I’m At The Wrong Campground. Or Am I?

Pocatello, ID to Devil Creek Reservoir, ID

Packed but not loaded

My attempt to get to bed at a reasonable hour last night was moderately successful. It all depends on your definition of “reasonable”. In my case, it was shortly after 11:00 PM. My plan was to get up at 5:30 AM, raid the continental breakfast at 6:00 AM and be on the road by 7:00 AM. Or earlier. Although, with sunrise not occurring until after 6:30 AM, being on the road by 7:00 AM seemed like a decent enough plan.

Despite the comfort of the motel bed and an equally comfortable room temperature for sleeping, I really didn’t sleep all that well. I knew I was in for a long night when I woke after a not-so-pleasant (gross understatement) dream. At the time I thought it was probably nearing the time to get up. In reality, it was only 12:03 AM. Sigh. I hate when that happens.

After much tossing and turning with some slumber mixed in, 5:30 AM came around and my day was set in motion. The raiding of the continental breakfast went well as they had a waffle maker, cereal, oatmeal, english muffins, and juice (well, fake juice anyway). Everything to get my day off to a good start. Well, some fruit would’ve been a nice addition. Anyway, I had some of everything – and perhaps grabbed a few extra items for the road.

It was an early morning yesterday, I was up before the dawn. (Lyric alert … and yes, it was actually today, not yesterday)

My goal for the day was Devil Creek Reservoir which was only 80 km down the road. Well, down the road for MOST of the ride then it would be very much UP the road as there would be a pretty sizeable climb near the end of the day.

As rides go, this one was very much what you would kind of want (or expect) from a cycling tour. It was more scenic in nature than yesterday. There were some backroads and an interstate. There were some ups. And some downs. But neither notably drastic. There was a bit of headwind but not enough to be the story of the day. Essentially, there was just a bit of everything … in moderation.

There were also a few surprises along the way. The first wasn’t so ideal as it was more construction on Interstate 15. This time it was a little more perilous than yesterday’s situation. As such, there are no photos. The project centred around about 6 km of the southbound lanes which were being reconstructed … not just resurfaced. As a result, southbound traffic was being diverted over to the northbound lanes so that it was now just a single lane of traffic in each direction. Oh, and me on the narrow shoulder.

It certainly wasn’t an ideal situation and I’m sure the traffic didn’t appreciate my presence – quite frankly, I could think of a few other places I’d have rather been. However, the drivers ALL gave me as much room as they could and I never really felt at risk. Cozy? Yes. But not at risk. The biggest challenge came when the traffic was diverted back to the other side. Now, the cozy shoulder on which I had been riding was completely gone and replaced with pylons and an abrupt 20 cm drop to the new, but still unpaved, section of highway. The only way for traffic to give me sufficient room was for them to ride on the rumble strips on the left shoulder. Fortunately, they did. That said, I was more than a little happy when both southbound lanes returned to normal and I had a full shoulder on which to ride. I’ll say this though, construction like that certainly keeps you focused.

A different kind of truck stop

I continued down Interstate 15 when the next surprise came along. This time it was a trucker. When he passed me, it seemed like he was going a bit slower than necessary but I really didn’t think too much of it. However, I then watched as he pulled over onto the shoulder and stopped. I assumed he was having some sort of mechanical issues. The reality was he was slowing down to say hi. Apparently he was also a cyclist and wanted to know if I needed any water or anything. He even offered to cook me up a burrito … I won’t lie, I was wondering what kind of kitchen setup he had in that rig! However, at that point I was quickly approaching the day’s big climb and the thought of taking a break for some food just wasn’t high enough on my list of priorities. But I did take him up on his offer to top up my water bottles. We chatted for a bit and he even asked if I wanted a ride to Salt Lake City! I never actually mentioned Salt Lake City but it seemed like a reasonable assumption on his part based on where I was and the direction I was heading. Either way, I thanked him but told him that would be cheating – even though that will likely be my only chance to ride in a rig. Sigh. Oh well. We chatted a bit more before we returned to our respective cockpits and continued down the highway – with a honk of the horn as he pulled away.

The climb to Malad Summit was about 1,000′ over about (maybe) 8 km. It wasn’t the steepest climb of the trip but it was certainly a workout – both physically and mentally. Of course, the happiest moment came when I saw the Malad Summit sign … it was all downhill after that. And in a good way.

This isn’t the campground I’m looking for. It’s better!

I mentioned earlier that my goal for the day was Devil Creek Reservoir. More specifically, my goal was the Devil Creek state campground. I found it online and apparently it was $14 and tent-friendly. When I exited the interstate at exit 22, I followed the camping signs as that seemed like a reasonable course of action. However, as I approached the campground I couldn’t help but think this wasn’t the campground I was looking for. However, it was here. I was here. And the sign mentioned tents so I continued on to the office. Sure enough, they had tent sites. But this was definitely NOT the state park I had originally set course for. This place was MUCH better.

First off the hosts were incredible friendly and helpful. They gave me a site which had a tree for shade, an outlet for charging whatever, life-saving water … and there was even a WiFi connection. All for just $10. They even let me borrow a chair – in which I MAY have had a bit of a power nap. And later in the afternoon, as I was preparing supper, they offered a picnic table … providing I could help move it to my site. I could. I so definitely could. All in all they were really good people and I had a really nice chat with them later in the evening.

Mmmmm … buttery fried onions

As for supper, it was a BIT more adventurous today. For a couple of reasons. One, it was incredibly windy (although, apparently normal for this area) so my alcohol stove was definitely challenged – even when sheltered in the fire pit. Second, one of the aforementioned “extra” items I liberated from the continental breakfast many hours earlier was a handful of butter packets. I know, I know … butter doesn’t travel particularly well – especially in the hot days we’ve had of late – but there was a method to my madness.

I combined the somewhat … hmmmm …. mostly melted butter and the red onion I had purchased a few days earlier and fried up some onions to add to my powdered mashed potatoes. Ok, I know it probably paled in comparison to the baked potato I almost had at the Idaho Potato Museum but that moment was gone. And this moment was very much here. And I have to say the fried onion experiment was pretty successful.

The rest of the evening has been spent planning for tomorrow’s ride. A potentially dreadful ride. On the upside, there is to be a slight descent for much of the ride. However, the weather forecast is looking to negate that descent by calling for strong winds from the south. Really strong. And they are calling for them to start early. I don’t really know HOW early but I plan to get up as early as I can to see if I can beat them. Like it or not, tomorrow I will be a morning person.

Today’s totals:
Distance: 79.43 km
Ride time: 4:11:02
Average speed: 18.98 km/h
Maximum speed: 41.68 km/h

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