Caribou National Forest :: Bear Creek – Idaho. Part One

We went backpacking in celebration of our two year anniversary last week.  Actually our plan was quite brilliant…we would spend two days and a night backpacking after which we would then spend the next night in the honeymoon suite of an awesome bed and breakfast (but that is another story).

today – the hike

We crossed the pallisades dam into “calamity campgrounds.”  They have the weirdest names for rec parks and trails in Eastern Idaho…

Calamity Campgrounds
Crater’s of the Moon
Dead Man’s Trail
Beaver Dick

Really? Who comes up with these? …but i digress

so we drove about six miles through a windy gravel road to get to bear creek trailhead (the mountain roads here are a million times better kept than oregon mountain roads–just sayin).

we lacked a map, and the sign didn’t tell us how long the trail was supposed to be, but by previous research we knew our plan was to hike about 7 miles in.  we never did find these hidden hot springs we had planned to find, maybe another time.

We hit the trail around 1 pm.  While on the trail we saw a moose not twenty yards away! Also countless snakes (I have a habit of almost stepping on snakes), mosquitos, nasty looking caterpillars, clicky locusts (they make a funny clicking sound when they fly away), squirrels, angry bucks and twitchy does… but the kicker was probably when we stopped to eat “lunch” at a pile of rocks in what we now call “scary meadow.” We heard a sound overhead that I thought was an airplane at first.  But airplanes make a constant droning sound.  This sound started up and then stopped, and then it happened again.

I felt my chest tighten and I’m sure my eyeballs popped out of their sockets.  I was eating a peanut butter nature valley granola bar.  Hummer looked at me, and I looked back at him and we knew we had to get out of there.  The sound was like a big animal breathing…which seems kind of odd to me now because we never would have heard it if it wanted to eat us…hummer thought it might have been a mountain lion.  We may never know…

Needless to say, I wanted to throw my granola bar and run away.  Hummer didn’t even bother zipping up his pack and we booked it out of scary meadow faster than you could say “boo.”

After awhile, our senses still peaked, we were probably a mile away from scary meadow we finally relaxed a little and tried to be as loud as two average people could be–so we didn’t run into anymore scary animals like that.

Next obstacle were the nasty caterpillars that were hanging out on some bushes that were overgrown on the trail…from the ground to the tops (about 6 feet) were covered in caterpillars. This was probably more unnerving to me than scary meadow…


And we made it through, alive and well. and i accidentally threw one of the caterpillars in the creek.  oops.

We found signs of human existence about six miles in.  So we decided to take a break here, eat a snack, take pictures of the sap covered trees, and go pee.  Little did we know this would be our camp site as well.

But we were still on our search for these natural and hidden hot springs… since we didn’t have a map it was hard to tell where exactly we were and how far we had to go.  So we continued on…

…and came to what appeared to be the end of the bear creek trail…so we took a right at the fork heading up north fork bear creek about an hour.  It was about 5 pm by now and there were no signs of the hot springs or any other kind of worthy camping spot… so we made an executive decision, decided to scrap the search for the hot springs, go back to that camp spot that had access to the creek and shelter, and buckle down for the night.  Did i mention it was overcast and raining?–perfect weather for hiking!

Backtracking we went, another hour to set up camp. We were starving by now and ate between the two of us, 6 MREs I think…

Read part two here.

The {Greyhound} Bus Trip Across the United States. Part Three

Okay.  The tower almost worked.  Seriously, though, this entertained us for hours!  I’m really surprised no one told us off for practically breaking their chair…or their table…or their flower pot.

Anyway…After Galesburg, our next stop was Chicago. Another 5 hours. Only to snag another bus that would take us back to our final destination which was the Quad Cities.  I really don’t know why we had to go to Chicago. Instead of just connecting with a bus that went directly to Davenport, IA. Chicago is 176 miles east of our final destination only to get on another bus headed back the way we came to Davenport, IA which was still not our final destination.  Either way, we eventually made it there.

For the record, Midwest Trailways buses are SO MUCH NICER than anything the Western States had to offer. Maybe it’s different now.  Thank you for being clean and spacious!

Chicago depot was arguably the most awkward place we had to wait for our connecting bus.  We were the only Caucasian people in the bus station, except for a group of Amish people.  I kid you not.

Context:  I grew up attending a high school that was a pretty good mix of all kinds of races, Pauler was a home schooled boy in a retirement town.  He told me once he could probably have counted the people he knew who were not white, on one hand.

So one could imagine the culture shock we felt.  Although I have more experience with other racial cultures (having grown up in such a diverse place) than Hums, I am still a by-product of the culture I was raised in …I can pretend like I am all tough and know all kinds of things because I have black, mexican, asian friends.  But let’s be honest here.  I am still painfully white.  And that’s okay.

There was a young teenage girl traveling with her grandma.  We were all waiting for our respective buses to arrive so we could get on with our lives.  For one reason or another, the teenage girl became agitated with one of the terminal/guard people because she was disrespecting her grandma or something. I missed the first part of the argument.

It got pretty heated and the girl started threatening to jump the guard lady.  

The grandma was trying to get her granddaughter to be quiet, but it was futile.
Eventually these two big guards, upwards of 6’6 and at least 200 pounds easy, had to come and tell the girl that if she didn’t calm down they would have to void her ticket and she wouldn’t be able to leave Chicago or get arrested or something like that.

I was intrigued, and amused that the girl didn’t seem to care about the implications of yelling at Bus Station Personnel, she just wanted to get up in everybody’s faces and tell them to stop disrespecting her grandma. Eventually, I’m pretty sure her grandma’s voice finally penetrated her brain and she let it go.

Then our bus finally arrived. We traveled awhile longer and finally got to my parents. Grungy, greasy, and tired. On the way back to school, we packed my bike with us…but that is a story for another time. I’d like to say we’ve learned our lesson about packing light…

And thus ends The Bus Trip Saga.

Read Part One. Read Part Two.

The {Greyhound} Bus Trip Across the United States. Part Two.

Where were we?  Oh yeah, we finally made it to Omaha, NE.  By this time the hours were all melting together, I no longer knew what day it was or how much longer it would be till we got there.  Okay okay, maybe that’s a tad melodramatic.

All I knew was that the bus trip to our final destination took a total of 50 hours or something ridiculous like that. One Way.  This road trip normally takes about 24 hours in a car. And after our little vacation, we would have to do it all over again.

I don’t remember anything cool or exciting about Omaha, other than that I hate Nebraska because there is nothing but corn and straight flat road.

The Rules: Rules 1-6. No Foul Language. No Aggressive Behavior. No Hitting Machine. No Shaking Machine. No Food or Drink Set On Machine. All Rules that Apply When You Are On The Motorcoach Will Also Apply.

Next Stop: Galesburg, IA.  Here we had like a 4 or 6 hour layover till the next bus came. What was maddening about this layover was that we were only a 45 minute drive away from our final and intended destination. 45 minutes!! But my parents wouldn’t come pick us up. Needless to say we had some down time where we could walk around, go pee in a real toilet, breathe fresh air, wash our pits in the bathroom.  It was then that we had the brilliant idea to go clean up in our respective bathrooms.  One of us stayed to watch our goods while the other went to go clean up.  I used the only soap I had available to wash my hair: hand soap.

If I could explain to you how disgusting I felt, that there was any kind of soap in the bathroom was an incredible blessing.  I took my shirt off, I had tank top underneath, bent my head into the sink got my hair wet and proceeded to wash it with copious amounts of hand soap. then i washed my armpits and my face, all the while talking to a nice lady who looked at me with pity and an eye of “I totally know how you feel, because I’ve totally done that before.”

It was oddly comforting that she knew how I felt.  And it felt sooogood to finally be able to wash my face and not be so stinky anymore.  I think by now we had been traveling for around 36 hours (this was the first chance we had to clean up).

For the record, hand soap doesn’t make very good shampoo, but it will do if it’s all you’ve got.  

And so, it was my turn to wait for Pauler to get back from cleaning himself up.  He washed his hair and shaved so he would presentable when we finally got to my parents.

I’m not sure how presentable you can be when you’ve been traveling on a bus for two days.

Rules 7-12. No Foul Language. No Aggressive Behavior. No Hitting Machine. No Shaking Machine. No Food or Drink Set On Machine. All Rules that Apply When You Are On The Motorcoach Will Also Apply.

There were some arcade games in the depot with rules posted on them.  The first set of rules: 1-6 were exactly the same as rules 7-12.

Anyway.  We became super bored and so decided to see what and how many things we could get to balance on each other without falling over.  This was a really hilarious game to us at the time.

Part One. Part Three.

The {Greyhound} Bus Trip Across the United States. Part One.

The very first time Hums and I traveled together was a 100 hour bus trip across the country and back. We were almost engaged at the time. It was really important to me that my family meet him before anything official happened in our relationship.

And so it went something like this:

Two days on a bus to Illinois. Two days back.  Neither of us had cars, and we for sure couldn’t afford two plane tickets. So between the two of us we split the cost of the bus tickets.

This story, is all about the bus ride.

Starting point: Rexburg, Idaho. We hitched a ride from a friend who owned a truck, to the bus station so we could catch our bus late that night. We were eager, to say the least.  We had stocked up on lunch meat, cheese, bread, Sobe, dried papaya, and no water.

Enter: The bus.  We had waited in the first station for about an hour (we had to be there early…I really have no idea why we had to be there so early, now that I think about it).  We got stuck in the very back of the (mini) bus and we met a really nice Mexican man who didn’t speak English.

Pauler is one to start up conversations with anyone around him, especially if they speak Spanish.  

He is really good at speaking Spanish.  We found out this Mexican man was headed to a nearby city in search of work.  If memory serves, I think he had left his family to find work there.  But he was a really nice, happy guy.  I even understood parts of their conversation because at that point Pauler was trying to teach me Spanish.  He wished us good luck on our journey.

We finally arrived at the Salt Lake City bus depot approximately 4-6 hours later.  By this time it was 4 a.m. and we were seriously regretting the decision to take a bus trip.  But we still had 90 hours to go…


We did end up sleeping on the floor.


There was one small older man who asked us if we could watch his stuff while he went outside for a smoke.  He wore a yellow hard hat and was probably like 5’6. I’m not sure why he trusted us. I felt all my senses on high alert pretty much the entire bus trip.

We said sure, and I was a nervous wreck the entire time.  If Pauler and I weren’t traveling together, I would never have made it out of Salt Lake…

We were bound for Denver, CO after that and again we ended up in the very back of the grungy, nasty bus…this time right next to the toilet (imagine a port-a-potty)…for at least 12 hours.

As memory serves, I threw up the contents of my stomach and got a major kink in my back, from not being able to lie flat to sleep.  I was miserable and greasy and I felt really small and insecure without any makeup on.

It was this trip that convinced me we could handle anything that came up against us in a marriage situation.

Throughout the entire trip there were a few people/couples that traveled almost as long and far in the same direction as us, and so we developed a kind of silent camaraderie.  And the back half of the bus became the “ghetto.”

I heard there was a guy with his pregnant wife in the front who became upset because his wife needed to pee or something and the bathroom was occupied and “the King of the ghetto[Back of the Bus]” wouldn’t let him through.  It was pretty funny.  Mostly, I think, in part to how miserable we all were.  It was all in good fun.

We made it to Denver, and passed right through. Denver is arguably the cleanest city in America.

Next stop was Omaha, NE.  Was it the next day? Time seemed to stop. By now we were dying of thirst. Remember, we hadn’t brought any water with us. We learned a very important lesson that trip about water. The cheese in our little cooler was beginning to go mushy because the ice packs had melted forever ago.  The meat we had probably should have been thrown away, but we didn’t have money for extra food, and it seemed okay enough. No one got food poisoning.

We had little else to do but to entertain ourselves with thoughts of a shower, laying flat on a bed, and seeing people we actually knew to keep from going insane.  Most of the time we slept because that was less miserable than being awake.

Greyhound Bus Culture is infinitely different than Airplane Culture.

The next installment: a bath in a bus station restroom, a balancing act, and we are almost there.

Read Part Two. Read Part Three.