I arrived in Mountain Home on Saturday night. Idahoans have proven friendly so far, for the most part, but the roads are less kind. I’ve been taking pictures of the various sizes of the road shoulders because riding on the margins make one very aware of the quality and width of the road shoulders. The roads in Idaho remind me of the streets of the Houston barrio I grew up in–rock mixed with asphalt, potholes, and cracks with weeds pushing their way through. The preferred method of repair seems to be asphalt patching over the cracks, which makes for a rough and bumpy ride. Nor are the shoulders kept very clean. Between the trash on the shoulders and what they call goathead thorns on the side of the road, I have had numerous flats. Yesterday morning I left early hoping to get a ahead start on the sum into the mountains to the east. About 20 miles out I had a flat. I had picked up some universal tubes at a Wal-Mart in Mountain Home when I found out the local bike shop was closed, but I learned the hard way that universal was not so all encompassing as the valve stem did not fit through my rim. So I walked about 3/4 of the way back before someone in a U-Haul gave me a ride.
A long day in the sun to end up in the same place.
Saturday night I thought I was in luck because there was a KOA camp here in town–but I encountered my second “Jim Crow” experience on this trip. Once in California I went to a small motel where the sign said vacant and the parking lot was empty. The woman who helped me was “sweet” but said immediately that they were full. I told her it might be a good idea to change her sign–which she did. I went down the road to find another place and when I came back by the motel an hour alter looking for dinner, the vacant sign was on again. At the KOA I entered the office behind one man and a few minutes later two other travellers came in. They were acknowledged and helped by the elderly white guy overseeing the place. One of the travellers apologized to me and indicated that I was there before him–I told him thanks for noticing but that it was the clerk’s job to notice that. Because things had come to an abrupt sop, the clerk gave me look of annoyance and asked me what i needed. I said a campsite and he said: “Well, I guess I can give you #7 across the street” as if he was doing me a favor. I asked about the price ($22.00) and after looking at it–a bare site with no shade adjacent to the road, I told him I’d be better off going to the motel down the street.
Experiences like these are downers, but quite frankly, I was prepared for worse and the goodness I’ve seen from people has outweighed these shameful acts.
I’m feeling very, very tired. I’m looking forward to exiting Idaho in a few short days and spending some time in Yellowstone. I”ll cross the Rockies there, but it will be beautiful and cooler I believe due to the forest.
I’m hoping that when I get to Yellowstone I can write more emotional reflections of my trip thus far. As expected this part of the trip has been very physically grueling. I’m pleased not to have hurt myself (no pulled muscles or crashes). The heat and poison ivy rashes on my arms and legs are uncomfortable but they seem to be healing. My endurance is building, my breathing has been good, I think I’m slowly losing weight from my mid-section, and my legs are definitely stronger. I’ve been very frustrated at times, but not yet near a breakdown. No doubt there’s a certain amount of loneliness, but I’m thankful for a cell phone and the many, many people along the way who’ve helped me, engaged me in conversation about my trip, or otherwise acknowledged my presence.
If you have any questions that I could use as blog prompts, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m also grateful for the e-mails, comments, and phone calls I get!