Monthly Archive: June 2010

Thoughts and Tie Hackers

The road is forgiving. It rises and falls, dips and sways, shady and often barren. It is ever changing.Time is not.  When I see the weather change, the wind rise and the rain fall, temperatures drop, I cannot hesitate. My day must begin. Each movement is directed forward. Awake at 5:30. Brush teeth, clear the eyes.Eat breakfast, pack stroller, load, drive, unload, goodbyes. Start beacon, check flags, food, water, begin. Walk, run, breathe, dream….check flag on phone, stop, read name, think, thank you, place, salute, move on. Run. Drink, Eat, Run….do it again and again and again. I love these days. They are each unique and new and refreshing.

As I left the shadow of the Tetons behind I headed up over Togwatee Pass. At just over 9600 it climbs steadily at a 6 percent grade for 17 miles. Imposing? Yes, and even more as the rain and winds move in. My rain gear gets put on and the Snickers bars come out. Chocolate does amazing things at this altitude, it is the great equalizer. Snow comes and how cool is this!!! June 12th almost on top of the Continental Divide and snow! The fog grows. Motor homes and travel trailers move slowly by. I need coffee. Pretty much always, when it gets to be 2 p.m. Hmmmm nothing up here so over the top and down, down, down I roll. Often I forget what I am doing. I feel little below the waist and I look around as if I am in a slowwwwwww moving car….

The Tie Hackers logged this area of Wyoming over 75 years ago. Trees were felled then given to the Hackers who squared them up in exact dimensions and the “ties” were then sent down a flume on the side of the hill into the Wind River and floated down to Riverton, WY. Backbreaking work for low pay. Paid only so much for the ties that you did. I can only imagine the harshness of the comditions. At the Triangle C Dude Ranch I am greeted by the staff and enjoy beef brisket and potatoes and sauteed veggies, salad and cake and ice cream. Above the bar are various boots nailed to the crossbeam of the ceiling. These are boots of prior employees or someone who had died there. Nice. I am encouraged by the outlook on life the young staff has. They are intelligent and in or recently graduated from college. They are positive and energetic and it is contagious. As  I leave the rain continues. The road forgives and time continues to relentlessly move me forward towards that landmark in Dubois……………..the giant Jackelope!! …….

Rainy days and Snakes and Mocha

I am now but a few miles from leaving Idaho and I do not expect my experience with the rain and the snakes to end anytime soon. Two days ago as I was somewhere between I-15 and Rexburg, ID I began the count…..1 rattlesnake….dead….2…3….4….5……time out…..I have to make a detour off the road. The rain is  coming down, the stroller wheels sink into the mud, my shoes follow…for the love of God!!! I just have to go to the bathroom!!! To top it off the mosquitoes are out….way to early for here…and devour chunks of my bare skin….more mud and back to the pavement….6….wow, that was a big one………7………….jiminy geezuz what is with the snakes???? The smell of sage permeates the air, the dampness and rain take me back to the days of youth when my brothers and I would play in the street and pop tar bubbles filled with rain….Illinois seems so far away…….I still have remnants of a mocha from 3 days ago in my veins and to tell that story I must set the stage. I was lucky enough to have one night of camping along Birch Creek. A wonderful soak for the legs in cool waters followed by beef bbq, cole slaw and beans and of course chocolate milk and then a fire. My friend Hope brought his expresso maker and the next morning was going to make me a mocha…..butttttttt no electricity. So we zip up the road to Lone Pine. All 13 inhabitants are sleeping, hungover, I assume based on the amount of beer bottles lying around. Hope unplugs the ice machine on the porch of the store and plugs in his expresso maker and proceeds to whip me up the most delicious mocha without stirring up a single slumbering soul….ahhhh the magic of the road, snakes to dance around and coffee to dream about up ahead in Driggs….

Wide Open Spaces

Heading south out of Salmon, Idaho  I see the plains open up in a wide expanse of vegetation between the Bitterroots and Lemhi Mountain Ranges. It is quiet out here in a soothing way with much less traffic. I can probably count the cars that pass me each day on my hands and left foot. I stop briefly in Tendoy at the tendoy Store and speak with Viola, a white haired woman behind the counter. In her 80s and with an infectious smile, she had heard of me on the radio and knew i was coming. She shares a bit of history. Tells me that Sacajewea was not born in Salmon as they claim but 2 miles outside of Tendoy. It is an area rich with Lewis and Clark lore. A few of their encampments are nearby with the history exhibited on large wooden historical markers along the road. A short distance from the store I take a picture of the oldest working 1 room schoolhouse in Idaho, established in 1912. Like so many things it will one day close its doors and the stories, the laughter, the knowledge shared within will be gone forever. Late in the day I roll into Leadore which sits at 6000 feet and stay at the Leodore Inn which is run by Mike and Aleta Reis. A pleasant and hardy couple they interest me with their lifestyle and love of this valley. Mike is a taxidermist part time and Aleta makes porcelain dolls in her spare time. They tell me stories of the history of this town. How the population grew to 600 in the 1920s, dwindled to a few hundred in the 1940s and now sits at less than 75. A rail station once ran through here but was short lived and the tracks were pulled to support the WWII effort. I hear stories of people who come and go on the road. One night the state patrol dropped someone off he had picked up in a nearby canyon. The next morning the patron is seen walking outside down the street…….naked…….Mike goes out and says “Look, you gotta put some clothes on” at which the man replies “The birds don’t wear any” at which Mike replies ” Well I don’t see any feathers on your ass, so get some on”…………ahhhhh yes we never know what or whom we will encounter…….Tommorrow I roll out of here and will go over 1000 miles and 1000 flags.  As I finished today, which was particularly hard because it was 33 miles of gradual climbing all day, I looked upward and said thank you. You see, when I look up its not really the sky I see, but rather those faces of those who are gone, looking down on me, smiling. They carry me and protect me and hold the gate open for me when I start again tommorrow…On, On my friends.

Memorial Day Weekend Travels

Friday dawned to a dreary, cloudy day that turned to rain rather quickly. Fortunately a bike path would emerge rather quickly but not before two interesting incidents. The first was an encounter with a black Audie with dark windows that pulled over. A huge guy gets out and is waiting for me and holding the hand of his young daughter. I notice the license plate and it says “Marine Veteran” He has a thick Polish accent and tells me how it was an honor for him to serve our country in Iraq and Afghanistan. He thanks me and then…..he salutes with wet eyes. I am caught off guard and salute back. About an hour later outside a Stop N’ Go a young man walks up and says hello. he introduces himself as Cole. He had just gotten out of the Navy a few months ago and would soon be leaving for Malta to marry his girlfriend and then live there. He tells me of his brother who is serving in Iraq on his 2nd tour. We exchange other small talk and then I must leave. He thanks me and then he says “You deserve this” and crisply, sharply he comes to attention and salutes me, looking at me with wet eys also. I am stunned again, salute back and then go into the store to get my Gatorade. My eyes are watery, my composure lost for a brief moment. When I come out Peggy says it about made her cry….We run down the bike path to Stevensville in the wind and rain and wind and rain and wind and rain.

As I pass through the Bitterroot Valley the towns of Hamilton and Darby pass by on a beautiful Sunday. Rolling into Sula a couple travelling with bags on their bikes stop and ask for a picture. They are Marco and Muni and they are from Costa Rica riding across the country. They had been following my flags since Oregon and every 100 miles would stop and take a picture and what is the chance on this remote Montana road we would meet?

Thank you Ari and Danielia for opening up your home for 2 nights and for the great barbecue at which I was presented a Montana Service Award Challenge Coin. With some sadness I said goodbye to Montana and to Peggy who has given me so much faithful company in this first section. Now its on to Driggs!!!!