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The Courtesy Patrol


7/31/12, E. Of Lewiston, ID - After traveling on 200 miles of roads through the backcountry, I finally have something that is near and dear to wagon travelers - a wide road shoulder.  The previous 170 miles is often considered to be the most windy road in America as it follows the Lochsa and Clearwater rivers as they wind their way through the mountains.

Thanks in a large part to the efforts of the Idaho State Police and the Idaho County and Nez Perce County Sherifís Departments I safely navigated US-12 from Lolo Pass.  These gentlemen kept up a police presence on the road which kept traffic at a reasonable speed.  They also were a good source of information about road conditions and potential camping spots.

Years ago, they used to call the Colorado State Patrol the ĎCourtesy Patrolí.  I think that should extend that distinction to the Idaho State Police as well.

Shortly after lunch, I stopped for an interview with the Lewiston, ID newspaper. They sent out both a reporter and a photographer who were a couple of great guys.  The reporter traveled with me for a couple of miles as he got the story.

As I was turning around the team to head for a camping spot on the other side of the divided road, unbeknownst to me the lead rope tying Bill to the back of the trailer broke. Good horse that he is, he managed to stay with the trailer as I crossed over to the other side of the road and started back in the opposite direction. As I completed the turn, I saw that he was about 10 feet behind the trailer. He was already standing where I normally tie him when I walked back and tied him to another line.  From where I saw the pieces of the rope, I estimate he was untied for about a minute and a half.  During that time, a motorist, without bothering to stop and tell me my horse is untied, dialed 911 instead. The Idaho State Police were there a few minutes later as I was checking out a potential camping spot. This officer suggested a better spot just down the road and even went to the trouble to check it out for me and ensure it was unoccupied - thank you.

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The rope chafed through at the point it was tied to the horseshoe that I have welded to the back of the trailer. To prevent a repeat occurrence, I used a locking D-ring and a solid metal ring to tie the lead rope to. In the future the wear point will be metal on metal instead of on the rope.

Alan Rowan, the young man I helped the other night with driving lessons and harness adjustments, stopped on his way to town with his dad to say thank you. Itís nice to see young folks interested in horse driving.

My camp by the river is considerably more arid than what Iíve had in the previous weeks. A few miles back up the road the pine trees disappeared from the hills to be replaced by scrub grass. Even here along the river the lush growth of the last two days is replaced with dried out grass. 

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With water, shade and being off the road itís not to bad.  But instead of lush green grass, the horses have to be content with hay.

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But with shade and a place to walk the horses to water, it isnít too bad.

Tomorrow, Iím moving across Lewiston, ID and itís twin city across the Snake River - Clarkston, WA.