Sunday, May 15, 2011

Riding the Salmon Run

I woke to the sun splitting the curtains in my room, I glanced outside and saw that so far the weather man was wrong, only a few clouds drifted lazily in the sky. I let the dog out, scratched the cats ears and fried up some breakfast. Glancing out the window the sun still danced between the sporadic clouds, I checked the weather forecast and the weather man said Rain and thunderstorms. Now I had been planning a ride to Salmon Idaho so I checked the weather there, Weather man says thunderstorms all day out that way. I sipped my coffee and looked at the cat and dog who watched my intently, Knowing I was up to something. Bah, life's all about adventure, and riding into a crappy storm in the Rocky Mountains always gives you a tale.
I called A couple friends to see if they would go, one was supposed to but Mowing his lawn seemed more important than living life "next time" he said "there isnt always a next time I grumbled under my breath. I called  Cory and her had his children to watch, fair enough "wish I could go you know I would" yup, he is always good for adventure and lives a packed life. I grabbed my keys, donned my armor, and fired up my Steel horse, its orange paint gleaming like fire in the sun and headed to the churning upset clouds threatening to soak anyone who dared go beneath them.  The wind lapped at my jacket carrying a touch of cold from the snow on the peaks. The road felt nice beneath my rubber, the suspension soaking up the frost heaves, the motor purred with its effortless inline four whine, bagging to be given the reigns.  I stopped on the top of the Divide and snapped my first picture over the snow topped pass with the road winding through one of the most beautiful valley's the world has to offer. I took a deep breath and let the cool air drift into my lungs, looking out upon the valley, wondering what the storm would do, I asked Gaia to hold off the storm until my ride was over then I saddled up, and headed onto the other side. I would stop a few more times on the ride, Once at the Old mule ranch to gaze out beyond its old buildings at the mountains where dads ashes had been spread. Again I stopped at a ranch and looked at the storm in the west where blue sky melted to gray churning clouds, and again at the bighole battlefield where Chief Joseph and his warriors had their final battle with a corrupt US government. Along the Bighole River I rolled, a man with waders and his fly pole waved as I drifted by, a couple of bikes passed the other direction their hands outstretched to a fellow rider.  The big hole valley is Amazing as its ranch land straight into forest with miles of nothing less a ranch here and there. I stopped briefly at the Battlefield and let my water flow I chatted briefly with the happy rangers inside and cast their Image upon my camera. Chief Josephs pass was near gray from the dark clouds above me, walls of snow tried to forbid those from the rode of seeing what lay beyond in the forest. The Lochsa road to Salmon is famed for its curves and its scenery, normally a boon for any motorcyclist, but not today. Today the roads were covered in sand and gravel and I had to take my time minding the lack of traction with my tires only glancing briefly at one of the most amazing valleys in the world.  The danger of the highway was fully realized as I was stopped at a road crew trying to repair a washed out section of highway, they waved and I waved as I carried through grateful for the work they were doing.  As I left the pass the snow melted away an bright green grass and tree's opened to the sunlight ready to give life to happy animals and humans alike. The wind licked at me hard on the road just before Salmon, I gripped my bars a bit firmer than normal but smiled as Gaia seemed to keep her promise her breath pushing the  storm over the mountain ridges away from me keeping me dry.
Salmon is a sleepy little town and little was open on Sunday, I was here looking for a Man I had fought fires with, I thought today would be a good day to visit but I had forgotten his name. I inquired with a local resident at the gas station and I was given the usual small town instructions "turn there then head up that way and look over there and you will see some trucks and stuff and that is his place" yea uhm ok "where should I eat?" I asked. "Its Sunday in Salmon, not much open but a couple places, there is a cafe a block down that is good".
So I stopped in and grabbed my staple food, a bacon cheeseburger and again inquired about my comrad whom they knew nothing about. I chatted with the young waitress who's pregnant belly pushed against her apron. She told me of the woe's of the small town and how she dreamed of moving away I only slightly payed attention as that story is the same in every little town. Her mind was so dreamy she kept asking me if I wanted a to go drink and I would merely point at my helmet and her young mind seemed to skip right passed it to dreams of her future again. I dropped her a tip and headed back home, thinking to myself that it would have been better had I just called around to find the old comrad. Along the way I saw a man on his lawnmower cleaning up the grass along the highway. I stopped and asked if he knew who I was looking for "sure do, I fought fires with him that year too, but I cant remember his name, my old mind does not work so well" He pointed and actually gave me decent directions then proceeded to tell me his life story. He had no place to be and all the time left in the day to finish shortening the grass. I politely listened for a bit, and my patience paid off, he actually had more information I needed for a man to deal with equipment, I thanked him and headed off to the storm all the locals kept warning me about, as that is something you always hear in the west, what the weather is doing, little else matters. I pushed back into the storm watching as the clouds seemed to part before me, back at the pass I again slowed to a snails pace and let cars pass me as their four wheels gripped far better than my two. The wind from the pass to wisdom pushed hard against me and I had to struggle to keep on the road as I laid upon my tank to give less for the wind to push upon.  I gassed up in wisdom and took a picture of the angry clouds drifting just south of me, sunlight pushing through at its edge. Stopping in a local cafe I drank some nice home brewed coffee and chatted with the locals who again, seemed intent on telling me how wet I would get and how the weather was all year, I will hear the same thing next time I come through I thought. And then I dropped change and gave the bike of fire its reigns again coming home. I love that stretch of highway, you can see for miles and the pavement is actually smooth. The bike turned wonderfully on the corners the soft rubber of my tires gripping as they were designed the only wind that of which came from increased speed on this stretch of road. I arrived at the final turn home, and looked at the ominous clouds before me cutting off the site of the mountains I knew lay beyond. I contemplated taking the long road home, but it looked the same "into the storm and always forward I muttered" and I let some fuel into the cyclanders and off I went. Gaia kept her promise and again the clouds parted before me as I went over my final mountain pass the only rain that touched me were a few drops as I rolled into town. What a blessed day as always, and I was thankful for wonderful weather but I knew that had wetness found me, I still would have been smiling, for a day riding is always better than a day at home.

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