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The Effin’ Legend

Hank – We broke camp and shook the water off the rain fly and ground cover. We went to the Old Home Cafe, a Mennonite restaurant and store, for breakfast. From there we got on a quiet back road and headed towards Twin Falls. After a few miles we merged with Highway 30 and were back in light traffic. We made good time and decided to stop at a couple of bike shops before going to our Warmshowers host, Kathy Peterson. Still no luck finding a Cycleaware Reflex helmet mirror for Kathy. The shops carry very few mirrors and that type is hard to come by these days.

Kathy Peterson called me to see where we were. Next thing you know she shows up on her three-wheeled motorcycle (two wheels up front) along with Buddy and Honey, her two dachshunds, and she’s guiding us to her house. She showed us our accommodations, a shop converted to a bunkhouse of sorts, and it is awesome. (The made beds are covered with tarps to keep the dust off the bedding. We put our bikes inside, laid out the tent parts to fully dry, changed clothes, started a load of wash, and then jumped into Kathy’s truck along with Buddy and Honey. She took us to the Shoshone Falls, which are quite majestic. Kathy forgot to bring the leashes so she tied a big rope to each and used that. The tiny dogs on a big ass rope was pretty comical.

Next, Kathy drove us to the Visitor Center by the Perrine Bridge, which crosses the Snake River canyon. The Perrine Bridge is world famous in that it is the only bridge from which BASE jumping is allowed 24/7 and no permit is required. Four guys were packing their chutes to get ready to jump off the bridge. Most jumping is from the east side of the bridge. Jumpers try to land in a flat clearing on the south side of the river, east of the bridge. Sometimes the wind takes them into the water or onto the rocks on the north side of the canyon. Kathy has made the jump twice, both times using a round chute. These two parachute jumps from the bridge are the only times she has ever used a parachute. Her first jump was at age 66. The second at 69. She is currently 70 years old. The second jump she landed in the rocks. Normally, when jumpers land in the rocks they get injured. She surprised everyone, especially because of her age, and came out of the rocks unscathed. Hence, The Effin’ Legend was born. 🙂  They even made a hat for her. Speaking of legends, she did the jumps with Miles Daisher. Yeah, look him up.

Kathy is also The River Angel. She has a pontoon boat with which she picks up jumpers from the canyon. If they don’t want to hike back up to the top, they call Kathy ahead of time and make a donation for getting a ride. Rich is Angel Two and he also picks up jumpers in a boat. If you’re wondering how busy they can get, the guys we saw at the visitor center packing their chutes were working on their fourth jump of the day. The donations go towards a van used to give veterans a ride to medical appointments at the VA Hospital in Boise. Kathy is one of those people who not only cares but does everything she can to help. Donations from Warmshowers guests and BASE jumpers, whom she also hosts, help pay for the van and paid for a Cushman scooter to give the disabled and elderly rides to and from the parking and the county fair. It took a few years but the people in charge of the fair caught on and bought more vehicles to give people rides.

We went down to the river and met Rich, who owns Angel Two, who took us out to watch some jumpers. We just missed Nomad’s jump and two other jumpers came down as we got under the bridge. We picked up Nomad and gave him a ride back. Nomad is 52 years old, ex-Army paratrooper, and he just moved here so he could jump off the bridge every day. He’s llivin’ life.

Kathy is also a furniture maker, wood carver, golf ball carver (yep, you read that right), ostrich egg carver, and just plain all around bad ass. This winter she’s traveling to New Zealand to visit a BASE jumper friend who’s uncle is going to introduce her to some Maori carvers. She’s doing back flips over that.

Kathy’s grandfather was quite the person, too. He built his own telescopes and a planetarium in Twin Falls. Schools brought the kids to visit as well as see the snakes and fossil exhibits. His property was used to finance a free museum at the local community college, Southern College of Idaho, which includes a telescope and planetarium projector he made.

Kathy – Today was a pretty awesome day.  The 24-mile ride was pretty easy, and we met so many wonderful people.  At breakfast in Buhl, Idaho we met Mishawna, our waitress, who was nice enough to mail a package home for us.  The Mennonite restaurant also had a gift shop in it where I found a few home made items that would make great gifts for some upcoming events.  We obviously did not want to carry the items on our bikes so Mishawna said she would take them to the post office and mail them back to Spokane.  What a nice person!

We may not be having luck with finding my favorite helmet mirror, but we sure have hit the jackpot by meeting Kathy, our Warm Showers host.  She is one amazing gal!  Her history is deep, and her devotion to giving back to Veterans, BASE jumpers, cyclists, and anyone in the community in need is to be admired.  She is one unique lady who would go above and beyond to help anyone in need.  Kathy initially “found us” as we were about four miles from her house.  She had her two dogs in the back of her 3-wheel motor cycle and told us to follow her.  So, Hank and I with our loaded bikes followed Kathy, Buddy and Honey (the dogs) around town until we landed at her place.  Once we settled in, Kathy showed us around town in her truck, took us to Shoshone Falls (which was breathtaking), took us to see the BASE jumpers, took us for a ride on the boat to pick up BASE jumpers after they jumped off the bridge 486 feet above us, and told us many fabulous life stories about herself, her family and the Twin Falls community.

We met Nomad, the 52 year old BASE jumper who has been coming to Twin Falls for 2.5 years just to jump, and recently decided to move here because he wanted to jump every day.  He has metal plates in his lower leg and walks with a slight limp.  He said he has had multiple injuries over his lifetime between his military days and his enjoyment in extreme sports.  He doesn’t let anything stop him.  After his jump off the bridge (while we were in the boat heading back to land) he described to me his view of life, “Our life is a gift and we need to enjoy it.  Too many people never open their gift.  It’s like a gift sitting under the Christmas tree, it needs to be opened and enjoyed.”  It is an interesting perspective.  Nomad also was excited about our bike packing journey as well.  He told me, “At the end of your trip you will be a different person, your external looks will change, your perspective on people and life will change, you will have seen so many beautiful places, and you will have open and enjoyed your gift of life.”  Hank and I are thankful for the new friendship, the kindness of strangers, and the rich conversations that we have had with so many people today.   If we had we not taken this bike trip, we would have missed out on all of this.  Happy for our choices today.

We Met Norm

Norm Standal

While Kathy and I were cruising along River Drive outside of Bliss, Idaho, she came upon a gentleman walking along the roadside. They exchanged greetings and she stopped to chat and then we got to meet Norm Standal. Norm is 89 years old. He currently lives in Fort Meyers, Florida. He’s visiting family just down the road we were on. He used to live in Spokane many years ago. He said that at one point times were getting difficult so he searched for some land where he could completely sustain himself and his family. He found that land in Idaho and they lived there 20 years. Then he went and lived on a sail boat for seven years. He was excited to hear about what we were doing and when we said we would be coming through his neck of the woods in December, he gave us his address and invited us to stop by. He continued on his morning walk and we rode on to Hagerman. We really hope we get to see Norm again.