9/9/19 – Day 6 – Huntington, OR to Caldwell, ID
After camping near the river I went into town to find a breakfast spot. The only restaurant had a “Gone Fishing” sign in the window. So I stepped into the only grocery store to load up on Cliff Bars. An attractive woman in her late 30’s took my money at the check out. I couldn’t help but notice she was packing a pistol tucked into the front of her hip hugging jeans, the nose of which had to be resting on her pelvic bone.
“Is that a real gun?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, you bet” she answered quickly and confidently.
“Have you ever had to pull it out to protect yourself?”
“Well, not against any people but there are a lot of rattlesnakes around here.”
I was so glad I hadn’t heard that the night before as I was setting up camp. I wouldn’t have gotten a bit of sleep. I would have been on snake patrol wondering if bear spray works on rattlesnakes.
I talked to a mechanic who was intrigued with Sunride and thinking how he could make it better possibly with a second motor. He had some good ideas. I gave him my card and told him to keep thinking. Maybe he would come up with something even better. America is the land of innovators. We have more patents per capita than anywhere else in the world. Benjamin Franklin would be proud of his legacy. I wonder what he and Thomas Jefferson would have to say to climate change deniers, probably something like, “You have the right to believe what you want but physics is physics.”
I ate a protein bar from the pistol-packing clerk’s store and headed up the hill toward Boise. I entered Ontario, the last town in Oregon going east, and ate at a place claiming to have the best breakfast in town. The cook, wearing a USC ball cap, came out for a smoke. He was interested in Sunride. We talked about SC’s football team, which had become my team since both of my kids went to school there. Hungry, I went in to sample his cooking. The ham that came with the eggs was the biggest slab I’d ever seen. I’ve had smaller steaks. It also came with hash browns lapping over the side of the plate and two full size pancakes. I ate it all. My good friend Robert Inke, a naturalist, told me it’s very healthy to get good and hungry sometimes. I felt like a hungry animal as I descended on what was in fact I’m sure the best breakfast in town.
I chatted with a few slot machine patrons who were taking a smoke break outside where Sunride was chained. Those ladies loved the bike. They asked question after question. One got a phone call and started telling the caller all about Sunride. I noticed in Portland a lot of big city folk don’t stop and stare but in these small towns, people are curious and open. It’s refreshing to see a world un-jaded.
As I crossed the Snake River into Idaho the posted freeway speed limit sign was 80 miles per hour. Gleeful drivers set their cruise controls at 85 and big trucks flew by at whatever speed they wished.
Barely eight miles into the state I encountered my first real setback: a rear flat tire. I pulled well off the shoulder, down into the bottom of a ditch and assessed how to go about solving my problem. I couldn’t turn Sunride upside down as shown in the rear tire replacement video because, well, with the overhead solar panel the upside down bike wheel would have been way up in the air. I found the wrench that came with the bike tool kit and attempted to remove the nuts holding the wheel. Nothing would budge, my wrench was slipping, and I was wholeheartedly against skinned knuckles. Finally I called my friends, Robin and Mike, in nearby Caldwell and told them of my dilemma. Robin immediately offered to have Mike come get me.
“We have a pick-up truck,” she offered enthusiastically.
It was late in the day by the time we were loading Sunride in the back of Mike’s truck. Robin, who is on sabbatical, would take me to the bike shop in Meridian the next morning. We had a nice evening, drank some Idaho Pinot Noir that was quite good even to an Oregon Pinot snob like myself, and retired early. It was a short day for Sunride, only 25 miles, but something unseen had caused a flat on the freeway, something I would learn about the next day that could prove to be daunting.