It turns out Idaho has more than one tuber. “Idaho” is mentioned in the song, as well as a place called Rexburg. Let’s explore “The Gem State.” This post also includes some important advice for all of the single ladies out there.
I bid a final adieu to my Aunt and Uncle in Trout Lake. What a joy to spend so much time with them. I hope I will be able to visit them again soon. It was time for me to saddle up and head east.
If you consult my North America map you will notice that I have left one place in the Pacific Northwest unvisited: Crater Lake, Oregon. I decided to leave this for my “West Loop” which will be the final loop completed before heading to Central America. (Note: Glen Rock, NJ has been switched out for Glenrock, WY. It is not updated on this map yet)
I felt a little bit of pressure to make eastward progress since I was trying to make an appointment that was set up months earlier. My friends are renting a cabin in northern Minnesota for the weekend of the 20-23. I have been hoping to rendezvous with them at that time. Plus, my ideal picture to represent Minnesota is in the same area. I’ve had that one chosen for awhile.
My current Northwest Loop has taken longer than anticipated, but getting to Minnesota in 4-5 days is still realistic. On the way I will be visiting Idaho, Rexburg, and Glenrock.
Monday, July 17
My route for the day:
I headed south to begin and followed the Columbia River Gorge for awhile. It really is an impressive sight. The deep channel in which the river now runs was formed by massive flows of water caused by rupturing of glacial ice dams during the last ice age. The greatest of these floods is estimated to have carried 10x the amount of water currently flowing in every river in the world. Unfathomable.
I crossed over into Oregon for a little bit. There I learned that I am not allowed to remove a gas nozzle from a pump and begin pumping my own gas. An attendant must hand it to you. I had a thoroughly awkward interaction at my lone gas stop in the state.
I crossed into Idaho at Lewiston. My route across the panhandle of the state would be the scenic Highway 12. This highway follows the route of Lewis and Clark’s northwest passage. My parents had recommended this route and told me about a sign which caused my heart to flutter:
Is this what heaven is like for motorcyclists? The route follows the Clearwater River turn for turn. This river is wide, shallow and slow flowing; making it ideal for tubers (humans going down a river on a flotation device).
It was a wonderful route. I was pretty sure that I would find my picture to represent Idaho somewhere along the way. I pulled off on a number of river access roads but could never find the right shot. There were a few places with potential, but I would have had to put Annie in too dangerous of a situation (see, I’m learning a little bit). 🙂
The road eventually splits off from the river and goes up a mountain pass. Around the same time, I crossed into Montana for the first time.
I have sort of a “side quest” during this trip to visit all 49 continental states. Montana is the only one that will require any alteration to my route. I would skirt the western edge of the state before crossing back into Idaho.
Daylight was getting short, so I found a free campsite outside of Hamilton, MT. There were some bumpy roads to get there, but nothing too severe. All of the campsites were full when I arrived and there were multiple signs stating that camping was only allowed in designated areas. Fortunately, I saw a little sign for walk in camping and found a spot about 100 yards from where Annie was parked. I had a restful night.
Tuesday, July 18
As I was getting packed up, I met a nice lady named Shelly and her dogs Riley and Rocky. We had a nice chat about what I was doing and she asked to take a picture of my sign. Upon returning with her phone, she also brought her own washcloth to clean off the dust. Upon seeing the sad state of my helmet, she cleaned that too. One of those neat little gestures.
Route du jour:
I soon crossed back into Idaho and stopped at Salmon for some food. I still hadn’t found my picture for Idaho, so I tried to plan a route that would give me a number of potential locations. Back on the road, I had a bit of a delay.
I was actually a little concerned for a bit. The herd dog was making some of the cows pretty angry, to the point where they would charge at it. I hoped that wrath would not be turned upon me.
Shortly after this, I realized I had missed a turn. I was intending to proceed into the center of the state, through the Sawtooth National Forest. My unintended route had placed me quite close to the next stop on my list, Rexburg. I headed there instead, stopping for some pictures along the way.
Around this area is where I started having some major concerns about my drive chain. By this point I already had a new one ordered (it would be waiting for me in Minnesota), but my current chain was deteriorating much faster than expected. A number of kinks were developing, making it impossible to adjust correctly. Some disconcerting slapping and grinding sounds were audible. I take really good care of my chains, but perhaps this was a residual consequence of my bearing issue.
Maybe now would be a good time to address all of the single ladies here (thousands of them, I’m sure 🙂 ) I have a bit of advice for you that will hopefully be helpful.
Have you met a guy who seems pretty alright, but you’re not sure if he would make a good husband? The best way to tell is by inspecting how he maintains the drive chain of his motorcycle. So sneak out to his garage and take a look. There are a number of possibilities which I will attempt to translate for you:
- The chain looks shiny and damp: This is a great sign. The guy knows how to take care of something. You can safely proceed knowing that he is marriage material.
- The chain looks dry and crusty: This should cause a few concerns. Try to figure out if he is just been on some dusty roads recently. There may be a good explanation. If the chain looks the same a week later, proceed with much caution.
- His motorcycle is belt or shaft driven: This should raise some major red flags about his character. Does he lack the caring or the competence to commit to maintaining a chain?
- He does not have a motorcycle: Well…..ummmm…….is he rich or something? You can probably do better.
Alright. Time to push Annie along a sidewalk to get the right picture.
I rolled around town for a bit, looking for anything interesting. It was after 5pm already, so some places were closed. I learned that Rexburg is home to the Idaho campus for BYU and they have a beautiful LDS temple that overlooks the city.
The area around Rexburg appears to be a good place for tubers (I mean potatoes this time, not people on a river). There are countless fields around the outskirts of the town. A short drive north of the city are the St. Anthony Dunes, a major recreational area for off road vehicles (don’t think I wasn’t tempted).
I didn’t really meet anyone, which was kind of a shame. I was feeling a little pressed for time, so I was a little less thorough than I would like. Maybe it is overly optimistic to think that I will have some sort of incredible experience at each of my stops, but I was a little disappointed in my last few places (Mattawa, Idaho, Rexburg). I fully blame myself for this and not these places. I’ve wondered if I should refuse to leave a place until I feel that I have experienced it? Not sure. I guess this journey continues to be a work in progress.
I have enjoyed Idaho, though. It seems to be a great mix of civilization and untouched wilderness. There are a great variety of landscapes, some which are quite unexpected. Maybe some day I can come back and do some tubing tubing (eating a potato while floating down a river).