Harry on his Bike

Days 10-12

Click on any thumbnail for a larger photo.

Day 10. September 13
     I woke early, as usual, and began work on downloading the pictures
and finishing my report. At 7:30 I was busy at work when my door was
opened abruptly, stopped by the chain. Miss No-Ice called out "Are you
still in here?" (No, I latched the chain and took my bike out through the
keyhole.) "Yes, I am." At 8:30, again Miss No-Ice knocked, and when
I peeked out the door she asked "Do you intend to stay another day?"
I asked when was check-out time. Eleven o'clock. "I'll decide before
eleven o'clock." (I'd check out earlier if you'd given me some ice.)
     I resisted the temptation to stall until 10:59 and left Nampa at 9:30.
Rather than ride on the terrible shoulder of the interstate, I headed for
the small town of Kuna, several miles to the southeast. There I had a
good breakfast and headed east to join the freeway, which turned out to
be quite a challenge. There were lots of paved roads, but no signs.
After running into a couple of Dead End signs, I proved that males don't
mind asking for directions, and got faulty advice from a couple of friendly
flaggers who tried to point me back to Boise, thus proving that males
shouldn't ask for directions. Finally a lawn-service technician let me look
at his Thomas guide and I got on the right road. But I had biked three
useless extra miles in 93-degree heat by the time I reached the interstate.
     Fortunately, the shoulder was better, I had a slight tailwind, and in
spite of a 13-mile construction zone (I had a 12-foot shoulder all to myself
and didn't get kicked off) I made pretty good time towards my destination
of Mountain Home.
     The scenery had changed from agricultural to sagebrush. No trees in
sight. The only relief was a weigh station, which I entered to fill my water
bottles. So I was quite happy to reach Mountain Home, and relieved to
see that there were several motels in town. I stopped at a supermarket
for some orange juice, and used the yellow pages to find the cheapest
room in town: $36.50. That's a bit more than I'd hoped I'd have to pay,
but the room turned out to be fine: large, great TV (with a remote, of
course), refrigerator, quiet air conditioner (that had been on before I
entered the room), and free from traffic noise. An adequate-looking
restaurant was right next door.
     I was exhausted, and my first thought on seeing the room was that
I would take a rest-day here. After the usual tanking up on orange juice
and going through the cleaning chores (my clothes and myself) I went
to the restaurant. The most appealing item on the menu was their
chicken dinner. I could finish only about half of the food, so took the
rest back to the room. I was too tired to even get out the laptop, and
only watched about half-hour of the History Channel before passing out.

Day 11. September 14
     I woke briefly at 2 and ate some more of the chicken dinner. Then
back to sleep and woke again at 8, well past sunrise. My pulse had
risen to 59, but I felt pretty good so I decided to bike until I got tired
and then crash at the first motel.
     After finishing the last of the chicken dinner I headed east to rejoin
the freeway. I passed an interesting fence made out of old bedsprings,
that extended for 1/4 mile.  Shortly after photographing this marvel
I met Leonard.
     Leonard was driving a pickup pulling a cargo trailer that was filled
with what appeared to be tumbleweed and tree clippings. He drove
alongside, matched my speed, and began asking questions: Where
was I going, where did I start, and so forth. I could see that this session
was going to last for some time so we stopped while I answered all his
questions. Leonard was the first person I'd met who expressed any
interest in my trip, so I was only too willing to talk.
     He had many questions. My policy always has been to answer
questions as long as the questioner still has any. This policy may have
to be revised, for 20 minutes later the questions were still coming,
ranging from queries about this trip and other tours I've made, to matters
of a more-personal nature. "You're about the same age as my 63-year-
old uncle." I tried not to smile at this compliment, but he caught some
clue and got me to admit I was 69. "Did you ever smoke? Anything?"
But his attitude was very friendly, and he showed a great deal of
enthusiasm for my trip (I told him my destination was Albuquerque),
in sharp contrast to most people who might comment on my overloaded
bike but would ask no questions about why it is so loaded.
     After talking for 20 minutes about me, I thought it diplomatic to ask a
few questions about Leonard. He had already volunteered that he was
34 years old, and that he was a recovering alchoholic. I asked what he
did for a living, and he replied "Retired. Mental." I didn't pursue that
subject, and he didn't volunteer any more information, but I never felt a
bit uncomfortable in his presense. He obviously knew something about
bikes, since he recognized (and didn't hesitate to comment on) my bike:
"You're riding a Trek, but a low-end one." Correct. "You're not wearing
biking shoes." Nope, Kmart EZ Striders, at $12.95.
     I gave him my card, which has a picture of me with my bike standing
in front of my sailplane, with the information "mathematics instructor,
sailplane pilot, cyclist". That prompted a ten-minute conversation about
soaring. He spotted my GPS, and there went another five minutes.
     Finally, after he insisted that I record his name, address, and phone
number "in case you need a lift" we finally parted. Leonard is obviously
a good person and I'll be sure to write him at the end of the trip.
     Leonard didn't slow me down as much as the headwind, which was
a steady 12 mph. My average speed was a mere 8 mph, and I realized
that my hopes of reaching Twin Falls that day would never be fulfilled.
The only relief from the steady roar of passing trucks was the sighting
of a coyote,  who obviously was not intimidated by trucks, but
scampered off as soon as I showed interest in him.
     The 95-degree temperature, in combination with the relentless
headwind, wore on me. I made a brief stop at the small grocery store at
Hammett (there was no cafe) where I got some milk, passing up the
tempting-looking corndog in the glass case (just how long has that been
in there?).
     Another 15 miles brought me to Glenns Ferry, a small town with a
motel. Although I'd only covered 30 miles I was as exhausted as I'd
been the day before, so decided to stop if the rate was sufficiently low.
I looked at the outside and mentally settled on a max of $30. I entered
the office and said: "Tell me the price of your cheapest room and then
I'll decide how tired I am." Bottom line was $29.96. How'd they know
my max? I checked out the room before agreeing. It looked adequate,
so I signed up, found that they didn't have ice (when will I learn to ask
BEFORE I sign the VISA?), but moved in, showered, and slept solidly
from 1 to 5.
     After a walk of six blocks to the small downtown area, I located the
only cafe in town. A BLT with fries (very good) was my supper. Back
to the room, where the History Channel entertained me with a good
program on the FBI versus espionage. (My choices for channels to be
stranded with on a desert island: History and Discovery.)

Day 12. September 15
     I left just as it was getting light (about 7) and took frontage roads for
a few miles. I try to take routes other than the interstate as long as the
distance penalty is less than 10%. But eventually I was back on the
     Southern Idaho is not the most scenic part of the state. The Snake
River Plain consists of a thin layer of soil overlying basalt (a black
volcanic rock) that is hundreds if not thousands of feet thick. However,
some spectacular canyons have been carved in the rock,  and my
bicycle had an advantage over the cars since I could stop and take a
picture. A very high bridge crossed the Snake just before entering Twin
Falls, affording a great view of the unusual golf course near the bottom.

     I went into a tourist information center and got a list of motels with
their prices. The lady pointed out four that were concentrated in one
spot on the old pre-interstate highway and advised me to "stay away
from them, because they are cheap and trashy". (Hey, lady. You're
talking about my kind of motel.) So after I found that the Motel 6 wanted
$51 (anyone remember how Motel 6 first got its name?) I headed straight
for trashy row.
     I entered the first place and from a room behind the office emerged
a gal still wearing her housecoat, with a cigarette dangling from her lips.
I didn't like her looks, suspecting that the rooms might have the same
sloppy appearance. However, it turned out that she didn't like my
appearance either, and acted as if she was looking through her records
for an empty room, while mumbling "I've got a lot of reservations for
tonight, and I don't think I have a thing." I successfully concealed my
relief. (The next morning there were two cars in her 40-unit lot.)
     Next I tried the place across the street. I biked towards the office
when suddenly a big dog began barking, lunged at me, and was casually
stopped by a man who emerged and stepped on the chain just before all
the slack was out, thus saving my leg from being chewed off. "Wacha
want?", he demanded. (I want you to buy these encyclopedias I've
got stuffed in my panniers, of course.) "How about a room?" He acted
surprised that cyclists sleep, and showed me to a small room that would
barely hold the bike. It would have been OK at $30, but I decided to
check the place next door. Glad I did, because it turned out to be the
best place for the money I've seen this trip, with all the requirements
(including ice) and a microwave and refrigerator. The owners were
friendly, and even gave away coffee and donuts in their lobby. All this
for only $2 more than the dump next door.
     I'd picked up orange juice, of course, and after the usual chores had
an adequate sandwich at a nearby restaurant. After a bit of writing on
reports, I did some channel surfing. Stumbled across a program called
"Believe It Or Not", which showed a fellow encourage a long thin green
snake to crawl up his nose, and after some snorting and sniffing managed
to persuade the snake to come out his mouth. What does this have to
do with my bike ride? Shows how desperate I was for entertainment, and
why I like to have a remote.

                            Back                Next