BICYCLE ACROSS AMERICA: OREGON COAST ON THE PACIFIC OCEAN
August 26, 2014
Welcome to Idaho
“The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.” ~John Howard, bicycle racer and Ironman Triathlon winner
Next day, we pedaled through town to see Brogan Memorial Library. One pioneer lady wrote in her diary, “I must keep writing to remember who I am.” We’re talking ‘hard livin’’ by those folks who plowed across the continent at seven miles per day.
(Travel via bicycle allows you to stop and see every roadside sign presenting the history of a specific area.)
We stepped into a Mexican café that constituted the local watering hole. Old guys stumbled into the joint for their morning coffee.
“How’s it goin’ Joe?” asked Elmer.
“Same old shit, another day,” said Joe.
“How’s Obama doin’?” said Elmer.
“You know,” said Joe. “I don’t mind a black president, but I just wish we had a different one.”
Later, we aired up the tires and pedaled into a fresh new day with sunshine and warm weather. Big trucks plied the highway. Irrigation sprayers dotted the farming country along the highway. A big sign read, “Onion Country: We carry 22,000 onion loads every season.”
(Your legs become powerful pistons that drive your bicycle forward into each day. It’s a great feeling to know your body grows fit and strong with each passing day. You walk about as if your skin housed powerful springs inside your body.)
We covered 60 miles to stop at a Grange Hall five miles short of Boise, Idaho. We set up tents behind the hall. We cooked up rice-broccoli dinners, bagels and hot chocolate.
“Nice day to ride on the flats,” Howard said. “How many miles did we do Wayne?”
“We knocked off 66 big ones today,” said Wayne.
“They seemed pretty easy,” I said. “Quite a feeling riding over the Snake River. Can’t help but remember when Evil Knievel jumped over the canyon on his motorcycle, but bailed out to trip his parachute with the bike crashing into the river. About 100,000 drunk bikers cheered and the whole event proved a suicidal, alcoholic frolic of stupidity.
The whole occasion became a laughing stock but Knievel continued to drink, break over 120 bones in his body and became a legend in his own alcoholic-clouded mind. He died tragically with more broken bones than anyone on the planet.
We crossed over into Idaho, the Potato State. Huge lots of broken down farm equipment dotted the landscape creating an ugly scaring on the once pristine landscape. Farmers buy new equipment, but never recycle the old machinery. They leave all that iron rusting and rotting all over God’s creation. It’s amazing that the European settlers arrived on a pristine continent 200 years ago and trashed it into endless piles of junk, millions of garbage dumps, plastic trash, bottles and cans that litter the lakes, rivers, streams and highways in every sector of this country. We truly don’t care about the land.
(Howard watching the beauty in slow motion.)
Such human disdain for the land saddens and distresses me because I see it up close and ugly at 12 miles per hour. Whose fault? Answer: all of us collectively and individually because we do nothing to stop it or clean it up. You would never see such litter and junk in Denmark, Norway, Holland or Finland. Also, not in Germany, Switzerland and Sweden. I’ve pedaled through all those countries to see pristine landscape.
Environmentalist Aldo Leopold said, “We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. We when we see the land as a community of living creatures, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
(A great visual and environmental tragedy opens daily to long distance touring riders. We see countless abandon homes and plenty of broken down trailers and trash left for Mother Nature to break down over the centuries. Sad that Americans lack any sense of responsibility toward the land and the naturals world with share with other creatures.)
That “idea” demands a whole new “spiritual” ethos in this country that may never come to pass. We poison, gouge and contaminate billions of acres in this country. We possess too many cultures and ethnic groups that do not hold the land in high regard. If you traveled via bicycle through India, and other third world countries, you would emotionally vomit daily. It’s pretty sickening on multiple levels.
I travel with a book by the first ecologist John Muir who lived in Yosemite Valley for decades. He wrote inspiring prose, “Camp out among the grass and gentians of glacier meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of Nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
We should reckon with such lofty visions and teach our kids to pick up the trash, recycle the metal, glass and plastic. But I am not optimistic because huge corporations do everything they can to thwart 10 cent deposit-return laws for containers. Most citizens don’t care and do nothing. Cheers to Michigan’s 10 cent deposit-return laws. I’ve cycled the “mitt” of Michigan and you won’t see a plastic bottle, can or glass container. The kids scour the landscape for the financial rewards.
Rain poured down on us all the way to Boise. We rolled along Main Street past their dramatic state capital. We weaved our way to Hill View Drive where Chris Brady awaited at her home with a big hot shower! Yahoo! She attended college with Howard and me, and we remained friends over the decades.
That night, Steve Stuebiner dropped by for dinner and conversation. He wrote for a local newspaper. Chris took us down town where we enjoyed sculptors, artists and architecture. We saw beautiful metal work of a miner panning for gold sculpted out of barbed wire. Really moving!
We walked along a path where we tripped a series of devices that emitted sounds that coincided with our walking. You might say that we walked musically. Later, we ate at a restaurant in the Basque quarter. One house showed an 1864 burial date for a gravesite. As we walked back to Chris’ car, we noticed a bright full moon in the sky. Coincidentally, a stretch limo rolled by us at the corner where a young man stuck his bare ass out the window and mooned us.
“We now have seen two full moons tonight,” said Howard. “One in the sky and one in that stretch limo. May that kid live long and become a CEO.”
“Yahoo,” I said. “All the magic and nostalgia of downtown Boise, Idaho.”
“What a country,” said Wayne.
Two days of rest and relaxation renewed us. Boise provides great art and ample theater. The river enjoys bike paths and great beauty.
“If constellations had been named in the 20th century, I suppose we would see bicycles.” ~Professor Carl Sagan
(Frosty’s Aero Bar for comfort, bag with camera, toothbrush, toothpaste, spoon, sunblock, glasses, pen, notebook and video and still cameras.)
© 2014 Frosty Wooldridge - All Rights Reserved
Frosty Wooldridge possesses a unique view of the world, cultures and families in that he has bicycled around the globe 100,000 miles, on six continents and six times across the United States in the past 30 years. His published books include: "HANDBOOK FOR TOURING BICYCLISTS"; “STRIKE THREE! TAKE YOUR BASE”; “IMMIGRATION’S UNARMED INVASION: DEADLY CONSEQUENCES”; “MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURE TO ALASKA: INTO THE WIND—A TEEN NOVEL”; “BICYCLING AROUND THE WORLD: TIRE TRACKS FOR YOUR IMAGINATION”; “AN EXTREME ENCOUNTER: ANTARCTICA.” His next book: “TILTING THE STATUE OF LIBERTY INTO A SWAMP.” He lives in Denver, Colorado.
His latest book. ‘IMMIGRATION’S UNARMED INVASION—DEADLY CONSEQUENCES.’