Tag Archives: idaho

Home Sweet Home

I have been home for just over a week now but haven’t posted about my last day of riding yet because I’ve been busy trying to wrap things up, settle back down, and just get myself back together.

That last day of riding was a breeze. My mom had warned me that it might rain, but I was prepared for the worst, just to get home.

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A funny sign in Idaho city.

I left Idaho city right around 10:30, which was about an hour from the time zone change, so I gained an hour before right away.  It was, for the most part, a nice day.  It was cloudy, but dry and not too much wind, even through the flat lands.   The closer I got to Oregon, the more giddy I got, and – don’t laugh – I actually cried when I saw the “Welcome to Oregon” sign.  Oddly, the time change sign didn’t appear for quite a few miles after the Oregon sign.  Time zones are weird, I tell you.

In Eastern Oregon, there were some mountains just West of Baker City that had a good covering of snow on the tips – this is good news for people in Portland because Mount Hood is significantly higher and must be getting dumped on.  If only I could get one snowboarding run in before shipping out… bad idea, I’d probably break another bone doing that, and then where would I be?

I stopped in Baker city for gas and actually forgot that there are gas pump attendants at gas stations here, something I thought I would never forget.  Too bad they don’t help much with motorcycles, anyway!

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Big ol’ thunderhead in the distance. Fortunately it turned out to be on the Washington side.

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I pulled over at a viewpoint near Arlington, Oregon for a minute to take a picture of the Columbia and the clouds I was riding toward.

Continuing on, I stopped for gas a couple more times, making sure to text my mom at each stop letting her know I hadn’t encountered rain yet.  I intentionally gassed up when I got to the Dalles because I wanted to just push through Hood River without the temptation or excuse to stop, and get home.  From the Dalles Portland is just over 100 miles, so I knew I’d be fine.

Then the rain hit, but only between the Dalles and Hood River.  And I wouldn’t even call it rain, more like sprinkles, or 6 inch rain, as my mom’s brother-in-law, Keith, has apparently dubbed it.

Though I was eager to get home as soon as possible, I couldn’t resist stopping to take a quick picture of Multnomah Falls.  Had I been super motivated, I would have taken highway 30 and enjoyed a nice scenic back road view, but I’ve done that and didn’t want to spend an extra hour doing so again.

One of the most majestic aspects of the Columbia River Gorge is the amount of scattered waterfalls throughout the topography.  Some you can see from Interstate 84, but not most.  I still want to see the Oneota Gorge that lies somewhere near Multnomah falls and is said to be visible only by walking through a knee-deep stream.  Multnomah Falls itself is the highest waterfall in Oregon, and arguably the second highest waterfall in the country, depending on the time of year when comparing the competitors.  Regardless of where it ranks, it is awesome to see in person.  My favorite hiking trails reside very close to the falls.

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When coming from the East, passing Multnomah Falls is when you know you’re practically home.

As I got closer to Portland, the threat of rain was beginning to look imminent.  Right about the time I crossed into Portland from Troutdale, I began to notice sprinkles on my visor.  By the time I was through the city and coming out of the Vista Tunnel, it was coming down hard.  Of course, typical Oregonian drivers, traffic slowed down while I managed to get soaked in the course of only a couple of miles.  I told you, God has a great sense of humor!

Needless to say, I got home in one soggy piece, happy as could be.  The mileage on my bike read 8,996.8 miles from the moment I left home in the first place.  Despite thinking about it and having many people suggest it since, I neglected to ride around the block a few times just to get it up to 9k.  It’s 9k anyway you look at it, to me.

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My total trip mileage was 8,996.8 miles; we’ll call it an even 9k.

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After riding through a quick downpour, a rainbow was visible when looking back toward Portland.

I unpacked all my soggy gear and headed to my parents for dinner.  It was so good to see my roommate and my parents.  To be able to hug them and just be in my space was a great relief.

The next day, I started back into training with the Army and at the gym myself.  Everyday I do some sort of workout which typically includes yoga and weightlifting, or running too much and an insanity workout for PT.

At the recruiting station, I brought all the recruiters their Big Sky Brewery special edition Battle of Mogadishu beer labels, which are not for sale and never will be.  These are the labels for beers that are only sent oversees to active duty, deployed troops.  However, the owner of Big Sky was kind enough to send these home with me and I managed to keep them all in one piece!

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The Battle of Mogadishu beer labels given to me by the owner of Big Sky Brewery for my recruiters. I framed the labels before giving them away.

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All the Sergeants at the recruiting station with their Battle of Mogadishu beer labels. (From Left: SGT Borror, SFC Curtis, SGT Baker, SGT Bobian, and SGT Gandia)

Expect to get a couple more updates before I take off in 19 days to basic training.  After that, I won’t be on here for at least three months.  If you’re interested in getting my address to send me letters during basic, please send me your email and address to wendthr@gmail.com and I will add it to a list of people my mom will contact when she gets my address.

Thanks again for reading and God Bless,

Heather

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Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse

Tuesday was a day full of potential but with no set plans.  Grandpa and I knew we wanted to take some of his guns out and shoot them, but other than that, everything was in the wind, so we made the most of it.

Once again, I woke up to a gourmet breakfast.  Scrambled eggs with cheese and onions, eggs, toast and orange juice.  Tomorrow grandpa says he’ll make me blueberry pancakes and bacon… I need to go on road trips more often if I want to be treated like a princess constantly!

After breakfast I wrote all of my postcards, addressed them, and stamped them.  Then we talked about the government throwing their big temper tantrum and solving nothing yet making it worse for us all, then we decided to get busy for the day.  We went to the garage and made a few more bullet necklaces, some of my friends and family had expressed an interest in getting one, so we made a few in only twenty minutes or so.  The part that took the longest was me writing personal notes in each and rolling it up before putting the lead projectile on the end, other than that, they were very easy.

Before long, we headed into town to send off my cards and a card grandpa was sending as well.  We ran into a local USFS gal who was just tying up loose ends at the post office before going home from work indefinitely thanks to the shut down.

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My last batch of postcards. I wanted to try to get everyone, so there are a ton!

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The bracelet I got at the trading post on Monday. Decided to add a picture.

Once finished at the post office, I suggested going to a used book store we passed.  Turns out it was just an extension of the local library and books weren’t priced, they were just whatever price we decided to donate.  I picked up four small books and we paid $5.  One is very short on how to best enjoy life, I’ll post a blog about it in a few days.  Another is on left-handed people of history.  And I can’t think of what the other two books were right now.  After the library we swung by grandpa’s girlfriend, Sandy’s house.  It is a beautiful house that doesn’t look old on the outside, but the inside has the characteristics of an old house, though it doesn’t seem old or worn out.  I think my favorite part of the whole place were the wooden beams in the living room and upstairs.  She has a huge kitchen with amazing appliances, too, but the beams and wooden accents gave it a rustic feeling.

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Hops on Sandy’s porch overlooking the small town of Idaho City. I’ve never thought of them being ornamental before!

My favorite room in general was more like a landing once you reached the top of the stairs.  Sandy owns an antique shop in town and likely came across most of her pieces for this space at her shop.  The space is Coca-Cola-themed and has everything from cups, to a phone, to lamps, and even a table and chairs with the Coca-Cola logo on them.  Some things were as new at 2007 as far as I could tell, and other seemed to be from the early 1900’s.  It was awesome to see all that memorabilia in there; I kept thinking how the guys from the American Pickers TV show would love this place.

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Sandy’s Coca-Cola room.

By the time we were done in town, the little bit of sprinkling rain from the morning had ceased and we were ready to go back to Grandpa’s house to get out the guns for some shooting practice.

We packed several handguns, ample ammunition, and the muzzle-loader for grandpa to practice with.

We drove about three miles out of town to shoot in a wooded area commonly used for such a purpose.

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The ammunition for the many handguns we brought along.

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Sandy’s beautiful Bursa. I really liked this little lady, and she is classy looking, too.

We made sure to use up all of the ammunition we brought, sparing no gun from use.  While my grandpa was getting some stuff together for a couple of the guns, I wandered off with our mostly empty bucket for spent shells.  I found a few that were left by other shooters and we collected the shells from the rounds we were using – this way grandpa could use them again for other rounds later.  While I was wandering, a creepy fat spider quickly crawling along the dirt caught my eye.  It took me a couple seconds to realize that it wasn’t a spider at all, but a teeny tiny toad.  I saw frogs this small in North Carolina, but they were all tree frogs.  This little bumpy dude seemed way too small for a toad, but he was cute anyway.  This entire time, I had the earmuffs on that hunters and shooters use to amplify sound, but loud noises are immediately cancelled out to protect the ear buds.  With these ear muffs on, I could hear the tiny toad croaking.  Every once in a while, he got irritated with me, stiffened up, croaked, and rolled over.  It was hilarious.  I think he was just camera shy.

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Tiny toad!!

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Glock 9mm, one of my favorites.

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Glock .45, my other favorite.

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Grandpa in his NRA shirt that says “Group Therapy” on the back. Notice the empty shell flying next to his right shoulder. Yep, I’m an artistic photographer.

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Small single-action .22

Apparently, I'm a pretty good shot.  I can't wait until I learn more in the Army and get even better.

Apparently, I’m a pretty good shot. I can’t wait until I learn more in the Army and get even better.

Armed and dangerous.

Armed and dangerous. I love the sound-enhancing ear muffs that cancel out all noise when a shot is fired.

After all the shooting practice and short lessons and facts my grandpa told me throughout the day, I know where I will be heading, should there ever be a zombie apocalypse. OR should the government remain in a stagnant state and I need to flee to a remote area of the country.  I’ll have access to all the ammunition and weapons needed, that’s for sure!

And this is how I'll mow down hoards of zombies one day.

And this is how I’ll mow down hoards of zombies one day.

Now, it’s time for me to head home.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to have such a great adventure on my motorcycle again, but I’m very glad I took the opportunity.  I know that many little things in my life have been changed and a few big things as well.

Also, I wanted you dedicated readers out there to know a quick funny story.  I’ll tell it short and simple like I told my mom because I was stunned by it.  Remember the amazing bartender, Andy, from Washington, D.C.?  Well, I had looked for him on Facebook without success, I figured he opted not to have one after getting back from being in Cameroon for over two years.  I was wrong, I just had his last name wrong, thankfully and he found me a couple of days ago.  Facebook is cool in that it tells you who your common friends are, I’ve made a few awesome friend connection discoveries this way before, and Andy was no different; we have one friend in common, Breanna Johnson.  Bre was one of my two little sisters in Chi Omega at Oregon State and I’ve kept in touch with her on and off since – she is a traveler at heart, much like me.  Randomly enough, Andy and Bre are cousins, though they haven’t seen each other in a very long time since his part of the family relocated to the east coast before he was a teenage, but he makes it out west occasionally.  Last week was one of those times.  Unfortunately their grandfather passed away and he flew out to Oregon for the funeral and got reacquainted with Bre there.  Small world? I think so.  Bre and I are having coffee on Friday to catch up, I can’t wait.  

It’s amazing how everything happens for a reason, though we often don’t know why until those reasons come to pass.  I am very thankful for all of the great moments of serendipity on this grand adventure.

-H

Backwoods Living

 

 

 

 

Yesterday was the first full day of adventures with my grandfather here in Idaho.  I woke up bright and early in hopes of going hunting and possibly shooting a doe or an elk, as it would be the last day of the hunting season for either in this area.

When I first came downstairs, I noticed a giant flock of wild turkeys running in the front yard.  For the last couple of years, I had listened to my grandfather telling me that he sometimes shot turkeys from his front porch, and he definitely wasn’t kidding.

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Turkeys in the front yard.

Before long, my grandfather whipped up an enormous breakfast consisting of turkey bacon (store bought, not front yard shot), eggs, and toast.  For not being a breakfast guy, he sure makes one heck of a morning meal.  It was still sprinkling rain outside, but we were determined to at least go look for things to shoot.  Since I have never been hunting before, this is as close as I’d get.  My undergraduate degree was in animal sciences, so I am well versed in the growth and harvest of animals for human consumption and am not at all sensitive about the subject; I apologize in advance if I offend any vegetarians out there, but it’s just the way things have to be if you want to try to live off the land and feed your body the nourishment it requires.

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Grandpa telling me stories. I think storytelling runs in the family, but I’m sure his visual aids (like sitting on the floor) are better than mine often are.  Also, can you believe this guy is almost 70?  I think there is fountain of youth out here 😛

We wandered around the local forest area for almost two hours, I think, but without any luck.  The only animal I saw was a tiny (well, normal-sized) chipmunk and some birds.  We came back to the house to warm up a bit before moving on to other things.

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The literary collection of a mountain man, that’s for sure. These are Grandpa’s coffee table books along with a pair of binoculars.

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Searching the back roads for game, without success.

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Fog between the many rolling hills over Idaho City.

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A woodpecker’s nest out in the woods. My niece calls them “woodpackers,” haha.

After warming up a bit, the sun decided to come out and I thought I’d go outside and attempt to rinse off my bike.  Poor Annie was covered in gunk, but it was fortunately easy to wash off.  I took a few before and after pictures.

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Sand, silt, and mud dried on the back and underside of my Kawasaki.

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The front wheel and muffler pipes of the Kawi before washing her. The bottom black pan for catching oil had at least 1/2 an inch of dirt and sand (see picture after next).

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She doesn’t look so bad from a distance, but it was sad to see her this bad.

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All the crud stuck in the bottom fairing before I got to washing it out.

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Clean after a quick rinse!!

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Fortunately, the silt, sand, and mud was very easy to rinse out.

After cleaning my bike, Grandpa wanted to show me some of the toys in his garage.  The main toy was a big tool to facilitate the homemaking of ammunition.  He has all the supplies and just reuses the casings constantly.  The tool in the following picture removes the primer from old casing, inserts a new primer into the casing, reshapes the casing to make sure it isn’t warped, prepares the casing for the lead projectile, the person then adds the appropriately measured gunpowder, and the tool securely installs the projectile into the top of the casing.  The entire process can take less than a minute if you have already weighed out the gunpowder.

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Grandpa showing me how to make ammunition by hand.

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A finished 9mm bullet that grandpa made right then and there.

After seeing how the bullets were made, I had the idea of creating a necklace using a casing and projectile.  Of course I didn’t add gunpowder and left the primer out to have a hold for the necklace chord.  The necklace turned out to be very cool and it took us less than ten minutes to figure it all out.  I have a picture of it at the end of this post.

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Grandpa in his ‘coon hat and camouflage ensemble in front of his gorgeous house.

After getting crafty, we decided it was time for a late lunch.  We went down to a little restaurant in Idaho City called Donna’s placed and gorged ourselves on chili hamburgers and chili dogs.  I picked up a few Idaho postcards and we ordered two heavenly milkshakes to take outside.  Since the sun was finally out, it was nice to get to soak in it for a bit.

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I’m definitely going back on my diet when I get home on Wednesday.  

Our next stop was to the Idaho City Trading Post across the street.  My grandpa says he buys quite a few great things at this shop and figured I’d enjoy it.  I did.  The store had many handmade crafts such as earrings, necklaces, hats, scarves, bracelets, woodcarvings, and more.  I attempted to talk the shop owner into selling her beautiful earrings and necklaces on Etsy, like I do my dog collars; she said she’d look into it.  I left there only buying a cute pair of silver owl earrings and a cool leather bracelet with a metal hibiscus flower pendant tied onto it.

Shortly after, we headed to the post office to pick up some more stamps, then it was back home for the evening.  Well, almost.  On our way back, grandpa thought it would be cool to take me up to the town’s pioneer cemetery.  Supposedly, 3,000 people are buried there, though only about 300 graves are marked.  Creepy!

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Umphrey P. Sept. 1889 to Feb. 1892. Young kid just after the gold rush days.

It was amazing how old some of the graves were, yet they were in decent condition.  After wandering around the cemetery for a bit, we decided to call it a day.  Back at the house, grandpa was trying to figure out his muzzle-loader after having shot it this morning with one misfire and one successful shot.  Apparently, these guns can be loaded and stored that way, but if they sit too long, the shot doesn’t work.  It certainly is a laborious task to load one of these bad boys, a whole lot different than just throwing in a bullet or snapping in a magazine.  I would explain the process, but I’m sure I would give you incorrect information.  Just think about guns around the time of the civil war and how they had to reload and shoot them.  That’s how this bad boy works.

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I think at this point, he was actually reloading the muzzle-loader rather than cleaning it, though it all looks the same, I think.

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My 9mm necklace (along with the two of the three other necklaces I’ve acquired during this trip and my Aries necklace).

I’m off to bed for the night, but I’ll add today’s adventures tomorrow with another round of photos.  Tomorrow I’ll be heading home.  I’m sure I’ll hit rain, but I’m positive it’s worth the effort.  I’m very excited to have dinner with my parent’s and to get to see all the fuzzy animals again.  I miss my kitty that lives with them and I’m sure their golden retriever puppy has tripled in size since he was twelve weeks old when I left and is now around eighteen weeks old.

-H

Dodging Tumbleweeds

Yesterday, I had intended to leave Salt Lake City at 9am, but, per usual, took my time taking off and left just before 10am.  Leaving the valley was as beautiful as it was coming in.  I had never realized how large the whole of Salt Lake City was until I had gone sixty miles north on interstate 15 and still wasn’t out of it.  The sun was trying to come through, but I had checked the forecast several times in the morning and knew it wouldn’t last for me the further north I went.

For the most part, I didn’t get in trouble with weather as I thought I would.  I had some sprinkles of rain, but not enough to chill me.  The most intense weather we the high gusts of wind between the Idaho border and Mountain Home, Idaho.  Gusts would blow me clear across my lane, even if I was bracing for them.  It was raining a bit, but I was more concerned about the tumbleweeds that kept popping out of the ditch and racing across the interstate.  Deer are much easier to predict than these things; at least with deer you can somewhat read their scatter brained fight or flight decisions.  With tumbleweeds, you can’t read the wind, not in the middle of a flat interstate, anyway.  I only hit a very tiny weed, and I was behind a car when it his a decent-sized weed, though it shattered into a million pieces and didn’t bother me; other than that, the ride went without incident.

The way that interstate 84 is set up running through the middle of many mountains and hills, it seems like it funnels win a little too well.  I guess Idaho and Oregon have learned to take advantage of this because both states have put up hundreds of wind turbines to generate power in the last ten years or more.

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Looking back toward Idaho City to see the fog creeping up the valley.

When I took my exit for Idaho City, just before Boise, I got gas and called my grandpa.  Where he lives there is very little chance any cell phone provider will have decent service.  From interstate 84 I was about 39 miles from his house.  Taking Idaho highway 21 North was beautiful, even in the light rain.  The roads are well maintained, the curves are wide, and the scenic view was amazing.  The first part of the road is even with the water of a river running along side of it.  The water is on the lower side of the damn and there is a sufficient barrier between the road and river, so it’s not dangerous, but definitely something to look at.  As I got deeper into the mountains, fog and clouds were hanging around, making everything look so majestic.  All of it really took my breath away.

I got into Idaho City then followed my grandpa’s instructions to take a dirt road a couple miles to his house; I didn’t follow the instructions very well because I couldn’t find his place and had to ride around in the mud for a while.  My new tires are awesome for rain, but a little iffy in the mud and sand.  Fortunately, I’ve got the balance thing down – Annie (my bike) and I are on our own wavelength these days, and we had no incidents.

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All mucked up after about 5 miles in the sandy mud. The front is even worse.

My grandpa lives in an awesome cabin-type home.  I’d say it’s the closest thing anyone lives in these days to a real log cabin, but with all the great amenities and luxuries of a modern home.  I’ll take a picture of it for the next post.

After settling in, we headed back into town for some dinner.  My grandpa’s favorite dinner spot is called Diamond Lil’s.  They served a delicious open-faced prime rib with mashed potatoes, corn, and a spicy horseradish that I loved.  It was a home-cooked meal without all the clean up.  The restaurant, as my grandpa said, is like a museum.  All over, different denominations of various currencies are either hanging from the rafters, framed, or taped to the walls.  I found a rack of old beer cans, funny old war posters, and historical maps.  Holly, the woman running the place, gave us a grand tour and told us that the building was built in the 1800’s and the few brick walls in the place contained brick that was created not far away.  Idaho City was birthed during the age of the Gold Rush and at one point had the largest population in the northwest, even bigger than Portland.  Of course, that was only 7,000 people in 1864 (thank you Wikipedia), but that was huge back then, and certainly bigger than the current population of 500 or so.  I like the town.  The old buildings have character and exude history.  Grandpa and Holly said that many of the bricks in the building and rocks in the area still have gold in them.

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Can you spot the little snow ball?

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Canned beer, in real cans.

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View of the Diamond Lil’s Bar.

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Let’s have another war because it’ll be cheaper than the first…

imageAfter dinner, we grabbed some ice cream and beer from the small store on the corner and headed home.  We called it a night pretty early.

Today, we may go try to hunt some deer or elk because it is the last day of the season.  Yesterday I saw a nice doe from the side of the road, but we were occupied with going to dinner.  Maybe I’ll bring some luck today.  It is pouring buckets outside, which will make it fun to try to stay dry, but it’s supposed to clear up tomorrow and Wednesday.

We will make the best of the day 🙂

H

Mountain Standard Time

On Monday, I left my Dad’s house at 1pm Pacific Standard Time.  I took my time in the morning working out, showering, playing with the many kittens they have, walking the garden with my little sister, and taking some quick photos.  It took me almost two hours to get to Pullman, Washington, where I had originally planned to meet my friend Morgan for lunch, but obviously I was running late.  On the way there, I had stopped to get gas, postcard stamps, and deposit some money into the bank.  I also had some trouble along the way with my spare gas can leaking on its own, no matter how much I tightened the cap, so I had to figure out a better solution to the way it was packed.

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Emma, myself, and our toys Bun Bun, Ted, and Ted Jr. We’re a wild bunch!

It took me almost two hours to get to Pullman, Washington, where I had originally planned to meet my friend Morgan for lunch, but obviously I was running late.  On the way there, I had stopped to get gas, postcard stamps, and deposit some money into the bank.  I also had some trouble along the way with my spare gas can leaking on its own, no matter how much I tightened the cap, so I had to figure out a better solution to the way it was packed.

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My new Saint Christopher, the patron saint of traveling, medallion from Morgan.

Once I got to Pullman, I met Morgan at Jimmy Johns, right in the middle of the Washington State University campus and Greek Row.  He was kind enough to send me off with some funds for the trip and a Saint Christopher Medallion – the patron saint of travelers.  I had also attempted to see my grandparents at their studio, but they weren’t in.

From Pullman, I traveled North on highway 27 through towns I had grown up near and traveled to for either my soccer games or my sister’s basketball games.  I passed through Palouse, Garfield, Oakesdale, and Tekoa.  I had to stop and get gas in Garfield, and I wish I would’ve taken a picture of the gas pump to show you how archaic it was, but I forgot.  It was so hot, I was sweating bullets and my camelback, which I had filled in the morning, was over half empty; my brain was like a scrambled egg.  This is probably why I accidently took 27 all the way up to Tekoa, before realizing I should have gone to highway 95 from Palouse.  When I was in Tekoa, I came to a t intersection with one sign pointing left for Westbound highway 27, and one sign pointing right for Northbound highway 60.  I was very confused and my GPS was not working in the middle of nowhere, so I pulled to the shoulder, put my hazards on, dropped my kickstand, and began to pull out my map.  In an instant, I felt my bike rocking to the right.  I hadn’t realized it, but my front tire was partly on asphalt, partly on gravel, and the gravel only went about two feet before it sloped off at least 10 feet down to a field of weeds.  I did what I could to not let my bike fall over, but the gravelly shoulder gave way under my foot.  Before I knew it, my bike was resting on my enormous saddle bag, I was muttering a flurry of swearwords and sarcastic remarks like, “well that’s awesome,” and the occasional passenger vehicle would drive by and stare.  I took a couple minutes to regain composure and realize that my ridiculous gas can was leaking, again, this time straight into my bag.  At this point I kept thinking I must’ve put my Saint Christopher medallion on wrong, or something.  When I was back to nearly composed, I attempted to lift my bike up.  Nope, nothing.  The heat was too much, I was still sweating like Lebron in a playoff game, and the soft shoulder made it incredibly awkward.  A car that had passed by only a couple minutes before with a mother and her two daughters had come back by for the second time, and I was thoroughly embarrassed.  I noticed them drive about 200 feet and turn around, likely to see if they could help.  All I could think about was how I did not want these three to get hurt helping me, so I better life this sucker up now.  I bent my knees, remembered the lines in my Soldier’s Creed: “I will never accept defeat.  I will never quit.”  And dug deep.  To my surprise, I lifted the beast, what I estimate to be about 450lbs with all my gear, and settled it back onto the pavement.  At this point, a UPS driver had pulled up and was getting out of his delivery truck to see if I needed help and the woman and her two girls were pulling up to make sure I wasn’t broken down.  Still shaken, I expressed my thanks for their concern, and they were on their way.

After all that, I checked the map, figured out where to go, and got the heck out of Dodge…. Er Tekoa… stupid town.  I was, and still am, taken aback by the selflessness of some people, and how they will go out of their way to help even the most random of strangers. Though they didn’t end up physically helping me, those people definitely encouraged me to dig deep, and I’ll probably never forget that moment, the epitome of being an awkward turtle.  Trust me, it was awkward.

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The ominous looking thunderhead leading the way toward Idaho and Montana.

By the time I got going again, it was 5:30PST, and it was still hot out.  I took my arms out of the sleeves of my jacket, but kept the jacket wrapped around my waist.  My GPS was still of no help, but I figured once I got onto 95, I would begin to see signs for I90 East, and from there I’d get to Missoula.  On the Eastern horizon, above the rolling wheat fields, I could see an ominous looking thunder cloud, right in the direction I needed to be, I stared at this beast until I reached Highway 95.

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Riding East toward Missoula, the first hour of my ride through Montana looked like this. Sunset was gorgeous.

95 took me up the east side of Coeur d’Alene Lake, which was when I realized I was definitely in Idaho, but had somehow missed the sign letting me know after Tekoa.  The lake was beautiful, nestled in the rolling mountains with the sun beginning to set.  Somehow, the smell of the Idaho forest was different than the smell of Oregon forests that I’m used to; it was still refreshing, though.  Without stopping, I found interstate 90 and crossed the entire panhandle of Idaho.  I came to the crest of the Bitterroot Mountain Range sometime around 7pm PST, when I passed under the sign saying “Welcome to Montana (Time Zone Change to Mountain Standard Time).  What a relief that was!  I was finally out of familiar territory and onto the great unknown: Montana!  The speed limit increased from 70mph to 75mph, which to me seems crazy because the mountain roads started to get curvier.  My butt began to feel real sore, my knees were starting to ache, and I was getting hungry again, but signs said Missoula was still 180 miles away.  My gas tank was still reasonably full, so I pulled myself together and told myself I was not going to stop unless absolutely necessary.  It was bad enough that I was running so late – I had planned to be in Missoula by 5pm – but I was still staring at the thunderhead in the distance, hoping that I wouldn’t run into rain while my jacket was still off.  The air was still warm, for the most part.  In the mountain range I would occasionally ride through chilly patches of air, then by instantly greeted again with a plume of warm air.  Little things like this keep the ride interesting.

I rode until I saw the first sign that told me Missoula was less than 100 miles to go.  Somewhere just west of St. Regis, Montana, off of interstate 90, I stopped to get gas, go pee, eat a quick snack, stretch, put my jacket on, and call my evening’s host to warn him I was running extremely late.  I completed all of that, except my cell phone still had no service – thanks AT&T, you suck.  The gas station’s pay phone was out of order, and the guy behind the counter was apprehensive about me using the store’s phone.  Fortunately, I had struck up a conversation with an Iowa native (as his license plates confirmed) while pumping gas, who overheard that I was in need of a phone.  Turns out he is a motorcycle enthusiast himself, though the Hyundai Sonata said otherwise, on his way to move out to Whidby Island, Washington.  The thirty-something, ex-Navy, generous bystander let me borrow his cell phone, which had full coverage thanks to Verizon, to call my host.  My host was fine with me showing up sometime after 10pm MST, and I was humbled again by the random acts of kindness by strangers.  I like to sum it up to the fact that I have saved up a decent amount of good Karma and that God knows I really need all the help I can get on this trip.  That, or I have one of those desperate looking faces that anyone would love to help…  I’m hoping it’s not the latter.

The rest of the trip was uneventful, thank God.  I discovered that, like Oregon, Montana has no sales tax; people don’t really go as fast as they want when driving – there are posted speed limits, usually 75mph, and highway patrol; and there are speed limits for day time driving, and reduced limits for night time driving.  This last one weirded me out when I saw two speed limit sign poles, each with two speed signs on them, within twenty feet of each other.  From far away, I thought the department of transportation in Montana must just be quirky, but one sign was day and night speed for regular traffic and the second was day and night speed for trucks; 75/65 and 65/55, respectively.

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Grizzly, the handsome chocolate lab, and my roommate for the night.

660 miles from Beaverton, Oregon, I finally arrived at my destination just after 10pm MST last night.  I sent texts to all my loved ones letting them know I had survived, and fell asleep.  I ended up sharing my room with a handsome chocolate lab that must be about 4 years old and passes gas like crazy.  He was welcome company to have, as I don’t particularly like strange places, especially in a place I’ve never been.

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See if you can spot Grizzly in this photo. He’s a clever one.

The place I’m staying at is very close to Missoula and much like a hostel, so it is quite welcoming.  I will stay here another night, as I’m supposed to see Rebelution and Matisyahu at some point this evening.

Now, to get the gas smell out of my saddlebags and tennis shoes…

-H

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More bugs…