Also known as To Shower, Divine… comedy? NMBL and I will probably look back at this with fondness. Right now I feel like hell.
We made plans yesterday via Google Maps (the Devil in this Comedy) and worked out a day of riding that would only be just over three hours. We were both feeling rough from the food poisoning, so that short day made sense. Three hours plus a bit. Google maps had us in Spencer Idaho by then. That would be taking the I-15 pretty much the whole way. The idea of taking an Interstate was none too pleasant but we felt it gave us the best distance for time on the road.
First Canto: Styx
Interstates are not known for their tight corners opening onto new vistas. They tend towards feats of engineering designed to get people and goods between two points in the shortest possible time. An Interstate is Charon’s damnable concrete and asphalt river clogged with trucks, cars, rigs, and RVs. Motorcyclists don’t generally show ourselves on Interstates. We like to stick to the more picturesque and curvaceous secondaries. And for good reason. Take the I-15 at Salt Lake City. It’s a five-to-six-lane horror with the flotsam of vehicles bobbing over the lanes, swirling about and threatening disaster at every moment. We knew this would be a part of the trip. We got through it, this first challenge. The journey’s headwaters. It took a few rests to recharge our own energy stores and our cooling vests. We got through. It wasn’t travel or adventure. It was an endurance ritual. A test to ensure one’s worthiness to pass beyond and travel back. Payment.
Second Canto: Time
Salt Lake City and its assorted suburbia stretch on for what seems like the entirety of north central Utah. We eventually found ourselves past all that after more than two hours of travel time. At an average speed of 70 mph. Wait… what? Pocatello was still well over 100 miles away. Spencer was north of that. What gives? Google maps said… ! Google maps… exists as a twister of time and expectations. It is a level of broken promises that has never before been hinted at, let alone executed. It is the demon in the trust we place in our technology, our cleverness, our conveniences. It is a vexatious guide.
Third Canto: Wind
Utah gave way to southern Idaho. Speed limit 80 mph. After having traveled that fast the first time we entered Idaho, I wasn’t setting that pace a second time. It’s freaky when it’s windy, which it was, and it just siphons off too much gas unless you can cruise it in fourth gear. With gusts forcing us to countersteer just to keep a straight line (or get blown into another lane), it’s obvious why we made payment earlier. We had to be ready. The winds across the flats are more than brisk. They course, they cavort, they turn and attack from other angles. We might have been at sea for the unpredictability of them. The winds across these planes are relentless. Great demons of air pushing and punishing all in their twisted paths.
There is rest on the I-15. These oases are the State rest stops. NMBL and I took advantage of more than a few on our journey. We pulled into one in particular that stood out. There was a small footbridge (an affectation, but a nice one), some welcoming trees splashing shade on he ground, running potable water, maps, and power. While the turmoil of the Hells raged around us we were able to enjoy a lie down on the grass. While NMBL and I took advantage of our short respite I noticed a young woman on her phone doing the same. A while later I meandered into the main building where the travel information and other conveniences were located and saw her again. She was obviously like us, travelling to or from somewhere, but I didn’t bother her. I left the building and was headed back to our spot under the trees when that same young woman approached me.
She was it turns out travelling from Arches National Monument, one of the very places we had intended to go, to her home in Northern Idaho. She had gone down there and had intended to ride her road bike (bicycle), which was mounted to the back of her car, along the road in the park. In that HEAT! A group of college guys took pity on her and picked her up off the side of the road, so she got to enjoy the rest of the Monument in relative comfort. We chatted for a bit and she told me that she’d love to do what we’re doing but her next big adventure was college in Spokane.
To the young lady who talked with us just off the 15, best of luck to you. I hope you read this and forgive me for not remembering your name. It was Camila or something like that. I’m bad with names.
Fourth Canto: Irrascibility
The greatest demons come from within. Those from without will never take over if the internal never fester. We finally made it to Pocatello and were the worse for wear. We started getting a bit short with each other around the time we decided to start looking for a place to hang even before we got to the city. By the time we were three exits in NMBL and I were unusually short with each other. The day had taken its toll. We were so tired we even considered lodging. One failure after the next did not help either of us. I was feeling particularly cranky as my guts were starting to do more than just rumble. A run down old motel in a bad part of town had no space. A Holiday Inn Suites was out of our price range. Onto the freeway again to the next exit only to find nothing available to us. Repeat. Our search was fruitless. The inner demons were coming to play.
Final Canto: Ascension
The demons around us had done well. Were we not going to leave Charon’s grasp at all? One more exit was the road out. CAMPING K.O.A.. Could we have such fortune? We took the unassuming road. Two miles the sign post read. We couldn’t see it. We rode. K.O.A. Ahead. Around one more curve… there it was. Our release. Water. WiFi. Power. Showers. Beautiful, body-soothing showers. And there was a spot for us (not the best hang but it would do). We had amenities. Not quite the ones we sought, but ones that were welcome still. We hung our hammocks and I immediately grabbed a change of clothes, my towel, and some soap. It was time to relax body and mind. There’s a bit of a trope where the protagonist, after a long day of doing whatever it is he was meant to do, gets himself under some running water and sheds the remnants of the day. As I leaned my head against the aged but clean shower-stall tiles, the water beating new life into me one hot droplet after another, I felt as though I had endured such a perilous adventure. And my strong, beautiful wife had as well. We did it together. It was by far the toughest day of travel we have had so far this trip.
We’re both feeling a bit better tonight. NMBL picked up some bean soup from the K.O.A. store and we both managed to get a bit down. The escapee goat from the farm next door had the rest. Other than high winds and a long hang it shouldn’t be a bad night. It’s warm and clear so no need for extra stuff on the hang. Hopefully we can get through it and onto a better day’s ride tomorrow.