August 11, 2001

8/11/01 Cabinet Gorge

80 / 6069 miles

Not sure why, but I tried to sleep in this morning. Maybe it was the cool temperatures and the sleeping bag felt good.

On the way back through Priest River, I stopped off again at AJ's Café for some breakfast. I forgot it was Saturday, and the place filled up fast. But that also meant the food was a little slower coming. Kind of hard to rush them when they give you so much.

Had a back road that followed the river all to myself. The Pend Oreille (river) was pretty impressive. Most places it was 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile wide. I could just barely see the houses on the opposite bank. Got on busy Hwy 95 but when I reached Sagle, I found a bike path that took me the 6 miles to Sandpoint. The 2-mile long bridge across Lake Pend Orielle was new, so they made the old bridge next to it a bike path. So cool!

Had the bridge all to myself

Sandpoint, Id, was packed to the gills with people. It turned out to be their annual Art & Craft Festival. Besides art by the beach, there were also water-sport competitions and concert tonight was being headlined by jazz great Winton Marsalles.

Stopped in at the Outdoor Experience bike shop and one of the girls recommended a burrito stand down the street for lunch. Turned out it was across the street from the Saturday market. After all the tourists down by the waterfront, the locals I saw shopping at the stalls were a breath of fresh air. It had a good feel. If it hadn't been during the festival, I might have liked to stop here for the day and check out the town.

But, if I was going to make my planned mileage, I needed to be on the road. Bought some more brake pads at Alpine Designs. The sign over the door read "PEACE ON DIRT'. As I was leaving, the guy working yelled, "trip Hard!"

The route tried to keep me off the highways but it seemed the town was outgrowing its roads. So had lots of traffic and no shoulder. At least the speed limit was 35 MPH. Passed both the Kmart and Wal-Mart as I went through Ponderay. Then it was back onto busy Hwy 200.

The views of the lake were impressive, and this was only the smaller Oden Bay. On the older highway through Hope, ID, I got elevated views of the bigger part of the lake. From the map, it was probably 8 miles to the other side. Because the new highway parallels this older road only a hundred yards away, no one uses it. Except for me!

The lake was huge!

Kind of embarrassed. I saw a couple of girls standing next to their car with a flat tire. I stopped and offered to change it but couldn't find the jack. Another guy stopped and found the secret compartment it was hidden in. I felt kind of stupid, so I let him change the tire.

Compared with the hustle-bustle of Sandpoint, Clark Fork was a little run down. A few businesses were upbeat though. I especially liked the sound of "The Cat's Meow Drive In." Here, I got off the main highway to follow the back roads on the other side of the river. But the bridge I had to cross looked like it wouldn't even hold my bicycle. I gingerly crossed the worn, broken boards, avoiding nail heads inches above the surface, all the while hoping a board didn't break as I rode over them. But being away from the traffic made it worth it.

The bridge looked ready to collapse

One of my more faithful companions while I'm riding has been flocks of butterflies. They flit about like dolphins playing in a bow wave. Today, I must have seen hundreds fly past me. But I also found just as many dead on the ground. Can you just imagine being a butterfly, just flying around when an object the size of a small planetoid slams into you? I kind of slipped in the backdoor to enter Montana. Yep, already across Idaho. And surprisingly, the terrain seems familiar. As I was riding past one field with it's giant rolls of hay, I was struck by the severe colors I saw. I rode back to get a second look, but the light had already changed. How can an artist capture these fleeting things with a medium that is so painstakingly slow?

The Cabinet Gorge RV Park & Campground is along the banks of the lake created by the dam across the Clark Fork River. Crystal took pity on me and gave me a discount. Sweet! When I asked about other cyclists, she said she had just been talking to someone not two hours ago about the low number of cyclists stopping here this year. "We bought this place six years ago and had 100 cyclists that first summer." She said. "You make six this year." But on an upbeat note, she said I just might see a moose on my ride alongside the Bull River because of all its marshes and little traffic. My niece would just love another moose picture.