After 3 days of being fed delicious Thanksgiving leftover meals and a wonderful time at Rachel's and Patrick's home I leave Boise just before sunrise. The two have been amazing hosts and very inspirational to me. Both met in New Zealand while travelling the world by bicycle in the early 90s. They have been cycling on all 5 continents for numerous years and shared countless incredible stories with me. They just came back from cycling across the USA this summer and throughout my stay invited other cyclist over for dinner, what made for some great evenings.
Boise itself leaves me behind with the impression of being a very progressive, colorful and diverse city. The Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, which was build as an opposition to racist movements in the state of Idaho, impresses me in particular. Not only as a German citizen but also as person trying to be conscious of global injustices of the past and the present I feel the strong importance of places like this to remind us regularly of the importance of protecting the human rights.
While my initial plan was to go over to Yellowstone National Park [so you had the right idea, Helgi] it's time to realize that winter is approaching. I simply deem it too late for Yellowstone and will continue south-eastbound instead towards Moab in Utah. I will take some slight detours and try to squeeze in some off-road riding in Nevada, stop in Salt Lake City and then hope to make it over the Wasatch Mountains [west boundary of the Rocky Mountains] in the remaining days of decent weather. It must be acknowledged that I have been extremely lucky with the weather since I left the Pacific coast and that winter seems to be a bit delayed here this year. However, I realize I am again on the edge of winter. I have some flashbacks of my "escaping winter mission" in northern Canada and people that I meet ensure me, that it's time to hit the road and go south.
With great, sunny weather I make my way through southern Idaho today. It has been a rather short visit, but to me it was an utmost priority to make the tour to Idaho. It's the home state of my beloved mashed potatoes! [Every car even has "Famous potatoes" on their license plate].
In the late afternoon I start a rather long climb with great views towards the snow capped mountains of northern Idaho. About three quarters up I pitch the tent just before darkness and cook myself the last potatoe mash in Idaho in front of my tent.
I can't really remember if I mentioned that before... I am finally out of bear country! While I never had any issues this is still fantastic news for me [not just for you, Helgi]. Not having to pack\unpack the food bear safe every evening\morning and being able to eat around my camp spot is a huge time saver. I now have my first breakfast and my dinner at camp in the dark preserving precious daylight time for riding.
Throughout the beginning of my trip I always asked other outdoor travelers which bear safety measures they take. Well, what can I say... From people leaving their food in their tent to people buying themselves guns for bear protections there was the full spectrum. Everybody seems to handle it slightly different. Here is what worked great for me:
1. I carry bear spray,
2. Stow my food away in an odor and bear proof container [Ur-sack generously lend to me by Tom in Alaska that I only have to send back to him now and saved me a lot of money] at least 200m away from my tent
3. I never ate around camp
4. Make some noise in terrains with little oversight [usually I just played some music with my phone]
With many folks getting away with much less stringent measures it remains in question if all of this was really necessary. For me personally the answer is a clear "yes!". Why? Because it did let me sleep with absolute peace of mind every single night!