Day 10 Tuesday, July 19 Boise Rest Day 0 miles
“And on the seventh day God rested.” Okay it was the tenth day for me, but still the concept is the same. I could not have picked a better spot or more gracious people to take a full day of rest after riding over 500 miles over this first stretch into Boise. I do want to tell you about this special network of people I have discovered called “warmshowers” (www.warmshowers.org), but first a rundown of the day’s events.
From an earlier post you will see that learning to post pictures in a blog site is a lot harder than learning to ride a bike. I think I am getting the hang of it, but I am not quite ready to say, “Look ma! No hands.” I spent much of the morning at a picnic table on a deck at my hosts’ house drinking coffee, eating fresh banana applesauce bread, and playing with the pictures until I finally got it right (Thanks Ian for the hints!). Much of the morning I also had a very enlightening and engaging conversation with John Paul, a much more seasoned travel than I. I am just a neophyte. I have met some serious travelers who have learned to make it a lifestyle. Phew…
I am pleased to report that REI gladly replaced by ailing tent with a brand new one. The good news is that it is the same size and one pound less than my previous tent. Believe me, one pound can make a difference after 30 miles of climbing at altitude. Unfortunately, T-Mobile was not able to be as helpful. We have a game plan, but there is a chance my posts will be coming in waves again over the next few days as I move in and out of cell phone range.
After looking at the map I am going to do another short day tomorrow (about 35 miles) and stay in the pioneering western town of Idaho City. That will give my legs another half day of rest before encountering a series of passes over the next 7 days as I make my way over the Continental Divide and into my birthplace of Bozeman, Montana. Word has it that the morning temperatures are right at the freezing level near Stanley and Salmon. My hosts report that this next stretch is known for its number of hot springs just off the road–some as wonderfully rustic as a simple barrel with a pipe running into it. Just strip down and jump in! Oh lordy…life is good!
I do want to tell you about this Warmshowers network. It’s a very simple concept. The network is made up of cyclists who host other cyclists while they are out touring. My hosts Patrick and Rachel have been just wonderful. They have convinced me that they look forward to sharing stories with the fellow cyclists just as much as I look forward to a warm shower, a home-cooked meal, and a real bed to sleep on. Last week, on my first night out I stayed with Rod and Laura, who not only fed me, gave me a place for my tent, but also rescued me as my tent pole snapped for the first of two times this week.
It’s not only the hospitality that is wonderful. In both cases I emailed my potential hosts less than two days before my arrival. In both cases, they let me know they were delighted to have me come, gave me directions and asked if I had any dietary needs before cooking a meal. In both cases they went out of their way to make sure I had what I needed to recover from that day’s riding and also for the following day’s ride.
My hosts here in Boise have created a mini Garden of Eden on their double-sized lot. I have been surrounded by flowers, trees, and ferns under the shade of a well-designed natural canopy and haven for birds and butterflies. I enjoyed the same feeling of sanctuary in the retreat-like setting of my hosts in Silverton.
The sacredness of it all is enhanced by the natural trust that is displayed in this loose network of people. There is a shared interest in cycling, but beyond that my hosts didn’t really know who I was or what strange behaviors I might bring with me. I too have no idea who it is that has decided to host a tired and thirsty wandering cyclist. All I know is that they are in the Warmshowers network and they happened to live about where I wanted to end my day’s ride. This network is built on trust, enjoyment, hospitality and reciprocity. No one signs a waiver!
We have become cynical in America. We worry about protecting ourselves and about issues of liability. We are often wary of each other. We are certainly wary of strangers who might want to stay the night in our home. Even in the church I am not sure how easily one could call 24 hours ahead of time and say, “I am a fellow Presbyterian traveling through your town. Any chance you could put me up for the night? By the way, I’d love it if you could have a home-cooked meal ready and I prefer red towels to green!”
Warmshowers is a throwback to a more innocent time. Or maybe it’s a toss forward to a new and more trusting time. Either way…my soul tells me that this is how God intended it when She created the Garden of Eden.