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Grandpa Lost His Mind
A Journal - Crossing America by Bicycle

May 13, 2007      Miles 63      Total miles 863

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I slept like a baby last night. When I woke this morning, it was rather chilly outside my tent. I wanted to get on the road because I knew it was going to be an uphill climb all the way to Lolo Pass which was about 55 miles from my camp site. I ate some beef jerky for breakfast plus I remembered an apple I had left which Hattie had given me back in Riggins. I felt sure I would get rained on all day but it just sprinkled here and there.
I rode for about an hour and was going around a bend when I saw another cyclist coming my way. His name is John and he is going to Oregon from North Dakota. He travels all over the United States, including two trips to Hawaii, Canada, and South America on his bicycle. He was telling me he got caught in two bad snow storms on this trip. He will go back to North Dakota in August. He has ridden over 3,000 miles on this trip alone. You will notice we are both flying Old Glory.
Probably about every 40 or so miles there will be a foot bridge, like this, which spans the river. These are strictly for people and horses. No motorized or wheeled vehicles are allowed. On the other side of the river are historic paths which famous Indians or settlers traveled. This must have been very hard land to cross by foot and horseback.
I could have taken dozens and dozens of pictures of these little creeks which flow into the river. Most of the creeks don't have names on them but the one on the right has a sign which says Russian Creek.



This is Shannon and Nate. I pulled into a rest area and Shannon came up and told me they had seen me twice in the last couple of days. She offered me a heart shaped piece of chocolate which I happily took. They met in college at Oregon State University where they each studied biology. Nate is a bird biologist and works for the state of Idaho and Shannon is a fish biologist and works for the Nez Perce Indian Tribe. As you can see by the binoculars, Nate and Shannon enjoy their careers even on their days off. They are a delightful young couple and are newly married. They wed last September 17. If you two see this I hope you have the happiest and lovliest of lives together.
I just couldn't get Lolo Pass out of my mind. I knew I had to face it and thought about camping one more night before hitting the hard uphill grind. I have crossed over two 4,000' passes in Idaho and one of 5,000' at White Bird. These passes can take the wind out of your sails. I had the beef jerky for breakfast and didn't eat again until nearly 3:00. It was a constant uphill climb all day. I stopped at a lodge, which was the first place to get food or water for 66 miles. I ate a big meal and decided it is now or never and decided to just go for it.
I met Bud and his traveling companion, Betsy, relaxing in his camper on the side of the road. Bud is 90 years old and they are both enviornmentalists who are from Montana and going back to places Bud has traveled and worked over a lifetime. When he was a young boy, he traveled over this same road with his father. There had been a terrible forest fire here which had destroyed the vegetation. He was seeing it today, some eighty years after seeing it the first time.
These cedar trees are probably 75 or 100 feet tall. This is a cedar tree forest and it is hard to get a good picture. There was a placard which says cedars don't mature for 400 or 500 years and they can live as long as 3,000 years if left undisturbed. I don't know if these trees were in that fire I just mentioned or if they started growing after the fire. It is all in the same general area.
These two pictures were taken near the top of Lolo Pass. That is a river at the bottom of the picture on the right.


When I first came into Idaho, I had a bad taste in my mouth about the place because of the very close calls I had with traffic coming out of the small community of Cambridge. I have to say, the rest of my trip in this state has been an inexpressible joy. This wilderness is just amazing and so much of it is still untouched. I camped on the same river that Lewis and Clark traveled, to map the northwest and lay claim to the land for the US government. I was on land the Indians considered sacred and camped on. There were many wars between the government and Indians in Idaho. The Indians didn't understand the concept of someone owning land. When I was on White Bird Mountain I walked onto the Nez Perce battlefield where one, of many, great battles was fought. A good portion of my Idaho route took me through either national forest land or Indian reservations. The roads I have traveled through Idaho are not used too much. To see some of the most absolute beautiful land anywhere, you should see Idaho. It is as if God placed a small part of Heaven right here.
The Idaho/Montana border is at the very top of Lolo Pass. There was a rest area there with a truck and a trailer, with kayaks and rafts, and about eight people standing around. As I crested the hill they all raised their arms and started cheering as I pulled in. I felt like I had just run a 100 yard touchdown. I went in the bathroom and when I came out they were gone. I wanted a picture of them so badly and I missed my chance.
The first two miles on the north side of Lolo Pass is like a drop. I was going about 40 MPH down the mountain when I noticed a car behind me. I motioned for them to pass but they didn't. They finally came around me and were video taping me. I'm glad they weren't taping me creeping up the mountain as I was huffing and puffing and saying, "I'm dying. I'm dying."
I still have no cell phone service so I went into this cafe/bar to use the phone to call Tanya but they didn't have one. I met Kevin and Shirley Mae from Tennessee. They have been together for 13 years. They got engaged five times and even got a marriage license once but it expired after 30 days. They said that license cost them $100 and it could have bought them a lot of beers.

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