Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's a Long Train Ride to Idaho

I got on the train Sunday afternoon and thirty-some hours later I finally arrived in Sandpoint, Idaho. Of course, a lot happened in between. Especially as we got into Montana and started riding through Glacier National Park.




It's pretty stunning scenery and I even forgot about the lack of power outlets on Amtrak trains for a few hours as I watched the mountains go by. And then it got dark outside, and I wished that I could charge my laptop...

At around 1:40AM this morning, (about two hours late), the train pulled into Sandpoint, Idaho and got off the train at the nearly abandoned train station. I ventured outside and followed the directions I vaguely remembered from an email message I had received before my cell phone lost power. And as I crossed over a bridge into downtown, I realized that these are the moments I'll really miss after this trip is over. There's something exciting about walking around a city you've never been and finding a place you've never seen in the middle of the night. It turns out I remembered the directions pretty well, and within a few minutes I was walking up to the Inn at Sand Creek and picking up the keys they had hid for me.


They had generously put me up in a spacious and comfortable suite and after living in a train seat for nearly two days it was a welcome sight. After a great, (though brief), night of sleep I was up before 8AM to get ready for the day. I walked over to Outdoor Experience to talk with Kevin about borrowing a bike for the day.


They're just starting a cruiser rental program, and I was the very first customer, (though they were nice enough to lend me the bike for free). I even gave them some feedback on their rental forms. Here's the official inaugural rental in action:


I rode the shiny new cruise on an awesome bike path for three miles down to Dover, Idaho. That's where I met up with Steven of Sandpoint Seaplane Service.


He's been flying float planes for years, starting in Alaska, and he moved down here a few years back. In Alaska, Steven made deliveries to remote areas in the northern part of the state, but now he's primarily giving visitors to the area a unique view of the surrounding lake and mountains. I climbed aboard, buckled my seat belt, put on my headphones, and we were off- gliding on the water for a few minutes before we took off over Lake Pend Oreille.





It was a pretty spectacular ride. I thought it was beautiful from the ground, but it was breathtaking from the air. I said goodbye to Steven and rode back to downtown Sandpoint where I met up with Jim, an active member of Pend Oreille Pedalers, the local cycling club. Jim uses bike as his primary modes of transport, and though he sometimes has to get around in his car he certainly puts more miles on his cycle than on his automobile. The Pend Oreille Pedalers have been working on a lot of neat projects, including an action-packed bike week full of dozens of cycle-related activities and events. They held an incredible successful "Bike to Work/School" day, where hundreds of kids rode to school. And even more impressive- a lot of them rode to the school the following days as well.

I returned my bike to Outdoor Experience and checked out the A2B, an electric bike they selling. It's made by a company called Ultra Motor, and I'm embarrassed to say that this is the first I've heard of them on this journey.


I took it for a spin around the block and it was a pretty powerful ride. It reminds me of a more angular version of the Pi Electric Bike, though this one looks more like a motorcycle.

And now I've got a long evening ahead of me until my Seattle-bound train arrives at 11:40PM. Actually, I just checked the schedule and it's already thirty minutes late. Hopefully it won't be two hours late like last night...

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