Day 9: Catching a Break

September 11, 2002
Priest River, ID to Near Noxon, MT
60 Miles Google Map

My knees were sore and my stomach was complaining from last night’s spicy taco salad…what a fragile body I have. The auspicious beginning meant another “slog day” was at hand.

My mood temporarily brightened once I made the turn at Sand Point and later headed south. I guess it was the symbolism of having reached the northernmost point of the ride combined with the stunning beauty of the Idaho panhandle. But the ironically named towns of Hope and East Hope did not have restaurants near the highway, and I wasn’t in the mood to climb any of the hills in search of lunch. So I cycled on and ended up eating at Clark Fork. 

After that, things got a bit weird.

I crossed the state line into Montana, planning to stay at a place called Heron. According to the f*cking map, it was just off the main road.

Yeah, right. I turned off the highway in accordance with a sign I’d passed only to find myself aimlessly cycling over meadows and through woods with no hint of a town. (Or, for that matter, grandma’s house.) Soon, after crossing a narrow, patched bridge, I decided there was little chance of coming across any place to spend the night and turned around, having wasted over a half hour’s worth of valuable energy. 

To the best of my knowledge Heron, like Area 51, may or may not exist.

This little misadventure put me in a bad spot. The next town shown on the map (Noxon) appeared too small to offer anything in the way of accommodations — assuming of course that it was even there. Still, I had to stay somewhere so I began mentally preparing myself for a final, dramatic eighteen mile push. Strangely enough, my left leg, which had been complaining off an on most of the afternoon, completely stopped aching. Perhaps my new resolve had made it decide there was little chance of getting my attention.

Then, just as the day’s heat seemed to peak, my luck turned around. The fellow at a grocery place I stopped at informed me there was a small hotel a mere four miles down the road. Out in the middle of nowhere.

I was saved!

It turned out to be a plain, four unit building connected to an Exxon service station, but to me it appeared almost majestic. The price was also reasonable, though in my near-hysterical relief I would have paid almost anything they asked. 

I’m now doing my writing sitting outside my room as evening falls. With its quiet isolation, hemmed in by steep hills topped with evergreens, this place is a lovely getaway. It’s almost spooky how easily silence comes to these parts. Perhaps because they are not yet completely tamed.

A bit later…
While drawing my bath (which sounds vaguely aristocratic), I watched through the window as the nearly first quarter moon set behind the hills. I then used my newfound serenity to casually swat about a dozen pesky mosquitos that had gotten in and were buzzing about the bed light.

    Today:       60 Miles
    To Date:  429 Miles / 690 Kilometers

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