22 Oct – 8 Nov 2021
Hermiston, Oregon to Twin Falls, Idaho
We arrived at Bruce & Janet’s home on 22 Oct, one of the first things on my mind was to find a bike shop. Jonny Blessing has three brakes, one rim brake on the front wheel while the rear wheel has one disc brake and a rim brake which is operated with a friction lever useful for long descents and very helpful as a parking brake. Over the past few days I had found the disc brake on the back was going from bad to worse and by the time we were arriving at Hermiston it had zero braking power.
Bruce was very helpful and drove me over to his local bike shop, Scott’s Cycles where we could check if they had time to look at my brakes. Fortunately the staff there said he had time so we went back and I rode the short distance on my own to take the bike in. It took longer than I expected to replace the worn out disc pads but I was happy to hang out at the store. Several customers came in and it was obvious this was a very friendly shop where people drop in for a chat and check up on bikes they have ordered or are having worked on. I bought some accessories while I was there including some handlebar ends for Wifey that could be positioned mid-bar for extra hand positions and better comfort.
It was a lot of fun staying with the family. Gale told Bruce’s daughter that we had never carved a pumpkin for Halloween, so she quickly went out to the store and came back with four big pumpkins and we were given a pumpkin carving lesson and were on our way to doing our first one. We were not allowed to leave the home until we had carved! It was a lot of fun and it was touching that she insisted that we take part in this Halloween family tradition. Besides pumpkin carving, the family home was full of food and there was plenty for all and we were very well fed. Bruce is an excellent pie-maker and we really enjoyed his blueberry pie and his cherry pie. Cherries picked from the tree in their garden and served with homemade ice-cream. A truly delicious treat we had several servings.
Bruce is the pastor at the local church and on Sunday morning we attended the service with the family. Bruce introduced us to the congregation and after the service many people came up to us to wish I us well for our journey and promised to remember us in prayer. One lady asked us if we had family in the US, and I told her No, but we are making family along the way. All along the trip we have been treated so kindly, everyone has been very generous and welcoming to us. Truly, we feel very blessed to be able to experience this.
After staying in Hermiston we head for Huntington on 25 Oct. Huntington is the hometown of Tim, our friend who we stayed with in Salem. He had managed to get in touch with Bill Burley, a gentleman who he had been to school with. Bill was going to wait for us by the town park, and Bruce was kindly going to take us across the passes and straight into Huntington. We took some of the scenic side roads to Huntington and we saw snow on the nearby peaks. We are glad of the kindnesses we receive to keep us out of the bad weather.
We stayed at Huntington from 25 Oct to 1 Nov at the home of Bill and Alice Burley. Bill is a larger than life character, a retired railroad worker and historian, he is very interesting and always has an interesting story to tell about the history of his hometown and the Oregon Trail which passes nearby. They have a large property with the house up above, the Burnt River passing below and the forest that Bill has named the Land of History, Mystery, Intrigue and Spooks. Bill told us about their plans for a two night Halloween event going on at the end of the week and we quickly volunteered to help with the preparations and also help out at the event. Of course we would have to stay a few extra days at their home, but we were welcomed and very happy to stay and enjoy their company. Besides Alice and Bill, their son, Richard was busy working down in the forest with the coming Halloween event, and the home was visited each day by wild deer and turkeys. It was such fun to see the animals coming right up to the house. We would give them some food scraps and even some of the chicken feed that was supposed to be reserved for the cockerel.
On one day we were invited to lunch at the home Bill and Alice’s good friends and neighbours. We had a lovely lunch with Robin and Al and they were very welcoming to us and they showed us around their home.
The next day we attended the local church. Bill and Alice serve with the Sunday School there and it was nice to take part in the service and again we were introduced to the congregation.
On the morning of 1 Nov we loaded JB and our gear onto the back of Bill’s pickup truck and it was time to move on again. We stopped off at Alice’s place of work to say goodbye to her. She had left early in the morning for work. After a hug and a farewell picture with Alice we went on to a place that Bill insisted we needed to visit and take some cool pictures. There is a signpost up in the hills right on the Oregon Trail. The Oregon Trail was one of the main and very important trails for people travelling from the East of the country to the West. The people would travel with horses, oxen and wagon. It was cool to have our bike up there.
Bill dropped us off at the top of Emmett Hill. From there we had a downhill ride into Boise the state capital of Idaho. But the hill is only very slight and with the wind we still need to pedal to keep on moving. It’s a cold and windy day and as we are riding in towards Boise the rain starts to come. On the edge of Boise we stopped at a gas station and chatted with Marty, a keen cyclist who enjoys riding all around the city especially on the Boise Greenbelt Trail. This trail runs right through the city for over twenty miles mostly along the river side. It’s a very lovely place to ride, easy and free of traffic. Our first experience of the Greenbelt trail was not so great though. Not long after riding there it started to rain. We could hear some hunters were shooting ducks. Not close to us but we could hear them. Bang! Bang! And then another louder BANG!
What was that!? I could immediately feel the back tyre was flat and we stopped to see what had happened. Unbelievably the tyre had blown out. We have no idea what caused it. The Greenbelt is smooth and there isn’t the usual debris we often see on the roads from car and truck tyres and other rubbish. We had to unload the bike turn it over to change the tyre, just a few miles from our warmshowers host.
The tyrewall had split over a few inches and the inner tube had blown out with a big hole around a half an inch in size. I’m glad that we carry a spare tyre and a few tubes. Thankfully we got the tube and tyre replaced quickly and made it to our hosts home before dark.
Sadly the family had had sad news. A classmate of their son had just committed suicide. Two years ago the child’s mother had also taken her own life. Understandably the family were in no mood to be social as they worked through the complex feelings and trying to make sense of the tragedy.
Fortunately the room we were given was separate from the family home, up above the garage. We had our own bathroom there and even a big screen TV.
2 Nov we went to the Idaho State Capitol Building, it was interesting to go around there and see some of the history of the state. After visiting the capitol we went for a a tasty taco lunch at Funky Taco before we met with Marty the cyclist we had met the day before. He was going to ride to the Lucky Peak State Park at the far end of Boise Greenbelt and he invited us to ride with him. It was great fun to ride with him and we got to see the dam at the park. I am sure we would not have taken that ride if Marty had not taken us so we are happy for that opportunity.
We rode back to our hosts home but we did not feel good there. Of course were grateful for the warm, safe place that we could stay, but it was a shame that we could not spend time with the family and chat with them. We were not quite ready to leave Boise so we went back onto Warmshowers and looked for another host, preferably one who is further East so we could cut some distance from our next ride.
We found two hosts. One was Todd who couldn’t host us but was happy for us to go over and visit. The other was Rhonda who was happy to host us and lived near the far end of the Greenbelt which was perfect for our onward journey.
We spent the evening with Todd and we shared interesting stories about our various travels. Todd is a member of the Rotary Club and we were invited to attend the luncheon that was going on the next day. Having never been to a Rotary Club we were keen to go. It was a fun experience and we listened to the speaker for the day and had a nice lunch there as well.
The morning before our lunch we had to relocate to Rhonda’s home. We rode the seven miles to her place quickly, dropped off our gear and turned around and rode back into the city centre. The difference between riding fully loaded and without our bags is huge. With JB loaded we cruise slowly between 10-12 mph, but once we dropped off the bags we rode back into the city at around 16-18mph. We don’t often get to experience the big contrast between loaded and unloaded. It was quite an eye-opener for us!
After the lunch we rode back to Rhonda’s place. We had rather rudely dropped our gear and ridden off as we were rushing for lunch at the Rotary Club. The evening we spent more relaxingly and we enjoyed a nice dinner, a good shower and the chance to do our laundry. It was a fun evening with Rhonda who was very excited to host us, her first Warmshowers guests.
05 Nov we left Boise early in the morning. Rhonda had prepared us breakfast and I was happily well fed with eggs and toast and cereal and fruits as well. Our destination today is Mountain Home. Again we are riding through big open land. Thanks to the advice of Rhonda we had avoided a steep climb on unpaved, gravel road. Rhonda suggested we could ride on the freeway for one or two exits and I’m glad she did. The freeway was noisy riding but we felt safe enough on the wide shoulder which kept the traffic away from us. It’s not going to be completely safe when sharing the road with traffic passing us at 70+ mph but it was not a long distance, only 10 or so miles.
Unfortunately we had another tyre problem. This time the cause was easy to see as there was a screw stuck in the tyre. We could feel the tyre was getting softer as the bike was suddenly feeling much bouncier than normal. We had left the freeway and were riding along the weigh station when we picked up the screw. I’m glad we didn’t have to fix the tyre on the side of the freeway.
As we turned off the freeway we had the quiet road again. But as the afternoon went on the wind picked up. We were hoping to make it into Mountain Home to camp at the park there, but the last ten or so miles seemed to go on forever. The miles passed so slowly, it’s hard going to ride into a head wind. Soon we were giving up on making it to the park and were instead looking at the side of the road for places we might stop for the night. We would have stopped at a number of places but we had not planned for that and only had a small amount of drinking water left in our bottles. Not far ahead we could see the signs for a Chevron and BurgerKing so we push on and struggle against the wind. As it happens the gas station is nice and we can find a quite place behind the utility shed where we can setup camp. It’s a soft grassy area, away from view, noisy with the freeway off ramp just on the other side of the fence but we are grateful for the place to stay and rest for the night. The store is open through the night so we can use the restroom or get water any time. It’s a good place to be even though we have to be a little bit discreet and not be too obvious when we go to our little camp site.
6 Nov From just outside Mountain Home we have a short ride today to Glenn’s Ferry. The day’s ride is easier than the previous day, and more fun. The landscape is wide open with a big sky above. All along the road and stretching into the distance there are many wind turbines. They are turning slowly in the light breeze. We see lots of tumbleweeds. For some reason we like them, they are fun and it’s especially exciting when we see them tumbling along with the wind. The best is when they cross the road, that’s cool. The little things that give us joy! Riding towards Mountain Home we saw a lot of the tumbleweeds but we had no mood to play with them. Today with the light wind we find a huge one and take the time to get some fun pictures with it.
It’s an easy day and we arrive early. Next to the campground is the Y Not Winery, it has good reviews and we are not disappointed. I get a good steak and Wifey has a salad for our early dinner before it gets dark and we roll into the campground.
Making our usual circuit around the campground to check out the best spot we stop to chat with a couple seated next to their RV. Tom and Phyllis live in Twin Falls, Idaho. It’s not very far away by RV but two days by bike. It’s in our direction of travel towards Salt Lake City.
Just after we set up the tent the wind picks up. It’s very strong and I’m so glad that the tent is up and pegged to the ground. I quickly go around the tent checking the pegs are secure and adding guy ropes to keep it even more grounded. There is rain forecast overnight and it’s going to get cold. We are apprehensive of the weather and we are often reminded of the coming winter and the need to get somewhere warmer as soon as we can. The night of cold reminds us of that.
We discuss between us and decide that we will ask Tom and Phyllis when they are leaving and going back to Twin Falls. The two day ride there will be cold and miserable so we are keen to ask for a ride. We don’t normally ask for rides but we welcome them when they are kindly offered to us. This time, we ask. We know that Twin Falls is not out of the way for them so in the morning we ask them and they are more than happy to take us! They are leaving soon, just after they have packed up and readied their RV. We call our Warmshowers host in Twin Falls – he is home and we are welcome to arrive any time.
It’s our first ride in a big RV. Jonny Blessing gets decoupled and rides in the cabin, our bags put away in various storage spaces below the cabin. I get to ride up front the Tom and he tells me stories and information about the area. Gale and Phyllis sit behind and chat happily together.
Soon we are approaching Twin Falls and the Snake River Canyon, it’s an impressive sight and we stop to take some pictures of the bridge and the river far below. Not far from the bridge, the big RV pulls up outside Max’s home and we unload everything. Twin Falls is not a small town but it’s small enough that Max and Phyllis have met before in the local store.
After a chat we say goodbye to Tom and Phyllis. A lovely couple that were very kind to us and helped us a lot. Maybe it’s a small gesture to give a ride, but for us it’s important and it really saves us lot of time and a couple of cold nights. Thank you!
Max is an interesting character, full of joy and good humour. He has ridden across the country and done lots of big tours and now rides an electric assisted recumbent. A very cool looking bike. The day we arrive he is attending a special dinner to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah and we are welcome to join. We have no idea about the Bahá’í faith but we are happy to attend and take part in it.
The dinner takes place in a local restaurant, members of the Bahá’í faith come to take part. It’s a simple event, with some readings and prayer and then a lovely meal together.
Max orders an extra meal for his sister who lives nearby and after dinner we drive over to meet Mary and take her her dinner. Mary is a very lovely lady, fond of pie and very knowledgeable about herbal and natural remedies. She has many plants in her garden that she grows for their medicinal properties and she gives us some of the chi balls that she has made. They are made with nettles, spirulina and a few other ingredients. They are very nutritious and packed full of protein and power. Just what we need, we are happy to take a few for our journey.
8 Nov We wake on the floor of Max’s home. He has made us smoothies packed full of berries, bananas, and yoghurt. They are delicious. We are going for a bike ride today. He wants to take us over to see the canyon and some other interesting sights, the major one is the sight were Evel Kneivel attempted to jump across the Snake River Canyon on a motorbike. He failed, but the hill they built as a ramp is still there. We ride around and down into the canyon, it’s a beautiful ride although it’s pretty cold. Riding back up the canyon is easy for Max who has an electric motor on his bike. For us on our tandem we don’t have any extra motors, just the two of us, but I’m proud to say that we managed to ride back up the canyon without stopping to rest. Maybe the promise of pie at the end of the ride helped power us up, but more likely it was Mary’s chi balls.
That morning I had gone online and one of the open tabs on my internet browser was for a relocation RV website. I refreshed the screen and there was a new RV relocation available for Denver to Dallas. I checked Google Maps and Denver isn’t so far away ‘only’ 750 miles or so. It’s a long ways away of course but I mention it to Max as we think of ways we could get there, one of the lady’s who attended the dinner lived beyond Denver – maybe we could get a ride with her.
After our ride to the canyon, and our after ride pie we head back to Max’s place where he has an offer for us.
Denver is ‘only’ twelve hours away, and he offers to take us there. He has it all worked out, if we leave early in the morning we can be there in the evening. Then stay one night and he can be back home the following day. We would pay for the gas and the motel and I could share the time at the wheel.
Max’s offer takes us by surprise, it’s very unexpected. Again it’s an example of the kindness we have experienced, people are just so willing to help, to take time and money to help us get to where we are needing to get to.
We jump online and book the RV offer. It’s a good deal – we get five days at only $1 per day, an allowance of 1000 miles and they even give us $150 of fuel. The RV needs to go to Dallas where it is warm for the winter. It’s perfect for us as we also need to go to where it is warm.
According to Max’s plan we need to leave home by 6am. It’s already cold and dark outside but we go out and load the bike and most of our gear into the back of his pickup truck. We have pasta for dinner and we are in bed by 9pm ready for the early start.
A plan is formed and set in motion, tomorrow we are heading south to Denver and from there we can really get to the south of the country. Thank you so much to everyone that made that happen.
I wholeheartedly agree.