The day starts with what I think of as “Belgian weather.” Just barely above freezing, about 110% humidity, and foggy. It’s the kind of cold that gets into your bones and can only be remedied with a hot beverage, preferably with alcohol in it.
The fog is so thick it’s unsafe to ride on this narrow road with traffic so I pull over and wait for it to clear. In hindsight, this is the kind of waiting I could’ve done warm and dry inside my sleeping bag.
I decide I’m in the mood for coffee and pie at an old-fashioned diner. No, wait, make that hashbrowns and eggs. This is my one day in Idaho and I need to experience “The Potato.”
I buy bear spray in Sandpoint, Idaho and ask for a diner recommendation. The vegan shop clerk suggests Joel’s place just around the corner. I walk in and the staff are already at the window checking out the bike. Before they get a chance to ask any questions, I announce, “I wish to experience ‘The Potato’!” In hindsight, potato-based humor directed at Idahoans is probably a risky move but they’re willing to tolerate my shenanigans.
The vegan potato burrito may be the best burrito I’ve ever had. I finish it and go back back inside to order two more for the road. This biking business is hungry work.
I cross into Montana and the speed limit signs on this two lane road change to 70 mph (115 km/h). Oh, right, this is the state that did that “no speed limit” thing.
I spot a guy walking a dog and pushing a stroller. There are no houses for miles around so I smell a story. I pull over for a quick chat and he tells me that he’s just finishing up a six year walk around the world. Multi-year slow trips around the world? Who does that sort of thing? Good luck, Tom! (@theworldwalk)
Another gorgeous campsite next to a lake. There are no showers and it’s warm enough in the sun so I go for another swim.
Surveying the campsite, I see what looks like fresh bear scat. It’s got the right shape, size, color, and texture but no smell. I even poke it with a stick and get up close to smell it but it’s not at all unpleasant. Did another camper dump out a can of soup on the ground? What could it be?
I talk to the camp host and he reassures me that it is in fact bear scat. “But don’t worry about it, they’re just two little black bears who’ve been eating apples from a tree over by that site.”
Um, okay, everything I’ve ever read says do not camp near fresh bear scat.
“They set up a trap to catch them but they’re real scared of people.”
There is a steel storage box for food at the site so of course everything’s going in there and I’m sleeping with the bear spray under my pillow.
PS: My dictation software transcribed it as "Phresh Bearskat." That is now my DJ name. I want hats and t-shirts and all the merch.