DAY 63 (8/12/05): Stanley to Banks, ID 97.7 mi. After a very chilly morning at the campsite, the sun finally warmed up the air as I made my way around the Sawtooth mountains. I also warmed up a bit because I had to climb to the top of Banner Summit (7201ft). From there, I decended a 3-mi, 6% grade through gorgeous pine forest and then drifted downhill at a more relaxed clip to the tiny town of Lowman, ID. The main attraction there, it seems, is the "Open Door Store," which is located in an ancient trailer with the door open. There is almost no merchendise in the store, and what merch is there is labled with hand-written price tags. Some of the stuff there has been around long enough that one price has been crossed out and a new one written in. I bought a bag of chips that looked to be less than 5 years old, and then headed west on the Banks-Lowman road, which is one of the very few ways to cut west across ID while avoiding Boise (in the southwest corner of the state). The road is an awesome canyon road, and in the direction I was going it was mostly downhill, affording great views of the river in the bottom of the canyon as well as the steep canyon walls. The road was pitted from old rockslides, with occassional fallen pieces of rock still on the road. I emerged from the canyon in the town of Banks, which is basically a gas station and a river-rafting outfit. From there, I went north and up-hill to a USFS campground about 10mi north of town. That ride was much less fun than the Banks-Lowman road, being quite narrow and traffic-y. There aren't a lot of roads in this part of the state, so all the traffic gets funneled onto a few 2-lane canyon roads. As a bike your options are limited because the shoulder ranges from narrow to nonexistant and the abrupt wall of the canyon is less than 3 ft from your right shoulder. But, I made it through without too much trouble, and ate my ramen noodles in the shade of the tall pines at the campground. From there I could hear the rush of the white waters of the Payette river that carved this canyon. DAY 64 (8/13/05): Banks to McCall, ID 62.0 mi. Today I rode uphill almost the whole day, at first continuing my ride out of the Payette river canyon. Once I came out of the top of that canyon, I dropped down a little bit into a valley with lots of farmland and cows. This appears to be a big fair and rodeo weekend here in ID, as I passed both a rodeo and a huckleberry festival on my way past Cascade Lake through a few small towns. I had a pretty consistent headwind throughout this part of the ride and was feeling pretty tired from the high mileage yesterday, so when I arrived the town of McCall, which had a real grocery store and a nice campground, I decided to call it a day. I had my first hot shower since Arco, and spent the rest of the day eating and lounging around. The campground overlooked the bustling McCall international airport, where biwing sight-seeing planes and crop dusters land and take off every few minutes. DAY 65 (8/14/05): McCall to Grangeville, ID 100.9 mi. This morning I finished all the climbing that had begun yesterday and then proceeded into a really steep descent into the next valley. I stopped in the tiny town of New Meadows for a surprisingly good cappucino (the west coast must be close!). There, I picked up highway 95, which is the only north-south artery through the midsection of ID. Fortunately, the shoulders on this road are pretty wide for the most part, and it is a fairly enjoyable ride. The road at first winds its way through Hell's Canyon, carved by the Salmon River. The steep hills on either side of the road are very dry and the whole place looked like it could burst into flame at any moment. Oblivious to this, hundreds of people float along the Salmon river in brightly colored rafts and kayaks, making me wonder for a moment why I was sweating it out in the brutal sun. At least I was going the same direction as the rafters (ie downhill). The only problem with going downhill in a canyon is that at some point you know for sure that you will have to climb out again, and what a climb it was this time--nearly 3000 ft of unbroken ascent. In fact, as I learned from a little 'historical marker,' there was no north-south road in ID at all until 1923, when the first highway 95 was built. The old road has so many switchbacks that if you add up all of the turning, that 14mi climb involves turning in 37 complete circles. The new road, which has basically no switchbacks, was blasted into the side of the canyon wall and climbs in a straight line out of the canyon. I was hot, parched and exhausted when I arrived at the top of the canyon, and because the climb is out of a canyon and not over a mountain pass, there was relatively little descending to do on the other side, just a few 100 ft I would guess. So, I still had to pedal myself to the town of Grangeville, where I had decided that I would treat myself to a motel. You can imagine my dismay when both of the motels in Grangeville were booked solid (why? I can't even begin to imagine) and I ended up camping at the city park next to the public pool instead. Luckily, I was too tired to care much about where I slept and the grass in the park was nice and soft. DAY 66 (8/15/05): Grangeville to Lewiston, ID 79.5 mi. One thing that I haven' t really commented on yet is the proclivity of people in the driest parts of ID t o irrigate their fields between the hours of 11am and 2pm. I think Joel got pretty sick of me ranting about that, but it just seemed so wasteful to me in such a dry place to spray water into the hot dry air in the middle of the day. So, you might the thrill that went through my environmentalist heart when, at 4:30 a.m., I was awakened by the sound of drenching water from the park's underground sprinkler system hitting the walls of my tent. At around 6am, I got up and spread my tent out to dry on the picnic bench, then packed up and headed north on highway 95 again. True to the tinder-box feeling of this area, the entire skyline to the east was occluded by thick smoke from an on-going wildfire. After riding a big of open countryside, I entered yet another canyon, this one carved by the Snake river, and followed that canyon through to the city of Lewiston, which is right on the border with WA. There is a huge paper mill right on the river in Lewiston, so the whole city smells faintly of over-cooked broccoli. In Lewiston, I was able to treat myself to the motel room that I was denied last night. I went to a bike shop to get a new chain and some new grip tape for the bike, and stopped at DQ on the way back to get a large chocolate shake for dinner. Not the most nutritionally balanced meal, I know, but trust me after riding through the desert on a 95F day, nothing sounds better.