— This is day four of a multi-day loop trip to British Columbia and northern California. —
After getting my laundry done and my day’s experiences written up, I watched First Blood on my iPad, then went to bed. I had a hard time falling asleep but once I did, it took.
I was up at 6:30 am, ate the sparse complimentary breakfast the motel provided, and had my bike loaded up and rolling by 7:30. The border back into the U.S. was on the southern edge of town and I was through in less than five minutes. I was asked fewer questions getting into America than I had getting into Canada three days earlier.
The sun was shining amidst occasional puffy clouds and the temperature was moderate, so I wore my warm weather gear to start the ride. I knew that the day had reasonably good conditions forecasted, but there remained the possibility of some rain drops or even a spotty downpour. I’ll skip to the good part and tell you that I made it through the entire day without any rain.
Just a half hour south on Highway 97 I stopped at Whistler’s Cafe in Tonasket, Washington for breakfast. I enjoyed my eggs and bacon while listening to local farmers in cowboy hats and faded blue jeans, large guts spilling forth over their belt buckles, talk about the performance vs. cost ratios of different types of seed. I realized it would be no different if they overheard me talk about web servers or riding jackets.
I cut eastward toward Republic via a route I have traveled twice before in the opposite direction. Between Republic and Kettle Falls lies Sherman Pass at over 5,500 feet elevation. The air was chilly and the skies were dark gray, taking a very brief respite between showers as the road was still damp but the air remained dry. Once I reached Kettle Falls I fueled up and took a bio break before turning south, this time on new-to-me roads.
The two lane road followed the eastern shore of Lake Roosevelt, part of the Columbia River. It was far more placid and tame compared to the broiling Fraser River I had seen in British Columbia the day before. Once I left the lake shore, the road passed through a very pleasant combination of pastures and pine trees. It actually reminded me of some areas inland from Fortuna, California, a location I intend to visit in the second half of this tour.
Although the day’s ride so far had been without any twists or turns of note, I was able to settle into a decent but safe pace and enjoy the scenery. Every time I see a new part of the country I can find something about it that deserves appreciation. I am also fascinated by how different areas smell, and this leg of the ride did not disappoint in that regard. The Okanogan National Forest was especially fragrant.
In the crossroads town of Davenport I fueled up on one end of town, then backtracked to Edna’s Drive-In for some corn dogs and a frappucino. Back on the road, trees became scarce and wheat fields became the norm. This time of year the wheat is still immature and a beautiful light shade of soft green. The land rolled gently and the effect of the wind blowing through the green wheat became a magical experience for me. Although I knew that part of Washington has the easy capacity to be scorching hot or bitterly cold, the combination of mild temperatures, billowy but tame clouds, and seemingly endless miles of wind-teased wheat fields mesmerized me. I was impressed.
I eventually reached the road down to the dual cities of Lewiston, Idaho and Clarkston, Washington. They sit on opposite sides of the Snake River and are named after the Lewis and Clark expedition. I stopped at an overlook at the top of the ridge line and took some photos before zooming down the 1,500 foot decline. My GPS, “Dick,” successfully guided me through Lewiston in Idaho and back across the river into Clarkston, Washington. I was unsure which motel had my reservation for the night so I decided to fuel up in preparation for tomorrow, then find a shady spot to park and figure things out.
I pulled up a side street behind the gas station and parked under a large willow tree, then dug my iPad out of the side case. I was hoping that I had made a note somewhere indicating which motel I had reserved. I’m either getting forgetful or lackadaisical in my old age for I couldn’t find anything about it. I used my iPhone’s 3G connectivity to look up the Super 8’s phone number and called them first. They had no reservation under my name so my next call was the Best Western RiverInn. They confirmed they had my reservation and gave me directions to their location. As luck would have it, they were only two blocks away.
The clerk greeted me with a genuine smile and handed me a cold bottle of water right away. They are apparently a biker-friendly hotel and they went out of their way to make me feel welcome. I was even told they had a special place in the back where I could wash my bike if I so desired. Once I got checked in and stowed all my gear in my room, I showered and took a short nap.
On the advice of Jill, the front desk clerk, I walked to the Italian joint next door for dinner. I was unimpressed, because it was more like a re-purposed pizza parlor than a proper restaurant. The baked spaghetti and meatballs were moderately edible and so was the local red beer, so I had no further complaints.