At that point I had to jump onto the freeway for about 20 miles, rushing along with the trucks at 80mph, until I could exit off, at the appropriately named town of "Bliss" since it was heavenly being back on a winding two lane again -- this time the old US-30. Before I-84 this was the main way across this part of the country, more or less built along the old Oregon Trail. The old road winds along the Snake River and through towns with hot-spring resorts and small farms, and has little or no traffic. Just me, the solitary biker riding along, passing farmers who wave from tractors or from irrigation gates and occasionally from horseback. Or watching the combines harvest the summer wheat, or the crop dusters diving and turning like Magpies in flight. So few people live out here in this vast empty swath of the Intermountain West that one tends to wave at everyone for the sake of acknowledging that one isn't alone I suppose. Where US-30 runs into I-84 again I turned South on ID-77 and ID-81 down through the near ghost towns of Albion and Malta before crossing into Utah and "home".
People have lived here -- or tried to live here -- since the days of the early westward migrating pioneers, and their ghosts still haunt the landscape. Its another reason I love these solitary lonely roads. I can't imagine what it was like to live here -- 30-40-50 miles from the nearest "town", and a dozen miles from any neighbor. Its a tough land too -- and now days it takes giant machines to till and harvest thousands of acres to turn a profit. The lonely rancher or farmer just can't make it in this empty corner of the West.
From Snowville it's another 20 miles on I-84 before I can hop off and take a back road through the sagebrush and along the Northern edge of the Great Salt Lake marshes, past the giant factory where they made the Space Shuttle and Apollo Rocket engines and fuel, and along the original grade of the first Transcontinental Railroad and the Golden Spike historic monument. But all too soon this road runs into a freeway as well and I reluctantly turn up onto I-15 for the remaining 40 miles to home.
Soon I'm passing all the familiar landmarks; Brigham City, Fruitvale, Smith and Edwards, the Ogden grain elevators, Hill Field, Lagoon, the Oil Refineries, the radio towers for stations I used to work for... Then the freeway bends and there's the Union Pacific Yards, the Capitol, and downtown, and in the distance ringing the valley, MY mountains. I turn East on I-80 and head up to the East Bench and look down over the valley, now filled to the brim with more than a million people. I exit off and turn down hill towards Mom's place and pull into the driveway. It's been a long lonely day -- 10 hours on the bike, and 430 miles. But I'm home. And there's Mom and Ron waiting on the driveway. I pull in, turn off Angus, and drop the kick stand. Mom says "That took you a while -- you are the only person who can take the five hour drive from Boise and turn it into a 10 hour one -- next time take the Hummer please, so I don't worry." I just smile. It's good to be home, and I hear John Denver in my head "hey its good to be back home again, sometimes this old farm feels like a long lost friend..." And as much as I love riding solitary on a long and lonesome highway, its also great to be back with the family for a time, and eating pork chops, baked potatos, sliced tomato, and Mom's chocolate chip cookies.