Wide Open Spaces

Heading south out of Salmon, Idaho  I see the plains open up in a wide expanse of vegetation between the Bitterroots and Lemhi Mountain Ranges. It is quiet out here in a soothing way with much less traffic. I can probably count the cars that pass me each day on my hands and left foot. I stop briefly in Tendoy at the tendoy Store and speak with Viola, a white haired woman behind the counter. In her 80s and with an infectious smile, she had heard of me on the radio and knew i was coming. She shares a bit of history. Tells me that Sacajewea was not born in Salmon as they claim but 2 miles outside of Tendoy. It is an area rich with Lewis and Clark lore. A few of their encampments are nearby with the history exhibited on large wooden historical markers along the road. A short distance from the store I take a picture of the oldest working 1 room schoolhouse in Idaho, established in 1912. Like so many things it will one day close its doors and the stories, the laughter, the knowledge shared within will be gone forever. Late in the day I roll into Leadore which sits at 6000 feet and stay at the Leodore Inn which is run by Mike and Aleta Reis. A pleasant and hardy couple they interest me with their lifestyle and love of this valley. Mike is a taxidermist part time and Aleta makes porcelain dolls in her spare time. They tell me stories of the history of this town. How the population grew to 600 in the 1920s, dwindled to a few hundred in the 1940s and now sits at less than 75. A rail station once ran through here but was short lived and the tracks were pulled to support the WWII effort. I hear stories of people who come and go on the road. One night the state patrol dropped someone off he had picked up in a nearby canyon. The next morning the patron is seen walking outside down the street…….naked…….Mike goes out and says “Look, you gotta put some clothes on” at which the man replies “The birds don’t wear any” at which Mike replies ” Well I don’t see any feathers on your ass, so get some on”…………ahhhhh yes we never know what or whom we will encounter…….Tommorrow I roll out of here and will go over 1000 miles and 1000 flags.  As I finished today, which was particularly hard because it was 33 miles of gradual climbing all day, I looked upward and said thank you. You see, when I look up its not really the sky I see, but rather those faces of those who are gone, looking down on me, smiling. They carry me and protect me and hold the gate open for me when I start again tommorrow…On, On my friends.

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6 Responses to “Wide Open Spaces”

  1. Paul Schmidt Says:

    Mike:
    You continue to amaze us here in the midwest. Had some conversations with Russ Hart about your journey- you’re inspiring us by example.
    Congratulations on your 1000 mile marker- a huge accomplishment.

    Paul- Davenport, IA

  2. Suzi Says:

    love the stories, Mike. I was hoping to track down Sacajawea (how did Viola pronounce it?) on our trip west. Now I know to go to Tendoy.

    1000 miles mark is incredible, 1000 lives…well, no words can describe the impact of those numbers. Be safe, although I think you have many guardian angles accompanying you.

  3. Lindsey Asselin Says:

    Mike, you are so talented, you must be an author next as your writing is magnificent. Glad to hear (in a different post) that your feet are feeling better. I love reading your stories; thanks for sharing!

  4. Donna Gaudet Says:

    Mike…great post! Don’t get any ideas about any naked running now! hahahaha…hang in there. You are doing great.

  5. desiree Says:

    wow…..1000 miles, 1000 lives and how many steps behind you already…..you have beautiful thoughts at the end of your day when most of us would crash into bed!!! Thanks for al your words shared as it helps us out here see soem of your days through your eyes…….i agree with Donna above……keep the clothes on mike! We don’t want to read about you being arrested!!!! I am happy that you have had company along yuor way…..especially Peggy….look forward to meeting her…..keep looking up mike….it keeps it all real to know so many look down at you and smile …..love ya

  6. Paula Says:

    Mike,
    I started following your blog a few weeks ago, after you ran through Coeur d’ Alene and met a friend of mine. Your stories are so amazing and inspirational. I look forward to them every time you post. It’s a fantastic journey you are on. What a tribute. 1000 miles and 1000 lives…WOW! I am glad you feel the presence of those looking down upon you.
    Thanks you and be safe out there.

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