Day 10: Along the rivers from WA to ID

May 30, 2014

Ione WA to Sandpoint ID

Day: 86 miles; Total: 489  miles

Our route took us for about 56 miles rolling alongside the Pend Oreille River, passing homes, ranch houses , forests and views of the lovely river.  We passed into Idaho just before crossing the river back into Washington for a few feet. We stopped for caffeine and lunch, and decided to press on to Sandpoint.  Again we were now back in Idaho. Riding along, we saw a solo tourist resting in the shade so we met Jim B , riding from Anacortes to his home in Michigan . We swapped stories, laughed a lot and just before parting ways, he and I compared sciatica and ibuprofen tales. Oh well, it could be worse…
We cruised along a hilariously bumpy bike trail along the highway and then across the lake to Sandpoint, arriving at our cute 50’s style motor court at 7:30 pm. Longest mileage day yet on this trip but we were lucky with great weather and almost no wind. Yay!

Leaving Ione  to start along the quiet riverside road

Leaving Ione to start along the quiet riverside road

 

Look!  We made it to Stonehenge!

Look! We made it to Stonehenge!

 

Nuts and dried fruit by the road; fueling to gas tank

Nuts and dried fruit by the road; fueling to gas tank

Another in the  barn series

Another in the barn series

Idaho!

Idaho!

Crossing Lake Pend Oreille into Sandpoint

Crossing Lake Pend Oreille into Sandpoint

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Day 9: Happy Birthday Barb!

May 29, 2014

Colville, WA to Ione, WA

Day: 53 miles; Total: 403 miles

Today is Barb’s birthday. We started the day with tiny bowls of instant oatmeal and weak coffee at the free motel breakfast. We then headed out, made a wrong turn at a traffic circle and biked 5 miles south on very busy I-395 before we realized our mistake. Much as I would like to visit Mono Lake and the eastern Sierras, we can’t fit them in on this trip so we headed back to the traffic circle in Colville. You just have to laugh and we did. To get the day off to a fresh start, we stopped at a nearby espresso stand called Jam’in Java where a very nice young woman made us lattes (triple shot for me) and toasted bagels with cream cheese. Since we were getting off to a slow start anyway, Barb headed across the street to a hard ware store to improvise a way to pad her handlebars as she is getting some nerve damage in her right hand from leaning on them all day. She came up with a very neat fix using foam pipe insulation and grip tape and stuffed little pieces of foam in her biking gloves for good measure. After a missed turn on a road whose name had changed after our route directions were printed, we finally got enroute around 11:00. We climbed about 1,500′ to the top of a long loaf-shaped hill and rolled along the top most of the rest of the day. There was great western scenery – huge open meadows, views of snowy mountains, a big waterfall. At one point a buckskin horse galloped alongside us until he reached the end of his pasture. About 3:00 we stopped at the Beaver Lodge, a cafe/store/cabin resort, for lunch/dinner. The walls were covered with all kinds of trophy heads and skins. After our meal, we rolled along the hilltop a while more then had a fabulous steep descent into the Pend Oreille (pond o-ray) Valley. We reached the town of Ione where we are staying in a nice riverside motel about 5:00. We walked to the super market to replenish our food supply and buy two Dixie Cup sized ice creams to celebrate Barb’s birthday.

 

Barb wants to add:

Thank you for all of the nice bday comments and wishes! I am lucky to be doing this with Bill who is a patient companion for the stresses of this sort of thing, and I really appreciate the support of our kids and family and friends. Today was a great way to spend my bday!

 

Barb enjoys her birthday latte with Traveler.

Barb enjoys her birthday latte with Traveler.

 

An elegantly sagging barn.

An elegantly sagging barn.

 

Crystal Falls on the Little Pend Oreille River.

Crystal Falls on the Little Pend Oreille River.

 

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Day 8: Sherman Pass 5,575′

May 28, 2014

Republic, WA to Colville, WA

Day: 57 miles; Total: 350 miles

Cold crisp day in cute little Republic as we began our 4 hour climb to Sherman Pass. Rain threatened but didn’t appear until we had almost reached the chilly summit. Logging trucks roaring carefully by and a beautiful steam racing past us are my mains recollections of this long climb. I was ready to weep with excitement when we arrived at the top as that was the last of the four big passes here in Washington. From the summit, we rode a long windy (as in lots of wind) downhill following another beautiful stream through the forested terrain til we reached the Columbia River (!).
From Kettle Falls to Colville, where we are now, we rode on quiet roads through very pretty hay and cattle ranches. Tomorrow will be another more moderate climb ( though I guess I should be glad it looks like a loaf, not a triangle) and then a few days along the Pend Oreille River to Idaho.
Barb

Climbing the pass. Note the grade sign in background.

Climbing the pass. Note the grade sign in background.

Traveler in his Baggie rainwear at the top.

Traveler in his Baggie rainwear at the top.

Columbia River.

Columbia River.

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Day 7: Wauconda!

May 27, 2014

Omak, WA to Republic, WA

Day: 68 miles; Total: 293 miles

A short post tonight because frankly we’re pooped. We started the day rolling along the wide Okanogan River into a stiff headwind. After 26 miles, we stopped in the town of Tonasket at the Natural Foods Co-op for some really good sandwiches and coffee. Then we started the 24+ mile , 3,300 foot climb to Wauconda Pass. I had to give a shout-out to Lindsay at the top because in our long-ago father-daughter Indian Princess Days, “Wauconda” was the group’s motto. We always said it right after we passed the wampum jar. But I digress… We had a great descent into the old western town of Republic. The very nice manager of the Northern Inn where we are staying is a dog lover. She gave us 50% off our room and we are donating the balance to Canine Companions for Independence in her behalf. We ended our day of over 8 hours in the saddle with hot showers, longhorn beef burgers and a soft bed.

 

At the top

At the top

 

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Day 6: Happy Memorial Day!

May 26, 2014 Mazama, WA to Omak, WA Day: 61 miles; Total: 225 miles We began by rolling through the beautiful Methow valley, with picturesque farms and green grasslands framed by low hills and the snowy mountains in the background . We passed through Winthrop with its movie set western town motif and then on to Twisp, where we stopped for a break at the wonderful Cinnamon Twisp Bakery, a must do if you are in the area. Protected from major development according to a local cyclist we chatted with, the valley looks to be a fantastic place for summer and winter sports. It was fun to fantasize about living there… Next came to climb to Loup Loup Pass, home to a local ski area. The vegetation changed to scrub and then as we went higher, to pines and firs. We passed occasional ranch houses and their fragrant lilacs along the road were amazing. It was good to have something to think about besides our slow pace on the bikes! From the top of the pass, we rode miles of downhill (yay!)into the Okanogan valley. Here we saw acres of cherry trees protected by giant mesh coverings. A local man told us that these huge mesh “buildings” were incredibly expensive. I guess that’s what I need to win the war against the critters who take everything off of our trees at home! We saw lots of flags flying today for Memorial Day. We hope you have had a good weekend and I want to give a shout out to the Blue Star Moms of Marin who were at Marin events today to honor our service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Check out this story from the Today Show about a Wounded Warrior, his Canine Companions for Independence service dog Liz and how she changed his life.

Charming Winthrop

Charming Winthrop

 

Methow Valley, Cascades in background

Methow Valley, Cascades in background

 

Traveler at the Cinnamon Twisp Bakery in Twisp

Traveler at the Cinnamon Twisp Bakery in Twisp

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Day 5: Day Off

May 25, 2014

Mazama, WA

Day: 0  miles; Total: 164 miles

We are spending the day doing easy chores: laundry, bike cleaning and planning for the next day’s rides.  Turns out there will be total of 4 major climbs to get through the Washington mountains and even though we thought it didn’t rain much in eastern Washington, turns out that we might see some of that in the next few days. In the meantime we will enjoy this beautiful place in the Methow Valley and appreciate the relaxing comfortable inn.

Traveler checks out the elevation side of the map. Those little skinny green pyramids are steep and long!

Traveler checks out the elevation side of the map. Those little skinny green pyramids are steep and long!

 

 

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Day 4: First climb in the “American Alps”

May 24, 2014

Colonial Creek Campground ,WA to Mazama, WA

Day: 51 miles; Total: 164 miles

We packed up in cloudy cool weather and headed uphill towards today’s big climb, Washington Pass.  The ride was long and slow and when my bike computer pooped out, at least I couldn’t be reminded that we were going about 3.5 mph at times.  The scenery was spectacular, with crashing waterfalls lining the roadway and snow banks in among the fragrant forests.  The high snowy peaks were in every vista and when I was not staring at the asphalt, I was planning the next photo shot ( or water and gorp break).  From the summit, we cruised down for miles, at one point passing folks along the roadway setting off on x-c skis! That was a first for us-biking where others were skiing.

We ended the day at the Mazama Country Inn, a charming place that is a center for summer activities of hiking and biking and winter x-country skiing. Tomorrow is a day off to clean bikes, do laundry and prepare for 3 more big hill days ahead.
Barb

Icy waters crashing by the road

Icy waters crashing by the road

 

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Day 3: Riding and Camping in the Rain

May 23, 2014

Marblemount to Colonial Creek Campground at Diablo Lake

Day: 26 miles; Total: 113 miles

We set out in a steady rain this morning for Colonial Creek Campground in North Cascades National Park. Again we followed the Skagit River, but as we gradually climbed it changed from a slow moving river to white water rapids. Riding in the rain was not bad thanks temperatures in the high 50’s and the Showers Pass rain jackets we got before starting the trip. After entering the National Park, we stopped for a break at the visitor’s center. The big relief map of Washington there drove home the fact that we will be crossing four mountain passes before reaching relative flatland near Sandpoint, ID. Leaving the visitor’s center, the rain let up a little as we made the climb up to the campground at 1200′. We found a campsite in the cedar forest, set up our tent and went for a walk to enjoy views of the lake. With more rain falling and nothing else to do, we ate our dinner of apples, crackers, cheese and chocolate (a farewell gift from Lindsay on the morning we set out) and climbed into our tent to read and rest up for the big climb over 5,477′ Washington Pass tomorrow.

Entering the park

Entering the park

 

Hwy 20 bridge over Diablo Lake

Hwy 20 bridge over Diablo Lake

 

Be it ever so humble ...

Be it ever so humble …

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Day 2: Follow the River

May 22, 2014

Sedro-Woolley,WA to Marblemount, WA

Day: 53 miles; Total: 87 miles

Today we rode into downtown Sedro-Woolley for breakfast. It’s an old farming and logging town with numerous chainsaw sculptures along the main street. After breakfast among all the regulars in the local diner, we headed east on quiet roads following the Skagit (Ska-jit) River. We stopped to buy groceries in Concrete, the last town on this side of the Cascades with a supermarket. We’ll be staying in a campground with no services tomorrow night and will need some dinner.  We just rolled along through the day enjoying the views of the river and the Cascades.  Our day ended in the tiny town of Marblemount at the Buffalo Run Inn.

 

Heading into Sedro-Woolley

Heading into Sedro-Woolley

 

Traveler admires a chainsaw sculpture

Traveler admires a chainsaw sculpture

Cascades

Cascades

 

Skagit River

Skagit River

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Day 1: Let’s Roll!

May 21, 2014

Anacortes,WA to Sedro-Woolley, WA

Day: 34 miles; Total: 34 miles

We  finally got going today. A big tradition on eastbound bike treks is to dip your rear wheel in the Pacific when you start and your front wheel in the Atlantic when you finish. Starting in Anacortes, we were on Puget Sound with the San Juan Islands and Olympic Peninsula separating us from the Pacific, so a wheel dip in the Sound sufficed. Last night Barb, Lindsay and I found a paved launch ramp at Washington Park a few minutes ride from our motel. The slope was gradual and the footing was good so we did not end up with ourselves and the bikes in a heap in Puget Sound. Lindsay photographed while we dipped.

Rear wheels dipped

Rear wheels dipped

Then it was time to go. With a son and daughter serving in the Navy, farewells are a frequent event for us, but they are never easy. This time was no exception even though Barb and I were the ones heading out on an adventure of our choosing and we are not going in harm’s way.

The ride out of Anacortes took us through scenic coastline and wetlands on quiet roads and bike trails. Then we were inland on a wide coastal plain passing through farmland with the Cascades gradually looming in the distance. We planned a short first day to check out gear and re-familiarize ourselves with riding bikes that weigh about 50 lbs. more than normal. Tonight we’re enjoying the luxury of a motel in the small town of Sedro-Woolley.

A wide bike in a narrow gate

A wide bike in a narrow gate

Farmland, Cascades & lots of climbing ahead

Farmland, Cascades & lots of climbing ahead

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Ready to Start!

Over the last three days we’ve driven with our bikes from Marin up to Anacortes, WA north of Seattle. This is familiar territory to us as my sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Tim, and our daughter Lindsay all live in or near Seattle. Mary and Tim will keep our car at their house until we return from our adventure. Mary, Tim and Lindsay joined us for a delicious Italian dinner at Ciao Bella in Anacortes.

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L to R, Tim, Mary, Barb, Lindsay, Bill

After dinner we scouted  around a couple of marinas and found a suitable boat launch ramp where we can dip our rear wheels in Puget Sound before starting the long journey east tomorrow morning. It’s hard to believe that the waiting is almost over. After over 30 years of talking about this trip and months of preparation, we’re finally heading out. We’ll see you on the road.

Maps! Starting date

We are using Adventure Cycling’s Northern Tier as our primary route and here is the map set, with Map 1 opened up below. The route starts in Anacortes WA so tomorrow we will start driving to the Seattle area. We will spend Tuesday night in Anacortes and start riding on Wednesday the 21st.

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We are looking forward to seeing our northwest family members before we head out on our eastward journey.

Barb

CCI Graduation and Willa heads to Advanced Training

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Yesterday was an emotional milestone with our CCI puppy Willa VI. She came to us as a fuzzy 8 week old on Nov. 26, 2012 and yesterday we said goodbye to Willa and she trotted off to start Advanced Training.  Here she is in her Matriculation cape ready for her official photo. Our time with her has been filled with training 40 commands, socializing in all sorts of environments (from the Blue Star Moms convention in SF, to paddleboarding in San Diego with Wes, to exploring Seattle with Lindsay) and lots of play and love.

The main focus of yesterday’s events was the inspiring graduation of 18 new assistance dog teams . The class speaker was Jason with his new successor Service Dog Rue II. He is a Wounded Warrior who spoke eloquently about how CCI assistance dogs change lives. Here is a short video about him and his first CCI dog Nepal.

We enjoyed connecting with the CCI community and celebrating the work they do and now it’s time to turn to final preparations for our adventure ahead!
Barb

The Bikes and All Our Stuff

Barb and I are both riding steel frame touring bikes. They’re heavier than the carbon fiber wonders that folks zip around on in Marin, but sturdy and they mount front and rear racks for panniers – saddlebags. We’ve toured on them before in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, down the California coast to San Diego and for six weeks in Canada from Montreal to Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.

Barb’s bike is a Bruce Gordon Rock’n Road built in Petaluma,CA. Mine is an REI Novara Randonee. Today we laid out everything we’re taking and did a test packing on the bikes.

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That’s Barb’s bike on the left and mine on the right. Baggage for each bike weighs about fifty pounds and includes clothes for on and off the bike, rain gear, a few cold weather items, tools, six inner tubes for each of us, sleeping bags, air mattresses and a two-person tent. We split the tent components between us. We are not carrying a stove or cooking gear but will carry groceries we can eat cold and hit a restaurant when we can.

When everything is loaded on the bikes, they look like this:

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I should mention the third member and mascot of our trip, Canine Companions for Independence puppy Traveler. He’ll be enjoying the scenery from a perch on Barb’s bike and having his own adventures along the way.

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News from the Pedaling Puppy Raisers: cycling to support Canine Companions for Independence

Willa and map
Willa is previewing the start of the route in Washington State.

 

In mid-May, Bill and I are going to embark on a long-planned bicycle trip across the country. The plan is to ride primarily on Adventure Cycling Association’s  Northern Tier Route, from Anacortes WA to Bar Harbor Maine ( 4,294 miles). In addition to wanting to see the beautiful USA from the seat of a touring bike, we also want to raise awareness for Canine Companions For Independence and its Wounded Veterans Initiative.

Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of adults and children with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. Headquartered in Santa Rosa, CA, Canine Companions is the largest non-profit provider of assistance dogs, and is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. The result is a life full of increased independence and loving companionship. You can learn more about the assistance dogs and the people who receive them, including the wounded veterans, at the Canine Companions for Independence website.

We became involved with Canine Companions For Independence in 2010 when we got our first puppy to raise for them. Volunteers from all over the country raise the puppies from the age of 8 weeks until about 18-20 months, at which point the dogs go to Advanced Training at one of 5 different campuses. We have raised Eva IV, who graduated as a Hearing Dog in 2012,and now we have Willa VI, who is about to go to Advanced training in mid-May.   Keep your paws crossed for her- the dogs have very high standards to meet if they are going to be a graduate!   If that turns out not to be her destiny, she will come back to us as our pet.

Please do not feel pressured to do this, but if you would like to support Canine Companions For Independence, you can go to our Pedaling Puppy Raisers Event Page to donate. We will thank you personally when we get back ( at the end of the summer if all goes well).

We will be periodically updating our progress on this blog so you can vicariously experience the scenery, the people we meet and maybe also the inevitable headwinds and flat tires. On fully loaded touring bikes, we will be slow, but that way we can see and hear the world around us at a leisurely pace.

Thank you, and Eva and Willa thank you too !

Barb and Bill