Picked Up-- On the Vineyard Now

After getting a good night’s sleep and shelter from an afternoon storm in the sheepherder’s wagon in Ovando, I was on my way to Missoula. The fog was thick that morning and I biked with all of my layers on for a good part of the morning biking along the Blackfoot River. Through valleys and along mountains and thinking of Norman Maclean.

Started to find myself in real Ponderosa Pine forest beside the river and biked through some experimental forests managed by the University of Montana. Felt lucky to be following the river into the city as the ride was mostly downhill and I reached town by noon.

Once in town I sought out Allana, the warmshowers host who’d hosted Ben when he biked through town. She was holding my spare bike key. We met up at her house and went for lunch at Masala where we met up with another Udaller—Rose Bear Don’t Walk. Was fantastic to catch up with her and get to know Allana. Felt like I’d made so much happen in Missoula within a matter of three hours.

My host in Missoula, Alyx S, was an NYU grad who I was put in touch with by Emma Spett. He was incredibly welcoming. We talked for a while about his life working in Missoula—and how to find similar quality of life in other cities. He took me out to dinner at Tapas restaurant on the south side of the Clark Fork river and we feasted on ice cream at The Big Dipper afterwards.

Left Missoula the next morning hoping to make it all the way to St. Regis. 60 miles out of Missoula I got irreparable flats in front tire and my spare. A family on their way to Portland, Oregon stopped on the side of the road, packed my bike into their tiny Subaru, and drove me to Kellogg, ID. Felt like time travel to move that quickly.

Wild-camped outside of Kellogg by a small creek off of the Coeur d’Alene Bike path.

Woke up early the next morning to avoid being seen and biked the Coeur d’Alene trail 40 miles to Harrison, ID. Trail followed the river most of the way. Had my first moose spotting of the trip. Once in Harrison, I followed lake Coeur d’Alene north to the city of Coeur d’Alene. When I got into town I biked into Ironman athletes completing their day. Was amazed by the athleticism of those follks. I’d biked the same distance as them… but I hadn’t swum two miles and run a marathon.

Stayed in Coeur d’Alene for a day with a warm showers host, Andrew. He’d toured the world on bike with his brother and shared some incredible stories with me. He advised me to travel a different route across Northern Washington to take advantage of more beautiful scenery in northern Cascades National Park. More hills, but much more beautiful.

Met with another cyclist in Coeur d’Alene about to depart on an American Perimeter bike tour. Was jealous of that kind of commitment for a trip. So much to see in 9 months!!!

Left Coeur d’Alene and started the 140 mile journey to Fruitland Valley Vineyard in Hunters, WA where I’d scheduled to WWOOFF for several days. That night I wild-camped on the side of the road where I couldn’t be seen. Previously logged forest with nice flat ground and limited bush cover. Next day’s ride to the vineyard was mostly uphill… but was short because of the distance I covered that day.

When I arrived at Fruitland Valley Vineyard no one was there. There was a note on the door and peanut butter and jelly sandwich fixings were left inside for me to make myself lunch. I explored the grounds and quickly fell in love with the place. John and Leah, the farm owners, had built a straw house beside the vineyard and had a permaculture garden that meandered all over the backside of their home. They kept goats, chickens, and ducks. They had an alfalfa field on either side of their vineyard. When I walked out to the edge of the property I could see the Columbia river [technically Lake Roosevelt at that point] and the mountains walled the valley.

For the past few days I’ve been working 6 hours with John and Leah during the day in exchange for a camp spot on their land and meals. I’ve set up wasp traps, bird netting, cut lumber, painted frames, harvested tomatoes, and cleaned dishes. Feeling full out here. Probably has something to do with the scenery, the company, and the meals that I wolf down. Falling into small-town life was easy.


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