July 7, 2001

7/7/01 Grangeville, ID

55.6 / 4189 miles

Just after Lowell, the Lochsa River joins the Schway to become the Middle Fork Clearwater River. All morning, as I followed it downstream, the river widened, and I saw more homes. But you know this is remote country, because every house on the opposite side from the road had gondolas to ferry people home. Some were primitive open baskets, while others were elaborate enclosures capable of ferrying several people.

Middle Fork Clearwater River

Kooskia is a small town (population 694) on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. Decided to have some breakfast as the Idaho Backroads Café. Norm, whose family owns the restaurant, couldn't say enough about the country that I'm biking through. "I just love it here!" he said.

Now that I had a full stomach, it was time to start climbing. First, I followed the South Fork Clearwater River upstream until just past Harpster. After that, I started the 2000 plus foot climb up to the plateau. The road had so many blind turns in it, I had trouble seeing where I was headed (or had been). Plus, the sun was beginning to heat up.

As the road began to level out, I could have sworn that I was in Eastern Kansas, what with the rolling hills of cultivated fields. Even thought it was still early, the climb plus heat made me feel as if I'd had a complete day already.

Looks like Kansas

Grangeville seemed like a pretty big small town. Mike Sturdevant owns Holiday Sports (bike shop in summer) and also the Pizza Factory next door. He said I was the first west-bounder who's stopped by the bike shop this year. Mike says he does a lot more business in winter with all the snow sports.

The library was closed (no email), so I went to eat at Palenque Mexican Restaurant, which has a pretty good lunch special. Had to wait till a slow time before taking a shower down at the city pool. Finally purchased a Lewis & Clark book, as the wheels of my brain start thinking of my next trip. Looked like I was the only cyclist at the city park, so I splurged for dinner at the Pizza Factory. (Minsky's still has the best calzone on the planet). Everyone was watching the Daytona Pepsi 500 NASCAR race. Five hundred miles around a track at speeds of 180 mph. And here I thought baseball was boring. One of the guys behind the counter came out to watch the TV and answered most of my questions. My brother Bill has recently started to get into watching auto racing. I wonder if he's watching the same show.

Decided against a movie ("Moulin Rouge" with Nicole Kidman), so headed back to the park to read about Lewis & Clark, the naturalists. I'm always nervous when camping at a city park on Saturday night. I usually wait till dark to set up the tent and try and camp as far from the street as possible. As night falls, I try not to draw attention to myself as the town kids start to cruise. So I keep still and quiet till sleep comes.

You couldn't ask for a better day