I'm passing the dam but it's been in my sight for so long that I don't really feel like I've gone anywhere. Good thing it's pretty or I'd be sick of it by now.
There is a runner up ahead who I can't seem to catch. She has long, dark hair and an impressive, steady stride. I'm pretty sure I've seen her running around town before. One of those people I wish I could be more like. She's clipping along at a 6.5 minute mile pace, not even sweating or breathing hard.
"That's stupid," Barbie scoffs, "marmots are vegetarians."
Okay then, maybe it would be giant flesh eating ants. Flesh eating ants or caribou. Wait...those are vegetarians too. They wouldn't hurt their own kind...would they? Does Coeur d' Alene have caribou? Are they extinct? Why can't I catch that girl?
Suddenly I realize that I've been approaching this journey from the wrong angle. I've been ignoring the action, retreating into my head.
I begin to steady my flailing limbs, slow my breathing; start thinking about what I'm doing instead of where I'm going. Expanding my awareness of my immediate surroundings. Feeling the muscles in my legs working, and setting a reasonable pace.
Now I'm using what I've learned from years of running. Now I'm passing the dark-haired girl. Gliding by in a whir of urethane.
Today is the 4th of July and I'm having my very first long distance longboarding adventure. My route will take me from downtown Spokane to Coeur d' Alene along the Centennial Trail. A distance of approximately 38 miles.
Once I tried and failed to ride my bike to Idaho. But that was before I could run more than a mile without throwing up. Now I'm good to go for at least 13.1 miles on foot, maybe more.
It's hard to explain why I thought that running more than 10 miles made me qualified to skate almost 40. I guess the important thing is that I believe it does.
I'm having trouble thinking because Taio Cruz is singing loudly over a thumping baseline.
"Shhhhhhhh," I hiss. There's no one around. I'm not wearing headphones.
Barbie hates this song.
"I'm only gonna break break your, break break your heart," Taio croons.
God damn it. Of all the songs I know; all the underground indie rock, all the punk, all the classics, all the sonatas and concertos...this is the song that my brain chooses to motivate me with for the next four hours.
"I'm only gonna break break your, break break your heart," he repeats, more insistent this time.
I give a little sigh, "I always knew you would."
The Spokane River
Eastern Washington is secretly a model train set. I'm reluctant to leave the trail because I know that as I walk from the path, the buildings and the trees will become smaller and smaller until my shoes threaten to crush them. Then I'll see the astroturf and the tiny plastic tree bases topped with dyed spanish moss, carefully dabbed with a slightly darker green paint for realism.
Maybe I'm delirious. Time to stop for water.
Arbor Crest Winery is atop this hill. You can squish it with your fingers.
From here it's hard to argue that this side of the state isn't pretty. Western Washington gets a lot of credit for its rain forests and mossy, cushy, green grass.
The landscape under the Big Sky is rougher. It's windswept and sharp, these plants don't look soft, they look sturdy. They hold up to the unforgiving sunlight of the high desert torching them for 12 hours a day, then they reach up their spiny little branch hands to catch the snow that will cover them completely from December to March.
It's a different kind of beauty.
Things start to get a little choppy near the border. State Line is known for strip clubs, I guess their patrons don't often hop on the bike and peddle over for some entertainment. This part of the trail seems like an afterthought, a last minute idea that was abandoned the second someone said, "Hey guys, there are boobies over here!"
Corbin's Ditch area
Not at all ditch-like. There is an awesome waterfall just upriver from here.
A trail marker
This section of the trail is ending and I don't know where to go. I catch up to a biking couple at the traffic light and ask for directions. They point out the next trail head as they shift impatiently, dancing from toe to toe as though they'll explode from the waiting.
'Bicyclists are high strung,' I decide, 'like skiers.'
The man's eyes are wild, he looks consumed with joy and adrenaline. "Sometimes we cross against the light," he shouts apologetically.
I'm not sure if he's shouting to be heard over traffic or because he's so excited, but I like that he thinks I have some kind of bicycle law authority. "There are no laws in Idaho," I reply.
He laughs and zips away. Against the red light, just like he'd said.
The bicyclists I encountered early in the morning were the smiley, friendly kind. Afternoon bicyclists are still friendly, but they've got a certain, "Don't mess with me while I've got my spandex on," air to them.
There are no other skaters on the trail but there ought to be. The North Idaho section of the Centennial Trail is awesome. It's smooth and clear of debris. The path rolls through the trees alternating between straight 8% grades and nearly flat meanderings though the woods. Each hill has a nice uphill run out. The trail would be wide enough to accommodate traffic in both directions if there was any.
If I'd had an elasticity to spare in my legs, I would have pushed back a ways and gone again.