10

We left at a decent time. We had a bagel each then road out of town. We planned on going to the McDonald’s in Lolo for second breakfast – 13 miles away. They were doing road construction so we had dome detours, but finally made it out to head wind.

I was so focused on beating the head wind and going to Lolo that I didn’t see a herd of bison near the bike path. Dad took a picture. Apparently, they were farm buffalo, so not wild, but it still was disappointing not to have seen them.

We made it to the McDonald’s and due to a long ride in the cold we had 3 breakfast sandwiches each. It was over cast and a threat of rain was real. Moving off we made our way up to Lolo pass. We followed a river for a bit and went through the canyon full of trees. It was beautiful. It would have been better if it was sunny, but cool temperatures, calm winds, and lots of green….what’s there to complain about?

We stopped at this hot springs resort place for a snack and one of the campers came over. He was quite strange. He said he was from Alaska and told us about his elderly mother who apparently still looked like she was 50. He was one out of 17 children. All twins and triplets. He said he had 3 sets of twins and now one of his girls just had her first set of twins…..believe it if you want.

While he was talking another biker showed up. He is also doing the transam, but he is doing a lot more miles per day- obviously as he started 18 days after us. He was from Oregon and was super excited to be going home. He was stopping in Florence though and not Astoria where is the official end. Florence is the unofficial end, still an end, but not the official Transam end. But I totally understand that he is tired of biking and wants to be home especially since he is so close to it.

After sitting there for about an hour and half we made our way up the pass. The climb was gradual and not that bad. It was only tough in concern with that it was cold so I was wearing a jacket, but I was getting hot because of the climb. But that’s a pathetic complaint haha.

We made it to Lolo pass, which also was the Idaho Stateline and the Pacific time zone line. After taking pictures we went down. Mr. Oregon sped down the hill as he was super light (he didn’t have any panniers!!!) and his bike was made for speed. He had arrow bars like racers use.  Dad and I took our time down the hill. The trees were beautiful. Once we got down to more a gradual decline, I see a familiar face.

It was the Philly man! If you read pass posts- we met him in Kentucky and got separated in Illinois as he did the Katy trail and we did the regular transam. We texted back and forth and knew we were around each other, but we finally caught up.

We all stopped at a resort place- Lochsa lodge, no idea how to pronounce it. Camping was free for cyclists. Showers were 5 dollars each, but it included a towel, shampoo, and soap. It was quite full as we had the Philly man, Mr. Oregon, and a third guy. I’m going to call him Tattoo man as he was covered in Jimmy Buffet tattoos. He refound life, in a manner of speaking, and is now a free spirit. He has no place and no job and is biking around- seeing the US. Specifically he was taking the Lewis and Clark trail and was only doing about 20-30 miles a day. He loved to talk.

Mr. Oregon had a kids tent from Walmart and made fun of himself while the Philly man and us had the same tent. Last time we saw him we had our old crappy tent. A woman showed up, but just for a break as she kept going on over the pass….meaning she was going probably around 120 miles that day!!!

The Philly man and us got dinner at the lodge to catch up. It was very good though the waiter acted as if he was really busy. There were a lot of tables, but he threw the receipt on the table as he ran by or would try to grab an empty plate without stopping. Seemed a little silly….

Day 72- August 11

It was quite cold this morning. Luckily, the bathrooms had heaters so it wasn’t such a shock to the system getting out of the tent. The tattoo man didn’t join us for breakfast, but the 4 of us went back to the lodge and had an amazing breakfast as well as a hilarious waitress. Mr. Oregon ordered a huge breakfast and she was teasing him that he couldn’t finish it. Challenge accepted. He ate every single piece and even cleaned up the leftover gravy.

The route this day was quite easy as it was beautiful route along the river with trees, but it was also mainly downhill. I was leading the 4 of us for a while. I didn’t realize I was going that fast until the 40 mile break when Dad said we were going about 18 mph. We decided to go 80ish miles this day due to the easy terrain, but the last 20 was a struggle. Around mile 60 we stopped for lunch at a cafe. Huckleberries are quite popular in this part of the country and I made it my mission to try some. The Philly man said something about Huckleberry pie and that’s what I wanted. Unfortunately, this cafe did not have it, but it did have Huckleberry shake. It was a bit expensive so I passed. Mr. Oregon had the triple berry pie and the Huckleberry shake. He said both were delicious.

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We continued on and 8 miles down the road was another cafe that said Huckleberry pie, but it was closed since it was in between lunch and dinner. Mr. Oregon took over being the lead, but Dad and I couldn’t keep up with him. We were lagging. We finally reached Kooskia in the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. It was a nice town. A bit confusing at first because when you enter there are some buildings, but you have to go about a mile then around a corner until you actually reach town.

The city park didn’t have a shower and I was thoroughly exhausted so we got a motel. The Philly man decided the same while Mr. Oregon went to the park and jumped into the creek for a bath. We bought so much liquid from the grocery store that night. We basically had a tub of yogurt each for dinner. Mr. Oregon came to the motel to use the WiFi and Dad talked to him for a while as I went to bed.

Interesting fact- the motel is owned by long term circus clowns!!

Day 73- August 12

We weren’t sure where we were going today as we could call it a shorter day of 45 miles or push it to 75. Nothing in between. The terrain wasn’t easy either. Dad and I decided to do the 45. The Philly man agreed. Mr. Oregon went further. Unfortunately, we got separated early and couldn’t say goodbye.

All 4 of us got breakfast at the diner then hit the road. The route started on gravel, which wasn’t particularly fun, but then moved to a country paved road. There was a lot of climbing. I call this day nostalgia day as it had elements of all our past rides in it. The beginning was like the Appalachians- steep with trees and a lot of curves. The next part was like Missouri and Kansas- Ozark like hills with farmlands for scenery. There was even a dog chase at one point. Finally, we had the heat like Eastern Colorado and grasshopers. The last part was smooth gradual climbs like the Rookies. It was totally weird.

We stopped in Grangeville, a little over halfway, for lunch. Of course, at the Subway. The Philly man found us there and we had a nice long break. We trudged on.

We took an old country road and ran into some cows walking in the shoulder. They were surprised to see us as we were of them. Though cows are quite docile animals, they are huge and all 3 of us made sure to give them space in case they do decide to lunge at us. The descent into White Bird, our destination for the evening, was long and curvy. We had to be on US 95 for a mile then turn off onto that road. However, the Philly man didn’t see the turn and flew down US 95 getting to the campsite before we did since it was shorter, but had a lot more cars. He was flying!

I pointed to the turn for Dad to know that’s where we were suppose to go and a lady in a car passed me with a mad look and her hands up as if to say why was I pointing at her. I laughed as I wasnt, but at the same time she should have moved over. When we were at the turn 3 people from the UK were coming up. A brother and sister and their friend. The friend was biking around the world and true to that style of life he comes pedaling up with a wife beater shirt on and no shoes. He had no tan lines on his feet indicating that he hasn’t worn shoes in a while.

“He’s not wearing shoes!” Dad says laughing. The brother turns to us and says “We are surprised he’s even wearing a shirt.”

They were fun to talk to, but alas we had to go on our separate ways. We finally made it into town when one of the local teens stopped us and told us where the Philly man was then we tried following his directions to the campground. Unsure of it we doubled back and asked another man who pointed us in the same direction. I turn to look at my tire and behold, it was flat. 2 miles from our destination.

We put air into it and I rode as fast as I could before it deflated. We did this two more times. The 4th deflate we were close enough that I walked my bike to the campground. It was a nice RV park- Swiftwater- next to the river. I fixed the flat, but the culprit needed both Dad and the Philly man to get it from the tire. It was tiny!

We made our mashed potatoes with tune meal for dinner and relaxed. It was quite late when we did got to sleep.

Day 74- August 13

The morning was disasterous. We didn’t want instant oatmeal for breakfast as that isn’t filling and we had a decent ride ahead of us. We were going another 60ish mile day to New Meadows. At this point, I can’t remember the exact mileage of day to day rides. So I’m estimating. There was also a big climb near the end of the day.

We rode the 2 miles into town, but none were open. A local, who was sitting outside the bar with a beer told us a cafe down the highway was open. We discussed our plan and even rode uphill to the highway, but then went back to the campground to get our stuff as we had left it there. It was 8 am and we already biked 5 miles. We rode again uphill, different direction, and finally made it to the cafe for breakfast. Needless to say, we were all cranky.

When I entered the cafe, a couple next to our table asked if we climbed over the pass that morning. I said we did it yesterday, but internally laughed. Must have been really sweating from the pre-breakfast biking to warrant that question!

We had a delicious breakfast and we’re off. It was already getting warm. The ride was pretty with a gradual uphill.

It followed the river for a bit through the canyon. We came across some people in the river and Dad asked what they were doing thinking they were doing some type of water pumping/plumbing. They were looking for gold! I didn’t realize people still did that.

We came to a river crossing that signaled that we were entering Mountain time. Wait, what? We are going West, but yet we are now in Mountain time? Yup. The time zone lines are quite curved.

We made our way again, through the canyon and came across a farmer’s market storefront, which advertised huckleberry pie. Here was my chance. We go in and there was fresh fruit and samples! That place was great. I tried some peaches, tomatoes, cherries, and spoonfuls of choke cherry jam and huckleberry pie filling. Finally, we bought a whole huckleberry pie. A bit expensive, but it was good. The Philly man, toting around a trailer/B.O.B, carried the pie the remaining miles to Riggins for us. We now started seeing white water rafters in the river, which looked so nice since it was hot. We went into the first restaurant we found and had lunch. Dad and I got salads. Riggins is quite a touristy town. It even has a gift shop named Tourist Trap.

After lunch, Dad and I had and slice of pie and then we strapped it on to my bike.

We stopped at a convenience store that was closed for renovations, but the worker let us in to get some ice and cold water. It was much appreciated. He showed us his work, which was wonderful.

From this point, the climb got steeper and I started faltering. We stopped a couple of times, but the third time we actually put down our bikes and ate some food. That helped tremendously. The climb was also narrow with lots of traffic, which was intimidating. The sun was moving behind the mountain casting shadows, making it seem darker/later than it was.

Finally, we made it to the top, a plateau. The sun was shinning and it was actually a bit cool. Beautiful meadows greeted us. The terrain leveled out and it was even a bit of a downhill. I saw the campground- a hot springs place. We got a site and set up camp. It was hard as there were holes in the ground for whatever rodents live there. We picked a spot without holes and a bit away from them. We went to go soak in the hot spring. Basically an over sized jacuzzi, there was also a regular pool next to it.

When we went to go wash off, we saw a ferret looking animal running around.

Again, we made our instant mashed potatoes and tuna for dinner and ate the rest of the pie making sure to leave a little for the Philly man who was currently soaking.

I quickly ran to get ready for bed as the bathrooms were in the main building that was closing soon. Otherwise it would have been an outhouse. I layered up expecting a cold night, and it was since we were at higher elevation.

Day 75- August 14

We packed up our things and then Dad found a flat. The Philly man went off to New Meadows, about 5 miles away, for breakfast as we fixed it. We soon caught up to him and entered the cafe. It was already 9:30. Luckily, we had a shortish day of 52 miles to Cambridge.

We had a decent brunch rather and left there almost 11. The terrain had some climbs, but it was still beautiful. The Philly man’s chain came off the gear and he couldn’t unclip his cleats fast enough before he fell over. Luckily, he only sustained a scratch on his shin. He said he couldn’t be embarrassed because no one saw him. I just saw the aftermath.

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We pedaled along. Enjoying the scenery and trying to avoid cars as the road was narrow and curvy again. We got to the one peak and made our way downhill to encounter an uphill. On this short uphill, the Philly man saw a bear and her young cub cross the road! Which surprised us as, like I said, there were a lot of cars. I saw my first dead porcupine……

We made it halfway to the next small town, Council, and got a cold beverage at the first gas station. We sat outside taking a break, eating a cliff bar. We pedaled on. We had another hill then gradual terrain.

Barely out of town, we ran into a East bound biker who just started, literally 10 days beforehand at Astoria. He asked us several questions and was feeling guilty that today was an extremely short day for him (20 miles). He said he was doing 60-90 miles every day. Dad asked what his time limit was and he said no limit, but 3 months, like us. I told him that we were only doing 40 miles when we started and why kill yourself if you have time. That seemed to ease him.

I honestly didn’t really want to talk to him right there because the road was narrow and very busy. We didn’t have much shoulder to sit and talk. It was strange though talking to him. Only 2 months ago we were new to this like him and we’re asking similar questions. Now he was looking to us for advice. Funny how 2 months and 3,000 miles changes things.

After biking 10 miles we ran into a store and decided to stop for cold drink and to refill water. While we were paying another customer asked us if one of us fell over that morning. We laughed. It turned out that her and her husband passed the Philly man and saw him fall in their rear view mirror. We laughed some more and took their picture to show him that he can be embarrassed for someone did see him! They were very glad he was alright. He showed up a couple minutes after they left.

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We had a quick ride into Cambridge and went to Frontier Motel and RV campground. We got a tent site. I took a shower while Dad and the Philly man went for a swim. We were told, incorrectly, that the cafe in town was open til 7. It closed at 6 and we were 5 minutes shy. We scavenged some sandwiches and chips from the gas station for dinner. The sandwiches were quite good and of course we had to have Fat Tire beer since we are biking.

The RV next door was a young family with an adorable dog who loved fetch. If you didn’t throw the way he wanted he would take his ball to another person. They had 2 adorable girls. One liked my flip flops and proceeded to wear one around. The other girl said she only liked Mickey Mouse. No other Disney characters haha.

Day 76- August 15

We went to the cafe for breakfast and Dad and I got this huge mixture of eggs, potatoes, and gravy. With a side of bread, I got a biscuit.

It was a short day of 40ish miles. We had gradual uphill the whole day, some climbs more noticeable than others.

Again, we rode through a canyon, this time the beautiful scenery of green left us and we came face to face with desert. In this stretch we also came across Mormon Crickets. We were told about them by other cyclists several weeks ago. They are huge, black, ugly things. And apparently, they bite. They made a squeaky squishy noise when we ran over them and left a stain on the road. They are cannibalistic. I tried swerving around them. We finally biked away from their area and have yet to see them again, thankfully.

We reached a store/cafe and had lunch. Just a grilled cheese sandwich, but it was so good. At this point, we have eaten and drank pretty much every type of thing so now nothing sounds good. But we have not had grilled cheese, and it was delicious.

We were not sure about our camping situation this night because it said it was run by Idaho Powers. We were thinking it was going to be a bit primitive. The owners of the store told us it was actually quite nice with showers. We were stoked. The Philly man showed up and we sat with him for a bit then we continued on. We passed two dams and had quite a view of the reservoir.

We made it to the Oregon line and was quite unimpressed and saddened by the sign that greeted us. We wanted such grandeur from our last state. But it was clear that not many people cross here. The campground was not that far away. After a short quick climb we were there and it was lovely (it had showers!!).

We got one of the few tent sites left next to a big group. They took about 5 to 6 spots. We were told about a swimming hole in the creek and went to go find it. It wasn’t an officially sanctioned swimming spot, but the cold water felt good.

Day 77- August 16

We had a long day today with several climbs. We tried leaving early, but still left around 8. We didn’t even make it 2 miles as we stopped at a store for a drink. We were now once again in Pacific time.

The ride was again through a canyon following a river. It was beautiful. We had one of the big climbs of the day and went down a steep hill. Many of these climbs I’m glad that I’m going up the way I am because the other direction seems more difficult. I did see 2 deers this morning!

We made it to Riggins for lunch. We caught up to the Philly man who left earlier than us. We had a huge lunch! It was incredible.

We had another big climb ahead of us and it was getting hot. It was desert at this point. No trees. We were riding through another canyon.

We got to the hill, maybe less than 15 miles from Baker City. It was 100 degrees and I was running low on water. I make it to the top of the hill and wait for Dad and the Philly man. Minutes go by. I should be seeing tops of their helmet. The top of the hill was at an angle so I couldn’t see them unless I biked a bit down, which I didn’t want to do since I just biked up.

I flagged a truck down and a nice woman pulls over. She says that they were fixing something on the side of the road, later I found out Dad got a flat. I asked her for water and she gave me some. I started crying. The heat and the fact that she gave me water was a lot for me. She took me down the mountain, but they were finished and already biking up. After a discussion it was decided that she would bring me back to the top and wait for them.

It was lovely to sit in her air conditioned car. When they got to the top, Dad came up with the idea that, since she offered to drive me the rest of the way, I can go with her and I can finish the miles the next day during our rest day. This way I can proudly say I biked 100% of the trail.

I know no one would fault me for not biking 10 miles for my health. But after biking this far….I needed to do all!

Please stay tuned for the next post for the rest of the story.

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