We woke up at a campground in Hells Canyon this morning. I found a praying mantis in my hair. The high around here is 106 degrees, so we got up at 5:30 because we had a 14 mile summit up to 4100 feet. It took four hours to pedal 14 miles with all our gear, and then it was rolling hills until Council Idaho, where we showered in the sprinklers at the high school and then came to Ace Saloon. You can drink and smoke inside here, and get drinks to go. It might not be good for the Bike trip, but it reminds me of the South and that's wonderful. I tried to bathe in a river on the way here, but people had cautioned us against it because it's rattlesnake territory. I got my clothes and body covered in soap, and got in up to my ankles. Mary was on her way in and saw a snake. (mary here: i tolded beth not to go in that river and was looking for a snake to prove her choice WRONG. I rode with no suds.)
I tried to wash the soap off but saw another snake in the water. I ended up pedaling the last 23 miles covered in soap. I feel pretty clean now, and would almost feel like a functioning member of society if I wasn't currently wearing a silk nighty under a large tee shirt, since my other clothes are all dirty. (Mary here again: I'm wearing a windbreaker with no shirt. Or bra.)
All jokes aside, it's been 7 days since we left and I am so grateful for this trip. To have a close sister and friend willing and excited to do it with me and to be able to see bighorn sheep, running cows, changes in terrain and kind people. The Ranger at our sight last night told me that a family came through on their bikes last year. There were six children, aged 2 to 12. Everything they owned was on their bikes, and they went the same route as us. The mother pulled the 2 year old up the 14 mile hill in a trailer on her bike, and the other children rode. They went hundreds of miles and were eventually taken in by a small town in Idaho and now live there. While I was pedaling for 5 hours in 100 degrees I started thinking about that. I think living in a big city has caused me to become a little cynical, or depressed. It's just wonderful to see that people are still generous, unconventional circumstances work out and most hearteningly, America is still beautiful. There have been days when we've ran out of water and came upon remote stores closing in five minutes, or like tonight, when the Bartender told us we could pitch our tent and camp in the Beer Garden. (mary here again: and turned up the jutebox when he saw me looking at it. Then loaded 10 free credits. Now 5 biker men are listening to full blast faith hill and Melissa ethridge.)
We've ran into people who educated us on our immediate routes just by chance, and told us about wildlife and other precautions. Each day has felt like forever, and the best kind of forever.
Right now, I just feel grateful. And alive. And it's nice to know, if you're willing to walk around half naked, shower in sprinklers, trust people and carry everything you own on you, that shit might still be free.