Day 10, Idaho
From Riggins to Grangeville
I packed my camp in the dark, and headed down the street carrying my make-shift tarp poles back to where I had found them, in an aluminum scrap bin in back of the library. The streets of town were quiet, except for a few relics of last night's party shouting meaningless expletives to no one in particular.
Out of town the highway led along the Salmon River at the bottom of an improbably deep canyon. There was no traffic, I had the road to myself. In fact I seemed to have the whole world to myself out here, which is one reason why I like to rise early. The world is fresh at the beginning of a new day.
The highway was gradually sloped down in my favor, so I made some miles. I reached the next town, where the sign read "17 miles to White Bird" which came as a surprise. I must pay better attention to my map.
Hell's Canyon along the Snake River.
Nearing White Bird I stopped at a gas station for a hot drink to ward off the chill of a cold ride through the Hells Gorge. Anyway the sun was about to work its malaise, and I could now see the next long and steep hill. I had my work cut out.
As I pedaled slowly at great effort, I thought whoever belongs to the flat-earth society, had not ridden a bike on this road.
Halfway up the hill I stopped for a rest in the shade of a small pavilion commemorating a war with the Nez Perse Indian tribe. Grim times. But back to the present, I met a friendly couple from California out for a vacation. Not much of a note except to say that I'm meeting lots of nice people. If anyone thinks this is a grim and hostile world we live in, from watching so much bad news on the tv, that person has not gone on a bike trip. It's a real eye opener to find out what people are really like. Not everyone, granted, but I am certainly enjoying the vast majority so far.
To make a long story short, I eventually reached the top of the hill, but not before another interesting thing happened. I was walking my bike to give my legs something else to do, when a big 18-wheeler passed me slowly on its way down, and the driver, a young guy, leaned far out his window and grinning ear to ear, hollered: Come on, pedal! That cracked me up.
The downside of this pass wasn't so fast due to the roughness of the road and the traffic.
A mile or so outside the town of Grangeville I passed the golf and country club of the same name. I have never seen big hay bales (rolls) festooning a golf course but there they were, as though they had just been harvested. Talk about your small town ambiance. There were golf carts driving around, and everything.
I reached town at noon and stopped on a park bench to collect my thoughts. The day was yet too early to stop, but my body said otherwise. I felt bushed, I needed to do laundry, and my bike needed an adjustment job on the front derailleur - a job that I had put off for too long.
So I checked in to a motel.
Clothes washed, body scoured, and stomach fed a nice, wholesome meal, makes a guy feel like new.
The derailleur job took 45 minutes and now those gears work like a charm. Oh, I couldn't help but notice a revolver sitting on the seat of a nice Harley parked outside my door. I called to a couple sitting close by, and asked if the bike was theirs. No, but they had been watching things. By and by, the owners came around and did they ever look chagrined to find their pistol sitting in plain view.
Speaking of which, I look like I have three bullet holes in my abdomen - for real. One hole is where they put the camera in, one is for the tools, and the third hole is where they took the bad boy out (emergency appendectomy). The holes are healing up nicely, and I no longer look like I have so much of a pot belly. Hats off to you surgeons and doctors out there. We're glad you're there when we need you.
Another good day.
Miles pedaled today: 60