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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Twisp to Kettle Falls, surprisingly fast.

We are now in Kettle Falls, Wa. If you look at the map, you might be impressed by how quickly we got here. Well, that was mostly thanks to some kind and helpful strangers who gave us a lift over the last two big passes in Washington.

We spent a restful day in the strange fake western town of Winthrop and cycled to Twisp that night. Most of our riding that day was through the Methow Valley which was so beautiful. Farms, ranches and houses with little gardens and aromatic lilac bushes. There are a lot of trails for mountain biking and hiking and we found a couple of nice little stores serving organic and local items. It was really nice.

On wednesday morning we left Twisp and soon began to ascend the 7 mile Loup Loup (or Loop de Loop as Ray called it) pass. It was nothing compared to Washington Pass, but a long continuous uphill is not easy. Luckily it was a pretty quiet road with a few campgrounds and such along the way. When we made it to the top, we were of course rewarded with a speedy descent. Amazingly as we went down (Ray way way ahead of me) we were in what seemed like another climate. Much drier, I guess basically a desert. It was sunny and hot. We passed through some apple orchards, unlike any orchards I have seen. Each tree was pruned to just a few branches, I guess so they could produce perfect fruit. It was interesting to see. I guess this area isn't the big orchard lands of Washington, but we went by quite a few.

We stopped for lunch at a park in Okanogan, which was really nice and shady, but the sprinklers were going constantly and it was hard to avoid getting sprayed. I found it odd that almost every field and lawn we saw in this area had sprinklers going on them, even though the climate was so dry. Someone told me today that there are big lakes and resevoirs further north which water the valley. We also followed roads along the Okanogan river.

After Okanogan we stopped quickly in Omak for a cold drink and found it to be a pretty down and out town, the shell station was hopping, though. It was a hot ride through more desert to get to Tonasket where we spent the night.

This morning we began to route to Wauconda Pass but decided to turn back and take an easy day because of knee pain. We eventually found someone to give us a lift five miles out of town and started riding again. After a while we found another person to give us a lift up the rest of the climb to Wauconda (pronounced wah-kon-duh). We were at a small diner/gas station which seemed to be the town. There really wasn't much of a town, but at the station they sold t-shirts which said things like "Wauconda Town is this?" and "Just Wauconderin' around." Ray struck up a conversation with a couple who had a pick up truck, but they were headed the other way. Just before they left they changed their mind and agreed to take us all the way to the top of Sherman pass (the highest pass we would go over in WA). They were really nice and we chatted thw whole way there. It was a pretty easy glide down the pass and after crossing the Franklin Roosevelt Lake/Columbia River we were soon in Kettle Falls.

We didn't really want to skip ahead, but we already crossed two of the passes (including the hardest one) and they're not all that much fun. Anyway, skipping 50 miles doesn't really detract from the grand scheme of 4000 miles or so. Sorry we don't have more pictures. I have been taking some, but its Ray's job to get them online.

I hope everyone is well and lots of love.


Tony said...

Dirty blue blazers.

Jess said...

It sounds lovely - and I'm all for taking whatever route makes sense at the time! Good luck in the heat! We're thinking of you.

kaptain said...

Ha ha...nice one Helium ! Sounds like a pretty sweet trip so far guys. Would love to see more photos !

Duncan said...

Hi, thinking of you both for so many reasons.lots of people are ,too. Big party here last night , 45 people, a graduation party for C. 15 youngsters playing whiffle ball . Ray I love your bike , thanks. Any way your trip sounds like it is lot of everything. I feel for your knees. A the stories are great.

Duncan said...
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