Potatoes and Big Sky (Part 2/8)
Tony and I did not stay in Idaho very long. I believe it was a little over a week since we were just going through the very top portion of the state. We made our way along I90… Who says you can’t walk along the interstate??
Tony and I did not stay in Idaho very long. I believe it was a little over a week since we were just going through the very top portion of the state. We made our way along I90… Who says you can’t walk along the interstate?? Our goal was to reach Coeur d’Alene before Friday at 5 P.M. since we were picking up a package there (movie tickets). We really wanted to see a movie and Coeur d’Alene had a movie theater near the post office downtown. Problem was, it was nearing 5 P.M. and we were still two and a half miles away. When we had twenty minutes left I had a crazy idea—I shall run the rest of the way! Tony and I found a nice place to rest off of a trail and I left my backpack with him. I ended up jogging to the post office which was still two miles away. Normally two miles of jogging would be nothing to me but we had already walked about 15 miles and I still had the huge blister near my ankle that I had developed from carrying my backpack.
Side story: I don’t believe I mentioned this in my last blog, but before we got to Spokane, WA I had developed a huge blister on my ankle. This formed because the wheels on my backpack fell apart and I had to carry my backpack for a little over a week. My backpack was heavy and the blister formed quickly. I ended up calling mi madre and she sent out some extra wheels.
Back to the story!
I ended up getting to the post office a little after 5 P.M. Two minutes to be exact. I went inside and talked to the woman at the desk, asking if she could see if I had a package waiting for general delivery. She refused to help since it was after 5 P.M. I explained my situation and she still refused to LOOK AT A SHELF! It annoyed me. We didn’t meet many jerks on our trip but she was definitely one of them. I ended up talking to another person who worked there. I explained my situation and he decided to help me out. Sadly, the package was not there. No movies for tonight…
Afterwards, I walked through the downtown area which was really nice. There was some kind of market and people were everywhere. I rested for a moment on a bench, and then I headed back to Tony. Even though we did not get our free movie tickets, we decided to see a movie anyway. So at 7 P.M. we went and saw This is the End (Funny movie!). After the movie we found a small hidden spot by Lake Coeur d’Alene and set up camp.
The next morning we woke up and got back on I90. Before we left Coeur d’Alene something interesting happened. I got a text from my friend Claude. He told me he had just quit his job and was thinking about joining us on our trip. At first I thought it was bluff but he told me he was really going to do it. I told him it wasn’t easy and that he would have to train and he said he would. Two days later he told me had bought all the equipment he needed. That was fast! We talked a bit about where he would meet us and what other supplies he would need. The plan was for him to fly into Missoula, Montana. That would give him about two weeks to train (not nearly enough time, but whatever).
Tony and I continued our journey through the Coeur d’Alene National Forest, along I90. There was some beautiful scenery. While meeting people along the trip and seeing different cities and towns was a fantastic experience, this was what I really loved: The scenery! I love nature and the views off of I90 were amazing.
When we hit Montana we were excited. Another state down!
The scenery didn’t really change when we first got into Montana: curving interstate, dense forests, rivers, etc. Then we reached our first city in Montana. Missoula would be where we met Claude. We were excited to have another friend join us on our venture, but we weren’t sure how long he would last. When we got to Missoula, we headed to the airport. We were only waiting for about two hours when Claude’s plane landed. We shared stories and hung out at the airport for a while until we started walking again. We planned on camping near the airport since we were not allowed to sleep in the airport (STUPID!). We weren’t walking for more than five minutes when a guy pulled over and asked us if we wanted a ride. He thought we were part of something called the Rainbow Gathering.
Now for those who don’t know the Rainbow Gathering is temporary communities that are held in different states and countries where people gather together in a hippy-type way. You know, peace, love, harmony, etc. We told him we were actually walking across the country and that surprised him a bit. Then he surprised us. Turns out he owned a commune and was part of the couch surfing website, like Barbara in Spokane. He offered us a place to stay for the night and we took him up on his offer.
There were already a few people living with him in his commune and everyone was really nice. There was free food, many beds, and we were able to take a shower! As I write this I am trying to think of his name and for the life of me… I cannot. I’m sure it will come to me some time and I will update this blog. We ended up staying two days here. On the second day we went on a bike ride all throughout the city. It was really awesome. It has been years since I have been on a bike. Boy was it fun!
When we did take off, the reality of sleeping on the side of the road once again set in. The first day of walking and Claude was already having a hard time. He did not train for as long as he should have and he was definitely feeling the burn. We ended up resting every mile or so to give his feet a break. We eventually hit a gas station and Claude rushed in to grab some Gatorades.
A sad realization enveloped Claude. He realized after only one day of walking that he would not be able to continue. It’s too bad he spent so much money to get to Montana to find it out. He was definitely disappointed in himself, even with Tony and me trying to encourage him. The next day he was off to the airport. This brought back memories of Cody and once again Tony and I were quiet for a day as we walked.
We continued our trek down I90. At one point Tony told me he was having a hard time with the walk. I suggested using a backpack with wheels. Tony was reluctant to do so at first but after a while decided to give it a shot. Tony did some researching on his phone to find what kind of cart would be good for carrying his backpack. There was a bicycle stroller he found that was actually used by another guy who walked across America years ago. Turns out Walmart carried this cart. Tony ended up getting one when we hit Butte and after seeing how easy the cart was to assemble and how much room it had, I decided to get one too. The Walmart only had one though so I would have to wait til we hit Bozeman.
We stayed in Bozeman for two days, sleeping outside of a closed motel. I bought a new cart from Walmart and we saw another movie. This time it was World War Z (an okay zombie film starring Brad Pitt). We also hit up a museum. We were seeing banners for the Museum of the Rockies and decided to see what it was like. It was pretty cool. We spent about four hours at the museum before we hit the road and headed off.
Then something changed that would impact the rest of our trip… Together. I realized money was becoming an issue. We had been gone for nearly two months and had yet to make as much progress as I was hoping. I wasn’t trying to rush our journey but when I did some calculations it turned out we were only averaging a little more than nine miles a day. This wouldn’t do. I had to make it back by December because I was going to be starting school again, and while my classes were online, the first week in December is finals week. I needed to be back by then. I told Tony the problem but he did not want to ramp up our mileage. I told him, for me, it was a necessity. And that was it. The end of our trek together. We decided to split up and go our separate ways and that’s exactly what we did.
Tony had been taking care of the blogs up until this point but when we parted I took over. I posted a blog that told of our split and informed people we would still be completing our journey, it just would not be together.
So when we decided to part ways, Tony rested a bit longer at our camping spot and I took off down the road. I decided that I would try and get to Livingston. We had been following I90 for a while now and Livingston was the next city after Bozeman. Tony had taken the tent and I was going to buy another one in town. I soon found that that would be impossible. Two state troopers stopped me on the side of the highway to let me know they had received some calls from drivers saying they believed that there was a guy on the highway that may possibly be carrying a baby in his cart. I let the troopers know that there were no babies on board. They thought the whole thing funny and we started talking about my walking trip. I mentioned how I was heading to Livingston in hopes of buying a tent (worse comes to worse I would have just gotten a hotel/motel room). It looked like worse was coming to worse because behind me dark clouds were rolling in and the troopers informed me there weren’t any stores in Livingston that carry tents. But one trooper did tell me he had a few tents at his house and that if he could find them he would bring me one the following day.
“Do you want me to give you my number or take down yours?” I asked.
“Nah, I’ll find you on the side of the road. I come on at two in the afternoon” he replied.
So the tent issue seemed to be solved, except I would need to find a place to stay for the night. The troopers did not want to hold me up since the storm was moving in fast and I still had four miles to Livingston, so I thanked them and moved on. I learned afterwards they met with Tony who was about six miles behind me at the time.
The wind began to pick up and so did my walking speed. It seemed like it may rain for a while and I did not want to get caught in it, especially if there was going to be lightning, although I did not see any at the time.
I went two more miles and heard the first BOOM of thunder. The storm was right on top of me. The wind picked up and actually helped propel me forward. The rain started coming down and I knew I wouldn’t make it to Livingston, but up ahead I saw an overpass and I thought I better just rest under there and wait for the storm to pass. Maybe it would move quickly…
I wasn’t under the overpass for more than thirty seconds when a man and woman pulled up on the small shoulder. They asked if I needed help and I told them I didn’t. They asked if I needed a ride and I politely declined. I told them of my journey and they quickly responded with an offer to stay at their vacation house up in the mountains. The house was about eight miles away but they said that it wouldn’t be a problem for them to give me a ride back to the overpass in the morning. The rain did not look like it would let up, they seemed like nice people, and I never stayed in a vacation house up in the mountains! So I graciously accepted their offer.
The house was AMAZING! The living room was the size of my actual house, and I could swear there was a faint echo if one were to talk too loud. They showed me the guest room which had two beds: a small one and a big one; I chose the big one. I took a shower and washed my clothes as they prepared dinner. Dinner consisted of salad, pasta, and bread; all of which was fantastic. I chatted with them a while about life, the walk, and so on, and around ten I started to become tired so I retired (I feel like this is the right word for the type of place I was staying in) to my quarters (this word too). I charged all my electronics, watched about twenty minutes of Destination Tokyo on my phone (I love falling asleep to old movies) and then went to bed.
In the morning I was greeted with cantaloupe, egg sandwiches, yogurt and berries, and toast with jelly. It twas great! Sadly, I had to leave and continue my journey.
Once I reached Livingston I fixed up my cart. I had purchased two solid tube tires and wanted to use those to replace the air tires that were on the cart. The problem is they are really hard to get on but luckily the bike shop I went to in Livingston was able to do just that. Two employees and myself (yes, it took three of us) were able to get the tires replaced and again I was on my way.
I jumped back on the highway and proceeded to pick up the miles. I believe I walked about 37 miles that day which was the most I had walked the whole trip. In fact, that ties my longest trek ever when I walked from St. Petersburg to Tampa a year and a half ago. While on the highway, the state trooper showed up and gave me a tent. He actually brought me one that he bought at Walmart since he could not find any of his at the house. He also bought me some Gatorade. I thanked him and continued on. I was now all set.
The next day I reached Big Timber where I acquired a package from my mother. She had sent a goody-bag of food: beef jerky, trail mix, and fruit roll-ups. After packing up the food I walked about 25 miles to a small town known as Reed Point. They had an RV Park there and that is where I set up camp. The owners offered me a portable TV and cable line which I ran right into my tent. I watched a Friends marathon and downloaded some new podcasts on my laptop before calling it a night.
I feel I should mention that podcasts have really been a savior. I like music, but podcasts are much better for helping pass the time. I always make sure to update them and download new ones any chance I get. I listen to everything: Doug Loves Movies, The Smartest Man in the World, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, The Film Talk, The Nerdist, The Rooster Teeth Podcast, and the list goes on and on. Don’t get me wrong, there are days that I listen solely to music and others where I listen to nothing at all, but I know that if I didn’t have podcasts this trip would be a bit tougher.
Anyway… let’s move on, shall we? The next day I headed to Columbus. I was thinking about hitting an RV Park there but they didn’t allow tent camping. No matter… The owner told me of a free campsite about a mile away. Of course that’s where I headed. It was packed but I realized it was Friday night so it made sense. Luckily I was able to find a spot to pitch my tent and since I got a late start it was already dark by the time I got my camp set up. So I read a little and then went to bed.
The next few days were rather uneventful: took a few back roads (gravel is a pain), talked to some people outside of a convenience store, had a cop offer me water, and slept by the railroad tracks. I was heading down Highway 310, about 20 miles from the Montana-Wyoming border when a man pulled over and offered me a place to stay for the night. Problem was he lived another 15 miles south and it was already 5 P.M. I told him I appreciated the offer and would try to make it to his house before nightfall. Sadly, I did not make it. I got pretty close to the street he lived off of but it was getting dark and he told me his house was another mile up the road so I called it a night and set up camp off the side of the road. It was a cloudy night so I had to pull out the flashlight and scout out a good camping spot. I wasn’t going to be able to find a good hidden spot since the whole area was flat and the only vegetation stood no more than a foot off the ground. Oh well… I set up out in the open.
The next morning I arose with the sun and packed my things. I then headed the last six miles to the border. BAM! Wyoming! Another state down!