We got an early start this morning, knowing that we had Jonathan's longest planned day ahead of us (90 miles). We headed out through the city and along 10 miles of agricultural land until we once again reached the Snake River, this time east of Twin Falls. We stopped to take pictures and with the sun still low in the sky, the photography conditions were great. This bridge, several hundred feet above the Snake River, had an annoying habit of bouncing up and down with each tractor truck that traversed it. This greatly hurried along our photo session.
Merging back onto I-84 for another day of freeway riding, we had our eyes set of Burley, ID for breakfast. This stop would be just under 40 miles into trip. About 30 miles through farmland we went, until we hit 7 miles of road work. The left lane was closed and slowly the orange barrels forced the highway traffic to travel in our large shoulder. Out of room, and traveling within a food of traffic, we decided to cross over and try out luck in the closed left passing lane. The construction consisted of fresh sprayed tar on the center white line and left rumble strip. With the job completed we weren't sure why the cones were still up, and before long were speeding along in the left lane. Nearing Burley we see a set of headlights in our adopted lane heading towards us. It looked like a go-kart. Sure enough it was one. This wasn't the local drunk on a joy ride, instead it was a highway worker that was responsible for placing reflectors in the fresh tar before the white lane dividing line was resprayed. He didn't seemed bothered by us, and we exchanged waves as we passed.
After our Denny's Grand Slams, it was time for more freeway. The road was still smooth, so we powered. Finally I-84 headed off towards Salt Lake City, along with most of its traffic. We switched over to I-86 towards Pocatello, Idaho. Suddenly we were in the middle of nowhere with the next rest stop coming up in 20 miles. Jonathan was banking on the town of Raft River having food/ice. The "town" had a single closed down gas station, so we were forced to head to the rest stop. This stretch of road was isolated. That's really an understatement. Other than very distant mountains and endless plains, there was nothing at all. Fighting boredom, we reached the promised Cold Water Rest Area (now 71 miles into our day). There was not cold water. Only very warm water. Slightly recharged, and as Jonathan napped a bit, I followed the signs to see some Oregon Trail wagon wheel ruts. These ruts were formed by 1000s of wagons following the trail/highway we've been on. Hike completed, I stood 15 feet from faint tracks I could see over the barbed wire fence. Scenic opportunities scare, I headed back to Jonathan.
The last miles of the day are always the toughest. 19 miles to go, we started with a great two mile downhill. Climbing to the top of hill with a wind farm, our tailwind disappeared (Idaho has been great; nearly a tailwind daily). Instead the final 8 miles would be Jonathan's first headwind. He was thrown headfirst into this demoralizing weather phenomenon. Crawling downhill and uphill alike, we limped into American Falls, Idaho. Recharging our electrolytes at the first gas station felt great. Ready to head to our camp site, Jonathan had a flat. Small piece of wire in tire found, we patched, reset the tube, and cruised to the Willow Bay Recreation Area.
This was complicated by a 10 minute wait for a freight train to finish unloading and clear the road. I guess this is a charm of small towns in the West. Setting up our tent in camp we met the first bike tourers that we've seen since Crescent City, California. They were on a supported tour along the Oregon Trail from Wyoming to western Oregon. Supported tours have their gear carried for them, and food cooked for them at camp. This luxurious biking is amplified by the fact they only bike 25 miles from Pocatello today....
Lake by the campgrounds in American falls
We have more ambition than 25 miles tomorrow; off to Idaho Falls we shall go.
Sunset on the lake
Photos by Jonathan Kobles