Any Road Tour – Day 47: Switchbacks and Martin

Ione is not much of a happening place. I bathed and did laundry before heading into town for dinner. The pizza place made me a gut bomb of an Italian sub. They mentioned that another bike tourist from Switzerland was in earlier and bought a pineapple pizza. Martin!

I asked at the motel registration if he was s guest but he wasn’t. (It turns out that there’s another motel down by the river.)

Up at 5 (I’m on the eastern edge of the Pacific time zone), I broke camp and rode to town to have breakfast at the gas station. They have a grill and make a decent breakfast.

And as any bike tourist knows, gas stations are where Breakfast Club gets together. A group of old white men dit around drinking coffee and discussing the important things like how batteries for tools are crap and don’t drive your new pickup to Canada cuz it’ll sure get stole.

I couldn’t add much to this brilliant repartee so I rode away to confront my first serious hill since Rogers Pass a week ago. The climb was 1,100 feet on about 4 miles. There were 6 switchbacks. Once I got into a rhythm it was a fait accompli. No problemo.

Over the top and down the glorious western side, with forests now dominated by fir trees.

I spotted a country store and pulled in for a celebration ice cream. Who should I find eating breakfast but Martin! After a brief chat I took off knowing his youth and tent-free bike would catch me I no time.

And do we rode down one curvy turn after another. It was a blast. The cool tailwind didn’t hurt one bit either.

We saw two eastbound women testing on an uphill. I could not bring myself to give up a 35 mph descent to chat. Farther down the hill, we were crawling along at 17 mph. We ran into Dave (or maybe Paul) from Connecticut. He described the bike hostel where Martin would be staying as very nice and the mountain passes that lie ahead as not so much.

Martin turned to go to the hostel and I continued to Colville where lunch awaited. After my burrito (muy bueno) I rode on to Kettle Falls. After done confusion with a well meaning volunteer, I received permission to camp for free in the town park.

I am typing this at the bar if the town microbrewery, a place called Northern Ales. Their lager is excellent and is solely responsible for errors in this post.

Tomorrow: Sherman Pass and a Warmshowers stay (with Martin) at a town doctor’s home.

Miles: 53

Total miles: 3,409.5

Any Road Tour: Day 46 – Downriver on another tailwind

Last night I stayed in an RV park behind a 24 hour gas station across a busy highway from some railroad tracks. Let’s just say it wasn’t the deepest sleep I’ve ever had.

I was on the road around 7 with a gas station breakfast burrito in hand. It didn’t suit my tummy but it was fuel and I used it.

I followed the Pend Oreille River west to Newport Washington where I had second breakfast: pancakes, OJ, and coffee. A vast improvement over the burrito.

I crossed the river back into Idaho then took a turn that brought me back to Washington for good. Bye, Idaho.

In addition to a fine tailwind the skies were blue and the trees were green.

The air is incredibly clean; you can smell the pines. And there are terrific views around every bend in the road.

I stopped to chat with two credit card tourers. (No camping gear, just a couple of panniers.) They had just talked with Martin, my Swiss buddy from North Dakota and Montana! He rode north through Glacier National Park instead of west through Missoula. I was tempted to try an catch him but I still had 40 miles to ride today and a big climb tomorrow morning.

Today I rode through an Indian reservation. Aside from tribal headquarters, a sign directing people to the pow wow site, and a big nylon teepee in a backyard, I didn’t notice much difference.

The reservation did have many more American flags than elsewhere. Which brings to mind the fact that I’ve seen three Confederate flags in the last two days. (Y’all are a little out of the way for that. Try a swastika instead.)

I passed a sign for a grotto so I stopped and hiked up the groomed switchback trail. Mostly it was naturally formed. One chamber up some stone steps had a stone altar.

For some reason it occurred to me to check the odometer on The Mule. It had just passed 49,000 miles.

The next oddity on the road was a driveway to nowhere bordered by two Stonehenge-like stone circles. I am pretty sure that I would be recruited for a woo woo cult so I hit out of there after taking a picture or two.

The bridge to Ione, my destination, looked fantastic from a distance. The bridge deck was a metal grate. The Mule was swaying all over the place as we crossed. I am glad it was dry or I’d have fallen for certain.

I am camping at an RV place again. It’s quiet. I have a clean shower, laundry, WiFi, and a soft lawn for my tent. Now if only I hadn’t left my razor back at last night’s campsite.

Miles: 81.5

Trip Miles: 3,356.5

End of trip note: I booked a flight home for the 21st out of Portland, partly to meet a DC friend their on her birthday, the 19th, but also to be at home for my son’s visit from overseas. My friend canceled her trip to Portland and my son canceled his trip home so it looks like I have no reason to rush.

I’ll reschedule my flight when I get to Puget Sound. I’m thinking I’ll stay an extra week, including a day or two in Seattle.

I love how my friends are making suggestions for things to visit. They often come a day late or are days off route. One frustrating thing about travel is you are always going to miss something. I am grateful for what I have seen or will see in the days ahead. People I talked to said he road from here to Puget Sound is truly astoundingly pretty. I can’t wait.