Tonight we’re cozied up in a Super 8 in Nampa, a very interesting town just on the outskirts of Boise. I’m sitting on the bed with a bag of ice of my knee while Rick enjoys a giant beer he bought from the gas station next door. Welcome to America folks.
Today was a pretty epic ride. As we readied the bikes in Yakima we met a group Canadians who had just ridden their bikes to Cabo MX and were on their way home. They had a lot of great things to say about their trip, but warned us about topes (speed bumps) that can often be unmarked. Otherwise, they loved the country and ate and drank their faces off accordingly.
Early morning on the Interstate is pretty enjoyable. There is not much traffic and although it was overcast and cool, the rolling hills were nice to ride through with bends all to ourselves. We made a pit stop at a rather lonely One Stop Mart in Hermiston, WA and ate paper-plated eggs with toast while watching colourful locals pop in and out.
Shedding some layers we headed south-east on the I84, riding through some very beautiful canyons but not without a bit of traveller’s anxiety. Just as we were entering a construction zone in one of the canyon passes both our fuel warning lights came on and we hadn’t passed a station any time soon. We figured we had about 30km (or best estimate) worth of fuel left before we’re hitching roadside. The highway sign said the next town was at least 20 miles away in La Grande, which using our mental freakout calculator is over 32km!. Gulp. The only thing to do was be steady on the throttle and ride it out. The speed was pretty slow and the road was narrow and winding through a no shoulder construction area (as in no where to pull off). We just counted down the mileage until finally we saw the service exit at La Grande. A sigh of relief is an understatement.
At this point the sun was shinning and it had warmed up considerably. Most folks were walking around in shorts and flip flops. We were in good spirits having narrowly missed needing to syphon gas or call for help and headed back out. In a matter of moments a whole new reality struck us. It’s what I like to call windsanity. No joke it was an incredibly powerful and steady wind that was blowing down into the valley causing us to nearly hang off the sides of our bikes to stay in the lane. To make matters even more interesting, there were all these FedEx trucks hauling three trailers, fishtailing all over the road. We couldn’t do anything close to highway speeds battling against the gale, so it was slooooow going for at least a few hours as cars and trucks blew past us. What was supposed to be a breeze, felt like it took forever.
Just as we were discussing our worn out state, we noticed a sign for the 45th Parallel (note: it’s marker denoting the half way point between the North Pole and the Equator) and quickly shouldered for a breather. After some pictures and needed hydration, it was back battling it out for another 45 minutes at only 60 km/hr slugging it along until taking another break in a ghost like town – which of course has a weird church. Both times we had to stretch our legs and shake out our arms to get some blood flowing from the rigidness of the day’s ride. My arms and legs were killing me (this is explains the ice on my knee right now). Rick complained that his butt was sore, but did a fair bit better with his arms.
After the break in new-church-ghost-town we psyched ourselves up for another hour and half to Boise. We pulled out, rounded a curve and just like that the wind calmed right down. It was such a huge relief. To make matters even better we rode through some spectacular canyons with beautiful curves under the sun until we hit the long straight road into Nampa.
You’re probably thinking as if this wasn’t already exciting, Rick can also proudly say he got mildly drunk at Denny’s. It’s the first one we’ve ever been too that had a lounge. Fancy that. So tonight we lay low (because Nampa is full of weirdos) and it’s up early and off to Salt Lake City with a stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Pictures will be plenty!
Nampa: Not Quite Napa or Tampa (dotcom)
Sarah + Rick