Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Day 25 Driggs-Victor

 At the top of the Teton Pass

Day 25


   There is a lovely, flat bike trail from Driggs to Victor which made for very leisurely day.  After church, Mary baked some cookies and gave me some for my journey.  The trail along the valley gave spectacular views of the Tetons and is a well used for transportation and recreational.  I arrived in Victor two hours earlier than expected and treated myself to one of their “World famous Huckleberry Milkshakes” which was a delight.   Gene and Jenn Marcowka welcomed me into their elegant home which offered spectacular mountain views.

   Sadly, their beautiful dog, Darly, was suffering from a cancer which was in a very advanced state.  While there, they were pondering if the day had come to have her euthanized.  When evening came around, she perked up considerably, ate her dinner and enjoyed a brief walk.  It became clear that today was not going to be her last.

    Like many in the valley, Gene and Jenn retired early and moved to this valley because it offers such wonderful outdoor recreation.  Gene works on the board of the search and rescue operations in the Tetons as well as other non-profits devoted to making the outdoors accessible to all persons.  They are avid skiers and enjoy the opportunity to go back country skiing in some of the more remote hills in the region.  They have also been on extensive bike trips across the country and are grateful for the hospitality offered to them on their journeys.  They expressed how they have learned and have been shaped by some of the many people they have hosted in their home.

     I got up on Monday morning and started to psych myself up to tackling the Teton Pass.  This involved a steep climb of 2,500 feet along 9 miles of highway with little shoulder and then a 2,500 downhill along a bike path into Wilson, Wyoming.  After did my stretching and loaded up my bike, Jenn said “how about if I drive you in our truck to the top of the pass.”  I thought that this would make me into a slothful person.  I pushed this thought out of my head and accepted her very kind offer.  Every foot we travelled along the windy road increased my gratitude for this assistance.

    She dropped me off at the top and I had a glorious coast into Wilson arriving 4 hours early.  It was a wonderful day

Day 23 and 24-Driggs, Idaho

 Biking to Church

Day 23 and 24-Driggs, Idaho


     Driving over the Continental Divide has put me way ahead of my schedule.  I have  5 days to get to bike from Sugar City, Idaho to Jackson, Wyoming (75  miles) which allows me to be more leisurely in my journey.   After Mary Barton picked me up and drove me to their house in the pouring rain she invited me to stay with her family for 2 days.  I was touched by her generosity and gladly accepted her offer.

    Mary and Brad have 3 wonderful young boys; Henry, Leo, and Eli.   Eli, the oldest, is now 10.  They are all very involved in outdoor activities.  As a family they have biked the West Coast (Canada to Mexico) and across the Pacific Northwest.  Before becoming an electrician, Brad had been a professional white water rafting guide along many of the local rivers.  While staying with them, he taught me easier and more effective ways to adjust the disc brakes on my bike.

      They welcomed me to worship at their Mormon Church which was a lovely experience.  On the west side of the Teton pass, where the ground is more fertile, there is the highest concentration of Mormons in the country.  The Mormons tried to settle on the west side of the pass, but poor farm land made it less attractive to them.

    We all got up, dressed (Brad loaned me a tie), and biked together to their church being joined along the way by other cyclists heading to the same service.  The worship was lovely, opening with a sacramental sharing of bread and water (instead of wine) and inviting any who feel so moved to offer a testimony of the blessings they had received that week. 

   In the course of the worship, the read a pastoral letter of political neutrality which was read in all places of worship.  Some excerpts are:

The church does not:

·        Endorse, promote or oppose political parties and their platforms or candidates for public office.  

·        Advise its member on how to vote. 

·        Allow its church buildings membership lists or other resources be used for political purposes

The Church does

Encourage its members to engage in the political process in an informed and civil manner, respecting that fellow members of the Church come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences and may have differences of opinion in partisan political matters.  The Church also encourages its members to keep all communication (including on social media) respectful and aligned with Christ like behavior. 

    I found this a beautiful and helpful statement and one which encourages a conversation with is both respectful and honest.   I wonder if a secular version of this could be included o all election material and embraced by persons writing political commentaries.

     The sun came out during my second day in Driggs, and I was able to hike on one of the beautiful trails in the valley.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Day 22: Sugar City-Driggs, Idaho

 Canyon River making a slice through the relatively flat potato field.

Approaching the Tetons while peddling across Idaho farmland

Mary Barton loading my bike, cart, and gear.

Day 22:  Sugar City-Driggs, Idaho

    Heading East from Sugar City one has to travel 45 miles to Driggs, which is the next town of more than 200 people. I had made arrangements to stay with the Burton family who have moved there from Alaska.   The weather report announced that there would be scattered thunder storms.   I thought that if I have a warm bed awaiting me at the end of the journey, I could weather the rain.  For the first 30 miles I did not encounter a single drop of rain.  As I was biking up the hill for the final 15 miles I could see an ominous black cloud heading towards me.  The temperature dropped 15 degrees in a few minutes and knew that this was going to be a nasty storm. 

    As I peddled as quickly as I could with my depleted energy up this steep hill, a van pulled over and a woman with three young boys hopped out.  She said “I’m Mary Burton and I figured you could use a lift into town”.  We managed to get the cart into the back of the van and the bike on the rack just as the skies opened up.  As we drove through the blinding rain she said that she and her family were going to be spending the night at their cabin by one of many thermal springs in Idaho.  She said I could either spend the night there or in their house by myself.  I opted for solitude and thanked her for kindness.

   The world is filled with gentle, kind, and generous souls.  They will never make the headlines of our news reports, though they shape the world in which we live.

Day 21 Missoula to Sugar City

I used the U-Haul to reach the top of the Continental Divide

Day 21 Missoula to Sugar City

   I drove the U-Haul from Missoula to Rexburg.  I was listening to the strange and beautiful novel Lincoln in Bardo, by George Saunders.  I glanced at the gas level periodically as I drove and I seem to be half full and felt I could make it to Rexburg.  Two Hundred miles later it still registered half full, and I realized that I had been looking at the temperature gauge.  The “nearly empty” light came on and I realized that I was a long distance from any place of commerce.  I am grateful that I was on a 30 mile down hill slope which is what I needed to get to the closest gas station. 

    The landscape from Missoula to Rexburg is isolated and beautiful.  There are rolling hills with the constant backdrop of the snow capped Rockies.   The truck was missing a side view mirror on the passenger side which made changing lanes very exciting.

      I arrived at the drop off center in Rexburg, removed my bike and trailer and biked the 10 miles to Sugar City.  Along the way I saw the immense and beautiful fields of Idaho potatoes.  Most of the potatoes consumed in the U.S. are grown in this part of the state.

    I spent Thursday night with the Old School house which has been renovated into a lovely home.  Judy and Mark Oliphant have an organic farm on the grounds and served me a breakfast of German pancakes and jam all made from ingredients produced within a couple of hundred feet of the kitchen table .

Compromising my Principals

Renting a U-Haul to make it to the top of the Continental Divide

Dinner with Ethel in Missoula

Downtown Missoula

Day 20  Kellogg to Missoula

     My bicycle problems in Pullman had delayed me by 3 days.  My solution of purchasing an non-electric bicycle has slowed my progress considerably.  In order to make it to Jackson, Wyoming in time to meet with up with Denise, Jennifer, and Ted, it would be necessary for me to peddle 60 miles a day over the Rocky Mountains.  After a bit of prayerful contemplation Icame to the conclusion The spirit is willing, but the flesh is week (Matthew 26:40).  

    I swallowed my pride and violated my principles and decided that I would rent a U Haul to bring me, my bike and cart from Kellogg to Rexburg.  This would get me to Jackson a few days early.  Enroute, I decided the spend the night in Missoula, Montana (travel between these two Idaho towns requires that you pass through that part of Montana).  There I had the opportunity to visit Ethel MacDonald spend the night at her home.  Ethel is an amazing woman.  I was too polite to ask her age, but she mentioned that she has a 63 year old son.  Several years ago she decided that she would get rid of car and rely on her bike as her primary form of transportation.  She not only bikes around town, she has also biked all over the U.S. and France.    We went out to dinner at a lovely Missoula bistro and she told me some stories of strange experience of living in a very Blue City in a very Red state. 

   Ethel taught French and English for many years in the town of Arlee, Montana on the Flat Reservation, home of the Salish-Kootenai people.  When she retired, she decided to go to West Africa and taught   Benin.  Since then she has been going on extended bike trips and hosting bikers in her home.  To do this, she has used the services of Warm Showers.

    Warm Showers (warmshowers.org)  is a wonderful organization dedicated to encouraging people to offer hospitality to bikers and hikers.  Those interested in hosting are invited to submit their name to the directory.  Often hosts are cyclists themselves.  The organization was established to encourage people to re-discover the ancient tradition of welcoming the stranger.   Travelers are to arrive without vehicles and are welcome to stay one night.  The host can offer to feed them, but are not required to do so.  There are over 60,000 hosts across the globe.  The organizers have created this so that in listening to each other’s stories our better angels will emerge.  We discover that the world is filled with wonderful people.  Ethel has hosted over 200 cycling guests in the past 10 years and has, herself, been the guest in over 200 homes.

Day 18 Cataldo, Idaho to Kellogg Idaho


Day 18 Cataldo, Idaho to Kellogg Idaho

   The bike trail along the abandoned Old Milwaukee line is beautiful.  It hugs the shore of the Coeur D’Alene river well out of the noise of traffic.  I am told that this train line was closed because of corruption and incompetence.  In any event, it has left a wonderful resource for the thousands of people who bike along the 100 miles of trail without competing with cars.

   I spent two days in Kellogg.  I splurged on a hotel for the first night which allowed me to explore this lovely place.  The second night I stayed in the parish hall of the America Lutheran Church in Kellogg.  I had sent them an email inquiring about staying there and received a call from the Will Nyberg, the Church President.  The pastor was on leave so Will was fielding all inquiries.  While speaking on the phone he asked me “How do I know you are who you say you are?”  This is an excellent question.  In fact, I myself sometimes wonder if I am who I say I am.  I did not have a ready answer to his question and was grateful that he supplied one.

     “How about if I look at your church’s website?”   I thought this was an excellent suggestion, but then felt a heightened anxiety as I wondered if it had been recently updated.  In any event, he phoned back a few minutes later and said it was fine to stay in the church and he would like to take me out to dinner.  He picked me up and drove me to the delightful town of Wallace, Idaho.  It is a town of approximately 3,000 people with lovely Victoria architecture and assorted elegant sidewalk cafes.  There had been thriving silver mine (which is still in operation) which drew people from all over the world.  There are many gracious homes which add the charm of the town.

    I was touched by his kind hospitality while he drove me around town.  He had taught in an elementary school in Spokane and decided to move to this lovely part of Idaho to be closer to her grand children.

Day 25 Driggs-Victor

 At the top of the Teton Pass Day 25 Driggs-Victor    There is a lovely, flat bike trail from Driggs to Victor which made for very leisu...