Wednesday, July 24, 2002


Met this biker at about 7 am. He is a retired football coach who winters in Mesa, AZ. During his summer north of Orofino a few miles, he cuts wood. He about 10 cord ahead at this time.

He normally cuts 125 cords per summer. He said there is something magic about being out in the woods, just you and the tree that you have just cut down. In AZ, he bikes 10 miles every day, walks at least three, and on Sunday does a 20 mile mountain bike ride. Here he mountain bikes about 10 every day as he pointed to a ridge about 500 feet above us and continues his daily 3 mile walking regimen.

Lots of dead deer along the road; the smell comes first and then one often sees a hoof, stunned expression on a snout buried in the cheat grass and thistles along the road. Some are still cautious and have a figure that almost matches the ground.

Still waters with only a few rapids dotted the Clearwater here. Have been travelling too early for fishing people. Surprising white beaches. The herons won't allow me even to slow and stop along the road. They hear/see me and immediately take off to the other river's side. Gangly characters they are looking like military grey cargo plane as they fly away.

Volcanic shapes and mounds abound in this area. The sun had not been up that long and the pines were not giving off their odors. Yet...it was suppose to be hot. So what is new?

It isn't everyday you meet some one on a bike with a kerosene lantern. This asocial fellow, Longroad, and his dog, Too, stopped for a few words at my bidding.

Z: So where did you come from? L: silence


Z: Where are you off to? L: Riggins


Z: But isn't that in the other direction? L: I am from Montana


Z: Mind if I take your picture: L: "nods yes".


I say. "Hey, Too, look at the camera." Snap

The Nez Perce (actually none had pierced noses) had subterranean homes during the winter in these parts. They know almost a hundred roots for a variety of purposes. The Nez Perce National Historical Park had samples of camas root for us to taste. You make a fire in a pit of stones, put over a mat of reeds, add the roots, put another mat above that and add an additional fire from above. And the roots get baked. The result is a very intense carbohydrate protein pellets after grinding the roots. It plus the oily salmon made Discovery corps sick as they had been only eating meat. They had quite the diarrhea. Again,There were fewer dogs when they left the Nez Perce tribe. In Lewiston, I asked the motel clerk if there were any restaurants specializing in fish, e.g. salmon. She said Skippers and the Red Lobster. I asked her if she knew where the library was and her 20 year old mind had no clue. It actually took three people to find out that the library was next to Walmart.

This part of the country is where old box cars come to die. These men cut apart old box cars and sell the scrap.

"At the distance of one mile from the lodges I met three Indian boys. When they saw me, they ran and hid themselves in the grass. I dismounted...searched and found two of them, gave them Small pieces of ribin & Sent them forward to the village. Soon after a man Came out to me, with great caution, & Conducted us to a large Spacious Lodge...." William Clark

As long as 3000 years ago they (Nez Perce) had large oval house, 28 feet long 24 fee wide. To build these house they put a bark and mat covering over a frame of 50 or so house posts. Four or more families lived in a house this size. From their village here by the river, they went out to hunt deer or to dig camas.. They had to travel widely in their constant search for food.

The wind is down river so you can't really smell Lewiston until you are in the Lewiston Bowl of the Clearwater River. The road widens to four lanes and about the 8 times the traffic. I use my old rusty mountain bike skills to avoid all the detrus of the town: tire parts, bottles, cans, Dairy Queen containers, Gulp 32 oz. containers, diapers, cigarette packages, flattened 24 beer can boxes, the beer and malt cans, bolts, ATM receipts...you know....it goes on and on.

Lewiston's old downtown is sadly dying; it seemingly has no joy about being part of the Lewis & Clark Trail. It is just a working town like Quincy, MA or Allentown, PA or East St. Louis, IL. It has many 'For Rent' signs in the windows. I wonder if my own little bicycle biopsy view of Lewiston is missing the main center. Seems like a very concrete working person's town with perhaps a hard pew view of how to enjoy being alive. Will look around town more on the bike to see if there is a little 'uniqueness' to an otherwise very corporate homogenous identity.

Henry Spalding, with his friend of Marcus Whitman, led a Presbyterian mission to here in 1836. Spalding began his mission and school nearby. Believing in secular as well as religious teaching, he taught the Indians irrigated farming, brought in the Northwest's first printing press, and built saw and flour mills. But as the hostility slowly developed with encroaching settlers, Spalding left after the Whitman massacre in 1847 at Walla Walla. He

 returned with the gold rush "to

 labor among his converts until his

 death in 1874

Goodness, My Trail's End

So here it is: civilization. Make the most of it. In thinking about Lewis and his demise, no wonder he committed suicide. If it wasn't his mercury laced Thunder Clapper pills ( used for every illness) it must have been he could see his own future or even ours in a manner. I could see how the highs and lows of such intense travels could be a horrible contrast to return to 1800's society from his independent travails. Imagine being your own journey thru all these strange peoples and grueling hardships and then returning to be confronted and surrounded with bureaucratic people which he had to compromise, to negotiate, to have a mundane reduced intensity of daily behavior. He surely must have identified with Gulliver and the talking enlightened horses. Travel can be so addictive for novelty, stimulation, adrenalin, sensual exaggerations. No wonder it was hard for him. We could lump it all into the manic depressive diagnosis, I guess. More handy for our modern understanding. Or perhaps it is just the 109 degree road cooking of my gray matter.


Anyway, for my little adventure, I was simply thinking that I should have ended the trip a little further west, or maybe added several more days, or continued to the ocean, or maybe just over that hill.... Zelada


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