Coast to Coast for the FFB: THE ONLINE JOURNAL

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Day 76: Kooskia, ID to Riggins, ID (72 miles, 3646 total)

If humans have one life and cats have nine, I think I borrowed one of our cat Maggie's lives today. I owe it all to being just plain stupid and I'm lucky to be typing this journal tonight. Bottom line is, due to the heat, wind, and the distraction of seeing the group from yesterday drive up next to me, I paid no attention to traffic signs. I assumed I was at a T where all directions stopped. Instead, I was on the road that had the stop sign and the two-lane road ahead of me was full of trucks and high speed traffic. I almost became roadkill under the tires of an 18-wheeler who was throwing on the brakes and laying on the horn. I have no clue what I was thinking (or wasn't). It took me a few minutes to get over the shock but I still can't get over the stupidity. Anyway, Jeff is going to write the joural tonight but I just had to tell my story. --- AKB

Ok, now that AK is done explaining her stupid move of the trip, I'll take over to finish the journal. Seriously though, it was a close call. I'm glad she is OK. Bikers should never enter an intersection (be it four-way stop or not) without assesing the potential hazards. AK's mistake was making an assumption on the condition of the traffic without actually looking. Bicyclists should never assume anything; even if the cross traffic had a stop sign, that doesn't mean they will stop, and AK would've found herself in the same scenario. Smart bicylists warn others to ride like you're invisible (meaning, don't ever assume someone has seen you). Anyway...

In an effort to beat the heat, AK and I decided to ride the 27 miles to Grangeville before stopping for something to eat. So, as we packed up camp, we snacked on peanut butter and graham crackers. I also made myself a delightful blueberry pop-tart PB sandwich.

Oh, by the way, we owe a big thanks to Nick, the cyclist we saw yesterday. He warned us about camping on the green grass in the city park as we would be subjecting ourselves to an early AM shower from sprinklers. Well, he was right. At about 3AM, the sprinklers went on. Luckily, we were in the brown grass, just out of reach from the last sprinkler. Suckers!

Anyway, out of Kooskia we almost immediately began climbing. Remember our miles and miles of downhill yesterday? Well, it was payback time. We passed the tiny town of Stites after 4 miles. About 12 miles after that we left the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) Indian Reservation and immediately entered the town of Harpster.

On the far side of Harpster, I think some home owner was running a "fight hunger among local predators" program as they had a huge yard full of domesticated bunny rabbits hopping freely around. There had to be over 20 of them. They were all brown and white except for one odd-ball black and white one. Regardless of color, they are all ripe for the scrutting; that place must be a favorite hangout in the coyote crowd. I wonder if the owner has aptly named all the bunnies "Scraps". Anyway, as we biked past, I noticed 2 of the bunnies were outside the fence and on the shoulder of the road. They must be the appetizers.

Anyway, after Harpster, we continued climbing. We were lucky to be out so early because not only did we catch the morning chill, but we also had a nice cloud cover to match. I found half of a naked Barbie doll on the road that I named "Wanda the Topless Torso". El Ranchero (the mole rat) had been looking for some company on the back of the BOB and I have a feeling that Wanda's topless company will keep him happy.

Finally, after a steeper section of climbing we arrived in Grangeville hungry for a meal. Since it was still relatively early, we took our time eating and leisurely reading the newspaper, big mistake. When we finally left the resturant, it was really hot and the wind had come up hard. Of course luck would have it that the wind was from the south and we were headed south. Just out of town AK tried to kill herself (see above), and once our nerves were settled we began to battle the gusting headwind.

We were actually headed slightly downhill, but it took all our effort to make 8mph. After miles of struggling down the slight descent and up the steep ascent, we finally arrived at the top of a pass at over 4,000 feet.

On the top of the pass we got a spectacular view of the desert landscape of the caynons below. It was quite a change from the heavily wooded areas we had travelled through yesterday.

Down the pass we were gifted with a 7% decline for seven miles. Unfortunately, we were not able to enjoy it as the gusting winds made any speeds over 20mph seem really unsafe and unstable. AK and I rode our brakes almost all the way down as hot gusts of air shoved us around.

At the bottom of the descent AK and I both declared our thankfulness that we did not have to climb the pass going the other direction (a common thought after almost every pass so far). We found ourselves just outside of the town of White Bird, and we decided to get something cold to drink. Just on the edge of town was a nice shop serving cold drinks and tasty homemade cookies.

On our way out of White Bird, it began to rain. It was ever so slight, but the drops were big. The heat seemed to instantly evaporate every drop that hit the road.

We began following the Salmon River, and so did the wind, but not in our direction. The 30 mile stretch from White Bird to Riggins offered some great views of the ruggedly scenic river. Every few miles our noses would fill with the sweet smell of wild blackberries, there must have been thousands of them. I stopped to snack on several. AK was hesitant to taste, but I made her try one.

Finally, after a long day of riding, we arrived in Riggins. Just before town, we crossed a bridge over the Salmon River and returned to the Mountain Time Zone. On the north side of town, we found the River Village RV Park. We stopped in to pay for a tent site and then went straight into town for dinner (it was 7:30PM) without setting up camp first.

We took the RV park owner's advice and went to the Back Eddy Grill for dinner. They were advertising fresh blackberry and/or huckleberry shakes which had me sold. My burger was one of the best in a while and AK's grilled cheese came with homemade potato chips. My blackberry shake was awesome.

Now we are back at our RV park in one of our most scenic riverside campsites yet. We have an awesome view of the river and the canyon walls. Even after dark, hot, dry air continues to blow, so we decided to skip the rainfly.

"I'm your huckleberry."

I've been saying that a lot lately; name that movie and character.



At July 29, 2005 11:27 AM, Anonymous said...

Duh -- Doc Holliday, Tombstone. AK, so sorry to hear about your close call. I'm thinking of you guys tons.

At July 29, 2005 1:47 PM, Anonymous said... heart stopped when I read of your oops with traffic. I can only imagine how your Mom feels. Be careful, both of you!


At July 29, 2005 4:08 PM, Robert said...

Over the past week I've read through the whole archive because I'm planning a similar trip next year. I've been keeping my wife posted on your progress. Don't you dare get yourself run over now. (She'll never let me go!)

72 miles under windy conditions today...pretty incredible!


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