Sunday, July 21, 2013

Friendly People and Wild Animals

Click on images to see them larger.

It's looking like 1 post a week is about all the more I can maintain consistently. I'm going to start transitioning from basically summarizing each day to only writing about the most striking experience of the week, or of whatever topic has captured my mind lately. I will keep up the photography for sure, however, and let them fill in details for me. 

Last Sunday night I was in Hayden, Idaho. The pastor of the church FaithCamp was at was our pastor 10 years ago, and he gave me permission to spend another night sleeping inside the church. Before I left on Monday, I was prayed with by the pastor, as well as a couple ladies who were cleaning the church.
My campsite at FaithCamp
The lighting was good..
As I headed out I had a lot of energy, so for 5 miles maintained around 20 miles per hour. After about 10 miles of such intensity, I stopped at a convenience store to rest a minute. (As an aside, I've found that stopping when I'm going strong is typically a bad idea, as I generally lose the energy high). While I was there, after some brief dialog, a lady traveling back home to Puyallup, Washington gave me $5 to buy a real meal at the next town. (I was eating fig newtons).

On the way up to Sandpoint, Idaho, I saw a sign advertising the chance to see a live wolf, so I pulled in. At this place they had all the expected pro-wolf propaganda, and after I'd looked around a while, they brought out a baby wolf, which I got to pet. Baby wolves are quite soft.. A couple people have since told me that the wolves they are introducing in these parts aren't the same as the wolves that used to live here, they're the more wild creatures from the harsher Canadian environment, and as such are quite destructive and difficult to control.
Wolf cub
When I got to Sandpoint, I stopped at a frozen yogurt place. Perhaps not the best use of money, but as I was about to leave, a guy came up, seeing my bike, and tried to introduce me to WarmShowers.org, a site for touring cyclists, and prospective hosts. I was already familiar with the site, but said I was looking for a place to stay that night, so he gave me directions to his house, telling me just to go in the back yard when I got there, as I would probably beat him (he was also riding his bike).
A recumbent I saw outside of Super 1 Foods in Sandpoint
Someone died here..
It's not everywhere that such an attempt would be made to return lost merchandise..
The next day I rode into Montana. By the way, Highway 200 is beautiful! At one point I stopped for a rest and heard some rustling in the bushes. I crossed the road, and saw two tan colored foxes eating berries off a bush. When I got close enough I could touch the bush they were eating from, the one spooked, and ran off into a clearing, while the other completely froze.

I saw dozens of dead butterflies along the road through northern Idaho and just into Montana


That night, I made it to the house of Jerry and Yvonne Eller, who I'd met at FaithCamp. They have a big house, but all the kids are away from home. I stayed up till after midnight talking to Mrs. Eller, and then had too much on my mind to get to sleep. A part of me really wanted to stay an extra day, but decided to go on after getting all my clothes (and shoes) washed. I was sent off with a bag of dried apples, a loaf of home made bread, some honey, and fresh blueberries, and an invitation to their home in Georgia when I get there.

My room for the night
People in this area of the country are nice on the road, usually giving me a good 6-8 feet when passing, sometimes moving into the other lane. I got passed by a couple wide semi-truck loads, but they gave me plenty of space. Every once in a while I'll have someone slow down and follow till they have the opportunity to pass safely.
The Clark Fork river. I followed it all the way to Missoula.
Oh, there's a lot of dead deer along the road.. All the way from so fresh they don't smell, to so old they don't smell. I've probably seen a dozen or more in the last week.
A heard of bighorn sheep right across the road from me
The next night, Wednesday, about dusk, I pulled into a property with a lot of machinery, and asked if I could sleep there for the night. The guy told me he wouldn't have a problem with that, except that he lets his dog out at night, and his dog isn't as nice as he is.. I'd leave with tooth marks. However, there was an overgrown Forest Service horse coral I could sleep without any problem in just up the road.
A public "drinking fountain" along the road
On Thursday I picked up a wire in my tire off the road, but it took me a while to figure out what it was. I could hear it scrapping against my fender. I pulled it out, and amazingly, my tire hasn't lost any pressure since then. While I was along side the road, a vehicle pulled into a turnaround near where I was, and the lady asked if I wanted a bottle of cold water, which I gladly accepted. All my water by this point was quite warm.

A few hours later, a Suburban pulling a boat pulled into a road and waited for me. When I got up to where they were, the guy driving told me if I needed a place to stay, his house was 8 miles ahead, and he had a place where travelers could stay, eat, rest, shower, whatever for free. I said I'd think about it, and they headed off to the lake - the opposite direction I was traveling.

What I was really looking for was a restroom, however. Finally I spotted a nondescript manufacturing place with a generic sounding name on a rather small sign, but lots of vehicles in the parking lot. I went to the visitors entrance, where the reception desk was empty, but there was a sign saying that no public restrooms were available. As I was getting ready to leave, an imposing looking guy came around the corner in a big, dark colored pickup, wearing sun glasses, and asked what I was looking for. With an edge of sarcasm in my voice, I said I was looking for a restroom, but they weren't available. About then someone came out the front door. "Hey Mike, open that door. This guy needs to use the restroom." I was let in, past a keypad lock. I saw a sign about leaving lab coats in work stations. As I came out, both men were waiting for me, 'though the guy in the pickup left right away. I couldn't help wondering, but was afraid to ask, what sort of manufacturing, in the middle of nowhere, would require such high security? (Maybe it's not excessive security, but in my imagination it was quite notable.)
I guess I'm on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Except for the bilingual signs, there was no way to tell. 
When I got up to the place, Orange Acres Couchsurfing Community Center, as it's called, I found something quite interesting, but I'll let the pictures describe it for the most part. As it turned out, there were about half a dozen other people staying at this place, a building separate from the guy's house (Jeff Halvorson is his name), including a long time cycle tourist (5 years, about 40,000 miles, China, Mexico, the US..) probably 3 times my age, who I had the privilege of talking to a bit. It's quite nice being able to talk to someone who knows the joys and difficulties of your life far better than you do, and can give a first hand account of what you have only read about.
The outside of the community center
Looking into the free-use kitchen, where there was also freely available food, for those interested.
Looking into the TV room. The open door leads to the hallway to the left. 
The entrance hallway. The boards on the right are sayings and thanks from past guests.
When it came time for me to leave on Friday, Jeff cycled with me over the crest of the hill. Well, he rode in front of me, as my legs hadn't warmed up yet. After a while he stopped and waited, and told me it was all downhill from there, we shook hands, and I went on.

Downhill was right.. Man, that was steep! I started braking when I got over 30 miles per hour. Finally when I could see the bottom of the hill in sight, I let it out, and road it down, topping 43 miles per hour at the bottom, and then coasted for 3 miles before needing to peddle again. (The tailwind helped.. I actually watched myself accelerate on a slight incline!)

Once I was in Missoula, I needed a place to stay. To make a long-ish story short (ask me about it if you want the full details), after getting my chain and rear sprocket replaced on my bike, I got picked up at the Bicycle Hangar and have spent the last couple nights with Jim and Nina Roberts, who have been gracious hosts.

At church, a rather tall man, Ben Mccart, asked if I'd be interested in going with him and his wife Minnette to their house for lunch. I guess around here people don't have a problem with taking guests half an hour to their house, and then driving them back afterwards. The meal was simple, essentially beans and rice, yet the company was excellent. I always find it encouraging to be around people who speak with conviction, and seem to know their Bibles and the Spirit of Prophecy writings as though they spend a lot of time there..