Sunday, July 4, 2010

Celebrating the Fourth of July and Freedom - Day 10

It's a BIG DEAL here.  The July 4th celebrations bring out the stars and stripes on everything, and flags too, patriotism and all things American.  George and I were wished a "Happy 4th of July" by servers, service station attendants and strangers.  And that was after they all saw the Canadian flag on my aerial.  And in true Dennis Hopper/Peter Fonda "Born to be Wild" fashion, we celebrated by riding some of the best back roads of Idaho. Okay, so it's not 1969, and we now wear helmets rather than show our gray hair.  But we can pretend can't we?

Besides the significant number of roadkill deer beside the road, nothing was more iconic and impressive than this 4th of July parade that we happened upon in Clark Fork, Idaho (population 530, all within the one square mile area that is the town).  We were going to head through the town at the usual 35 mph, but when we got to the portion of Highway #2 that serves as the Main Street, we were diverted to take backstreets by the local sheriff.  When we asked if we could park to see the parade instead, he was surprised and pleased, and ushered us to a parking spot on Main, half a block from the action.  Truth is, we could have joined the parade if we met the minimum decoration requirement; an American flag on a stick! The parade and parade watchers were obviously all acquainted as names were called out regularly.  "Hey, Grandpa, I'm over here on the fire truck!  look at me!"  Or, "Ashley, what are you doing after the parade?"  Candy was tossed to bystanders from home made floats promoting the church youth group and local businesses, vintage cars were driven by smiling, waving, proud owners, and the town ambulance drove by with its siren wailing.   Kids scurried to pick up any candy they didn't catch, stashing it in a bag provided for the purpose.  Our favourite participant was the old bloodhound, who seemed either bored or grumpy in his costume, as if to say, "Come on, folks, can we please get this nonsense over with?  I have work to do."  We slipped away from the "crowd" with a sweet sense of this American tradition from the small town America perspective.

We then turned south, trying some back road routes in the direction we were headed.  They proved to be good choices as we weaved our way through valleys, summits and farms on exceptional country roads where the speed limit was often 70 mph (120 kph), an amazing testimony to the supremacy of the automobile (and motorcycle).  We settled in at the speed limit (most of the time), while watching every movement beside the road ahead for deer to emerge, which they did several times.

Although it was chilly this morning (50 F, 10 C), it slowly warmed up, and thankfully, did not rain.  The sun, having slept in on the National holiday, began the late shift about 4 PM, just as were pulling into Moscow, Idaho, our unplanned overnight stop.  We had ridden 355 very enjoyable and diverse miles (575 kilometres).

It truly was a remarkable day of freedom.  For me, the spectre of Parkinson's Disease did not prevent one minute of blissful enjoyment.

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