Bike Tour 2022 – Jackson to Darby

We ate breakfast in the bunkhouse. Mine consisted of PB&J on two semi bagels (flat bread with a hole in the middle), a banana, and some Dot’s pretzels. Nutrition is my middle name.

We headed north through the Big Hole Valley for 12 miles where we found Wisdom. We were looking for enlightenment but settled for some snacks. It should be noted that Wisdom is the mosquito capital of Montana.

We headed west for ten miles and stopped at the site of the Bog Hole Battlefield. This is where the U. S. Army attacked a Nez Pierce encampment at dawn. The Army set their teepees afire at dawn, burning to death men, women, and children. A fierce battle ensued with the Nez Perce woefully outgunned and undermanned. The Nez Perce escaped only to be chased down farther north where they surrendered. Chief Joseph, their leader, famously said: “We will fight no more forever.”

The Army was following a policy called manifest destiny. It was God’s will that white people should conquer the lands of the west. I wonder if God was pleased when Nez Perce children were burning to death.

The next 16 1/2 miles were a gradual then increasingly challenging climb culminating in our reaching Chief Joseph Pass (elevation, 7,241). There was no sign. Corey made it up more slowly than usual but he made it. A good sign for the days ahead. He reports this evening that his back is feeling better.

We dropped down one mile along the Idaho/Montana border until we reached Lost Trail Pass. It’s a treat to go through a pass while going downhill.

Next the fun began. We descended seven miles through a series of banked curves. The scenery was amazing but I can’t say I took full enjoyment of it as I was trying not to die.

After the descent we rolled north through the Bitterroot Valley, gradually riding downhill. Last year the forest in this area burned. It was quite a site to see the aftermath up close on both sides of the road.

We made a pit stop in Sula where the deli had just closed before our arrival. As we ate and drank convenience food stuff, Mark called ahead to Darby (elevation 3,885 feet) to secure our lodging for the night, a two-bed cabin. Mark is sleeping on the floor. The cabin is small. Corey and I will try not to step on him if we need to use the bathroom in the night.

Corey is cooking tortellini and making a salad in the cabin’s kitchen. We’d help but the kitchen isn’t wide enough for two people.

Miles today: 77. Tour miles: 2,337.5

Wisdom is the Nez Perce word for Mosquito
Named for the best golden retriever that ever was.

Any Road Tour: Day 46 – Downriver on another tailwind

Last night I stayed in an RV park behind a 24 hour gas station across a busy highway from some railroad tracks. Let’s just say it wasn’t the deepest sleep I’ve ever had.

I was on the road around 7 with a gas station breakfast burrito in hand. It didn’t suit my tummy but it was fuel and I used it.

I followed the Pend Oreille River west to Newport Washington where I had second breakfast: pancakes, OJ, and coffee. A vast improvement over the burrito.

I crossed the river back into Idaho then took a turn that brought me back to Washington for good. Bye, Idaho.

In addition to a fine tailwind the skies were blue and the trees were green.

The air is incredibly clean; you can smell the pines. And there are terrific views around every bend in the road.

I stopped to chat with two credit card tourers. (No camping gear, just a couple of panniers.) They had just talked with Martin, my Swiss buddy from North Dakota and Montana! He rode north through Glacier National Park instead of west through Missoula. I was tempted to try an catch him but I still had 40 miles to ride today and a big climb tomorrow morning.

Today I rode through an Indian reservation. Aside from tribal headquarters, a sign directing people to the pow wow site, and a big nylon teepee in a backyard, I didn’t notice much difference.

The reservation did have many more American flags than elsewhere. Which brings to mind the fact that I’ve seen three Confederate flags in the last two days. (Y’all are a little out of the way for that. Try a swastika instead.)

I passed a sign for a grotto so I stopped and hiked up the groomed switchback trail. Mostly it was naturally formed. One chamber up some stone steps had a stone altar.

For some reason it occurred to me to check the odometer on The Mule. It had just passed 49,000 miles.

The next oddity on the road was a driveway to nowhere bordered by two Stonehenge-like stone circles. I am pretty sure that I would be recruited for a woo woo cult so I hit out of there after taking a picture or two.

The bridge to Ione, my destination, looked fantastic from a distance. The bridge deck was a metal grate. The Mule was swaying all over the place as we crossed. I am glad it was dry or I’d have fallen for certain.

I am camping at an RV place again. It’s quiet. I have a clean shower, laundry, WiFi, and a soft lawn for my tent. Now if only I hadn’t left my razor back at last night’s campsite.

Miles: 81.5

Trip Miles: 3,356.5

End of trip note: I booked a flight home for the 21st out of Portland, partly to meet a DC friend their on her birthday, the 19th, but also to be at home for my son’s visit from overseas. My friend canceled her trip to Portland and my son canceled his trip home so it looks like I have no reason to rush.

I’ll reschedule my flight when I get to Puget Sound. I’m thinking I’ll stay an extra week, including a day or two in Seattle.

I love how my friends are making suggestions for things to visit. They often come a day late or are days off route. One frustrating thing about travel is you are always going to miss something. I am grateful for what I have seen or will see in the days ahead. People I talked to said he road from here to Puget Sound is truly astoundingly pretty. I can’t wait.

Any Road Tour: Day 45 – Hanging by an ear

Today’s ride was less of a downhill stroll. And the winds were a non factor. I rolled the first five miles while eating a hot breakfast burrito. Yes, the Mexicans so many fear in these parts have invaded the sanctity of breakfast.

It was muy bueno.

More tree covered hills and more mountains that would make a bighorn sheep happy. And a river by my side. Ho hum, beautiful country to bike through.

Thirty miles into my ride I passed into Idaho. There was a proper Welcome to Idaho sign after this but I was cruising downhill at 34 mph when I saw it. Not about to stop for that.

The road became much busier as I approached Sandpoint. And the shoulder disappeared for ten miles. Yay, Idaho.

I didn’t much care because Lake Pend Oreille was on my left for over 20 miles.

Although I didn’t photograph it, I could see two ski resorts up in the mountains above Sandpoint.

When I rolled into Sandpoint I celebrated my escape from Montana with a root beer float. That was just after I checked out the town beach.

After the ice cream I went to a bike shop to use a floor pump, I was running at 55 psi. I’ll need 80 for the hills ahead.

Before leaving town I stopped st a restaurant for dinner. Chicken fettuccine with cherry pie for desert. (Apparently huckleberries are not an Idaho thing.)

On the bike path out of town a woman rode by on an electric assist bike. She works from home but uses the ebike to commute to meetings in town. She was my friend Charmaine’s doppelgänger.

We were riding along when she veered off the trail. She told me it was closed ahead and directed me to a side road to continue my journey. She also told me of a state park just 6 miles beyond a crummy RV Park I was going to use on the highway,

I called the state park reservation line but they refused to reserve s spot on short notice. They told me to call the park directly. When I did, I got a recording telling me to call the reservation line.

So I’m staying at the RV park. Good thing I have my ear plugs.

I made a reservation to fly home from Portland on the 21st. This is probably too aggressive and means I’ll skip Seattle altogether, riding instead to the Pacific coast at Astoria.

I am hoping to get to Portland to help celebrate a friend’s birthday. And see two other people. And go to Multnomah Falls, and ship my bike home, and buy two duffle bags for consolidating my bike stuff at the airport.

In any case, I can change it if I need to.

Miles today: 73

Tour miles: 3,275