Boise to Bellingham 2004
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So far so good...
Lynette and I started off from my house and made it four blocks to my parents house
before taking a break.
A few more miles, and a break to stretch.
On our way to Emmett, we met our first hill. There would be many more.
Looking down on Emmett, we also saw our first clouds... there would be many more of those too.
We decided to take a back road to Council... this would allow us to avoid the treacherous
highway 55 with it's blind-no-shoulder corners.
But it also meant saying good bye to the pavement for a while.
Racing tires... not the best thing on gravel. But what a gorgeous day.
We'd be pedaling a very slow pace for the rest of the day and a good chunk of the next.
And they call this an improved road!
Before reaching civilization again, we would hear four airplanes, and see one truck.
Can you say desolate!
Not a good time to find out we brought the wrong spare tubes! Good thing for the patch kit.
At dusk, and running low on water, we came across a dwelling that actually had people living in it!
Colin and Carolyn not only offered us water, but fed us dinner, broke out the good wine,
let us stay in their spare room, and fed us a hearty breakfast in the morning!
Amazingly friendly folks... THANK YOU!
They were particularly proud of their "Styrofoam house". It was build using these Styrofoam forms.
Once stacked up and laced with rebar, concrete was poured in filling the columns and making a
pre-insulated wall. It sounded like a very slick method of construction and kept them warm on
the coldest winter nights with just a few chunks of wood in the stove.
They didn't really want us to go, nor did we want to. But we promised to keep in touch.
A few more miles, and we started seeing more signs of civilization...
Finally, after 55 miles on gravel, we caught sight of the light at the end of the tunnel.
Off in the distance is Indian Valley.
But with pavement, comes stinky dead cars.
After a pretty good climb to Mesa, and a lunch stop in Council, we made it to New Meadows.
Here is the historic train station. They just received a grant to renovate it and turn it into a museum.
We talked to a local man who had much to say about the history of the area and the museum.
Talkative ole guy for sure. Too much info to include here.
Finally, we got our first experience in the rain. But even that was a treat.
A quick stop at Zim's hot springs turned into an evening of relaxation.
Don't ever try to make a quick trip to hot springs!
We setup camp under a picnic shelter. The tent almost fit too. Lucky for us there was
no wind and only a corner of the tent got rained on.
Even with a rain fly, camping in the rain is still a soggy proposition.
We were up before the sun and got an early start to make up for lost time on the gravel road.
The quiet misty morning was well worth the early rise time.
It was all down hill to Riggins where we were surprised by the hundreds of fisherman lining
the Salmon river. Guess the run was on. Didn't see a single fish, but we did hear several
good fish stories while eating breakfast at Cattleman's Diner. Can you say "boat envy"?
I can never remember the name of these boats when they come up in conversation.
Dory. Dory. Dory.
Soon after, we got our first glimpse of White Bird Grade. This would be an eight mile chore.
Our first real test.
We decided to take the highway instead of the "Old Road" since there was little traffic and
the steady grade seemed more appealing than the steep-and-steeper grade of the
switchbacks on the old road. Besides, the old road is five miles longer.
By this time, we were hearing thunder... everywhere! Soon after this shot was taken,
the storm rolled over the hills from our left and I put the camera away. Wind brought the rain
which turned to hail. Although it stung a little, I think I preferred the hail to the rain. It didn't
get you wet, just bounced off. And it almost felt like a massage if you used your imagination.
Lucky for us, it didn't get too heavy. Although since we were wearing helmets it would have
to get pretty bad before we'd quit. One guy stopped and asked Lynette if we wanted a ride...
she shook the water from her helmet and said thanks but no way. I knew then that if anyone
was going to wimp out on this trip it would be me.
After spending the night in Cottonwood, we coasted down the old Winchester Grade.
that was a real treat once we descended below the clouds.
Then it was time to tackle the Lewiston hill. Notice the rain storm chasing us from the South.
Not sure if we were more happy that we'd made it up the hill, or that we'd dodged another storm.
Could it get any greener?
A quick ride to Pullman would finish out this day.
This is where the Windows-XP default desktop was shot.
The Palouse... Winter Wheat and Lentils galore.
To cope with the hills, these combines use an ad hoc suspension system.
My dad use to work one of these before they were automated, his job was to
turn a leveling wheel as the driver navigated across the hills.
We started cutting corners since were were behind schedule and skipped the climb up Steptoe butte.
About this time, I started having trouble with my lower bracket (that's a bike part, not one of my parts).
We decided to veer off to Spokane to take it to a bike shop before crossing the state.
After a couple of phone calls we realized we'd have to sprint to get to the bike shop
(three hours away) before they closed for the day.
Spokane sits in a hole though so at least the grade was in the right direction for a fast ride.
Ten minutes late, but the two Ron's that run the afternoon shift stayed around to help us out.
Fifteen minutes later, we were back in prime shape. We took advantage of the big city
and found (right next door) a hotel with a Jacuzzi. One of our best camps of the trip.
In the morning, we had to wait around until 9:00 for the bike shop to open up again since in all the haste,
I forgot my helmet, gloves and glasses on the counter.
Hitching a ride with some odd ball pioneers.
I confess, I doctored this shot. It was actually a rainy day and there was a big
ugly Winnebago parked behind the wagon. I think the blue sky is much better.
The road out of Wilber was enough to put both your butt and your brain to sleep.
A photo taken in the other direction would look exactly the same.
It was raining at the Grand Coulee Dam, so we didn't get any pictures, but a few hours later at
Chief Joseph Dam, things were looking up.
Just another rest stop along the way. Bridgeport was a little on the deserted side, but the
Chief Joe water hole was a great place to grab a burger.
Of course, the "Chief Joseph" burger was the specialty. And they were good too.
Is it wine country, or is it apple country, or is it cherry country. The answer is yes.
We followed the river here for a few miles, then headed up the Methow (pronounced Met How) to Twisp.
This would turn out to be a 123 mile day, our longest of the trip.
A quick breakfast in Twisp and we were off to Winthrop. If you've never been there it's worth a drive through.
The gateway to the North Cascades as they say.
Mazama is really where the mountains begin. These shots don't look all that steep,
but one look at the trip profile and you'll see what I mean.
The weather man was calling for the snow level to drop to 4k feet the day we headed up the pass.
Again, we missed it by hours.
Our trip up and down the other side was wet, but the sky offered up no new crystalline matter.
We'd been riding a week, building muscles, stamina and a handy tolerance for rain...
not even the Washington Pass "Switchback" was a match for us now.
Our high point.
Again it was raining. To keep the camera dry, I set it up inside one of our blue foam bedrolls
(the other one is shown strapped to BOB, our trailer) and set the timer for this shot.
Before I cropped it, this photo had a beautiful blue, round border.
Two passes for the price of one.
Three Dams later, we rolled into Newhalem. We stood like drowned rats before one of the
government-built homes to ask if there were a hotel in town. Of course we knew there wasn't,
they were suppose to offer up a warm-dry spare bedroom. Instead, they directed us to the
community gazebo. Which actually turned out to make for a very good nights sleep.
One more night camping in a hotel in Sedro Wolley, and we were off on the final stretch.
We weren't in much of a hurry since we only had 38 miles to ride that day, and then our ride
would be over. The thought of that was more sad than not. It had been a great ten days
and we weren't looking forward to getting back to reality.
But there's always next time.