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Idaho, who knew? (and some stuff that happened in Washington)

July 23, 2010

One of the reasons we chose this particular route for our bike trip was that none of us had ever seen very much of the northwest. The landscapes of Wyoming and Montana seemed appropriate enough, but when it came to Idaho, I knew only the one thing that everybody knows – and what the Idaho license plate says – “famous potatoes.” I’m not sure if it was the reputation, or that morning’s measly single breakfast, but as we neared the Lolo pass summit (and border between Montana and Idaho) I was pretty sure we would be coasting down the hill through a sea of tubers – mashed, chunked, smothered, julienned, hashed, baked, twice-baked, french-fried and scalloped.

If it wasn’t for all the very pretty pine trees and sparkling Lochsa river to distract me, I would have been very dissapointed indeed.

For those of you who also expected Idaho to be one large tater tot, here are some pictures to set the record straight.

In addition to landscapes, Idaho also has neat things like the Jerry Johnson hot springs. After the first Idaho day’s ride we parked our bikes and even though it was already getting late, decided to brave the mile and a half hike into the woods to soak in a natural hot spring and chat with some uncharacteristically friendly deer.
It was lovely and we stayed until dusk. The night ended in a decidely less pleasant way as we pitched our tent in the dark at a nearby primitive campsite (at which we were the sole campers) and swatted gnats off our faces until we couldn’t stand it anymore and abandoned the picnic table to eat our dinner PB&J’s in the tent. Not our finest culinary moment…

The next day’s ride was a breeze, coasting down a hill for 60 miles and arriving at our destination near Lowell, ID in time for lunch. We spent the afternoon and evening in a quaint little campsite right on the river. We splashed around, talked with a fellow camper and female corrections officer at a local prison, layed on hot rocks, ate a makeshift version of spaghetti-o’s, roasted marshmallows on a fire and went to sleep to the sound of flowing water.

Our next day’s ride brought us through a town called Kooskia where we sat down and “accidentally” ate a giant second breakfast at the Rivers cafe. Jenny’s order of biscuits and gravy was notable not only for its deliciousness, and its bounty but also its uncanny resemblance to a small model of the north pole.

The rest of the day’s ride was more difficult than expected so we decided to stop 15 miles earlier than we’d planned and stay in the town of Ferdinand. Cyclists beware: do not camp in the yard of Dennis behind the Halfway Country Club (a bar). I will not bother explaining the sequence of events of this weird night but I will tell you that Dennis slurs his words, has “bad blood” with almost everyone in town, demanded a “half order” of our dinner and threatened to throw cantelope at our tent in the morning. It probably goes without saying that we were out of there bright and early…

Onto Lewiston, ID (actually Clarkston, WA which is right across the river) where Brad, owner of TNT cycles, father of 4, avid cyclist and all around awesome guy, resolidified our faith in humanity. We met Brad and his buddy Gregory at the local to have a beer and catch the tail end of that day’s Tour de France, which is now surprisingly fascinating to watch. We all had a nice big dinner together and stayed up late sharing stories and an ENTIRE half gallon tub of chocolate peanut butter ice cream. He sent us off in the morning with tummies full of matzo bry and apple juice. Thanks again, Brad. You rule.

The ride from Clarkston was uncommonly full of flat tires, hot headwind and hills. We just might have given up midway had we not had the home of Genie and Fred Crowe in Dayton, WA to look forward to. Genie, whose daughter happens also to be a cyclist our age, welcomed us in to her lovely abode atop a hill overlooking beautiful rolling hills of wheat. She fed us a tasty pasta dinner and, in order to satisfy our nasty ice cream habit, a few scoops of vanilla with her own home made rhubarb topping (yum). We took a moonlit walk around the yard, learned about fruit trees, dry peas and Fred’s home made beer made from wild hops. We climbed into bed (real ones) and woke up to home made buscuits, yogurt and granola. Sure is nice to stay with parents – even other people’s parents. Thanks, Genie and Fred, for making us feel so at home!

With our bellies full, we headed down the driveway and biked the quarter mile to Monteillet: a utopian goat farm and fromagerie. The ultra hip young farmers and cheesemakers kindly showed us around and taught us about cheese. We tried some samples, entertained the possibility of never leaving and then instead bought a log of soft ripened artisan cheese to take on the road. In my next life I will be a goat farmer.

The ride between Dayton and Walla Walla was short (30 mi) but windy enough that it still took us all day. There is lots to say about Walla Walla, but I think I have to end this epic blogpost here. Stay tuned for baby turkeys and piglets.

Jenny got stung by a bee for the first and second time:

We’ve confirmed the rumor: if you ask to buy a single ice cream at a Schwann truck, they will HAPPILY give you one for free (and then you will also be happy):


4 Comments leave one →
  1. barbara korein permalink
    July 23, 2010 9:59 pm

    Hey girls. What an adventure! So much beauty . . . and that cheese! But what about it, any potato sightings?

  2. jenny's mama permalink
    July 24, 2010 12:17 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful landscapes! (and wonderful photos)
    I’ll be so sad to have your adventure end – love reading your posts!

  3. bikerpat permalink
    July 24, 2010 1:13 pm

    Guest GMA quote of the day from Jim Malusa*:

    “Things look different from the seat of a bike carrying a sleeping bag with a cold beer tucked inside.”

    (*Author of “INTO THICK AIR”. The book is about his bicycle journeys to the lowest points on six continents.)

  4. Molly permalink
    July 25, 2010 11:23 am

    You had me at artisinal cheese……can’t believe you girls left that place.

    Stay safe!!
    Aunt Molly

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