We're less than 400 miles from Portland! Can you believe it? WOWWWWW!
Well, we left Missoula laaaaate after visiting the Adventure Cycling headquarters and a coffee shop and a grocery store where we found natural peanut butter :-) and we headed toward Lolo Pass. The road was not very busy and the weather was perfect--sunny and in the 70s. It took us just 45 minutes to climb to the top of the pass. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy... It really was pretty tame after Rogers Pass, which wasn't quite as bad as we thought it would be either. Rockies? Ain't no thang... After the pass we went down for a few miles and stopped at Lochsa Lodge for some food. I had a garden burger--no more hotdogs for me thank you though it was yummy at the time--and Dan had spaghetti with something called buffalo marinara.. We stopped for the night at a pretty National Forest campground next to the lodge. The camp host told us that the temperature the night before had gotten down to 24 degrees, so we got in our tent with all of our warm clothes as soon as the sun went down. We kept warm that night and it only got down to 34 degrees. We made oatmeal with frozen hands the next morning, and then the sun came out and it was suddenly in the 70s again.
Lolo Pass has been my favorite part of the trip scenery-wise because highway 12 follows the Clearwater River through the mountains and forest and it's just gorgeous... and you get to enjoy this scenery with low traffic going downhill for more than 80 miles! That's right, 80 miles. Downhill. SO fun! Sometimes the road would flatten a bit, and twice or three times there was a slight rise in the road, but it was generally beautfully graded downhill. (The only bad part was a few miles of road construction which stopped traffic and slowed us down quite a bit, but it was a small price to pay in my opinion.) Seriously, this was a great ride and I would recommend it for anyone looking for an quick Idaho getaway. We stayed in Kooskia (pronounced Koo-skee) that night in a nice green city park. Little did we know when we pitched our tent that the park was so green because they have sprinklers that go off in the middle of the night. Ooops. I just tried to ignore the annoying spray of water that harshly soaked our tent with every rotation of the sprinkler head. We stayed dry but our bikes and everything we left out on the picnic table was soaked. Now we know to set our tent up in the ugliest and driest patch of grass we see.
So we left Kooskia and continued on 12 next to the river. The road was windy (like a snake, not like a blowing force) and there wasn't a whole lot of traffic for the first half of the day, which was good because there wasn't much shoulder and there were some blind corners and big guard rails and barriers that keep you from going off the road. Outside of Orofino Dan & I took a lunch break by the river. (Instead of getting jobs Dan and I are going to pan for gold while wearing sporty bathing costumes.) We dunked our heads in the freezing water to cool off because it pretty hot out. After lunch we got back on 12. There must be another road that comes out of Orofino and joins 12, because the traffic got pretty heavy. This was the scariest part of the trip and I was completely freaking out. There wasn't much shoulder, so every time a logging or grain truck went by, I had to pull over. Cars are so stupid and would rather play chicken with each other than slow down for 4 seconds! Ugh! We got some real life or death practice holding our lines. I think we did about 25 miles in about an hour and a half, and then got off on the old Highway 12, which was closed down, and celebrated being alive by riding traffic-free for a few miles. Then, we got onto a much safer 4 lane highway into Lewiston for a couple of miles, and then got onto an extensive bike path that we followed all the way to the camp ground. That was such a stressful 25 miles and I never want to think about it again!
Lewiston had a factory that smelled like old broccoli... At camp we made a big pot of spaghetti with some veggies--including broccoli--and wolfed it down. We also got to take showers, which was a nice treat :-) We left this morning pretty early and followed the bike path across the bridge to Clarkston, WASHINGTON! We stopped for breakfast because we'd run out of oatmeal. Dan ate a lot of breakfast-y deliciousness at McDonalds and I ate a quart of Chocolate Peanut Butter Soy'licious soy ice cream.... Mmmmmm what a treat. Dan kind of fixed a broken spoke (he's now running a 31 spoke rear wheel) and then we took off down a much less busy and larger shouldered Highway 12. Down the road we stopped by an orchard where they gave us a couple of pears and a 5lb bag of apples. Perfect timing for loading on extra weight, because after the orchard we had a pretty monstruous climb! It was about 10 miles long and went through these huge, desolate brown hills. At the top there was a rest stop, where we rested of course. Then we went down into a headwind, to Pomeroy....and now we're still here, in Pomeroy. Riding 40 more miles into a headwind into the dark didn't seem too attractive, so we just stopped. I think we'll digest our lunch, do laundry, eat apples, play cards, and ride to Walla Walla tomorrow. We'll be getting into wine country soon! That's one of the only highlights I've heard about riding through western Washington. Other than that, people just say that the gorge is the windiest place on earth, so windy that people wind-surf on the river.. uhh maybe we'll just have to take up a new sport soon?
Let's see, we saw an otter this morning and it was really cute! We haven't seen much wildlife besides that though. We're so close to Portland! I feel like we'll be able to see it over every next hill..! Take that Michael-you'll never make it-Pennington!
Oh, one more thing: In Nebraska we saw this silly mail box that was a horse, and the end of the mailbox where you put the mail was the horses bum and the head was on the post end. Dan and I are thinking of making these and gifting our friends and family each a different animal. However, shipping costs will be outrageous so we'd have to ride each mail box out to the respective recipient. Not sure if this will happen, but I just wanted you to know that we are thinking of you and are getting wonderful, crafty gift ideas.