Libby, the apple bread convention, and climbing the dam.... - Seattle towards Minnesota - CycleBlaze

August 2, 2007

Libby, the apple bread convention, and climbing the dam....

I leisurely broke camp then went to eat breakfast at Odie's, the place that was closed last night. On each table there was an assortment of books for you to read while waiting: The Disgusted Driver's Handbook, How to Confuse the Idiots in your Life, A Liar's Guide to Fishing, and Geezerhood: What To Expect From Life Now That You're Old As Dirt.  I occasionally heard chuckles from other tables.

At 10:15 I finally left Odie's, unable to put off that mile-long climb out of Troy. I followed the Kootenai River and snapped a picture of the Swinging Bridge along the route.

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Just a few miles before Libby the cars started stacking up. I pedaled past them and up to the person holding the stop sign and learned they were doing some "high rock sealing," or something like that.

Standing there, I continued talking to Dylan, the young woman directing traffic. This is just a summer job for her and she'll be starting college this fall. She has a torn labrum from a sports injury because, as she states, "I ignore pain."

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Once in Libby, I went straight to the library and used up my one hour of allotted time in what seemed like much less than sixty minutes. It just wasn't enough time to upload all of the pictures I wanted to, but at least this library allowed me to do it. Many of them have security systems which won’t allow it.

From there, I went to Pizza Hut. I like Pizza Hut, because you can get pizza there, though some may disagree.

Since I knew I'd be camping tonight, I went to the grocery store to pick up supper and breakfast. When Gayle, the woman in the deli section, said, "Can I help you?" I decided to find out. I explained that I'm traveling on a bicycle, and that I'd be camping tonight. What I needed was a sandwich that wouldn't go bad.... no mayo, no meat, no cheese... What should I order?

There are challenges and decisions to be made in every job, from the CEO of a large company, to a person holding a stop sign at a construction site, to the woman in a deli who receives an odd request from a guy on a bike. She was rather excited about her challenge and went at it with the gusto of someone who loves their job.

While she was working on it I went to another section of the store and picked up some fruit and some beef jerky.

I also found a loaf of apple bread. It was more than I could eat, and more than I wanted to carry, so I asked Gayle if she could cut it and keep the rest for herself but she said they weren't allowed to accept tips. So, I asked her if she could cut it and "throw it away for me," (wink, wink) but she was just too nice... She asked her boss if they could cut it and sell me only half. Her boss then talked to the manager of the deli, who then called the store manager. The Joint Chiefs of Staff and eventually NATO were brought in on the discussion. There was a general meeting and, fifteen minutes after my original request (during the entire time I kept saying, "You really don't need to...,") I learned that, ultimately, it was a lost cause.

I was going to have to pay the entire $1.99 for the bread. I spend more than that on dental floss.

I also bought a 64-ounce plastic jug of Gatorade. I didn't ask them to split that. I plan to drink it all.

I like the Gatorade bottle because it has a central groove which perfectly fits the bungee cord I tossed in my pannier at the last minute. I plan to use it to carry extra drinking water later when I'm in remote areas. At different times throughout a trip there are various items attached to my bike, ranging from a loaf of bread to flowers to a giant jug of Gatorade.

My supper was ready, and had been carefully wrapped in plastic: a vegetarian sandwich with tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, sprouts, and avocados on sourdough bread. She showed me where the small packages of mayo and mustard were. I tossed in some honey packages as well.

Then, back to the library for an hour.

By the time I finally left town at 4:15 I had only pedaled only 17 miles. The bank's marquee showed 98 degrees. I briefly wondered how much farther down the road I'd be if I weren't blogging. Howard said he would've finished his cross-country trip at least a week earlier if he hadn't been working on his website as he went. By the way, his website is:
click here  

If you want to see how someone tours who actually knows what he's doing, check it out. I received an email from him. He finished his tour of the Cascades and is now "back home and showering daily."

From Highway 37, I turned left on 228 toward Libby Dam. This section is a steep climb, and I had a headwind.

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I noticed a lot of crosses on the side of the road. They were simple pieces of white metal supported by a red base. My first impression was that they were put in places where people have died, as memorials instead of the flowers and other mementos you sometimes see. However, after a while I reconsidered my original assumption because there were so MANY. How could the area's population have survived this decimation? Then I began wondering... Maybe they're placed along the road as warnings, like when a farmer hangs a dead crow near his garden to ward off other crows.

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Andrea BrownThese are all over Montana and each represent a traffic death. (I'm from Libby, by the way)
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2 weeks ago
Mark BinghamTo Andrea BrownDo they each represent a traffic death in their respective locations? There seemed to be an inordinate number along that road in 2007.

Also, thanks for the clarification!
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2 weeks ago
Andrea BrownTo Mark BinghamYes, and there are spots where there are multiple crosses, at dangerous curves, for instance, or where multiple people died in the same accident. We grew up knowing who some of the crosses represented.
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2 weeks ago

I don't know, but I sure pedaled carefully.  And wore my helmet.

About three miles before I reached my evening's destination, I pulled over to change water bottles. A man going in the opposite direction stopped his tiny black truck in the road and yelled above the rickety engine, "Are you having fun yet?" (You can see how much traffic there was.... he could've turned off the engine) The man was shirtless and bald, and reminded me of a sunburned Tor Johnson in Plan 9 from Outer Space. I yelled back, "I'm having a blast!"

And you know what? 

It's true.

I arrived at McGillivray campground three uphill miles later. Camping costs $7.00. I had $4.00. There was no “camp host” so I wasn't sure what to do. I sure wasn't going to leave a $20.00 traveler's check. Oh, well... we'll see what happens. I set up camp and waited to get busted.

My right index finger continues to go numb on climbs.

There were a lot of bees, but for some reason none of them ever bothered me...  they always seem to buzz around whomever I'm talking to. I suspect it has something to do with odor, because I don't smell like a flower.

After I set up my tent I tried walking to the lake but the path I picked just took me to a ledge. I considered going swimming but didn't see any access to the water.

On my way back to the tent another camper asked me a couple of the usual questions. We continued to their RV where I met her husband, and an hour later we were still talking.

Roy and Delores are from Alberta, Canada, and have been here a few days. Roy gave me a Coke and I instantly became his lifelong friend. I learned that the smoke was so bad yesterday you couldn't even see across the lake. Today was better.

Just before going back to my tent, Delores said, "If there's anything you need you just holler." I thought about some different things that would be nice... hot water for a shave, a real shower, supper...

I paused for a moment, looking contemplative. She waited.

"Well, there is ONE thing...," I said.

"Do you have an extra butt lying around? You know, one that you just never use?" 

She laughed and said, "Believe me... You don't want any of the butts around here."

Roy and Delores
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There was no breeze that evening and the campground was still rather warm. I was still tired and hot.

Since there was no shower at this campground (I want my money back! ...oh, wait...  I didn't pay) I washed off in the sink. It's rather like playing Twister.

I was able to wash my hair, arms, feet, and calves. My thighs were a little more difficult - I had to hike them up on the sink in an attempt to get them clean. Other parts were even more problematic, and I was just waiting for some kid to come through the unlockable door, then run away screaming, "Daddy, Daddy, there's a bad man in the bathroom!"

I was able to get relatively clean with the ice cold sink bath, then walked back to my campsite where l ate my sandwich (with honey).

I turned on my cellphone to see if I had a signal and it laughed at me.

It seemed to take a long time for the evening to cool off, so instead of going inside my tent I sat at the picnic table writing in the near dark and soaking up the coolness.

Miles 44.41
Maximum speed 26.7
Average 10.3
Time 4:19:10
Cumulative miles 545.89

Today's ride: 44 miles (71 km)
Total: 546 miles (879 km)

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