Joey here.

Yesterday Jeffrey slipped under the radar. This morning, two people in Saltese saw him loading our gear and chatted with him.

L to R: Snowbank, Dave.

Dave lives in Saltese. He’s a retired building contractor, whose father was a Navy nurse for 3 decades. His sister-in-law was born and raised in Mexico. A friend with a cherry orchard praises his immigrant workers. Dave seems more concerned about migrating Californians and Seattleites inflating the price of land, than he does about good people who are willing to work.

L to R: Trike, Stacy.

Stacy grew up in Albany, NY, drove a NYC taxi for 15 years, spent a summer working at a national park, and decided she likes the itinerant life. She lives out of a minivan, says with a commercial driver license (CDL) one can find work anywhere, and is traveling to Alaska for her next adventure. Part of her motive for travel is to give her mom exotic places to visit. Stacy agrees with our observation that almost everyone is kind and means well. She thinks if more Americans travel as she does and we do, mingling with people from outside our bubbles, some of our country’s wounds would heal.

Today we did plenty of climbing, enjoyed fast downhills, and—as ever—rolled with the punches.

We weren’t fooled either.
Mountaintop in the clouds.
We too took the curves slowly.
A few miles later, the eastbound lanes of I-90 were closed for construction. Traffic was shunted onto the westbound lanes, with a single lane in each direction. We didn’t dare enter the motor lane. Jeffrey rolled past the Road Closed barrier. This trench was a sign of worse to come.
Threading the needle between these slits—wide enough to swallow a tire—was easy as long as Jeffrey stayed focused. There were obstacles every which-way that we didn’t photograph: ragged pits, deep trenches, lumps of stone and concrete, scattered equipment. The road descended for 10 miles of such stuff.
The construction ended and the lanes resumed their normal course. Then . . . oh no! Rumble strips on the shoulder! Traffic to the left, soft gravel to the right, we couldn’t go around them.

Every two to three seconds: Brrrr-RUMP! Brrrr-RUMP! Brrrr-RUMP! It rattled us. It slowed us way down.

After two miles, the rumble strips ended. We don’t know why.

A few miles later, they resumed. We don’t know why.

Jeffrey, unsure how long we had to put up with this, found a route off I-90. It would add 9 miles to our day. Should we try it?

After 4 more miles of Brrrr-RUMPs, we gave up and exited onto a small paved road.

We hailed a couple building a 1950s-style barbed wire fence.

L to R: Holly, Glen. Holly works with a health care organization that helps poor immigrants get green cards. Glen works with a waste management company.

Holly and Glen interrupted their work to give us valuable route advice. Following their directions, we pedaled 5 miles to the town of Superior, where we peeked at I-90 and saw that somewhere between our exit and the Superior on-ramp, the rumble strips had discontinued. We took a chance and got back on I-90. The pavement was smooth all the way to Missoula.

As valuable as the route advice was Holly’s perspective. She thinks America’s immigration and refugee system is too complex and expensive. She says we need to make it easier for immigrants to do the things that we, and they, want them to do, such as escape persecution, work openly, pay taxes, and earn the right to become American citizens. And she despairs of politicians putting aside their greed and anger to make this happen.

Holly calls herself a conservative. The term has been used and misused into meaninglessness. We call Holly and Glen thoughtful, humanitarian, and kind.

As you saw from our highway obstacle course, ”Closed” signs don’t stop us!
We paused on the ramp for a halva break as trucks roared by.
The Clark Fork River meanders back and forth under the highway.
We crossed it many times today.
Greg moved to Missoula from Arizona. A man of empathy and energy, he runs a company that clears motor crashes and rescues drivers in trouble. We had a friendly and enthusiastic discussion of the sorry state of the immigration system, the disaster of our criminal justice system, and the ominous trends in the world. Greg was glad to learn that immigrants have lower rates of crime and disease, and higher rates of labor force participation, than the America-born.
Photo by Greg. Jeffrey was glad to doff his helmet after 87 miles.
Ian gave us a special rate for a room for the night. He is troubled by the war in Ukraine. His heart goes out to refugees.

Since we left Seattle a week ago, our general direction has been east.

Next we turn south.

522 miles so far

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