Day 58 Back In The Saddle

Boise, ID

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After 7-week hiatus, I flew back to Boise, ID to get back on Bumblebee and finish my Great American Motorcycle Trip. I was amazed at how much I missed being on the road, and the simplicity of each day. Getting to Boise meant a brief layover in Salt Lake City. It’s easy to forget how grand and diverse America is because the view of Rotary Park and the Red Butte Mountains outside the terminal brought home that I am now in the the glorious West, and things are a lot a different out here. How different? Stay with me because this gets good.

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I arrived at Boise Airport and was generously picked up by my friend Kipp and his wife Signe, who were also kind enough to let me store my motorcycle while I flew back to NYC. As you can tell, these are amazingly hospitable, kind people, and I am very lucky to know them. We quickly pulled out of the airport and Kipp turned to me with a glint in his eye and asked me how tired I was feeling after my flight. I had grabbed a quick catnap on my connection from Salt Lake City so I told him I was up for anything. Kipp then gave me a sly smile and turned his Suburban towards the private aviation area of the Boise Airport, and informed that we’d be taking out his plane for a sunset flight to Smiley Creek Lodge. Normally, this remote culinary destination would be a 5-hour drive by car or bike. But in our Cesna T-210, it would be a 20-minute flight over the stunning Sawtooth Mountains.

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Smiley Creek Lodge is this gourmet lodge nestled deep in the Payette National Forest. Most people fly in on small bush planes. And apparently Sunday mornings look like a parking lot of small aircraft along the grass runway.

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I’d like to tell you that the best part of the trip was digging into the fresh mountain trout with capers and balsamic reduction sauce (it was amazing), but I’d be lying.

I got to fly the plane!

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Flying a small plane (not that I’ve flown large planes) felt surprisingly natural, and very much like paragliding but at much faster speeds. The controls were very sensitive and responded well to small inputs, similar to the glider I fly. It was amazing to be able to feel the lofty mountain air gently translate through the controls in your hands, making the plane instantly feel like an extension of my arms. As the sun started to set lower over the National Forest, the Idaho sky was brilliantly illuminated with stretching crimson and orange colors as Kipp took over the controls and landed us gently back in Boise Airport.

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What a fantastic surprise and what an appropriate way to get back in the saddle on finish this adventure.

WHAT I LEARNED/DISCOVERED TODAY:

The obvious lesson here is that I frickin’ love airplanes and really love flying them. But that love may be the forbidden kind if I live in New York where most forms of private aviation are prohibitively expensive and generally the exclusive purvey of hedge fund managers or Hamptons divorcees. No, the deeper lesson here is about the diversity of experience within America. Kipp explained that he can get from his house to his plane within 15 minutes. House to Work in 10. 20 minutes gets him to the local watersports like to enjoy waterskiing and wakeboarding. And all of this glorious activity is framed by dramatically stunning mountains and expansive state parks to light up every direction you look. All of this for about 1/3 the cost of living in New York. Sort of makes you think. Also, playing Xbox flight simulators is a surprisingly effective training for doing the real thing.

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