Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 61. Libby, MT to Athol, ID. 110 miles.

I tried to start early, I swear it. But after visiting a local coffee shop and visiting with the owner for a good while, it was 11:00am before I departed Libby, MT. The morning was bright and crisp and I could feel the heat begin to creep in. For the last few weeks it has been a bit chilly, the wind and breezes cooling my skin - especially when in the shade of mountains.

I stopped briefly at Kootenai falls, which my buddy RT from West Glacier had told me about. I hiked down a short hill, across a bridge and through the woods. Quite impressive they were as water poured down rock that seemed to be sliced with a knife. Sharp, 90 degree edges acted as steps for the cool, blue water. After a quick hike back up I was on the road again, only stopping in Troy, MT for an air pump and then here and there for a snack and water.

It wasn't until I reached the town of Bonners Ferry, ID that I stopped in for a rest. A small chain restaurant, Zip's, looked like just the place so I sat down, consumed two double cheeseburgers, fries, Mountain Dew and a chocolate shake. I've been telling myself that I need to cut down on this bullshit food, but during the heat of the day I let my stomach conquer my mind. Perhaps I have a glandular disorder. A man in the restaurant asked me about my trip and we went back and forth talking about weather, distance and when he ran out of things to ask I asked him about his motorcycle helmet and his motorcycle sitting outside. He opened right up and told me all about his travels on that bike. He loved it. Sometimes it's clear that people just need the right opportunity to talk about what they're doing because not enough people in this world take interest. Welp, I'll ask you a question and you can go right on ahead.

Stomach full and mind at ease, I rolled on down to a local ranger station. I learned that maps are free at visitors stations and since there wasn't one around I was hoping that an Idaho state map would be waiting for me there. Turns out there wasn't but after enough hobknobbing with a ranger, she pulled a map out of her car and handed it over to me. Said she didn't need it anyhow. Funny how it works if you smile and act friendly with folks. You can almost get anything you want.

After a couple hours I found myself in the town of Sandpoint, ID - seemed like a real nice town but I just stopped for a drink and rolled right on through. It wasn't until 10pm that I stopped in the small town of Athol where I met a fairly unfriendly individual who didn't want to give me anything for my nice smile and friendly attitude. I noticed a handful of RVs and campers set-up in some grass and assumed the piece of property to be a fine place to setup my tent. There was no obvious order to the property and appeared to a backyard turned campground - a weak one at that. I asked a group of RVers whom to speak with. They pointed me over to a corner of the property where a Caterpillar was pushing brush into a large bonfire. A man wearing a sleeveless t-shirt was directing the machinery and drinking a beer. He was sitting on a tailgate by the time I walked up to him, orange glow from the fire lighting my way. "How's it going, man?" I shouted out on my approach. "What's up" the man said in return. As I got closer it was clear that he was almost perturrbed with my very presence. I asked him how much it would cost to set-up a tent on the grounds. "15 bucks" he replied. "15 bucks!!" I said, obviously appauled by the fee. "yup" he returned without hesitation. "Well, that seems a bit high just to set-up a tent. Think I'll just keep it going." "I guess you will" and he sent me off.

Of course as I left and after I was gone I thought of many witty and snappy remarks as to why $15 was an absurd price. First of all there wasn't a shower or a bathroom on the property but most importantly there wasn't even a picnic table. Picnic tables have been the most important piece of furniture I have come across on this ride. They allow me to stand up my bike, spread out my shit and keep it all off the ground. Well after putzing around town for nearly an hour I moved on past the thievery of a campground, only about a quarter mile, and found a nice free spot behind some trees off the highway. I was camping on the ground, my stuff on the ground, just as I would have been at the "campground." $15 my ass. If you ever find yourself in Athol, ID - skip it.

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