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Sunday 29 May 2011

Day 20 - Snake River

Todays mileage: 49
Total mileage: 959
End point: Irwin, ID

Apologies to those disappointed by the size of the bell, I admit there was some hyperbole surrounding the bell, but if it was any larger then I certainly wouldn't be carrying it.

Last night I was preparing for a good nights sleep and wanted a dark room to facilitate my sleeping. Since the begining of the year I have officially upgraded myself from an amateur to an intermediate in all things to do with curtains. I successfully installed two curtain rails, hung two pairs of curtains, added to my vocabulary, used and understood the meaning of the word 'finnial'; a true sign of becoming an adult. Thinking myself some what of an expert I set to work closing the curtains. There was a white inner curtain and then a thick outer curtain. The thick outer curtain was somewhat rigidly held in place and I set to work leveraging it out. After some shaking, yanking and wiggling I finally freed the first curtain. The otherside took even more effort. It was at this point that I realised these curtains where actually just decorative features and not meant to be moved, for behind the white curtain was a black out blind which I missed at first - ooops! I was almost going to feel guilty until I saw that I had been charged $3 for the bottle of my water in the room, they are lucky I didn't take the curtains home with me.

Awaking this morning I was in no rush to exit the hotel, for I knew there was a very high chance of rain and so procrastinating was top of my agenda. Breakfast was an absolute warzone. Most of the breakfasts I have had in motels have been peaceful affairs; a retired couple with perhaps a business man in the corner. This was full family carnage, mess everywhere, kids running around and I had to make a nest on a bumpy stone slab in the corner. I felt particularly aggreived by a man the size of pluto who looked like he had stolen the last of my scrambled eggs. Everytime I go to breakfast now I am getting more and more desperate for beans and sausages - I am going to take action on this front.

Leaving Idaho falls it was soon apparent that everything was closed, no bike shop, no banks. Fortunately a couple of gas stations were open. The one I chose had just been robbed and the lady at the checkout was in deep gossip conversation with a friend about the particulars of the event. I was too focused on acquiring strawberry flavoured gatorade to eavesdrop properly.

I followed route 26 east out of Idaho falls, I had managed to find about 2 minutes of sun but the sky ahead was apocolyptic; the darkest shades of grey filling the entire horizon, I was a lamb to the slaughter. Had this been a week back I might have actually believed the end of the world was nigh. And so the rain came, intesne, heavy, shoe soaking rain that I hadn't felt since my second day on the road. Oh and yes it was cold. The only think to slightly offset this pain was the great view of the snake river which had cut a gorge through the rocky mountains and the fact that for once the shoulder was actually nicer than the road. The shoulder was about 3 feet of smooth tarmac with no debris whilst the road was rumbly concrete, the first time ever I had seen an arrangement like this.

A quick mention of 'Idaho Barns', although I'm not sure whether idaho can claim creit for them but I hadn't seem them before I got here. The sides of the walls are merged with the ground and then the roof has grass grown on top. This I assume protects it from the elements. I have two fine examples above. These remind me a bit of really old houses in the highlands of Scotland or maybe something the Vikings would have lived in.

I stopped at a rest area for a little bit of shelter form the rain before pressing onwards. The road was a long gentle climb followed by 2 miles of downhill. I cruised into Swan Valley and was hoping to stay at the bar in town (Fox Corner) but its a Sunday so no deal. I went another few miles up the road to Irwin where the RV park has cabins. I was tempted to camp but there is a good chance of snow tonight and the cabin is cosy.

With regards my route I now have two options, the high route on 31 through Teton Pass or continuing on 26 and cutting south. Chatting to the RV ground owner he told me he actually thought the southern lower route was prettier, so I am in two minds now. If I take the lower route I could do a tiny day tomorrow and make it into Wyoming and not have to double back on myself - but I will sleep on it and maybe search some forums.

One last thing before I go, last night I was having a read of some other blogs of people who have cycled across america. One 19 year old guy decided to do it as his gap year adventure. Unbelievably Delta lost his bike for 5 days at the begining of his trip - ouch! And to top it off he couldn't have any beer because he was too young. Surely in such circumstances you decide either to russle up some fake id or cycle across canada instead - I type this holding a cold can of coors light :)


  1. Cool pictures...the shoulder was very nice for you. Did you seriously use the word "nigh"? :-) Your cabin is cute! Bring on Wyoming!

  2. I know! Love the word choices. I enjoyed "particulars of the event" and "eavesdrop properly."

    Tough call on the route, Brian. I was excited for you to see Yellowstone, as there is so much to see and the canyon is incredibly breathtaking (not to make you feel and Pam should visit there sometime and I'll go ahead and join you).

    Regardless of where you go, it will be wonderful (and you won't know the difference--it's your route). I'm pretty sure a wise man once said...take the road less traveled. WHICH you are doing by biking across America.

    Well, I just read up on your weekend. Did you know that your blog is a lovely night cap? Stay dry! Watch out for those storms across the plain states. Much love! Sleep well!

    Oh, and good call on Pam's b-day gift! :)

  3. Brian, It appears that your covered barns actually spud (potato) cellars.