Day 20: Can’t Catch the Rain — Lewiston, ID to Kooskia, ID – May 28

Daily miles – 80. Total miles – 1,300.
We had a nice slow morning this morning, waking up after the Hansen’s had gone to church. We packed up and got everything ready so that we could leave when they returned from church. Jerome offered to make us some eggs (from their backyard hens) and toast before we hit the road. We took him up on the offer and had an awesome scramble and some great fruit as well. Thanks Jerome! You guys rock!

We bought a bottle of their Renaissance Red wine to bring to Lolo, took a picture all together, and said goodbye to our new friends.

Going down the Thain grade to the river highlighted how big a climb it was when we arrived a couple days ago. We headed east on 12 which follows the Clearwater River very closely. The wind shifted around throughout the day – sometimes giving us a nice push, and sometimes being as strong a headwind as we’ve seen since the coast. But we made good time, and amazingly dodged not only flat tires, but the rain as well. We chased some really dark clouds all day, but just couldn’t catch up to them, luckily, so we stayed pretty dry. It started to rain once, so we stopped at a gas station and had lunch.

Most of today we were on the Nez Perce reservation. At the gas station, an older Native man approached to say hi and commented we were on a historic route. I totally took the bait and said something about Lewis and Clark. He replied with an explanation of the concept of “Discovery” dating from 1450 as an officially sanctioned conquest of stealing land and enslaving indigenous people. He compared the treatment of Native people in the U.S.to Hitler’s treatment of the Jews – just on a slower time scale. He also commented that Hitler studied U.S. History closely and modeled his ideas after the U.S. in some ways.
Similarly to my visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, I felt a sense of guilt or need for reconciliation for the acts of my ancestors, even if they didn’t necessarily support the bad deeds done in all of our names. As this man explained his desire to correct the way history is taught in public school to better characterize the treatment of Native people, I didn’t feel he would benefit from me telling him how one-sided I felt my U.S. History curriculum was. I just nodded in agreement with his statements and let him say his peace. We also accepted some writings about Discovery that he gave us. I look forward to reading them.

After a while, he asked Chandra where she was from. “You look like you could be one of our people,” he said. We had a good chuckle, she explained, and he invoked solidarity between Native folks and Japanese folks. I hope he found us receptive to his ideas, but in the end I have no idea what he thought of us. He gave us his card though, and I hope to correspond someday.

Traffic was generally light today, and cars were extremely courteous to us. One minivan even lit up its hazard lights to alert a car coming the other way to ou presence! Trucks slowed down but didn’t honk or seem bothered. We were reminded by several people in Lewiston that many bicyclists have been hit on the shoulderless sections of this road. We just tried to be cautious and made it through fine.

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One cool thing we saw today was across the river on the railroad tracks. These funky little buggies – they look like the cab of an 18 wheeler but with no other chassis and very small wheels – running the tracks to the west. Two days ago, we saw tens of these buggies being pulled on trailers behind RVs and trucks in Washington. It must be some sort of rally where they allow the buggies to ride the tracks once a year. There must have been 50 in all. They looked to be having so much fun, and many of them either honked, waved, or both as they passed. At least some must have remembered seeing us a few days back. I totally want to figure out more of what these folks are up to. Will have to in Lolo.

We finally stopped for a little pie alamode in Kamiah at the Sacagewea Cafe. It was pretty nondescript apple pie and coffee, but since I’ve had the Jones for it since Arcata, CA, I was happy!

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We finally caught the rain at the RV park where we are crashing tonight. We threw up the green tarp hoopty style so we could at least cook in relative driness and made stirfry with Walla Walla onions and asparagus and some other stuff we picked up in Lewiston. Now, dry and warm in the tent, the rain has just let up. Chandra is asleep, and I am amazed and thankful we made it all this way before the sky opened up. Tomorrow is around 90 miles, thence Lolo!

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