Dripping wet from a rainy bike ride along the Lewiston dikes, we needed hot showers more than anything in the world. Instead, in the parking lot, we stripped down and hung our wet biking clothes on the small clothes line overhead in Thistle's head. Finding the toilet, or managing to brush our teeth, was a wander through dripping jackets and soggy socks slapping us in the face. It was a wet, stinky, steamy mess.
Thistle needed cleaning, dumping and a refilled water tank, and we still wanted showers, so we splurged and pulled into our first full-fee campground of the trip -- Hell's Gate State Campground in Idaho on the edge of the Snake River.* Awww, Hot showers! On an at-home-scale the showers would have been a one, maybe. After many days on the road they were not top notch, but darn fine. The next morning was the beginning of a wonderful day as we stepped out into the world with shower-clean bodies.
A memory jog from our friend, Greg, that his cousin lives in Clarkston, led us to a coffee date with Deanna and Parker. Having only met once previously, about 40+ years earlier, we were delighted to spend time with them again.
As well as biking the paths along the dikes in both Clarkston and Lewiston, we explored the east side of the Snake River along Highway 209 to Heller's Bar, where we camped for one night among the fishing crowd. Our bicycles on the back of Thistle looked strangely out of place in this parking-lot fishing village. Despite our weird appearance we were invited to share a campfire with neighboring folks. We love how camping breaks down barriers, but not all barriers it appears. Over the campfire, conversation turned to fishing, well, duh, and we learned that the fishermen here were made up of three groups -- the flyers, bobbers and sinkers, and although they all looked the same to us, they were all clustered within their fishing preference group. Marge pointed her finger and said "the flyers are up there on that hill, the sinkers are over there, and we're the bobbers here in this area."
After three days of Lewiston/Clarkston exploration we were ready to continue south on 95, but before we got very far, we stopped at the Nez Perce National Historical Park Museum and Visitor Center where everything changed. After enjoying the museum and a delightful conversation with the ranger, at his suggestion we changed our route to Highway 12 and then Scenic Byway 13 following the Clearwater River. It's been one of those "wow" drives as we've passed through the Nez Perce well-marked historic and archeological lands as well as inspiring geological splendor.
With late afternoon approaching we started thinking about a place to stay and could see on the map little tents east of 13, along Highway 14. And here we are! Camped at Castle Creek National Forest Campground -- just us with an entire campground to ourselves and more wow scenes.
This morning we continue on up the road to Golden, the first of two towns on this highway. Population not posted. We'll give it a 10, which is a generous guess based on the two houses we spotted. These photos represent the business district...
High up in the Clearwater Mountains, at road's end, is Elk City. We didn't drive to the end but Wikipedia tells us it is an old mining town. Current population 200 folks.
"…there ain’t no journey what don’t change you some."
~ David Mitchell
*This managed to drive our campground expenses for this trip up to a total of $55.14 for 18 days. Our average is now $3.06 per night, not bad but this hot-shower-weakness-splurge did damage our record a bit.