Sunday, October 1
Joel is in his 70's now. When he was in school he was the only kid named Joel.
Zara is the waitress at this ribs restaurant. She's the only person in town named Zara.
I don't know the owner's name, but the fellow who just walked in is named Arnold, and the owner knew he wanted a Bud Lite before he had finished sitting down. The owner is having a "perfect" day, and Zara is getting her driver's license tomorrow. Arnold came in with a friend, and they both have another friend named Max, who likes fishing. The owner doesn't seem to like fishing. Arnold's friend likes the waltz. Zara has never heard of the waltz, so he describes it: "cruising around the room, not the gyrated shit they do now." The ribs were marinated 24 hours before they were put on my plate and they were delicious.
The last 70 miles or so on I-90 were amazing, winding through the mountains, climbing several thousand feet and then zooming back down. One of the things they had us do in the riding course was make turns so fast and sharp that the foot pegs scraped on the ground, to teach us that you can never lean too far or turn too fast if you do it right. (If you get scared and panic you're likely to pull out of the lean or slam on the brakes, which is bad.) But it's not every day when I can actually ride like that; most highways are designed to avoid sharp turns, but with this one I guess the terrain wouldn't let them do that. I wasn't quite scraping the pegs - with all the gear on I'm not going to push it - but the sides of my tires got a good workout. Sports car drivers don't like to be passed by motorcycles in any conditions, but in turns like that they can't compete; if they try to turn too fast they slip out of their lane, but I kept a line through the middle of the left lane for the whole way.
All those turns made me very hungry, though, so I stopped in a sleepy little town on the Montana-Idaho border looking for food, but the two joints in the town with "cafe" signs were closed (permanently, it seemed, not just for the weekend). A few miles further on 90 I got to Wallace, Idaho, where there is one open food joint, a bar serving amazing ribs.
I-90 goes all the way to Seattle, so I'll see how far I get today.
I camped last night in Salmon Lake Start Park, about 40 miles north of Missoula, which is marked on my map with camping. There are two parts to the park, the first for boats, fishing and picknicking, the second for camping. The camping part had a big "closed for the season" sign. But it was already dark, I had just gone 40 miles and I didn't want to pay for a motel back in Missoula. So I pitched a tent in the picknicking area, where the ranger station was unmanned, and hoped I wouldn't get kicked out. (The plan if a ranger showed up was to say it was dark and I couldn't find the campground marked on my map.) I guess the ranger never showed up, because after a night of fitful sleep I woke up and was still in the park. By the time the first visitors showed up - two fishermen with their boat - I had my tent packed up and could plausibly claim I was just going through. But there was a big sign saying out of state people had to pay $25 just to use the park, so I got out of there early (after a quick breakfast) in case a ranger showed up for the day shift and decided to charge me. It was 30 degrees when I woke up and warmed to a balmy 40 on the road, which is basically freezing when riding. It was 80 degrees yesterday afternoon, though, so I'm hoping it'll warm up again soon. In the meantime my phone battery is almost dead so I'm keeping it off, and there's no reception anywhere around here so I don't know when I'll get to post this.
The rider: Ben Buckman, 21