As planned, we arose early and arrived in Crouch before 9am, where we stopped at Wild Bill’s Cafe for a hearty breakfast and then stopped by the well-stocked grocery store for a few rations. The town of Crouch consists of a handful of humble buildings scattered haphazardly in close proximity to each another, like the town planner was on vacation so they asked the grocery clerk to provide the town layout in an afternoon.
After enjoying the morning in this quaint mountain town, we needed to get going in order to climb up to the village of Placerville and then to climb over to Idaho City. The first climb to Placerville on Alder Creek Road started off with a rather pleasant grade. Then near the end the grade got meaner. We crested the summit drenched in sweat, sweatier than we’d been the entire trip. After about a mile of downhill, our shirts were dry again, thanks to the heat and Idaho’s dry climate.
We arrived at Placerville and popped into the general store, or merc as they say in these parts, to get a cool beverage. The lady running the store was happy to walk with me as she named every refrigerated beverage she sold: Red Bull, iced tea, milk, chocolate milk, Powerade, Monster; she probably would have named everything in the store, but I had already pulled out an orange Gatorade. After we bidded each other a good day, I promptly plunked myself down on a bench on the merc’s shady porch and Carrie and I started drinking.
After a bit, two gentlemen who were talking on the other bench ended their conversation and came over to say hi. One of the two asked is of we wanted to see the museum. It was closed on weekdays, but he was happy to let us in. We obliged and we’re glad we did.
The museum is housed in the old town saloon and this gentleman, Jim Oswald, was the town historian. He proceeded to show us around the museum, adding in tons of colorful stories that really helped us get a sense of the place. Did you know that Placerville was home to the first post office in Idaho? Did you know that Idaho was officially recognized as it’s own territory just five months after gold was discovered in the vicinity of Placerville? In fact, more gold was mined in the area around Placerville than all of the gold mined in California and Alaska combined! To say that Placerville had an important role in the history of the West is unexpected when you look at the town now.
After Jim regaled us with his stories, it was pushing 2pm, and the temperature was settling into the low 90s. We still wanted to get to Idaho City, so we thanked Jim for his impromptu history lesson and set off. To get to Idaho City required another significant climb, but we were still feeling good from our chai caffeine buzz, so we attacked it with all we had. The mountain fought back though with a series of very steep inclines on sandy road. When we got to the summit, I parked in the shade, knowing the rest of the way to Idaho City would be a breeze. Except we weren’t at the top. The mountain added another two more rounds of climbing before it finally led us down about two thousand feet to Idaho City.
Once in town, we rode down Main Street with its dilapidated old west buildings until we came to an ice cream parlor when I slammed on the brakes. Was this an illusion? The mirage in the desert? Nope. It was the real deal. I supped on a huge huckleberry ice cream milk shake while Carrie slurped down a root beer float. There’s no word to describe how satisfying this was.
We then had to find lodging. My iPad wasn’t picking up a Verizon signal so we could use the Internet for assistance, so we rolled to the local library, which was closed, but it’s wifi signal was still on. After a failed attempt to get lodging at a B&B, the owner wasn’t home, we headed to the Idaho City Lodge, where we ran into none other than Harry and Vicki and the two friends they’d been trying to ride with since Stanley. They invited us to the upstairs porch for some beer and conversation.
In the early evening an unexpected thunderstorm rolled through, dropping a healthy amount of water for about twenty minutes. All the lodge guests came out on the covered porch to admire Mother Nature giving the town a good rinse.