Monday, June 12, 2006

J - Dry bread, chipmunks, camp hosts.

Well, the Oregon coast was too wet. Sad because I had wanted to see some of it but rain is no fun on a motorcycle. Luckily it hasn't rained since we left the coast. 10 days later we are in Idaho. Idaho ('famous potatoes' license plates proclaim) is a lot prettier and more interesting than those plates give it credit for. We've just finished a ride through the sawtooth mountain range. Meadows and wildflowers, snow covered peaks, we camped at a lake at 2000 metres which mirrored the 3000 metre (meter) mountains 5 miles away... Anyone would think that we were in Wyoming. It is also very dry, though this season has been a drought killer for Idaho in terms of rainfall it is so dry that in the 1 minute it takes between taking the bread out of the bag and assembling the sandwich it goes all crusty and crispy on the outside. Welcome to the American west I guess. I hear it is very cold and snowy in NZ right now.

We are meeting lots of the locals here and there though there is a distinct lack of women and young people amoungst them. By and large it is old men in the supermarket parking lot who see our motorcycles and are envious/sympathetic. Or Harley riders who are always very very polite.

Meeting them is important otherwise you unknowingly drive past all sorts of great things, hotsprings mostly, which are invaluable to the dirty stinking motorcycle travellor and not to be passed by.

Camp hosts are of course an interesting source of local knowledge though there is only so much local knowledge one has when ones RV is permanently set down in a public campground for the priviledge of free parking and gas for the generator. They come in all flavours though some interesting and some not. Some even serve as a sort of local youth counselor for the more regular inhabitants. The camp host is the one who is responsible for running the campground and so the process of deciding what to pay is a little bit of a negotiation. Does the U.S. Forest service accept the golden eagle pass for 1/2 price camping? Or do they not? Are two motorcycles traveling together technically considered to be 1 vehicle or two? What about a 25 litre Dodge Behemoth towing a 3 axle Caravan towing a Jeep? Are they technically considered 1 vehicle or 6? Do we A) count the axles B) count the wheels or C) count the people and divide by 2. I know I sound bitter but it is certainly true that the best campsite of all is one that has no camp host. These are usually found just a wee way down the forestry access roads or hiding behind some bushes next to a stream.

We have discovered a new low in petrol standards. 85 octane. I wondered why petrol was so cheap in Idaho! In Oregon it's because there is no sales tax. Not in Idaho. Our bikes haven't complained though.

Sadly I don't think we will make it to Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on this run. Perhaps on the way back.

There are lots of interesting places on the map in Idaho. Hells Canyon, The Headwaters of the River of No Return, the Sawtooth Mountains, Snake River and the Experimental Breeder Reactor #1. Now it is onward to the Craters of the Moon and Yellowstone NP.

New food of the week, Albertsons canned whole potatoes.

P.S. We have turned East and are now heading generally towards Wisconsin for my June 1st family reunion. Alaska will have to wait. Probably a good thing as it is most likely freezing up there right now.

No comments: