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Grandpa Lost His Mind
A Journal - Crossing America by Bicycle

May 8, 2007      Miles 55      Total miles 605


This is a view from Idaho, looking back at the mountains in Oregon. I can't say enough about Oregon or the fine people I lucked into meeting along the rural roads I traveled. It was very hard riding over the mountain passes but it was well worth it. The roads and communities are very clean and I cannot imagine there is a more bicycle friendly state. The snow capped mountains in this picture are the Wallowa Mountains. They used to be called The Granites, when I was young, but someone decided to rename them.
A couple of views of the lake at Hell's Canyon. The dam which holds all this water back is called Brownlee Dam. It actually holds back 52 miles of lake. Can you imagine?

This is SGT Willie Johnson. We talked for a while and he told me where the hardest spots I would have getting out of the canyon would be. I think he and his buddies were taking bets if this old man would make it out alive. He also told me about a good roadside cafe to grab a bite to eat before making the climb out. He told me he had a tow rope in his truck and offered to tow me out of the canyon. He says this is probably the best fishing lake in the country and they have over one million visitors per year. There sure weren't many while I was there.
The picture on the left shows what happens when gravity overcomes the force of friction. I guess this probably happens when the soil is saturated with water. The other picture is the stream which was on the side of the road all the way out of Hell's Canyon.

I don't know what to make of this ... it speaks for itself.
This is leaving Hell's Canyon in Idaho ... the beauty continues. I love the white barked trees in this area.

Here are some bee hives along the side of the road. Later in the day I must have ridden across a bee highway. I rode for several minutes with a steady stream of bees all going in the same direction across the front of my bicycle.
It took me three hours to go the 15 miles out of Hell's Canyon. I was totally spent and exhausted. I drank 100 ozs. of water out of my Camel Back plus two more liters which I had in bottles. If I had passed by that cafe that SGT Johnson told me about, I would have been in serious trouble. I pulled into a tiny town called Cambridge and went into a cafe and ordered a large pineapple milk shake. It was so good. Since I had only gone 30 miles, I decided to plug along to the next town of Council. The waitress told me I would have a tough hill to climb. Instead of listening to her I said something to the effect that, "It can't be any worse than others I have climbed." In Cambridge, I turned onto Hwy 95. Things took a sudden turn for the worse. The road was narrow, pretty straight, and relatively flat. Semi-truck traffic was heavy and there was a very narrow shoulder. For the first time on my trip, I was having cars and trucks blasting by me at terrific speeds. The traffic was very heavy for being out in the middle of nowhere. I was staying as close to the shoulder as I could without running my tires off the road. I was watching my rear view mirror closely. A semi blew by me and was so close I got caught in his slip stream and shoved off the road. I didn't fall but skidded into the weeds. Lucky for me, there wasn't a drop off. This went on for ten miles. The drivers seemed to have no regard for me and I was very, very upset. It was the first time I have ever been scared on a bicycle. I finally got to where I would get off my bike when I saw a semi coming. I was actually scared for my life. After about 10 miles things settled down and that is when the hill that waitress told me about came up. It wasn't terrible but it was another five mile grind. By now I was beaten down both physically and mentally.

I am in potato country and cattle country. I bet you can't guess what is in these white tubes. It isn't potatos. The plastic tubes are at least ten feet tall and easily one hundred feet long. They are stuffed with cow manure. I don't know how they pack the stuff in there or whose job it is but I'd take a job doing just about anything over filling these tubes. Maybe they are getting it to compost. No one was around to ask.

Today wasn't the hardest day I have had but it was almost demoralizing. I was talking to the lady who runs the motel where I am staying and she told me that Hwy 95 is a major corridor between the north and south in this part of the country. I will be on another highway in one hundred miles.