We're almost there! We are approximately 190 miles from Portland, and ready to be there. Since I last checked in from Idaho, we have been through a lot. After Lewiston, we had a huge pass to get through, which was much lower than the passes in the Rockies, but seemed so much more difficult. I think that can most likely be attributed to our exhaustion from our 120 mile day before, to the hot sun beating down on us, and to the flat tire I got somewhere along the hill. I have no idea how long I was riding on it before I realized it was flat, but after I changed it, the ride got much smoother. But by that point I was so exhausted that I truly felt full of rage, and I finally began to swear. A friend had asked me if I swore while biking out of frustration, and the answer is generally no, but that day not only did i swear, but I did it in spoken word. It was my first foray into spoken word (I must admit that I stole heavily from Ani's verse patterns), and let me tell you, it is amazingly cathartic while barrelling down a hill at 25 mph. But don't worry, I got all the rage out, and then started to do rational spoken word, where I reasoned out why I was upset instead of just blindly blaming.
After my bout of spoken word, the day was fairly uneventful, until we got to Dodge...we were about 55 miles from Lewiston, at our next check point, and Ross and I waited, and waited, and waited, but no Armin. Finally we left a note at the rest area at 7pm, all ready to head on to Dayton for the night, when Ross got a flat. We decided that with the flat, and the light fading, we would just set up behind the rest stop for the night. We made a pretty good go of dinner, even without Armin's pot, and then were able to get in touch with Armin, to find that he was already in Dayton, not having seen us at the rest stop. As Armin had stated back in July that he might leave the group, I thought perhaps the time had come. But we decided that we would meet up the next day, Ross and I catching up to Armin along the way.
The plan was going smoothly to meet Armin, as Ross and I left camp unusually early at 6:30. But before I could even get to the 1000 foot climb we had to ascend before Dayton, I had two flat tires. While changing the rear tire for the second time, another biker on his way to St. Louis stopped and chatted with me, helping pass the time. I got on the road again, but by the time I got to Dayton Ross had already been waiting for an hour and a half, and had moved on to try to catch Armin. Thus began my 130 mile day of biking alone. On the phone Ross told me that he was going to make it to his friend's house in Paterson that night, which was news to me since I thought we had decided to take two more days to get there, as it was 120+ miles, and none of us thought we were up for that again. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it, and as we had already lost Armin, I spent the day with visions of finishing the trip alone. I kept debating if I would press on quickly , or stop and smell the roses, so to speak. It was a long hot day of biking, with the sun beating heavily, and the skin gods showing their wrath once again upon my wrists (why skin gods, why? what have i done to anger you?). But the roads were fast.
At about 7:30 I made it to Ross' friend Sheila's house in Paterson, where Ross had been for about an hour, and where Armin had just arrived. Ross' friend Carey also biked (motorcycle that is) down from Spokane to hang out with us for the night, and I actually ran into him on the road and gave him directions. Given that he has a desk job, he has followed all of our blogs religiously. It's a strange feeling to talk to someone you've never met before but who knows so much about you already from your own descriptions. It puts so much more pressure on you knowing that strangers you might meet one day are reading your words...
Anyway, as usual I digress. Sheila and Harold fed us a great dinner, followed with cheesecake AND ice cream, which was so much more sweet for having just biked for 9 and a half hours. After some lively conversation we headed to bed, where sleep just enveloped me. Sheila made us eggs and fresh muffins for breakfast, which were delicious, and we are starting to think about heading out soon. We are about 190 miles from Portland, which we could easily do in two days, but we may decide to take three, so that we can actually finish biking before sunset, which we haven't done since before Missoula, and so that we can enjoy our last few days on the bike. So most likely at this point you'll be hearing from me in Portland.
A Few Follow up Thoughts on Idaho
There were just a few things I forgot to mention about Idaho before:
-Your shoulders suck, and your drivers are rude. Your logging trucks are the worst of all, but it's so hard to hate them as they smell of delicious pine, making Christmas memories the strongest as your life passes before your eyes every time a truck passes.
-Lewison is an ugly, ugly city, but the people are really friendly.
-Old Country Buffet is a fortress. It is on a hill, on top of a hill. (I know this, because I passed it on my enormous climb up to the library).