Ride to the sun, and the heat

Trip Start Aug 04, 2008
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Flag of United States  , Washington
Thursday, August 14, 2008

The ride through Glacier was a treat.  The road is called Ride-to-the-Sun Highway, and it is incredibly scenic.  This park has more hiking, backpacking, kayaking and other sports, whereas Yellowstone was more about driving around and seeing the sights.  There are still 26 honest to god glaciers in the park, down from over 120 at the turn of the century (or something like that).  Due to global warming, the glaciers will be gone in 20 years.  But if you know anything about geology (the one academic course in which I learned the most - except maybe structural equation modeling - yuk yuk), even the aftermath - glaciation - is really dramatic.  Sides of mountains are sheared off, hollowed out and deeply scarred, and wide, gentle valleys are created, sometimes strewn with huge boulders that the glacier dropped haphazardly along its crushing, ginding way... you get the picture.

The day before I had noticed that my front tire was wearing out, so I decided to head to Spokane to find a new one to match the rear.  In case you're wondering what the hell I'm doing to these tires, you should know that they've been on the bike since I bought it, and have 11,000 miles on them, and that's as much as you can expect from a set.

As I headed south through Idaho, from the low 50's that morning it suddenly got hot as a mo... well, really hot.  The climate got arid, and the traffic turned to logging trucks, which punch a hole in the air that you wouldn't believe - better to give them a wide berth.

It seemed to me that Montana folks were very agreeable - self-deprecating, a bit quirky, but above all a good sense of humor and cheerful outlook.  Wyoming folks I met seemed kind, but more serious and a bit austere.  Idaho seemed more conventionally Republican, in a way that didn't resonate with me. 

In a broader sense, everything got a little more conventional west of Glacier (whichalso happens to be on the continental divide).  The vast stretches of emptiness became back roads.  The islands of civilization became one town after another.  For a  while I passed trucks when I could (in designated zones of course), but eventually I realized it was no use.  That said, Idaho has some pleasant lakeside towns, including Sandpoint and Coeur d'Alene. 

Spokane is a small city, but part of a broader swath of development.  I got a great room in a cheap motel near downtown, took a long shower, grabbed a burger and crashed.
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