2011 MC Trip, Day 4, Blackfoot Idaho:
I didn’t sleep well; I was waking up every few hours which was irritating. Luckily for me, this was a non-travel day. The only item on the agenda was to ride to Blackfoot Idaho which is self-designated the “Potato Capital of the World”. It claims to have the largest potato industry on earth. Blackfoot is also home to the Eastern Idaho State Fair, which operates between Labor Day weekend and the following weekend, and is one of my only good memories of living there.
I spent much of my childhood in this town and didn’t really enjoy most of. If there were any town I would enjoy seeing wiped off the face of the planet, this would be it. It wasn’t all bad mind you. I had good friends here but this is where I really learned about people hating each other because of being different. If it were not for the friends I did have in this area, I really think I would have committed suicide here. Due to the wonder that is Facebook, I am back in touch with some of them and very thankful for it.
This town is full of firsts, some of them good, and some of them bad.
This is where I first understood the importance of having a friend who understood you and accepted you although you were different.
This is where I first fell in love, had girlfriends, and lost my virginity.
This is where I first tried drugs and really got drunk, regularly.
This is where my parents divorced.
This is where I was first arrested and jailed for being a hoodlum.
This is where I learned that “cowboys” hated “long hairs”.
This is where I learned that Whites, Hispanics and Native American children where incredibly mean to each other for no real reason other than their skin color was different.
This is where I learned that Mormon children and adults really hate non-Mormons.
This is where I learned from teachers, police, children, churches and anyone else in a position of authority that I was destined for prison and was a waste of a human life.
This is where I was permanently expelled from the school district.
See, some of this was good and some was bad. You decide which was which.
Anyway, I was destined for Jensen’s Grove, which is a little park and lake right off the freeway. This was the location of a family get together for the celebration of birthdays. This is the first time in many years I was to see the majority of my extended family. I was looking forward to this. I moved away from eastern Idaho almost 18 years ago. I have not missed it. The truth is that I really do not know my family very well. They are mostly strangers with the exception of a few of them and I reckon I’m OK with that because I have been living my own life for over 20 years. I also feel like I don’t fit in with them which is why I took off so long ago. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about them – I do – I just don’t “fit”. I’m not sure if I will ever feel like I do and that is OK.
I enjoyed my time with the family and it was a worthwhile trip. It was nice to be relaxing and spending time with those I care about. At this point in my life, I really enjoy spending time with my parents and grandparents; they have become quite important to me. Any chance I get to spend time with them is one that I take advantage of now. None of us are getting any younger. Every minute with them is precious to me. I was also able to spend some time with my uncle and aunt who are equally important and have been throughout my life. My older sister was unable to attend due to a work commitment, so we set a time the following day to meet and spend the day together. I also spent some time speaking with some cousins and my younger brother, who I have become closer to as time has gone on. This has been a great experience for me.
All and all it was fine day and the weather was good. I can’t complain, but I also don’t have a whole lot more to report on for this day. I just enjoyed being in the presence of family and relaxing, just being happy to be in what I would call a summer. Seattle hasn’t had any for a while.
Day 5, Idaho Falls Idaho to Jackson Wyoming day trip, 208.8 mi:
I slept better. It was nice and I needed it. Since I didn’t need to be doing anything early I think I was a bit more relaxed. Today was to be a day spent with my older sister, and to see some friends, who I have not seen in over 20 years. My older sister was meeting me at my parents’ house for a day ride to Jackson Hole which is near the border of Idaho and Wyoming.
My sister arrived early and I forced her to bring a helmet and some sort of protective gear. Idaho is a no helmet law state, meaning you don’t have to wear a helmet. In the Western United States, several states do not require helmets and I’m guessing this is because we don’t like being told what to do. I always wear a helmet and leather at minimum. I have known and seen many riders go down and I like my brain and body the way it is. Subsequently, I wear my gear religiously regardless of heat and laws in the state in which I’m riding. Let’s face it, if you fall off a bike then there is a greater likelihood of major injuries. If I can minimize the probability of major damage to my body then I’m going to do it. I won’t stop riding, I’m painfully aware of my mortality, and I want to live as long as I can despite my “dangerous” hobbies. So I gear up. Anyone riding on my bike is required to do the same. If we go down and you are hurt because I didn’t ask you to wear your brain bucket, well, I don’t need another item on my checklist to beat myself up for the remainder of my life. Knowing my personality, I would fucking do it too.
My sister thought we were doing an overnighter but I was to meet some friends later that day so it was to be a day trip. We hit the road and headed up U.S. Route 26 e which takes you to Swan Valley . This is a nice stretch of road through farm and ranch land before it begins to follow the Snake River which then runs between the Caribou-Targhee National Forest area . I have spent many good times in this area camping, fishing, and hunting with friends and family. I almost died here once too! This was due to slamming my truck into a tree during a particularly heavy night of mind-altering drugs and alcohol. An interesting story for another day. Our turn off was the Teton Scenic Byway which is a highway I have not travelled before and wanted to try. This is a very nice ride and since Idaho has actual summers it makes it all the better. There were many wildflowers and farms in the area so being on a bike is a unique experience with all of the smells of the landscapes in which you are riding. Driving the same route via a car isn’t the same experience and if that’s all you have, well, you wouldn’t understand.
After arriving in Victor, we took a right on South Highway 33 towards Teton Pass. Highway 33 turned out to be my favorite part of the run for the day, it’s a beautiful ride. Coming down the pass we ended up in Wilson Wyoming where we stopped for gas and a drink. We arrived in Jackson Hole a short time later and went to the HD dealership for some synthetic oil, just in case. We walked around town a bit and talked about childhood memories and tried to decide where to eat lunch. Eventually we ended up at a saloon the name of which I cannot remember. The most memorable part of this saloon wasn’t the food but rather the art. So I spent a bit of time taking some photos.
Photos from the saloon.
After we finished up and paid the bill we headed out of town via Wyoming_Centennial_Scenic_Byway which follows the Snake River to the Palisades Reservoir. This is also a beautiful ride which I recommend. The ride isn’t long to Palisades but it is a nice drive which follows the river’s twists and turns. We were lucky enough not to hit much traffic.
A few hours later we arrived back at my parent’s house. It was an amazing day and I feel very thankful that I was able to spend so much quality time with my sister. We do not have the opportunity to spend time together often, so this day will remain special to me. The two day rest was spent relaxing with family. I was going to meet some friends but it just didn’t work out and Facebook keeps me informed of what they want the public to know. That’s good enough I guess. Besides, who wants to see an older version of us anyway? I spent the rest of the evening with my parents and then packed up my gear. It was to be an early day and I had a long day of riding through some of the most amazing country I have ever seen. More on that next time.