IDAHO FALLS, IDAHO—“Spangler, you bastard!” Those were Ed’s first words to me this morning when we awoke in Boise. I couldn’t tell if his invective was good natured because a tissue covered his nose and mouth. Yes, the Rhino Virus that has laid me low the day before had found it’s next victim.
Getting sick while traveling is something that happens to many, but never travel writers, it seems, because I can’t ever remember reading about it. And it is something I’ve never had to deal with before, but falling victim to the rhino is something I suffer infrequently. But it got me on the way to Ed’s Renton home; being tired and going from hot to cool to hot again made me the perfect target.
Rather than the usual sequence of congestion, scratchy throat, watery eyes, and general snottiness, the mauling manifested itself the morning of my day off the road when I awoke with Barry White’s voice. Self-medicating with fluids and rest, I was feeling pretty good when we hit the road. And then yesterday, when we aimed our bikes at US 395, a promising stretch of road between Pendleton, Oregon, and Boise, Idaho, I couldn’t seem to wake up. Even when the road was twisting and turning through some postcard perfect scenery, like this creek-side turnoff. All I wanted to do was lay down in the sun and sleep.
In all the years I’ve been riding bikes, I’ve never before fought to stay awake. And that was my daylong travel challenge. But to meet this challenge I sacrificed everything I travel for, to explore interesting diversions alongside the road, to see and photograph attention getting aspects of a small town’s landscape, and to talk with people willing to share their stories and observations about life in their hometowns. No, all I wanted was a big plate of rabbit food, a gallon or so of cold water, and 10 hours sleep. I got that last night, and today, after a nose-dribbling start, I’m back in passable traveling form, but I’m sticking with the rabbit food and water, with a club sandwich at lunch today at Pickles Place in Arco, Idaho.
Arco is a story in itself, but it will have to wait. Ed, who seems to have recovered more quickly from the attack of the Rhino than I, have just come in from a spectacular 45-minute Independence Day fireworks show, and it’s time for me to climb back into bed, just in case the Rhino is thinking about doing its Phoenix impression.