So I decided to ride to Idaho. I have been there twice in a cage and liked the place. That was 7 and 10 years ago. Time to go back. I have a very narrow window to get this done because of work and grad school. If I don’t get this done in the next 12 days, it’s not going to happen this year. This is it. The trip I have been planning for and bugging Idahoans on motorcycle forums about for nearly a year. <o></o> Day One:<o></o> Early in the morning. I get everything loaded and leave. I am giddy. Butterlies. Today is the day! About 2 miles from the house, I smell something burning. Turn right to go top off the tank and I notice that my rear brake pedal goes all the way down. No rear brake. Something really stinks now. I stop at the gas station, get off, and see that my bike is on fire. When I put the rear spacer on my Strom, I did not put the rear brake line back exactly in the slot and it moved over and was touching the exhaust pipe. The rubber brake line is literally on fire. Brake fluid is everywhere. I rush inside the gas station, get some water, come out, and extinguish the fire. I then ride home thinking that it’s over. This thing is not going to happen. Spend the next couple of hours calling every motorcycle shop in DFW looking for a rear brake line. No one has it. Finally, the guys at Cycle Center of Denton say they will fabricate one for me. I get back on the bike, ride carefully for about 45 minutes in heavy rush hour traffic and get to Denton, Texas. They make me a brake line in about two hours and the grand total cost is about $120. One of those heavy duty braided steel cable jobs. Sweet. They have saved my vacation and this trip. Props. Love. http://www.cyclecenterofdenton.com/service.asp <o></o> I load the bike up and head out. This part of the trip sucks. This stretch of highway is one of the most boring in the State of Texas. Hot. Flat. Dry. Mind numbing. The ipod helps. The cheap AM/FM radio I bought at Fry’s electronics quits at Wichita Falls even with new batteries. I make it to Amarillo and the sky darkens. Giant, black clouds sweep over the highway. <o></o> As I approach Dumas, the black sky above uses a power washer on me. The wind is brutal. Tractor trailers are leaning over. The rain stings even through my Olympia jacket. As I pull into Dumas, the rain stops but the clouds are enormous and the wind gets worse. I try to press on but one gust of wind literally almost blows me over. All of the trucks are stopping. I realized that this might get seriously bad and decide to stop for the night. Get a hotel room. They let me park under the awning. <o></o> Day Two:<o></o> We’re gonna make up time today! I move. Quickly. From Dumas, Texas, to Grand Junction, Colorado, all is normal. Nice to be back in Colorado. I enter Utah and finally stop for gas in Green River, just off the highway. There, I see a couple of men with about 8 women who are all wearing “prairie dresses” and I believe that I am looking at actual FLDS polygamists. Just like the ones in Eldorado, Texas, and on the HBO show, “Big Love.” I am intrigued but keep my distance. No photos were taken but I admit the rude thought crossed my mind. <o></o> I ask several (three) people about the quality of the road on Hwy 6 which is a shortcut from US-70 over to US-15 near Provo. These people all assure me that it is a wide, safe highway and that lots of 18 wheelers use it to get to Salt Lake City. I ask about deer and if it’s the kind of road where lots of deer get hit at night. They tell me that it’s safe and there are very few deer there because of the traffic and the towns along the way. I later learn that all of this is a horrible lie and that these people were clearly trying to kill me. <o></o> It starts out nice but Hwy 6 later turns into a hellish experience as it gets dark. I have clearly miscalculated. It’s too damned late and I should have stopped a long time ago. Now I have to press on because I can tell I am in a mountain pass and there is nowhere to stop. This is a very busy road filled with many vehicles, especially 18 wheelers. I pray that all of the reflective tape on my bike is helping and I don’t care that I look like super-geek with this flashing red light on the back of my helmet. Twisty. Turny. Signs everywhere warning about deer crossing. I stop counting deer carcasses when I nearly roll over the 14<sup>th</sup> body. This is serious. There is no room for error. Cars are right on my tail. The trucks are using their jake brakes. People are changing lanes without signaling. It takes every ounce of my skill and mental abilities to ride through the canyon and the flashing yellow lights mounted on the hundreds if not thousands of orange traffic barrels. <o></o> I make it into the Provo area and stop at a Motel 6. I am beyond exhausted. A guy pulls up in a Subaru Forester with Washington plates and bicycles on the roof. I recognize his car from the hell ride. He was right there with me for about 20 miles. He gets out and comes straight up to me and says with a perfect Fast Times at Ridgemont High Spicoli voice, “Man! That was INTENSE! I can’t believe you rode through all those deer!” I ask, “Did you see deer in there?” He says, “DUDE there were hundreds of them! I almost hit several of them. They were running all over the road!” I get queasy. I feel sick now because I never saw a live deer and I was actively scanning the whole time. Washington Spicoli says, “Dude, you have some STONES! You’re a heckuva freakin’ rider, man! That glow-in-the dark stuff on your bike is really bright too. I bet yer glad you had that stuff in that canyon, Buddy!” The hours of prep work where I had carefully stenciled and covered sections of my bike with black and red 3M reflective tape have clearly paid off. Never again. I will never ride in the dark again. Too far for too long today. Over 840 miles according to the odometer.<o></o> I get a room. It is the worst hotel stay of my life. They put me upstairs in the smoking section. There is a haze of cigarette and marijuana smoke in the hallway. Demented humans stop their partying only so they can scream and yell and run up and down the hallway all night long. There are tufts of pubic hair in the bathtub where someone went buck wild with a personal trimmer. The A/C does not work. I finally pass out.<o></o> Day Three:<o></o> When he asks how my stay was, I politely tell the clerk the truth. I act like a gentleman about it and expect nothing. To my everlasting surprise, he apologizes and without my asking, gives me a full refund. He admits that the crowd was horribly unruly and that the police had to be called several times. We shake hands. <o></o> I continue north through Salt Lake City and on to Idaho. It is still brutally hot. Every time I stop for gas, I literally soak my jacket and even myself with any available water hose. I also fill my pockets with ice. This is a wonderful way to stay cool. However, when you are filling your jacket pockets with ice, some people think you are crazy and will actually step away from you with a weird look on their faces. <o></o> Here's my first pic in Idaho. IIRC, this was taken just outside of Hammett, Idaho. Stopped here to cool off under this irrigation sprinkler. I just parked the bike, got off, and walked over there and stood under the water. This pic is deceiving because that stream of water at the pipe is huge. <o></o><o></o> [FONT="]Boise is a nice town. If someone was to cross Austin and Alpine (both in Texas), I think it would look a lot like Boise both in size and geography. I check out Boise for a while, buy some Jack Daniels, and head north on Hwy 55. It starts to cool off finally. Made camp at the Swinging Bridge campsite. First campsite in Idaho. First night’s sleep in Idaho. I have made it! [/FONT]The river close to my campsite. I went to sleep with the sound of the rushing waters. My campsite is to the right of this road. The river is to the left. Lots of traffic during the day and none at night. Everything you need for dinner. Mountain House Chili Mac with Beef and a good book. Building a fire Three fingers of Jack later... I slept well that night to the sound of the rushing river. It was much cooler up here in the mountains. Day Four: I headed north on Highway 55 towards Cascade, Idaho. This was beautiful country. I rode along the Payette River on a winding, twisting road. I'm sorry but I didn't stop to get too many pics here. After the winding part of the road, it straightened out and opened up into a huge, green valley that was covered in grass. Mountains were all around me. I rode into Cascade and found a place to eat breakfast. After a giant breakfast of bacon and eggs, I filled up all of my water bottles and the Camelbak with their water hose. Then, I decided to ride the dirt road that goes around the Cascade Reservoir. Just before it turns to dirt and you cross the cattle guard: Dirt road on the NW side of the Cascade Reservoir. If you look at the other side of the lake just behind the large tree on the left, that's where the two previous pics were taken from. The road was in excellent shape in most parts with a few large round stones here and there. There were some nice homes and some modest homes scattered around the lake. I passed a guy on a small dirtbike and a few kids on mountain bikes. We all waved. I continued all the way around the lake and hooked back up with Hwy 55 and headed towards McCall.