Let’s Be Sneaky

Hank – A cacophony of birds woke me up this morning. I heated water for tea. After tea we packed up and went to town for breakfast. A truck full of onions passed us on the way to Weiser. We followed the sweet smell and flying onion skins into town.

We stopped at the Homestead Cafe for breakfast. There were a handful of other customers and we, not bein’ from around here, were a curiosity. Talk about what we were doing and where we were headed next got the attention of one gentleman. Turns out he’s the emergency services manager for Washington county. He told us a great way to get around the construction on State Hwy 52. He just happened to be visiting the Tuesday morning meeting of town ministers at the cafe. I added his coffee to my tab, which was the least I could do.

We got on route 201 and crossed the Snake River into Oregon. Technically, that’s state number three so far. We were passed by another onion truck. Then we were passed by three livestock trucks. We preferred the onions. We picked up a few supplies at Albertsons in Payette and then headed out on State Hwy 52. We took the detour on Big Willow, Bluff Road, and Fremont to get around the bridge closure. A few drivers didn’t know about the possible detour. We saw them coming back after they turned around at the Road Closed sign.

We stopped in Letha and grabbed an ice cream and some water. A woman we chatted with told us of some quieter roads to Emmett, which dramatically reduced our time on the state highway. But there was a bad move on my part. Kathy didn’t hear me say I was stopping and I didn’t hand signal so she didn’t know I was stopping. Consequently, she wasn’t ready to stop. She braked hard but didn’t get her foot out of the pedal in time and fell sideways. It was a painful fall. I apologized but the damage was done. We continued to Emmett where we got dinner. The only place in town to get a room or camp didn’t do tent sites. We didn’t want to spend $90 on a room so Kathy decided we would stealth camp. We found an abandoned building and pitched our tent in and out-of-the-way spot. That is out of character for Kathy but there ya go.

Kathy – Today for the most part we had a great ride to Emmett, Idaho. We rode 53 miles total with our total elevation at 650 feet. It was a hot and sunny 85 degrees until we were within 10 miles of our destination where the storms started rolling in.  We got a little sprinkle on us the last 10 miles but mainly it was the fierce headwind that made the trip take a bit longer than expected.  During our travels today we saw lots of cattle, horses, sheep, and many different types of birds.  The landscapes were absolutely stunning so admiring the beauty while riding seemed to make the heat of the day disappear.

As we rode my thought today often wondered, but a few things brought wonderful memories of my mother who pass away a few years ago.  Mom was one of the hardest working and kindest woman I have ever known. This little five-foot woman raised nine children with an abusive and alcoholic husband who was in and out of the picture our entire lives.  With nine children and my dad, she managed to stay mostly sane.  I’m proud to be a middle child –  #6, you always know your place in big families.  So back to my Mom, today in the small town of Payette, Idaho I saw many homes with beautiful yards and many flowering plants.  I saw a willow tree and it reminded me of when Mom would grab anything around to hit us kids with as she was upset with us – including willow tree branches.  She would run her hand down one to remove the leaves and then bend it in half and start hitting us to teach us a lesson of what not to do again.  As she swatted us with the willow branch she would stop between each strike and say one word then strike again…”I (swat) told (swat) you (swat) to (swat) stop (swat) that (swat).  You (swat) need (swat) to (swat) listen (swat) and behave (swat) yourself (swat).”  It may sound crazy, but I am very fond of those whooping memories now.  It is amazing that Mom lived to be 77 years old with my dad and us nine kids pushing her to the edge so much throughout her life.  Please know though, I didn’t push her too much as I was one of the good kids.  🙂  My Mom also had a few of those white snowball bushes in her yard.  I saw many of them today in peoples yards and they again reminded me of this special lady.  I actually planted one of these bushes in my own yard last year in memory of my mother.  Hope I didn’t bore you, just trying to share so of my thoughts during this trip.

Lastly, I wanted to go back to my first sentence in today’s blog. “Today for the most part we had a great ride to Emmett, Idaho.”  After we left Letha, Idaho – 43 miles into the day and 10 miles to go, we had one mishap.  Hank has been lacking a bit in the route/direction communication area lately.  Today it came to a head with multiple times where he either did not communicate, waited too late to communicate, or communicated but I did not hear or understand his communication.  I was feeling frustrated and we had or husband/wife conversation to hopefully avoid future miscommunication. Well, our final mishap happened at the 43 out of 53 mile mark today.  Hank suddenly said he was stopping his bike with little warning, and I thought he said he was turning right. Needless to say he stopped and I slammed on my breaks to stop from hitting him but I didn’t get my feet unclicked from my pedals so I fell over onto my right side.  Other than a few bumps and many bruises (that will show up over the next few days) I am fine. With that Hank felt terrible. We had our communication talk once again, and I am hoping we are in sync now.  We enjoyed a nice dinner together in Emmett and all was well in the end.  Here’s to hoping all our future rides are over communicated and fall free!

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  1. I’m glad you two made it to Emmett and found your stealth camp for the night. Maybe the first of many. Miscommunication accidents…been there…Bob and I are now extra careful at forks in the road. Cathy, I liked that you shared an intimate portrait of your mother. Not easy sharing parts of your life with complete strangers. You also made me think of my own mother. She lived in Payette in one of these cute two-story gingerbread houses with white shutters, a white picket fence, and lots of pretty flowers blooming all spring and summer. She also died in that house at the young age of 69. You might of rode right past the house. I’ll never forget the morning my father called me when I was living in Boise and asked me to drive to Payette because my mother had taken a turn for worse. She’d been on hospice for a year. This sudden change in her status happened only three days after I’d just been there to visit her on Mothers Day, 2011. Not knowing how long I’d needed to stay in Payette on this visit, my delay in getting going was caused by my last minute decision to pack my bicycle and all my cycling gear so I could ride and train on the country roads around town. I drove to Payette as quickly as I could and I’d missed saying good-bye by 10 minutes. I think my mother was proud of my cycling accomplishments even though she never really told me…I think your mother would be proud of you for doing this trip and overcoming your fears and learning a lot about yourself.

    Stay safe out there. I’m looking forward to following the rest of your journey.

    Leslie McMichael


    1. Leslie, thank you for you kind words, and for sharing your own story. I have no doubt your mother would be proud of all your cycling and life’s successes. We really enjoyed meeting you and Bob and staying at your beautiful and welcoming home. We are being safe and looking forward to our continued travels after a few days of rest. Wishing you many wonderful memories during your travels back to Europe. Remember if you are ever in Spokane you have a place to stay. All the best, Kathy


  2. Well you two are doing nothing but bonding together during your travels. with what bumps and bruises comes compassion and grace. Be aware of your surroundings and above all eyes on what’s in front of you. Kathy unless your lead dog there nothing but Hank in front of you. Be well and I look following your journey through your writings. Be safe Sam


    1. Thank you, Sam. I guess we’re going to see if this almost 38-year marriage is going to stick. 😉 Take care.


    2. Thank you Sam. You would think after almost 38 years of marriage we would have that communication down, but it is still a work in progress. 🙂


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