Ride from John Day, OR to Grangeville, Idaho

Day two would take me from John Day, Oregon over the Snake River into Idaho, with an overnight stay in Grangeville. I got up at 6:00 AM and had a breakfast of huckleberry pancakes, bacon, and eggs with juice and coffee at The Outpost next door. The food and service were much better than dinner in the lounge the night before.

I rode to Prairie City just down the road and gassed up at the Chevron under cloudy and threatening skies. As I climbed the hill just outside of town sprinkles began to appear on my face shield. The precipitation gradually increased as I rode through the rolling curves and hills on my way to Baker City. They were chip sealing the road near Sumpter but the construction delay was minimal. Since gas would be in short supply until I got into Idaho, I topped off my gas tank and ate a snack in Baker.

When I got on highway 86 from Baker City to Hells Canyon, I noticed something unusual. There was a light rain and instead of smelling like wet high desert, the air smelled more like the tidal flats you’d fine on a coastal bay. I never did find out why.

When I got to Hells Canyon, I turned north and crossed the Snake River at Brownlee Dam. As I climbed my way above the river the rain really started coming down. The curves require very slow speeds, and combining that with the downpour, I got fairly wet. The inside of my left boot was feeling very squishy, which was odd because my boots are supposedly waterproof. I figured water had run down inside the side zipper of my pants and entered the boot from the top.

I stopped at Woodhead Park and parked my bike under the relative shelter of a spruce tree hanging over the parking lot. I huddled under a picnic structure and ate my snack (of Reses and frappucino) while trying to warm up. My left boot was definitely wet inside but the wonder of wool socks is they remain insulative even when wet.

By the time I crawled back onto my bike to continue the ride, the rain stopped. Just like my trip in August of the previous year, there were very large black bugs crawling from the right to the left side of the road about half way between Brownlee and Cambridge, Idaho. They looked like very large crickets and were crossing the road en masse.

The sun was shining when I rolled into Cambridge, ready for lunch. There was a red V-Strom parked in front of the cafe so I parked next to it and went inside. In the booth closest to the front door was a gray haired gentleman, obviously the red Strom’s pilot, motioning me to join him. His name was Georgian (I never did get the spelling) and he was a retired engineer from Victoria, B.C. He was on his way back from a solo trip to Yellowstone. We had a great conversation, confirming yet again that I’ve yet to meet a Canadian I didn’t like.

The rest of the ride from Cambridge north to Grangeville was uneventful.

I stayed at the Super 8 in Grangeville and was immediately impressed by how helpful and professional the staff was. I was given preferential parking under the front entrance cover and was even offered a towel to wipe down my bike. My room was spacious and clean.

Dinner was at Ernie’s Steakhouse two blocks away as per the suggestion of the gal at the front desk. Ernie is apparently a local rancher who serves his own beef in his restaurant. The Red Diamond merlot was excellent and the rib eye was great as well. I also experienced a continuation of a pattern I’ve noticed in small towns. The hostess that seated me could very easily be showing up in the middle pages of next month’s issue of your favorite men’s magazine. Absolutely gorgeous.

For those motorcyclists looking to travel over Lolo Pass from Idaho into Montana, I highly suggest staying at the Super 8 in Grangeville. Not all Super 8’s are created equal, and this particular motel exceeds the standards I’ve found in several Best Western’s, presumably a higher-end chain.

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