Monday, June 22, 2009

What happened to Summer IDAHO?

Sunday June 21st, Fathers Day! Or the first day of summer?
This was supposed to be a nice day in Idaho. We went to bed with with clearing skies. Donna and I both got up after midnight to use the bathroom and the stars were splendid. Shortly after the first light of dawn came the first rain of dawn. We moved everything to the covered picnic table area and got stuff drying out so we could pack up and head on down the road. A little after 9:00 we were as ready as we’d ever be and pedaled away from the Water Tower Park in Downtown Cambridge. We returned to the café where we had dinner the night before to enjoy a Fathers Day breakfast. This consumed an hour. The rain persevered. So we did what dedicated cylists do, we got out there and rode the road in the rain. The rain tapered a bit over the next 2 hours and by the time we got to the next communtiy, Council Idaho, we had 18 miles in. This was pretty easy riding as the terrain was mostly rolling up and down but the tailwind is what helped us along.

So we decide to have lunch in the Council Café because it is Fathers Day but mostly because it was raining and we hoped it would stop while we ate. It didn’t. They were very busy at this café feeding people like us who also wanted to the rain to stop. It seems that this part of Idaho has had an abnormally wet spring and now that summer is here officially, perhaps a very wet summer too. Anyways, we spent an hour and a half waiting for our food and also waiting for the rain to stop. Our food finally came and the rain persisited.

Our destination today was the town of New Meadows Idaho, population 815. This was another 28 miles down the road. Not too ambitious a day but there was a minor climb towards the end. Donna and I were both miserable as we chose to wear our rain gear which is almost always a mistake. You end up perspiring inside the rain gear and getting just as wet if not more than if you had left the rain suit off. But you feel good for the first 15 minutes after putting it on. The the first real push of the day causes the pulse to race and the heart to thump and the sweat to pour and Bang! You’re soaking wet! The only time rain gear is a good thing is when you aren’t doing anything physical. If we were only riding our bikes downhill, then raingear would be a blessing. We aren’t that lucky. So we suck it up and get to work on riding those 28 miles.

The elevation increases throughout the day until just 8 miles from New Meadows, we’re at 4300 feet above sea level. The temperature has been steadily dropping all day as we’ve gained altitude and being soaking wet doesn’t help matters much. We stopped at a small restaurant/convenience store to buy some Gatorade and use this opportunity to check out our options as far as sleeping accomodations tonight. There is another city park (Free but Donna says NO WAY, she wants a shower) there is also an RV campground that lets bikers pitch tents. A third option that I threw out there was that if it was still raining when we pedaled into New Meadows, I would spring for another motel. Reading a bit further on the map I discovered a fourth option: Zims Hot Springs, 5 miles outside of town. This one caught the interest of Donna and Lewis. I would have been OK at another city park, cheapskate that I am. The rain at this point is now stopping intermittently and then resuming again. Lewis made the final call and Zims Hot springs was it. So we pulled into New Meadows just before 6:00 and found the grocery store where I made a few purchases for dinner and breakfast tomorrow. I also managed to place a phone call to Zims to make sure we could count on a place to stay. $10 for a tentsite, and $5 for anyone who wanted to use the pool. That city park kept looking better and better to me! But we had promised Lewis and he had chosen Zims over the chance to sit in a motel and watch Nickelodeon. So we went for it.

This was probably the best decision we made today. The rain returned just as we pulled into Zims place. They have a covered picnic table area with enough room for our tent so that’s where we set up. Dinner was skipped in order to get our cold aching bodies into the hot steaming pools. I cant remember feeling as blissful as when I dropped my shivering aching body into the 105 degree water. I could see the huge smile on Donna’s face as well. Lewis was off into the swimming pool which was a more tolerable 80 or 85 degrees. We swam and soaked until almost 8:30 until hunger got the better part of Donna at which point we took turns exiting the pool to dry off and get changed all using the same towel. We have gotten pretty good at using one towel for all of us when bathing. I failed to emphasize how quickly we exited the pool. We DASHED from the pool to the heated indoor recreatioon/office area because we could truly appreciate the cold now. While we swam there were non-swimming grandmothers outside watching their charges. They were protected from the rain undercover, wrapped in blankets and still they were shivering. When I located a thermometer I realized why. The temperature indicated all of 48 degrees and the wind was sending the rain sideways.

Once I had dried off and was waiting inside the office/recreation area I struck up a conversation with the owner guy who had seemed just a bit gruff when I talked to him on the phone. He was anything but gruff after I took the time to talk to him. It turns out he’s a cool guy. His name is Al! That is usually enough to warrant someone being a cool guy but he had other qualities that elevated him into being an A-OK alright and hep dude. When we first got here I felt that he had finagled an extra $5 out of me as I was going to skip the hot tub and just shower. Before paying for the dip in the steaming water I asked if Lewis would be able to return in the morning for a few minutes on the same $5 or would I have to pay again. His response was ‘If you all pay tonite, he can use the pool tomorrow. In fact you can all use it for a bit.’ I shrugged and ponied up the money. It was a good thing too as later he became a benefactor. While waitiing for Lewis to finish up, Al came through with a 16oz Coors free of charge. He called it a wife beater. A sense of humor this guy has. I soon found out that he had worked in the Olympia area years ago as a Lineman stringing high tension wires that go on those really big towers. He also spent some time working on the now defunct Satsop Nuclear power plant that is about 25 miles from our house. He’s worked all over the country doing these dangerous things involving large amounts of electricity and heavy wires and helicopters and climbing on great big steel towers. I asked if he’d had any friends killed while he was doing that kind of work and he responded that he’s been to a lot of funerals. 13 to be exact, Now he sells pop to teenagers and tries to prevent them from spawning in the larger of the pools. But he seems relaxed. His own boss (other than the government Bosses who try to make his life difficult!). Zims has been in the family for over 30 years and he’s been running it for the last 20 after his dad asked him to come home and take care of it because no one else wanted to.
So now we’re looking at going out into the 46 degree darkness and heat up our Ramen noodles(Lewis) and Chili (Alan and Donna) over the backpacking stove when Donna realized that a microwave was on the counter. She asked if we could fix our dinner inside and he didn’t hesitate. Sure, I’ve got to keep the place open until 11:00 for the teenagers. So I made the mad dash outside to get the food and computer as the rain was coming down in torrents now. Good move we came here! As we were eating our dinner Al came over with another offering of beer. This time there was

1 comment:

  1. "This time there was"... was what? Don't leave us hang'n

    I just got back from a motorcycle trip through part of Idaho. I was there just after you guys were. We had ridden up to a peak called "No Buisness" and from there we could see both Council and New Meadows, Id. Sorry for your luck with the weather. I arrived in Boise on 6/24 and it was 95deg. People there were telling me that it was their first hot day all summer and it had been raining till then. I supposed I should have arrived on 6/21 and brought the sunshine sooner for you guys :)

    Idaho has some fantastic hot spring locations; Great Choice Lewis!