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Archive for June, 2016

June 28 – St. Mary, MT

I want to get a note out letting everyone know we are fine.  We’ve been very remote and off the grid preventing any updates.

We completed Going-to-the-Sun Road today in Glacier National Park today.  It was magnificent.

I’m trying to post a teaser photo but experiencing very slow loading and this may not work.  Please be patient.  Thanks.

 

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June 16 to Kettle Falls, WA
June 17 to west of Ione, WA
June 18 to Newport, WA

June 19 to Sandpoint, ID

We crossed Sherman Pass on the 16th.  Sherman is the highest pass in the state of Washington and we encountered some significant weather while doing so.  We got into a mix of snow, sleet, and rain with dropping temperatures during our descent off Sherman and we ducked into an old log hut built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  We donned some dry clothes and put on every piece of clothing we owned until somewhat warmed and waited out the storm for about two hours.

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While negotiating these passes, log trucks are frequently encountered and I make a practice to wave at all log trucks.  These drivers get paid by the load and that requires haste.  They do not like delays and encountering a cyclist in a narrow mountain road with no shoulder on a blind switch-back means delays.  When a truck is seen going west-bound empty, I wave at them, as soon they will be coming east-bound with a load of logs and I’d prefer they maybe hit their brakes instead of me.

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We reached Idaho on the 18th and said goodbye to the beautiful state of Washington.  Border to border, this is some of the prettiest country I’ve encountered.

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June 15 to Republic, WA

Complaint Section:

We still encounter folks that find it necessary to indicate by the use of their horn that in their opinion we have no right to be on their roadway, but there’s a new thing.  One can honk, long and loud if one wishes, but apparently due to the low-cost of fuel right now, it must be a lot more fun to blast cyclists with a sudden demonstration of (always impressive) acceleration accentuated by one’s inevitably loud exhaust as one passes said cyclists.

Better yet, if one is driving a diesel pick-up, then “Coal Rolling” is the thing to do.  With a simple modification a driver can opt to dump extra fuel into their engine and pour excessive black smoke out the exhaust.  That will certainly send the message that healthy behaviors of riding a bicycle is not popular with some.

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Chip seal pavement is not popular with cyclists because it is rough, causing a lot of unnecessary vibration when on a bike, and believe it, it slows a bike down requiring considerably more effort to pedal on chip seal pavement (for the technical types it has to do with a higher coefficient of friction).  And then there are these warnings upon the highway when chip-sealing is taking place.

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Finally, I leave you with this:

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June 14 to Tonasket, WA

Today we had plans to get along further into the next set of passes via Wauconda and maybe get as far as Republic, but we (I) kept looking at storms building ahead of us.  I forgot my kerosene socks today, so we called it quits at Tonasket with a wimpy 29 miles.  This is what we kept seeing ahead of us and any further along we would be gaining altitude and I have a phobia about weather at altitude:

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In Tonasket we were considering our options (pizza and think about the weather?) when we ran across this fellow.  Meet Greenbriar.  He’s doing the Northern Tier for a while on his way to North Carolina.  Yes, I asked about that Greenbriar and there was no association.

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The town of Tonasket has a camping area open to cyclists behind their Visitor’s Center.  No fees, but we placed a donation in their receptacle.  Here’s the arrangement as seen from the hill above:

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Nomenclature

June 13 to Omak, WA

As sometimes happens we were getting groceries and taking a little break when a fellow pulled up in his car and wanted to chat with us about our journey.  The large bags on our bikes seem always to draw the curious.  The further we get from our starting point, the greater the interest (try telling someone in Oregon when they ask where you came from and you answer them with Florida and see their reaction).  We said we’d come from the coast near Anacortes and he welcomed us to “North Central” Washington.  He explained there are terms in use for “Coasties”, “Westies”, and other names for those hailing from Seattle and such.  I suspect some of the names are not that complimentary.  At any rate he encouraged us to refer to our current location as North-Central Washington to avoid any confusion.  When we get a bit east we’ll have to ask as well.

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Meet Mike and Dianne from Fredericksburg, Texas:

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We first met these two in Anacortes and we’ve been pacing each other off and on since leaving. Tonight we are again meeting up in the same town.

Ryan got a large jump on everyone today as he went from Winthrop all the was to Tonasket, a distance of about 72 miles.  We’ll see how things pan out with various folks as there tends to be a lot more leap-frogging and separations when geography allows.  The mountain passes we are crossing tend to reduce mileage and group everyone in certain towns.

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Very much unlike the Pacific Northwest, we are in a dramatically different climate

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The two pictures above show the result of last year’s forest fires.  This part of the state had fires burning 500,000 acres.  I could see from the damage that the fires were jumping right across the highways as both sides of the road as far as the eye could see were burned.

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Nomenclature

June 13 to Omak, WA

As sometimes happens we were getting groceries and taking a little break when a fellow pulled up in his car and wanted to chat with us about our journey.  The large bags on our bikes seem always to draw the curious.  The further we get from our starting point, the greater the interest (try telling someone in Oregon when they ask where you came from and you answer them with Florida and see their reaction).  We said we’d come from the coast near Anacortes and he welcomed us to “North Central” Washington.  He explained there are terms in use for “Coasties”, “Westies”, and other names for those hailing from Seattle and such.  I suspect some of the names t are not that complimentary.  At any rate he encouraged us to refer to our current location as North-Central Washington to avoid any confusion.  When we get a bit east we’ll have to ask as well.

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Meet Mike and Dianne from Fredericksburg, Texas:

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We first met these two in Anacortes and we’ve been pacing each other off and on since leaving. Tonight we are again meeting up in the same town.

Ryan got a large jump on everyone today as he went from Winthrop all the was to Tonasket, a distance of about 72 miles.  We’ll see how things pan out with various folks as ther etends to be a lot more leap-frogging and separations when geography allows.  The mountain passes we are crossing tend to reduce mileage and group everyone in certain towns.

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Very much unlike the Pacific Northwest, we are in a dramatically different climate

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The two pictures above show the result of last year’s forest fires.  This part of the state had fires burning 500,000 acres.  I could see from the damage that the fires were jumping right across the highways as both sides of the road as far as the eye could see were burned.

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June 12, at Winthrop, WA

We call it a “zero day” in the touring vernacular.  No miles today as we take a little time to heal our bodies and look this charming little town over.  We reap the reward of our achievement and sow a little goodwill among the good folks of Winthrop.  Besides, the showers at our campground are the best!

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Taking a morning stroll around the town park we find they are hosting an exhibit of local artisans and their crafts.  We have the perfect excuse not to buy any large murals or statuary too.  That stuff just cannot fit on a bike.

Stopping in at a burrito and espresso shop (I question them closely about if this is a legal combination and they assure me it’s okay) we speak with the young man who owns the business.  He explains to us that in the late 1970’s Winthrop chose a western theme for their town.  All buildings have to comply with a review of design to ensure the theme is consistent with the town’s western theme.  They’ve made it work and he is firmly convinced this has been a lifeline.  We’d have to agree looking at the large number of tourists evident just about everywhere.  The area supports some of the best mountain bike trails, back-country hiking and climbing, river kayaking and a whole host of other activities including downhill, back country, and cross country skiing in the winter.

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Leaving the burrito/espresso shop, we spot Ryan checking out a sign explaining the town history on the corner of Main Street.  He just arrived after conquering Washington Pass yesterday and staying at a campground up on the backside of the mountain as he had foul weather on his descent.  We make arrangements to gather later after he has time to shower up at his hostel and catch up on his blogging.

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