Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 79: Riggins, ID

We took a rest day in Missoula several days ago which is where the Adventure Cycling Association office is located. They give ice cream and soda to all the bike tourists who drop into their office. They gave us a tour of their office which has a lot of neat pictures and old bikes from the BikeCentennial. They gave us a picnic lunch and we got to meet and swap stories with all the employees. There are about 20 employees and nearly all of them commute to work by bike. Actually, Missoula is a bike-friendly city with lots of bike paths. The cars often insisted that we get the right-of-way. Of all the cities I have seen on this trip thus far, I'd like to return to Missoula to spend some time getting to know the city.

After Missoula, we crossed Lolo Pass which is the border beyween Montana and Idaho and followed a river downhill for about 80 miles. It was a great ride, especially being downhill, and tall pines and hillsides overshadowed the road and river. At times, the river reminded me of the movie "A River Runs Through It." There were a lot of river rafters and fly fishermen. The route follows the route that Lewis and Clark took on their expedition, so the roadside is littered with historical markers about them. The three days out of Missoula, I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere and there were very few services, much less phone reception. I am surprised we did not see a bear because it sure did look like bear country. I had an amazing sighting of a bald eagle. He flew directly at me and swooped 20 feet above my head...made my day.

Tonight we are sleeping in Riggins, ID which seems to exist merely to support rafting tourists. The town is in a valley between two very steep mountains. One thing I have enjoyed about this trip is seeing how quickly the scenery, vegetation, wildlife, etc. changes. Just 50 miles back, the mountains were covered by evergreens, but here it is somewhat arid and pretty hot (not Texas hot though). Idaho is a state that I never hear or think much about, but I have been shocked by how beautiful northern Idaho is. I would enjoy bike touring through this area again in the future.

I am sitting in a restaurant as I type this out on my iPhone. The rest of my group just left and apparently had a conversation with an old man outside who just entered and sat at the table next to me with a group of people. The old man said to the rest of his table: "Those people out there are amazing... Guess what they are doing?!? 43 hundred some odd miles on bikes! That sounds like a crash course in death or maybe a preparation for the rest of life." I wonder if he is right...

As soon as I get to a proper computer I will post plenty of pictures. Hang tight.


mom said...

Hi Chad,
I like the old man's more optimistic view that your 4300 mile trip is a preparation for the rest of your life.
We'll see you in one week.
Love, Mom

allie said...

i love accidentally overhearing a good compliment.

i think i might be sending you mail. well, not so much you as terry. but i'll entrust it first to the usps, then to you. expect it in willamette.

Anonymous said...

Chad, I got your post card today. It is so funny. I love it. See you next week. Dad