You might be having too much fun with your motorcycle if... start twisting the steering wheel of your automobile (or commuter cage) with your right hand because it's not accelerating quickly enough with the foot pedal.

Second leg: Canmore to Moscow, Idaho.
Distance: ~739KM
Time: ~10.5 hrs (inclusive)

I left Canmore at 6AM. (Well, I woke up at 6, I was probably half an hour getting ready.)
It is very, very cold in the mountains at 6AM. I’ve lived in this northern climate my entire life, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt my fingers as cold as they were that morning. When the stinging, burning pain is replaced by a sickening numbness, you know it’s time to stop and warm up for a bit. (I was wearing lots of core layers, but my all-season gloves are really designed for wet late-season riding along the coast, not cold late-season insanity in the Rocky Mountains.)
Thankfully, there wasn’t too much frost on the ground…

I made good time and hit the border before noon. I’ve discovered the efficacy of C8H10N4O2-based energy drinks in this sort of situation: they don’t seem to do all that much for me most of the time (probably because whenever I stay up late the adrenaline of a deadline is keeping me awake…) but when I’m half-drowsy and I need to be paying attention to my surroundings (instead of thinking about abstract concepts) our beloved friend caffeine seems to work wonders.
Then again, it might be the whole experience of getting off the motorcycle and paying an exorbitant amount of money for petrol and sugar/stimulant drinks that wakes me up.

I was told that Idaho would be a place of such flat and boring landscape that I would go insane on the motorcycle. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Palouse region of North-West Idaho is undoubtedly the most alien landscape I've ever seen. None of my pictures capture the vertically undulating terrain very well, and I can't even find any good ones with The Google. (I did find some info on the giant Palouse earthworm, which I didn't see. They were probably all in hiding from the dry heat.)

The best way I can think to describe the Palouse region would be to compare it to the Rocky Mountains. As in a mountain range, the highway meanders its way past obscure destinations which would be totally inaccessible without the highway exit. No real side roads. No old wagon trails. The hills aren't as big as the mountains, though; this means that the grade is more drastic and changes more often. (Rather than steadily climbing for a dozen KM or so, you're almost always going up and down a drastic slope.) In a few spots the asphalt cuts through the rich earth the way we might blast a highway out of the Rockies. The cliffs of earth on either side are almost like rock, too; baked brownish-black by years of hot sun and dry prairie wind. There are a surprising number of bridges on this highway system, crossing over tiny valleys between the hills.

There was a haze of smoke in the air--I could tell it was from grass or stubble fires, yet everything around me seemed infused with the essence of hot, dry haze. Almost as if the golden hills and the black asphalt were slowly burning to a crisp.
Oh yes, the colours.
Golden stubbly fields just harvested, as far as the eye can see. (Which isn't very far with those hills.) I would have loved to have seen that crop in its ripest season before harvest. We have "amber waves of grain" here in Alberta, like a vast ocean; The Palouse must seem like a tempest.
Then there's the thin, blacker-than-black strip of highway, winding and slicing its way through the hills. Sometimes the highway would change to a dull, grey, old-concrete texture; hiding the rough patches and washboards. Soon enough it would return to the fresh, black asphalt and I would be happy again.
There are trees in the Palouse, but they seem totally artificial. Some are big enough to be 80 years old, but they are solitary or in bunches of 5 at most. All around is golden field, and then a patch of jack pine springs up like a spot of green paint on a carpet. Like I said, alien.

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