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Idaho

June 7, 2010

(I am remiss in not posting an item pertaining to our visit with an old friend in Minnesota. It was a draft that never got posted. Please go back to May 31 for this. Sorry about that.)

Our efforts to locate a tire for Sebastian led us further south in Idaho. Our first attempt was at a Honda dealer in Rexburg. But the closest he could come was a tire that was too wide. Seb would have to get rid of his center-stand to make it work. We called another dealer further south who seemed to have a possible, but he was closing in a few minutes and he was half an hour down the road. We decided to limp down there anyway. By now Seb’s tire would hold air for about half an hour. So we filled it up and headed off arriving at the Honda dealer just as the owner was closing up and heading out. But hearing our predicament, he took us back in and we discovered that the tire they thought they’d had for us was a front. The only tire he had that would even fit the rim looked like it would belong better on a jeep! But he promised that he would be able to work something out to get us on the road as soon as possible Monday (everyone was closed on Sunday).

So we took a forced layover and stored up some energy until this morning. Back at the Honda dealer the parts guy, Wes, spent nearly an hour on the phone calling everyone he knew who might have a tire including the Michelin rep who was visiting a local racetrack. Tire makers provide tires for racers as a promotional strategy and typically pull them off the bikes after one or two race runs. They stockpile these pull-offs and give them away to special friends in the business. But, alas, the only tire he had for Seb’s bike was in a locked trailer in Salt Lake City.

We located a tire that would work, in Pocatello, but that was another 50 miles south, and it was raining, so that didn’t look like a good option. Finally, we located a tire of the proper size and style right in town when a late-opening dealer finally answered his phone. He saw an opportunity to make a buck and gouged Seb for $60 above what the catalog listed. But this was cheaper than another night in a motel, and we were getting desperate to get out on the road in the pouring rain. We bought the tire, the dealer mounted it and we were on our way.

By Seb’s calculations, he’s spent 10% of the trip so far driving on flat tires!

We headed west across the Idaho desert in a cold moderate rain, but saw no threat of tornados. Ha ha ha! For the first hour or so we were passing through many installations of the Idaho National Laboratories. I’m pretty sure the main research that goes on there is how to dispose of the US accumulation of waste from the nuclear power industry.

This was a pretty miserable ride. The road was in good shape but it was a two-lane main trucking route, and huge trucks carrying hay and straw coming the other way at 70 miles an hour created a tremendous blast of wind and covered man and machine with little bits of straw.

Out in the middle of nowhere, we saw signs for EBR-1 (Experimental Breeder Reactor-1)

EBR-1

the world’s first nuclear power plant. We turned off the highway and made for the site which was about two miles off. Coming the other way was an Idaho State Police trooper and he immediately turned on his flashers and flagged us down. His first questions were rather odd, asking us where we were going and explaining that this was a restricted access road unless we visiting the EBR-1 site. We couldn’t imagine where else he thought two bikes from Massachusetts loaded with camping gear were likely to be going, but it turned out that he was really concerned about our speeding (70 in a 55). As he was writing us up, Seb and I wondered when the speed limit had dropped from 65 to 55. The trooper decided to give one of us a ticket and the other a warning, but I asked him where and when the speed limit changed. After some discussion, another trooper radioed that the 55 limit sign that had been posted on our side road had been taken down during construction and had never been replaced. So our trooper caved and gave us both warnings instead.

EBR-1 was quite interesting. It was very well maintained, well labeled and virtually intact. We opted for a self-guided tour, but there was a guided tour if we’d cared to wait. One neat bit of trivia: When a reactor is shut down in an emergency, it is called SCRAMming. The derivation of the term is charming: the staff at the first nuclear reactor in Chicago included a physicist who stood at the ready with an ax near a cadmium rod that was suspended by a rope over a hole in the reactor. In an emergency, the rope was axed, the rod dropped, excess neutrons were absorbed and the reaction halted. The physicist was known as the Safety Control Rod Ax Man or SCRAM!

After EBR-1 the weather improved significantly. We saw blue sky off to the north, the direction we’d be heading after a few more westerly miles. We stopped for lunch in Arco, ground that I’d traveled nearly 35 years before on a previous MC trip with my friend Sky. I was crestfallen when not one of the 1020 population remembered me.

LB in Arco

After turning north, and heading for Sun Valley, we emerged into full sunlight for the first time in about 5 days. The scenery and road up to our present perch in the middle of the Sawtooth range was spectacular and great sport riding.

Sawtooth Mtn Range

Sawtooth Range

Sun Valley, ID

Galena Summit

Stanley, ID

I wish I’d known the roads better and that we weren’t already logged into the ISP computers as having been warned for speed.

Tomorrow we head north to Missoula, MT and the next day we should be in Canada. The weather forecast is finally good!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. jan smick permalink
    June 8, 2010 8:09 pm

    Peter, you are just like Dad! That wonderful gift of blarney and the ability to talk your way out of a ticket! I don’t think pop EVER got a speeding ticket–and not because he wasn’t doing it!
    love to you both Janny

  2. Sky Cole permalink
    June 8, 2010 8:47 pm

    Stanley looks pretty much the same as it did when we were there 30 years ago.

  3. MOM permalink
    June 9, 2010 4:06 pm

    OK. I will FEDEX the next tire. Are there FEDEX drops in the Yukon/BC?
    I have a FEDEX account with a discount. It should be less than $60, Right?

    So…How many miles is 10% of the trip so far? And what do your rims look like?
    Sure you do not want some Bear spray and a Satellite phone? Sorry just being a MOM. = )

    May the sun shine and your tires stay full.

    Much Love, Mom

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