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Let's meet in the middle
By Brandon Bouwman - (contact)

Day 2: South of Spokane to somewhere in the woods: Moose attack(s)!

Saturday April 28, 2012, 62 miles (100 km) - Total so far: 76 miles (122 km)

Max speed: 30.5 mph
Ride Time: 05 hr 12 min 15 sec
Average: 11.9 mph

I slept quite soundly until 0930. Then I milled about at a slow pace knowing that I had covered additional, unintended ground last night. My campsite turned out to be pretty nice by light of day. There was a road on the other side of me that I didn't realize was there, but I was up a small hill so it didn't matter. I enjoyed a peaceful, slow-paced breakfast of oats and coffee while the sun rose on Eastern Washington and folk went about their business not 50' from my campsite along the main road.

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Bike in the foreground, hammock in the center; hard to see, isn't it? It's sunny because I'm lazy.

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Try pitching a tent on an incline over sharp shrubberies next to another tree. I think not.

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Breakfast at a slow pace is a good pace.

When I finally got going it was around noon. I know, slacking, but it felt good. The roads were quite rural with very little traffic. A bit brisk, but the sun felt warming whenever you were between stands of trees. Most of the cars gave me a wide and greatly appreciated berth.

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Blue skies and a helmet. Always wear your helmet, kids. Unless you're stupid. Then don't bother, 'cause your brain ain't worth saving.

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Typical roads for the day.

Partway into the ride, I made a navigational error and ended up having to take US 95 South just after crossing into Idaho. Ah well. It wasn't that bad.

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Welcome to Idaho. I realized that not 100 yards further was a much shinier, nicer sign for photos. Ah well.

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Still having fun!

After riding on 95 for a ways, I decided that lunch was in my near future. I cruised by an unassuming shack in Worley, ID that I would normally pass up. This being an adventure, I figured what the heck and cruised in. Nobody was manning the booth, or the nearby coffee shack, so I walked around back where I heard some nice Jazz music filling the desert air. Here I met Dennis, the proprietor, and a Native American fellow. Dennis was digging a hole for a salmon smoker, and the Native American fellow - powered by a Keystone Light and a free lunch - was painting a sign to lure folks from 95 to the aforementioned smoked salmon. Dennis was quite a character and seemed to have that ability to get by on anything. More importantly, he assured me that his burgers were some of the best around. Dennis is not a liar. This 1/2 lb greasy onion and mushroom laden patty of delight was the marque of true happiness on a bike ride. Even better, Dennis gave me some "jug water" from the spring at his house to fill my water bottles. Thanks Dennis! If you're cruising through Worley, I highly recommended stopping by for a burger.

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What gastrointestinal problems could this possibly cause?

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My tastebuds leap for joy.

I continued along the route I had laid out and realized that my wife and I had been here a couple of years ago when I saw the sign for "Lil' Boo's fireworks." I remember us laughing about Lil' Boo's gangsta' roots leading to an unassuming life of firework dispensing in the Palouse mountains of the pandhandle of Idaho. Further along, I experienced my first sustained downhill of the trip as I descended to Lake Chatcolet. I love downhills. The Long Haul Trucker handled like a dream even fully loaded and left me with this stupid unmovable grin which would become the hallmark of downhills for the remainder of the trip:

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I actually replaced my front brakes before this trip due to stories of people burning through brakes on tours due to the load....yeah, I never used them.

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See, it's cute because it's little without all of the extra letters.

I stopped for some more water and pictures at an interpretive swamp reader board thing, then hopped on the Trail of the Coeur D'Alenes. On my way around the lake, I met an older lady absolutely hammering out the miles on an old Schwinn Mountain Bike. She told me she just started riding this year with the goal of making 3,000 miles in one year's time - because that would be the distance for her to ride back to her hometown in Massachusetts. She started out with zero previous biking and managed only 42 miles her first month. She was 400+ miles the previous month and was planning over 120 miles this weekend to meet her goal. Impressive! She remarked about how biking had changed her both physically and mentally and improved her overall outlook on life and enjoyment of things. Good for her! I hope she met her goal.

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Interpretive swamp information board at the South end of Lake Chatcolet.

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It's an election year; maybe this is a ballot measure?

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I didn't actually have any maps, so I assumed this picture and my camera batteries would get me through.

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Flooded much? Cool bridge across the lake. Tons of trash up against it kinda ruined the mystique.

I passed up Harrisburg in favor of some instant mashed potatoes along the Lake. I think my view was better than any restaurant could have offered me.

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Instant mashed potatoes. The whole bag. In one sitting.

The sun was starting to set, so goal number 1 was finding a campsite. What I had failed to take into account was that the water level was VERY high. There wasn't any place to camp since the water was right up to the edge of the trail, plus every last inch was fenced with damned barbed wire fencing! Land that wasn't even remotely useful was fenced in! Theory: rural folk exist by selling each other barbed wire fencing and putting it in. Their entire existence is based around the barbed wire fencing trade, transport, and installation. At this point I nicknamed the trail the "Bataan Death March of rail-to-trails" due to the inability to ever get off of the damn thing.

About 10 or 15 miles after dinner having pedaled along and seen NOBODY nor any means of accessing anyone due to the high water, I started noticing some large hoof prints along the side of the trail. I wondered aloud if moose or elk ever get trapped up here and can't escape due the wire everywhere. Rounded a corner and:

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Crap, it's getting dark out. But hey, this lighting is cool!

oh. shit. There's a moose in the middle of the trail. Now what!? I take pictures first (of course). Then I yell. Wave my arms. Jig. Moose stares at me like I'm a deranged midget.

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Staredown.

So I walk forward - because backward is not an option at this point due to the lack of camping - and hope that the moose will dart into the water and let me pass. Nope. She scampers down the trail a bit further and munches more grasses. Try again. Scamper. Try again...this time she starts to walk toward me with her head low. Not running, but definitely straight at me to see what the hell I'm about. My mind flashes to Youtube videos of folks getting beat up in Alaska or Missoula or somewhere during the fall rut. Oh crap oh crap oh crap. So I charge her.

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This is actually a different picture. The moose has moved much less than I.

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Moose trotting down the trail to eat more grasses - laughing at my weak attempts at instilling fear.

It works! She runs into the water...and promptly gets tangled in the barbed wire fence 4" below the surface. Good job, rural barbed-wire-fence trader assholes. I scurry past while she's preoccupied and, luckily, she's able to disentangle and get back on the path and we're both happy.

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Trying to dive into the lake. Just before getting tangled in the barbed wire.

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Looking back. See! We're both okay!

A few more miles go by and I round another corner and shit! There's another moose! Now it's dark, so I try the previous technique. It works and I'm able to move on. About 1/2 mile later, I find a passable campsite and set everything up in the dark. I take forever to fall asleep as I'm in the middle of a swamp and everything is out calling, mating, splashing and generally rabble-rousing in the dark of night.

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There's a slightly bright spot in the middle of the picture that might be an eye. See, it was dark out.


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"Let's meet in the middle" Copyright © 2012-2014 By Brandon Bouwman - (contact). All rights reserved.
Page was created on May 7, 2012 15:28 PDT, last updated on May 7, 2012 21:28 PDT
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