Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rocky Mountain Highs and Lows

31 August Mon: Departure is imminent. The destination/journey will take us along the primitive 100 mile Lolo Trail taken by Lewis and Clark in their 1805 and 1806 expeditions along the Nez Perce (Nimipuu ... Nee-mee-poo) trail. The Nez Perce called it the Trail to Buffalo Country that winds along ridges high above the Lochsa River. It remains primitive with no gas stations or developed water sources along the high elevation precipitous trail with promises of breath-taking scenery amidst a sea of mountains (so says the guidebook). The forecast calls for temps to reach a high of seventy. Cool.

30 August Sun: Love is a many splendored thing: Life is good! Adjustments to the bike are in order today; We are pondering the purchase of a new Suzuki 6hp V-Strom vs Walter's 1150 BMW.

29 August Sat: Hey Dick: Try Will Schortz' Dangerous Book of Sudoku. Sudoku is addictive, huh? Smooch Smooch is singing her praises because she is into Ron's book! WILL SHE CATCH UP TO THE MASTER? What better way to spend a rainy day than doing Sudoku?

Unless one goes to the public library! We spent the better part of today waiting out the rain in the Orofino library until they locked the doors and we had to leave an unfinished jigsaw puzzle on the table. Cynthia read two books she recommends: "Murder or Suicide" (the story of Meriweather Lewis' untimely death) reaching HER conclusion, "It was murder following a robbery gone awry; what Governor would travel to Washington, D.C. for a meeting with the president and not have any money to be found on his person?" The other book (can't remember the title) is the story of an autistic musical prodigy who also happens to be the nephew of Camilla Parker-Bowles by marriage. We were scheduled to depart for Yellowstone and the Tetons tomorrow but rain is forecast. The weather cooled tremendously so riding will be cooler... maybe cold.

The photo below is of the Elk River Reservoir (Dworshak Dam) with the Dent Bridge barely visible in the foreground. The 54 mile-long lake is the result of the highest straight axis concrete gravity dome in North America built by the Corps of Engineers for 327 million dollars to provide electrical power, recreation and flood control.

27 August Friday: 100 degrees! Orofino is Spanish named after Ore Fino (gold ore) in 1895 when the first homesteader arrived after Nez Perce Indian Reservation was opened for settlement. The early settlers discovered white pine and not so much gold. The Potlatch logging company built the Dworshak Dam to create the Elk River Reservoir which is a lovely place with one of the 18 most beatiful bridges in the US that goes from nowhere to nowhere on the Elk River Backcountry Road. Oh. There is a Corps of Engineers camp in the hills. The vistas are marvelous. A young fawn bolted through the trees and a little further on three young deer were nibbling in the grasses.

Orofino itself is a surprise: it is a small town built by loggers and miners that never prospered ... or so it appears. Yet, it boasts a decent Best Western hotel at a very reasonable rate with magnificent views located right on the river's edge; a very fine dining restaurant is a few steps away with patio dining on the river. Lots of people are tubing in the river and we see some fishing boats, too.

24 August Tues: Continuing our self-indulgent and lazy lifestyle of Monday: we slept late! By the time we ate breakfast it was time for lunch... but we happened to stop in a health food store where the nice clerk tried to sell us everything from sea salt to cure every ailment known to humankind ... to overdosing on vitamins and niacin... ???? No time left to eat, we finally started the day's activity by stopping at the Forest Ranger's office to gather information about hiking; turns out she does genealogy. Of course the conversation lingered on and on before we drove thirty miles to Hollywood. HMM. Yes. Hollywood, Idaho, a tiny village of 10 cabins. We did not tarry in Hollywood any longer than it took to read the map of the area. From there we ventured north on Historic Idaho 11 to Headquarters. Yes. Headquarters is the name of the town that boasts TWO cabins; it is also the headquarters (play on name) of the Potlatch Logging company. The sweet lady in the logging office told us to continue north for another thirty miles on a road REALLY less traveled - it is not even on the maps! Almost to the end we turned around because it became too cold for us without jackets on the bike at that elevation in the shade of the tall trees. Turning around we drove back Historic Idaho 11 (Gold Rush Trail) back through Headquarters to Pierce, Waipee, Greer and finally reached the highway to return to Orofino. Dinner at the River's Edge is lovely... but we are moving rooms tomorrow to a higher floor because of footsteps in the night... pounding pounding pounding. Is it a ghost?

23 August Mon: Talk about self indulgent and lazy. YUP! That's usn's. The most we moved was two walks to the market for supplies for this coming week of hiking in Clearwater.

22 August late Sun: Orofino, Idaho - Clearwater National Forest was beckoning us to return to hike some more... do bike maintenance... and escape the heat.

21 August Sat: Moscow, Idaho... arrived yesterday afternoon to visit Spruce and Molly. We spent an enjoyable evening last night at a BBQ for students in the writing program - and had a delightful breakfast at an old European style restaurant that served Danish Aebleskivver.

Clearwater National Forest: tall cedar trees! Luchse Lodge... it is a must return to site for lodging in the midst of the national forest. The ride on Hwy Nez Perce Trail through the forest is breathtakingly glorious... following the Clearwater stream or river left one of us speechless.

Orofino, Idaho is a must -see. This is the view from the River's Edge Hotel (our room). Their restaurant offers riverside seating and delicious meals, too. After the view from the hotel is the photo of ...

The Road to the Sun through Glacier National Park is the most photographed road in the US. Marvelous scenery to be enjoyed so we did not mind the construction delays. We found a delightful restaurant on Lake McDonald on the west side of the park.

Osprey in a nest with three chicks beneath her.. caught in the webcam view in the visitor's center.
The deer was very friendly and used to visitors.

16 August Mon: Glacier National Park.

15 August Sun: Windy and chilly in Havre. The local police must be totally incompetent or nervous nellies or perhaps both... ; they phoned the hotel and asked the clerk to call two rooms (one of which was ours) at four AM because they had a suspect in custody who said his accomplice was in one of those two rooms. YES YES YES. Call the suspect's room and let him or her know that they are wanted to give them plenty of time to flee. And imagine the incompetent hotel staff complying?????

We left Havre on highway 2 headed to Glacier National Park... a five or six hour drive. WHEAT WHEAT WHEAT WHEAT AND MORE WHEAT. We stopped at an interesting IGA store (hole in the wall...) where the previous owner had provided friendship and hospitality that Ron appreciated. For many years he received a post card from Ron. No vacancy signs greeted us everywhere in East Glacier but we found a VERY little cabin with a very low rent. The evening walk through the golf course was marvelous.

13 August Friday: COLD.Cold.Cold windy and Rain. BRRRR! We avoided a lot of rain from Billings north to Havre but it did catch up to us.
11 August Tues: We spent two days in Casper getting the valves checked and shuffled off to Buffalo once again for a night before departure to Billings, Montana for a night. Evidently the escaped convicts were sighted in Billings on the 6th of August.

Photo left: Hwy south from Buffalo, WY to Casper, WY: the road less traveled.

9 Aug: Mon:
Cynthia hiked three miles along the Platte River trail.

8 Aug Sun: Buffalo, WY ...amidst a zillion Harley riders heading to a rendevous in Sturgis. The Virginian Restaurant at the Occidental Hotel last night allowed for a memorable meal. It is wild west famous... where the author (cannot remember his name) of the book, The Virginian, wrote many annals amidst the cowboys and Occidental Saloon characters. After lunch at the Virginian we made the decision to head south to Casper, WY to see a BMW friend for a tune-up and valve adjustment. The views on the back roads were encredible. Again... one sees more prawnhorn antelope than people or cars. Fabulous meal Sunday night at the FireRock Restaurant. We decided to spend another day for the opportunity of eating there once again. Try a salad of warm goat cheeee, field greens, sweet strawberries and candied walnuts... a once in six months treat for Cynthia.

Aug 7 Sat. Riverton in the morning: During the night some kids (?) cut the bungee cords on the U-Bag trying to steal the camping equipment; they were likely drunk and did not realize that there were two bungee cords still holding the U-bag onto the bike. In the attempt to lift up on the bag and hoist it off of the bike, they knocked the bike over and likely scared them away. A few more bungee cords from Wal-Mart and we shuffled off to Buffalo.

6 Aug Fri: Marvelous drive to Riverton which helped the fact we could not find good food. During the night some kids (?) cut the bungee cords on the U-Bag trying to steal the camping equipment; they were likely drunk and did not realize that there were two bungee cords still holding the U-bag onto the bike. In the attempt to lift up on the bag and hoist it off of the bike, they knocked the bike over and likely scared them away. A few more bungee cords from Wal-Mart and we shuffled off to Buffalo.

Aug.5 Thurs. Last night in the Holiday Inn Express was indeed comfortable.... so why not stay a second night? Lodging in Jackson Hole will be high season for another couple of weeks so we changed the route. Tomorrow we will drive towards Lander, WY and possibly Thermopolis ... then onto Bozeman, MT before heading towards the Tetons and Yellowstone. For the next two weeks it is high season in Jackson Hole (and there are no vacancies under three hundred a night). If we wait a couple more weeks to go that direction we will find fewer people and better rates. The desk clerk advised us not to camp in Yellowstone because of grizzlies and wolves causing problems now. They eat people. Speaking of eating... which seems like we do a lot... Ron's weight is 173 with clothes and shoes. Smooch Smooch won't tell her weight but she is delighted to have lost the five pounds she gained eating Italian bread. Or maybe it was the champagne?

We were disappointed in the I-Hop breakfast. They did not know the meaning of no oil. And the Golden Corral was BAD! Every entree was swimming in grease. Too bad because they were going an alternative to Ruby Tuesday. The folks at the Golden Corral said the menus were recently changed in all of their chain. The Coyote Grill in Rock Springs wins a five star award from us. Great seafood and most accomodating.

The oil is changed; the bike has gas, we have been fed and plan to depart early in the morning for Lander and points north towards Montana.

4 Aug: Wed: O happy chance. Driving Hwy 13 north (through desert) we encountered a thunderstorm with an amazing lighting display... but managed to pull into a Marrott County yard with a lone pick-up sitting in front of a partially painted trailer house. The driver named Toni invited us into her truck to ride out the rain with engaging conversation until we could drive into Baggs in search of food. MEXICAN! That was it. Well... at least they had a lettuce and tomato salad with grilled chicken breast. From Baggs north we spotted large herds of antelope. They were not alarmed until we turned around and drove slowly past them again. Beautiful sight to see. Not long after turning west on I-80 the raindrops started to fall so we took shelter under overhead bridges for about twenty minutes and enjoyed good conversation with a couple and their adult son who also sought shelter until the rain stopped. The winds were ferocious along the interstate to Rocky Springs. Lodging was not easily found... seems like everyone in the world decided to vacation here.

3 Aug. Tues: YO! (a 17th century Philadelphia greeting... according to friend Eric C!) so YO! and Zooma Zooma... we packed up and departed early morning in the heat... to Rifle, Meeker and onto Craig where we spent the night after avoiding rainstorms.

2 Aug. Mon: We had a good three hour hike late morning meeting four police officers on foot (in the heat in camouflage) carrying assault rifles. They were after someone! In the evening, Laurie H. arrived en route to Colorado Springs with her two lovely children in tow to keep the groom occupied while Smooch Smooch and Laurie poured over 17th century wedding dress designs and fabrics.

1 Aug. Mon: Glenwood Springs, CO - the good, the bad and the ugly:
The ugly:
The Hotel Colorado was a comedy of errors that commenced with an hour and a half check-in delay because the rooms were not yet cleaned; we got into the room at five-thirty P.M. Last night's fiasco received the hotel of the year booby prize. About ten PM a guest entered our room shocking us awake. A few minutes later a staff person knocked on the door first then used the key to open the door to deliver a roll-away bed drawing a strong cry of outrage and some strong words from the male in the bed. Once again we quieted down when a slightly tipsy woman dressed in a low-cut red dress opened the door with a key and backed out FAST hearing the ROAR of disbelief...from inside our room. One of us was angrier than the other person has ever witnessed so she threw on clothing and marched down the hall to discover the intruders waiting for the same elevator. Recognizing fierce glares they kept silent while she stormed to the desk clerk to demand the cause of such inexcusable interruptions only to learn that the room was never registered to us... nor did a search of the computers find us in the system. The poor desk clerk was almost in tears.. offering us a cocktail for the disturbance. I don't think so! The next morning's meeting with the manager (whose job is to simply pacify the customer) was mildly satisfying for he did not charge for the night's stay. He is really clueless as to the incompetence of the entire system from cleaning staff, to restaurant wait staff, to admission clerks.

The bad:
The city seems to be a haven for the homeless centered around the courthouse, bailbondsmen, attorneys and shabby downtown with a lot of retail vacancy signs... except for one sign, "Medical Marijuana, Walk-Ins Welcome." The city has a lot of tourist potential that is overlooked.

The good:
The city provides nice foot and bike trails; and the hot springs pools are constantly filled with lots of water slides and special fun for children. Finn's Seafood Restaurant and the pretty waitress, Lisa, will be remembered for very good food and smiling service. So, too, for Juicy Lucy's Steakhouse and Carly the waitress. Good food! Very congenial and considerate of the dietary restrictions. Another delight is the Daily Bread Restaurant with it fine breakfast, friendly wait staff and very interesting owner.