Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Can't Miss It Curse

We knew that our trip to cycle the "Rails to Trails" in Idaho would be by the seat of our pants.  It seemed that we could not get enough information about the trails and their environs.  Perhaps my friend Roy and I have been spoilt by the excellent book "Cycling the Kettle Valley Railway" which describes in minute detail every twist, turn and bump on the KVR.

Since we were travelling somewhat unprepared, it's only natural that we would have to ask for directions (imagine a man asking for directions!).  We wanted to reconnoiter the trail at it's end in St. Maries and our first foray into asking for help began at what appeared to us to be a sporting goods store but turned out to be a gun shop.  The owner while friendly enough, seemed to want us out of his store pronto.  Even though we were considering purchasing some Clif bars.
A little of the give and get

The gun guy sent us over to the hardware store which has a bike shop in the basement.  Two helpful staff there told us how to find the trail.  "Just go up the road and on the other side of the bridge, turn left and make your first left into the sawmill.  Go past the sawmill and you'll see the trail.  Can't miss it."  We did.

While trying to find the trail just past the sawmill we stopped to ask an older lady picking raspberries in her backyard.  "Haven't a clue." is all she managed to mumble to us.  Not far along the same road we pulled to a halt to ask a fellow loading the bed of a small truck.  He got quite enthusiastic and went so far as to pull a pen from his shirt and scrawl arrows and lines across the map in Roy's lap.  I got the impression that Roy wasn't enjoying the action in his lap.  "Turn right at the end of this road and go until you see the baseball diamond.  Mind you there's quite a dip in the road at that spot.  You guys look like you can handle it.  Follow the road past the ball diamond and that curve you come across becomes the trail.  You can't miss it!"

Once again we did.
The Outlaw Bar and Grill - Mullan Idaho

A few days later after cycling the trail from its trailhead at Plummer, we made it to the end of the paved trail in Mullan where we pulled the bikes over in front of the "Outlaw Bar" to ask a portly, bearded dude where we could find camping in the area.  After a series of complicated and seemingly contradictory directions, Tony ended his shpiel with what was becoming a common Idaho phrase - "You can't miss it."  Roy and I looked at each other and knew we were screwed.  We'd have to find a campsite on our own.  We'd been hexed with the dreaded "Can't Miss It Curse".

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