7-19-04  Jackpot, Idaho to Boise, Idaho

             Joe and Julie were my neighbors in the 93 Motel.  They were from Sheridan, Montana, where they owned a 700-acre ranch.  Their Harley was a 1983 Classic; their father had been a Harley dealer.  They offered assistance if I needed help during my transit through Montana.  They told me that anyone in Sheridan would know how to get me in touch with them.  They are great people.

          I took the 93 to the turn off on the 30.  The 30 looked like a typical Michigan two-lane road:  farms, flat, four-corner intersections, and small towns. 

          Near Hagerman, the land changed within a few miles to lava flows, fossils,  and hot springs.

Fossil beds

        The land changed back.  I stopped at a park, and again, like Michigan:  wooded, watered, and with an old-style hand pump.  There was a semi parked next to me.  The driver told me that the 30 should hit the 84 shortly.  We had both chosen the 30 as a more scenic, less-traveled route.

Hand pump

           From a rest stop few miles out of Boise, Idaho, I called Tim at Happy Trails.  I wanted to buy a set of their nerf bars, both for the protection the bars offered and for the attached highway pegs serving as a chance to relax on the bike. I also needed tires.

            The Happy Trails site was located on a dead end road in an industrial park.  I met Todd, who pulled the last pair of nerfs they had available, in gray.  My preference would have been black, but I was happy to take what they had.  Todd also sold me two Avon Gripsters.

            Jason installed the bars, but not before coming to get me.  He was laughing:  “You’re from California, aren’t you”?  I acknowledged such, and asked him how he knew.  “Your bike is locked.  No one from here ever locks his bike, only Californians.  Can you show me how to unlock it?”

            Jason was familiar with San Diego, and had driven down in the past to attend events at the El Cajon Speedway.  He had an amiable personality, and suffered my questions while he worked.  In answer to one of my questions, he recommended a scenic motorcycle road out of Boise and into the Sawtooth Mountains, and gave me directions on how to find the road.

            The work finished, I settled the bill with Susie.  She asked me where I was headed, and asked that I stop in to say “Hi” to her uncle, who runs a resort in the Sawtooths.

            Happy Trails couldn’t install the tires.  Instead, they sent me a short distance down the road to Boise Motorcycle Salvage.

            Boise Motorcycle Salvage was extremely busy.  They hoped I wasn’t under the impression that I could wait for the tires.  They asked if I could get a ride home and leave the bike.  I told them I was from San Diego:  it was a long ride home.  We agreed to change the tires at day’s end, just before the shop closed.

            One worker began busting down the old tires.  He was from Ramona, the second time I’ve run into a former resident of my small town.

            Another guy helped.    The work area was open to the outside.  They were sweating in the heat.  In the midst of all the activity, a new automated tire mounting system arrived on the back of a truck, slated to replace the old manual tire mounting equipment.  As a result, they hurriedly finished up my bike to free the space occupied by the old equipment.  It was early afternoon.

            I left Boise on the 55.  It was a joy to ride once it left the suburbs, traffic lights, and shopping malls.

          The 55 climbed the side of a mountain in a series of sweepers, then dropped into the valley carved by the Payette River.  

Payette River

           At the town of Horseshoe Curve, I stopped to eat at a Mexican restaurant.  I quickly downed a glass of ice water to re-hydrate, and asked for a second.  By the time I finished my lunch and left the restaurant, there was a thunderstorm moving in.  My first indication that the storm was close was a sudden downburst of wind that caught me by surprise and shoved me from the left of my lane almost onto the shoulder.  As the storm approached, the downbursts become more frequent and more violent.  It was a constant fight to keep the bike in the lane.

           The winds first lifted waves of dirt and leaves across the road.  As the winds increased, pine cones began to fly by.  I watched, detached, as a thick tree bough pinwheeled across my path.  Coming out of the next curve, I came to an abrupt stop. A large fallen tree blocked the road.  As I pulled off to side of road, other drivers parked and began attempting to disassemble the tree.  I had to hang on to the bike to keep it upright in the wind.  As a second storm arrived on the heels of the first, I decided to turn around.  I left the mountains and pulled into a car wash bay for shelter and to put on the rain gear.  After waiting for a few minutes to let the storm subside, I went back on the road and almost immediately ran into a downpour.  Water started pooling on the road.  The wind died, but I had to slow down to compensate for the rain and new tires.  Heavy drops of rain raised splashes on the road's surface, and I looked down to see the front wheel plowing through the water.  I worried about the new tires' ability to grip.

            Finally, on the outskirts of Boise, the rain lifted and the storms that had been nagging me all afternoon fell away.  I was awarded with a double rainbow, end to end.  It was still hot and humid.  I took a short drive through tree-lined residential streets to find the freeway.  Boise is a small town, and just before I stopped to ask for directions, I saw the freeway ahead in the distance.

            Another short burst up the I-84, and I was booked at a hotel for the night.  The bike was mopped off and dried.  The air still felt oppressive.

            I finally had the time to do my laundry, as another thunderstorm rolled in and the rain resumed with an impressive light show to the west. 

            In the laundry room, I met Rick and Dan, Harley drivers.  They were initially annoyed that I wasn’t present as soon as the wash cycle finished, but I told them the cycle had finished in the last five minutes while I stepped away to call my parents.  We shared stories of the rain and opinions of bikes as our laundry cycled.   We were all in the laundry room due to the rain.

            Rick and Dan had both been to Julian, which is a mountain town near Ramona.  Both lived in SoCal (San Clemente).  They were taking the indirect route with their wife and girlfriend on a winding journey to Yellowstone, passing through Wyoming, Oregon, and wherever the road took them. 

            Two storms rolled through in the night, both impressive in their intensity.  Flood warnings were posted for the area I had tried to pass through earlier.

            Aunt Nell died this morning.