Day 22: Grangeville, Idaho to Lowell, Idaho

I Started out early from Grangeville. Prior to leaving, I sat on the steps outside the motel office to call Jane. I had to sit there because the WiFi service was terrible and that was the only place I could get a signal.

While talking to her, dogs started showing up. All sorts of dogs. Big ones, little ones, and all sorts of colors and breeds. Before I knew it, I had five dogs surrounding me, all wanting for attention. Everybody wanted an ear scratched or a belly rub. It was crazy. My next door neighbor, Elizabeth, who works with rescue dogs would be thrilled, especially since the leader of the pack seemed to be a little white dog.

Riding east from Grangeville I was looking across huge fields of oats or wheat. I stopped to photograph some combines harvesting the crops and even took a video. I figured my grandson, Ronan, might get a kick out of the combines since there is a scene in the Pixar movie Cars where a combine gives chase to the protagonist in the film, “Lighting McQueen.”

The terrain was mostly flat with an occasional 200-foot (70-m) steep climb, just to keep things interesting.

The wide-open spaces out of Grangeville, Idaho.

Then came the descent down to Stites, Idaho. I don’t have the stats on the descent but it must be several thousand feet over about two miles (3 km). I’m a seasoned mountain bike racer and have no fear of going down a rapid descent, but this was quite another thing. My bike weighs about 30 lbs (13.6 kg) and the gear and panniers add about another forty lbs (17 kg). If you know anything about bicycle brakes, they’re just two little rubber pads on each wheel and are operated by a small cable to each wheel.

Note Stites, Idaho, at the bottom of that drop on the right.

I was going down grades that would easily allow me to get up to about 60 mph (96 kmh)! I could just envision those little rubber pads turning into molten rubber smudges on my bicycle rims. It wasn’t so much the speed but the fact that there were turns at the end of a steep downhill run that were posted 10 mph (16 kph) turns. Going into a turn such as that with melting brake pads didn’t appeal to me. I stopped at least five times on the way down to cool the brakes. The descent was insane.

If you miss that turn, it is a long way to the bottom.

At the local pizza place in the town at the bottom, Stites, I asked if they ever have any problems with people losing their brakes on the ride into town. The gal behind the bar didn’t recall any. I was amazed.

I ordered a rather nice pizza and couldn’t eat but half of it. I asked if she knew anyone that couldn’t afford a pizza and if she could box it up and give it to them, and she did. I hate to see perfectly good food go to waste. That was nice of her. Score one for the Stites Pizza parlor.

When I arrived in Lowell, Idaho, there was talk of temperatures in the mid 30’s F (2 C) so I wimped out and got a motel room. The thought of a hot shower, warm bed, and the Internet was just too compelling. Of course, as was often the case across Idaho, the Internet connection was a myth. There was hardly any signal in the room. I went sniffing around for the WiFi router and found it at the end of the building. Even standing next to it, with five bars of WiFi signal, the connection speed was abysmal. Smoke signals would have been quicker.

Idaho, being the potato state must be using a copper and zinc rod stuck into a potato to power the WiFi routers, I can’t believe how weak the signals are.

Author: Dennis Blanchard

Dennis Blanchard was born in Bristol, Connecticut. He and his wife Jane moved to New Hampshire in 1980 where he has climbed thirty 4000-foot mountains, biked the trails and enjoyed the wilderness. Never living very far from the Appalachian Trail, Dennis was always aware of the seductive siren’s call to hike it. Dennis is an electronics engineer who has freelanced for amateur radio, technical and motorcycle adventure magazines. He now lives in Sarasota, Florida.

3 thoughts on “Day 22: Grangeville, Idaho to Lowell, Idaho”

  1. ID has many towns that are only served by the telephone company…maybe you get a ISDN or slower feed…that connected to a router from Walmart that feeds the whole motor court…Claudia and I are reading with great interest your ride across some of the last open parts of the West. Take care. KE7XL Es N0JRU.

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