July 9, 2001

7/9/01 Cambridge, ID

84.2 / 4323 miles

After Sunday evening service, Pastor Cliff and his wife, Cathy, along with a few church members, invited me to go with them for "some of the best cobbler anywhere!" at "This Old House Restaurant." I ended up eating a full order of raspberry cobbler with ice cream. Mmmmm!

The big topic of discussion was a freak storm that occurred around 7 P.M. on the 4th of July. Besides a deluge of rain that caused mud slides a mile out of town, a tornado moved a section of storage units up an embankment and onto the highway. The surprise was that, instead of following the river valley, the tornado went perpendicular, limiting its damage. The entire storm only lasted a few minutes. And the town still had its 4th of July fireworks. (Although Cliff was disappointed that they didn't fire bowling balls over the ridgeline using the town's monster cannon as in years past.)

I'm so use to sleeping on the ground that, when offered a cushy couch, I don't sleep well. Ended up moving to the floor in the middle of the night. I was able to get up early and be on the road by 6 AM. With afternoon temperatures boiling, I needed to get as many miles done early as I could.

As my usual, I stopped in Pinehurst, about 12 miles away, for some breakfast. I was a little confused because the map claimed the town had a population of over 1,700 people, but I found only a few houses and one business - the Pinehurst Trading Post. Steve Hackler, who owns this gas station, store, and café, said, "I tried contacting the ACA about correcting their maps, but got no response."

While I feasted on French toast, I listened while Steve, the fire chief, and a hotel owner from Riggins discussed things like the Rainbow Gathering (a 10-day counterculture event that just ended) and water rights versus fish habitat protection. Turns out Steve is also a member of the Assembly of God church in Riggins where I spent the night. For those cross-country cyclists reading this, he also lets people camp out behind the store.

Even at 8 A.M., it was beginning to get hot. First, I had to get by about four miles of road construction, half of which was only a dirt road. Good thing I have the wide tires. Most of the ride followed the Little Salmon River upstream. Only 22 miles away, it took me over three hours to make it to New Meadows. While I was waiting for internet access, the librarian recommended Sagebrush BBQ for a great lunch. Later, for some reason, I couldn't access my email. Getting any internet access in Idaho has been a problem.

Passed a couple of Rainbow kids hitchhiking as I started the climb out of the valley. Once I crossed Blue Bunch Ridge, I was among the trees as I descended along the Wesser River. One more small climb near Fruitvale, and then I entered Council, Idaho.

A very old tractor in Council, ID

By this time, the temperature was absolutely baking. I took refuge in a gas station and talked with Diane. "It was 105 degrees here last week," she said. Not good news when they say the temps are on the rise again. I had no choice but to go on, because there isn't camping here any more. Diane speculated that it had more to do with safety (and the drunks from a nearby bar) than anything the cyclists did.

Well, it wasn't getting any cooler! Had one steep climb about a mile long near Mesa, then mostly downhill towards Cambridge. The dry, hill farm country reminded me of Eastern Colorado. In fact, as I neared the city, I saw the first corn and wheat crops since Kansas.

Near Cambridge

As luck would have it, the library was still open and I was able to update the website and check on my email, the first since Missoula. After checking out Water Tower Park, I took census of my finances and decided against cooking. It was a long 85-mile day in the heat and I hate eating alone. On a positive note, one email was from Daniel, part of a Swiss tandem couple, with whom I had email contact before my trip started. They are eastbound and I think I should cross paths with them in a day or two.

Also heard from Damian. He was in Grangeville about 4 days ahead of me. And, even though I thought I'd seen the last of the east-bounders, crossed paths with Leigh, who is headed for Pennsylvania.

Decided to perch on a stool at the counter of Bucky's Café (& Motel). That way, people wouldn't have to sit too close to me, as I was in great need of a bath. After eating, I talked with Harold, the local pharmacist. He retired once, but after his wife died, decided to open a little place here in Cambridge. He said today was pretty tiring. "But at 74, I still have my mind!" he smiled.

Because the park is so small, and with houses nearby, I'll wait till dark to set up my tent. The plan tomorrow is as bad as today. Seventy miles with two huge climbs, one in the beginning, and one, unfortunately, at the end. But, with most of that out of the way tomorrow, I have a short 42-mile day into Baker City, which should give me plenty of time to spend at the renowned Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.