SEA TO SHINING SEA: A nice evening in western Idaho

Mules are a cross between a horse and a donkey and are sterile. You can't breed two mules and get a mule. But they're strong and gentle and, of course, stubborn. This one by the side of the road was curious and friendly. BY DENNIS FORNEY
June 7, 2013

DAY 24 - Muling our way across America. We cranked out 50 miles today, sweating in 90-degree heat, counting hair-pin switchbacks toward the summit of White Bird Hill, stopping to talk to a group of mules by the road, recharging occasionally with lemon-lime Gatorade, mini Reeses Cups and Milky Ways.
It was so nice to reach the top - a 2,200 foot ascension - after about three hours of chipping away.  Then we coasted nearly the whole 10 miles into downtown Grangeville where the first order of business was contracting for a root beer float.

In the Crema Café, purveyors of all kinds of great drinks including root  beer floats, a pretty young woman holding a toddler stopped to talk.  She looked familiar, if that's possible when you're in a part of the world where you've never been.

"I think I saw you guys today up on White Bird Hill.  That was me in the pick-up truck with the dog running behind.  I usually run with him but didn't have time today. But he has to get his exercise.  He's a bloodhound."

We crossed the hill on an old road - Old Route 95 - with steep but much more manageable switchbacks than the newer version of Idaho Route 95.  Grades on the older roads tend to be more gentle than on the newer roads.  There wasn't as much horsepower under the hoods when the older roads were built. When we merged with the newer Route 95 near the top of White Bird, I swear the geared-way-down logging trucks with their full loads weren't going much faster than we were.

The woman and her bloodhound were the only traffic we passed on the old road.  Nice.

Our total is up to 850 miles now,  We expect to make another 50 each of the next couple of days and if the dry weather and our luck hold out we should roll into Missoula, Montana by Monday.

BIRDING NOTES:  Robins everywhere, lots of black and white magpies, red wing blackbirds in all the cat-tailed bottom lands, and California quail running up and down the back roads. They have a top knot that makes them distinctive and a crow-like call - only higher pitched and with a silkier timber - that I'm listening too right now mixed in with the cooing of doves. Writing this from the Lions Club Park in Grangeville.  All the families that were here with their kids playing softball and T-ball have gone home and the day - under this big poplar tree - is beginning to settle and grow quiet. I'll include a photo of my office this evening.

Lots of open space out here folks.  No wonder Horace Greely said 'Go west young man.' You all be good.

Here are a few curiosities from today's travels.

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