Monday, December 21, 2009

Final recollections before Christmas

My thanks to all the Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Idaho with whom I interacted this summer. It was truly my pleasure to work with you to further your community message and to create greater awareness. I enjoyed doing something different with each of you--from a quiet dinner meeting to doing a TV and press interview to being part of the 4th of July parade in Buhl to helping ReStores get attention to meeting with boards to offering my ideas to a board that wants to grow with new ideas. It was fun to meet each of you along the way, and I hope to see many of you again if I'm in your part of Idaho. My goal was to help you create a little more buzz about what good you do in your local service area, and if we did that, and/or recruited some volunteers or raised some money, I'm satisfied.

I'd like to offer some of my reflections on the bike ride itself. Not a day goes by that I don't think of the experience in some way. Lots of times I remember distinctly where I was on the ride, the weather, the road conditions, how I felt, and the mental ticking off of miles yet to go. People asked me then as well as now if it was "fun." As time goes by, it is tempting to take the easy way out and say "yes." However, it was most of all a lot of work that was rewarding--not fun. I really did enjoy the experience, but doubt that I'll do another month-long ride. The weeds grew too much while I'm gone, and there are always things that need some attention. That said, I'm planning a week-long ride with my wife, Linda, and our daughter, Jennifer, in north Idaho this summer.

What were some of my landmarks? Doing over a 1,000 miles was cool--1055 exactly. Riding 23 days straight before I took a day off at my daughter's in CDA was significant. Riding for the first time with bike clips shoes and NOT falling over one time was noteworthy. Covering every inch of the ride with my bike tires--I may have walked up hills, but my tires covered every inch of the way. Starting and finishing on my schedule satisfied the navigator in me, and maintained my reputation for organization and punctuality. Riding for nearly one month on some narrow stretches of highway in ID and not seeing ONE single accident--I did not see any on my hike of WA three years earlier either. Having only a couple of close calls with inattentive drivers. Riding along with several of the affiliates to get to my next destination. Meeting tons of really nice people, which reaffirms my opinion that Habitat is filled with great people no matter where you go.

Since I got home in late July, I've been immersed in the job of getting our Store up and running. We opened in August and are doing fine so far. At least we are paying our bills and making a profit, too. I work many hours on the Store Advisory Committee and drive the truck to do pick ups of materials. On August 1st, our Executive Director (a longtime friend of Tom Lay) fell off a ladder and hurt himself badly. While he was recuperating, the Board hired me to fill in for him to make sure grants got submitted, bills got paid, and to generally run the affiliate with lots of other volunteers helping. We are doing OK, and just got word that we will be a Thrivent Build in 2010, which is great. Lots of other things going on show promise, so I'm keeping busy. Our ED will be back to full time in about a month, so I go back to being a volunteer. I know I'll keep busy.

If any of you are over in Skagit County--for the Tulip Festival every April?--please look us up at our Store and affiliate offices. The chances are I'll be there. Conversely, when I get back to Idaho, I'll look forward to seeing you and hearing about the initiatives you have going on. My best wishes to you all, and Merry Christmas.

Jim "Duff" Duffied

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bonners Ferry to the Canadian border--the END!!

Today was the big day I had been waiting for--the conclusion of my ride. I was up early and waiting for Georgia Jimenez to come by at 7:30 AM to take some photos of my bike for a press release in their weekly paper. Georgia was a little early, so the photos were done and I was on my way north by 7:30 AM. I started up the tough hill out of Bonners Ferry at about 7:45, and got to the top about 8:40 AM. I got something to drink and then was off for about 13 miles more on US 95. Most of this stretch was on a bench, so the riding was fairly level, but the shoulders were really skimpy. I felt safest when big trucks came by to get off the bike and get off the road as much as possible. Fortunately, most drivers were courteous and considerate, and there were no close calls. About 10:30 AM, I turned off US 95 for the last time, and began the final 11 miles on ID Hwy 1 to Porthill. The area was very pretty, with the Kootenai River valley off to my left and the Selkirk Mountains beyond that, and the Purcell Mountains to my right. There were more ups and downs on this stretch, so with the growing temps into the 80s, it was still a challenge.

Linda and I had agreed that I would be at the border between noon and 12:15 PM, and she would drive up from Coeur d'Alene to meet me there at that time. As I rode along and saw roadside mileage markers counting down the distance to the border, it was hard to believe this long ride was almost over. I had been riding for 28 days already, with 25 of those being continuous. I'd soon be done and this part of my life would be history. I actually got to the border about 11:40, and after waiting in the shade for a few minutes, Linda drove up early as I expected she would. I let her get positioned to take some photos, and then I rode the final 100 yards. Linda turned Max loose to come greet me, and he was so excited--he had not seen me in 18 days. It was good to be done and back with my family, and Linda was so much help to me. People had asked me if this ride were "fun". I told them it was not a word I would use with the effort, but it would be "fun" when the bike were loaded on the car and Linda handed me a cold beer to drink. She anticipated that, and has a cold one for me. We drove back to Coeur d'Alene, spent the night at Jenn's house, and hit the sack early.

My ride is officially over. For those of you keeping score, my 29 miles today gave me 1055 total in 29 days. I'm going to collect my thoughts over the next few days and make some additional remarks in this blog before I shut it down at the end of August. For all of you who have kept track of my progress, thank you for your interest, and I'll be writing more soon.

Sandpoint to Bonners Ferry

Duff reporting tonight. Sorry this is late, but Linda left home on the morning of this ride segment, and is gone until she picks me up at the Canadian border on Wednesday. My blog postings will be delayed until we get home Thursday.

I left Sandpoint at 8:30 AM, and after working through the major construction on roads in downtown Sandpoint, I got to Ponderay on the north side. From there to Naples, the road was relatively level, with some dips and rises, and generally pleasant to ride. There was a light headwind and temps were in the 70s. From Naples on, the road included a couple of hills I walked, but it was mostly downhill into Bonners Ferry.

Whether it was complacency because I was in familiar country, or perhaps fatigue, or both, but I rode right past my motel. I thought it was downtown by the river, but when I got there, I knew I had screwed up. I called Georgia Jimenez, the local board president to confirm my error, and then walked back up the hill and road two more miles to the Kootenai Valley Motel. So, I broke my vow to not ride the same stretch of ground more than one time. In any case, I got into my room--thank you Kootenai Valley Motel for fixing me up--and got cleaned up. Georgia's husband, Pete, and another board member, Regis, picked me up at 5 PM and showed me around town briefly, and then we drove to the Naples Fire Department for a casual dinner meeting. After we ate, we sat around talking about issues the Boundary County HFH affiliate had, and I suggested ideas from my experiences that might help them. It was a good session, and I hope that one or more of the ideas will prove productive for the affiliate.

I got back to my room about 9 and completed my journal entry for today. Tomorrow is THE DAY--my final route segment of Duff Bikes for Habitat. It is only 29 miles, which is nice, and I anticipate being started no later than 8 AM.

I wanted to say thanks once again to Dick and Carroll Ensminger of Sandpoint for their generous hospitality during my stay there.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Coeur d'Alene to Hayden (North Idaho Habitat for Humanity ReStore) - 18 Jul 09

Whew. Long ride today. 4 miles from our daughter's home to the Hayden area where the North Idaho Habitat for Humanity ReStore is. Spent about 2 hours there visiting with folks. Duff was able to store his bike there and will pick it up when he continues his ride north to the border. Jennifer picked him up, and put him to work, helping put an air conditioner in at one of her friend's home.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Plummer to Coeur d'Alene - 17 Jul 09

Jennifer drove Duff back to Plummer very early this morning. He picked up his bike and started the trek north. Without the pet wagon, the "ride" was so much easier; Duff couldn't remember or imagine how heavy it must have been when Max was along for the ride. Today's ride was uneventful, and he arrived in CDA early afternoon. Thanks to Jennifer, taking unneeded gear to CDA, and letting him sleep in a bed, instead of along the road somewhere, made a big difference. Tomorrow's goal: very short. Duff will ride to the North Idaho Affiliate (near Coeur d'Alene), and meet with the folks there. He'll rest over the weekend, before taking off for Sandpoint on Monday.

Moscow to Plummer

Lots of hills, even started out with hills. No RV parks, camping grounds or motels available in Plummer, so my daughter, Jennifer, drove down to pick me up. She found me a place to stow my bike and gear, and then drove to her home. Next morning, she returned me to Plummer to resume the ride.