Across the USA - From New Hampshire to Washington State

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 49

08/04/2006 04:12:30 by Administrator

From: Eureka, Montana
To: Libby, Montana
Mileage: 68


We think we found Cycling Heaven on Route 37 from Eureka to Libby. Cycling heaven is 65 miles of ospreys, bald eagles, mountains, Lake Koocanusa, Kootenai River, and a quiet road. Our eyes and brains hurt from trying to enjoy all that was around us. We found ourselves not saying anything for long stretches, just lost in our own thoughts. These two photos are all we need to explain.

We met a fellow teacher, cycling across on the northern tier. Fred Brown is biking, with his wife Gania following in a motor home, across America from west to east. You can read more about his adventures at:

We took a rest break at the Libby Dam. Libby Dam is the culmination of years of effort on the part of both the United States and Canada to develop a flood control plan for the Columbia River basin. Lake Koocanusa was named by using the KOO in Kootenai River, the CAN in Canada and USA. The Kootenai River is the third largest tributary of the Columbia River, contributing almost 20 percent of the total water in the lower Columbia. The dam stands 422 feet tall and about one-half mile long and creates a reservoir (Lake Koocanusa) which provided the backdrop of our canvas today.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 50

08/05/2006 04:18:40 by Administrator

From: Libby, Montana
To: East Hope, Idaho
Mileage: 84

Along Route 2 heading west out of Libby brings you to Kootenai Falls hiking area. There are two short trails one which leads to a swinging bridge and the other to the falls. Both hikes led to beautiful views of the falls and white water. After exploring and taking photos we were back on the bike for just a short jaunt on route 2 until our turn off onto route 56.

Route 56 snakes through the Cabinet Mountains following the Bull River; it is a fairly quiet route with minimal traffic. The temperatures were in the 70's and the skies were bright blue. Just another stellar ride though the mountains! We stopped for a picnic lunch at Dorr Skeels, a USFS campground on Bull Lake. Each of the tent sites had lakefront. Put this one down in the book to return to some day it was beautiful.

It was a shame when Route 56 came to an end. Our next road was route 200, which was moderately busy with no shoulders. Adventuring Cycling does try to divert you to side roads where possible, and we recommend taking their advice. We crossed into Idaho without a sign but we knew something was different when the road surface went from potholes and moguls to smooth flat new pavement. Idaho we love your roads! Just after crossing the state line we met three cyclists heading west from Sandpoint, ID to Glacier. Joe, Rocky and Nick (Rocky's 17 year old son). We discussed travels for a while and Joe extended an invitation if we needed a place to stay in Seattle but both of our schedules are off. Thank you for the kindness. We are overwhelmed with how many nice people we have met in our travels.

The end of our day brought us to the Sam Owen Campground (USFS). The campground was full but while looking for the campground host a gentleman stopped us and offered us the use of the tent pad in his site. Fred and his wife Karen are retired and on the road vacationing in their 5th wheeler. Fred has done some long distance touring along the Pacific Coast highway and knows the feeling of "no room left at the inn". We eventually did find the campground host and were able to procure our own site, right at the waters edge on Lake Pend Oreille! The campground host (Joe) allowed us to share his site, which was very large and had a nice grassy knoll. After a swim in this pristine lake and a quick bite to eat we sat and watched the sunset from our own bench.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 51

08/06/2006 04:20:12 by Administrator

From: East Hope, Idaho
To: New Port, Washington
Mileage: 58

Well the sunrise over the lake was just as pretty as the sunset. We were off to an early start this morning and after packing up the tent we headed out. Hope we didn't wake any of our neighbors. We try to be quiet but I'm sure the other tent campers heard all of the zipping and unzipping and crinkling of folded tent etc.

Breakfast was just down the road in Hope at a really quaint hotel and restaurant that over looked the lake. Our first destination today was Sandpoint, population 6835. We need to replace the rear tire before we begin the mountain passes in the Cascades and it is laundry day.

Sandpoint is a really neat town. Boy they have it all! Lake Pend Oreille in the summer and skiing in the winter. There are six bike/sporting good shops in town so we assume lots of hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing in between. The downtown area is really bike friendly except for route 95/2, which unfortunately makes it's way though the center. We were able to avoid this busy road and navigate to the laundry mat, 4 of the 6 bike shops and lunch. We also avoided 95/2 and found the exiting bike path leading out of town.

The bike path was a godsend as it parallels busy 95 for about 5 miles. We only had to ride 95 for 3 miles until our map sent us off down a quiet country road. We swung through Round Lake State Park another beautiful campground right on a lake for a pit stop. Then continued on our route for the afternoon, which followed the Pend Oreille River. Over hill and dale - we went up and then down, though mostly forested countryside. This part of Idaho reminds us a lot of New Hampshire.

The temperatures have warmed up a bit. The temperature reached the high 80's as we crossed over into Washington State at about 5 pm. We entered our last state and pulled out our last map of this trip. It is good to get out of the sun. SeeMore is getting a new tire and chain lube and it's my (Mary) turn to catch up on the journal.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 52

08/07/2006 04:21:41 by Administrator

From: New Port, Washington
To: Ione, Washington
Mileage: 53

Our ride today paralleled route 20 on the other side of the Pend Oreille River on North LeClerc Road. Yet another stellar ride, we know we keep writing that sentence, but it is just . . . true. Quiet road, ospreys, turkeys, golden AND bald eagles, Selkirk Mountains, Pend Oreille River and for added enjoyment, a herd of bison!

We met a fellow northern tier cyclist, Fred, a couple of days back on Route 37, and he had warned us about road construction around Newport. Keeping this in mind, we had breakfast downtown then proceeded to the information center in Newport. The gentleman at the center was very nice, and told us of road construction on Route 20 from Usk to Cusick. After showing him the Adventure Cycling map, which showed our route on LeClerc road. He assured us that there was NO construction that way.

You are guessing correctly, 5 miles into our ride on LeClerc road we encountered road construction. While waiting for the "follow truck", we had a great conversation with the two flag women. They had seen a number of cyclist going both east to west and west to east and actually told us the major stops that we will be making and have taken on this section of the Adventure Cycling map. After about 15 minutes, the follow truck showed up, and SeeMore bravely followed behind through 1.5 miles of road construction. One section had pretty soft sand (this is SeeMore's number one fear!), but we made it through and really enjoyed the rest of today's journey.

We stopped at Manresa Grotto for a rest break (the two photo today are of Manresa Grotto), it is a couple of caves carved out of the rock when the river was at this level. We then had a picnic lunch at the Panhandle Campground (USFS), yet another campground with water front sites.

Today was not all wine and roses. Noel had his first sick day of the trip. He had a pretty bad headache, and not sure if it was caused by allergies, smoke (there are multiple forest fires burning in Washington state), or some bad food. His headache finally cleared about 10 miles from Ione, and thankfully so because it reached 94 degrees at 3:00.

We spent the afternoon out of the sun, and will investigate Ione once the sun gives us a break.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 53

08/08/2006 04:22:59 by Administrator

From: Ione, Washington
To: Kettle Falls, Washington
Mileage: 55

Today was a tune up for tomorrow's Sherman's Pass. We had to get over the Selkirk Mountains on our way to the Cascade Mountains. It was another beautiful ride and the riding conditions were near perfect. So far Rte 20 is very light traffic. We had an overcast sky with temperatures rising to 91 degrees, but by the time that happened, we were pretty much done for the day except for riding around Kettle Falls to see what we could see.

After turning on to Rte 20 (about 4 miles into the ride) we were greeted with a five-mile ascent with a number of switchbacks. One pedal at a time brought us up and over onto a 10 mile plateau through the Selkirk Mountains and Colville National Forest. The only thing missing in the tall pines, dark mountains, and marsh grassland was a moose or two! It was just like being at an Imax theater (only better!), except SeeMore was our seats and yes we had to pedal a couple of times.

After our decent out of the Colville National Forest, the Adventure Cycling map takes you on side roads into Colville (population 5000). We had little trouble with these side roads, but for the west to east riders . . . we would suggest staying on Rte 20. It has the same scenery, and the climb out of Colville is very steep.

Lunch in Colville was proceeded by a ride around town. Afterwards, it was a short ten-mile ride to the small town of Kettle Falls (population 1500). Tomorrow the climbing begins in earnest.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 54

08/09/2006 04:24:22 by Administrator

From: Kettle Falls, Washington
To: Republic, Washington
Mileage: 44

We had a great dinner last night at the Apple Warehouse Deli in Kettle Falls. We split a sandwich and shared a Greek salad that was just perfect. They also had home baked cookies and goodies, which we also easily consumed!

The morning ride began with a 3 mile decent to cross over the Columbia River. It was quickly followed by a 25-mile ascent of Sherman's Pass. This was not easy, we are guessing that we averaged between 4-5 mph for most of the 25 miles, especially the last 7.

On the way up, the Rear Admiral spotted a rest area with rest rooms. She said, "I'm going to signal left". What I saw was a single touring cyclist coming down from the pass, so naturally I pulled up next to him. He was from Germany, and spoke very little English. We are from America, and speak very little German. We think he is making a loop from Seattle to Colville Washington, then up to Canada and over to Vancouver before finally returning to Seattle. He was a very nice gentleman; we just wish we could have communicated with him better. So after he continued down hill, I start to pedal SeeMore back onto Rte 20 and continue up the mountain. However, the Rear Admiral wanted to continue to go left and towards the rest area. SeeMore doesn't go very well in two directions at one time, so naturally he didn't. This was a rare time on this trip that our minds were not in tandem.

The pedaling might have been a challenge, but the scenery was grand and it made the efforts easier to handle. At one time we believed we startled a moose in the marsh next to the road. All we heard was the sound of something very large, sloshing to get out of the water. Could have been Bigfoot, now that we think about it!

We are here in beautiful Republic Washington (population 956, maybe). It is a pretty nice small town nestled in between two passes; Sherman and tomorrow's challenge Wauconda (elevation 4310). As I type this, the Rear Admiral is sleeping (3:00 pm). She worked very hard today, and I am truly blessed that she was able to pedal me up the hill!

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 55

08/10/2006 04:27:46 by Administrator

From: Republic, Washington
To: Okanogan, Washington
Mileage: 72

Another day, another stellar bicycling ride with some surprises along the way. We had a short climb (about 14 miles) to go up and over Wauconda pass. Not a lot of challenge, taking it one pedal at a time we were surprised that we had reached the pass so easily. Next we had a 25-mile down hill into Tonasket and into the Okanogan valley. The valley is very arid, except for the Okanogan River and the thousands of fruit trees (apple, nectarines, peaches, pears) that are irrigated from the river. We were very surprised how much this section of Washington looked like Montana with rocks, cacti, dried grasses, sage, and cliffs. . . except, of coarse, the fruit trees!

We had lunch in Tonasket, and this is where route 97 joins route 20, which makes for a rather busy stretch of road. Adventure Cycling has a few side roads that keep you away from a lot of the 97/20 traffic. So far when Route 20 is by itself, and not joined by another route, it is very quiet.

We also had our first dog chase of the trip. A very fast Jack Russell Terrier (picture Eddie on the TV show Fraser) came at us as we tried to reach maximum warp speed. SeeMore was riding into a headwind, and 17 mph was all he was willing to give. The Jack Russell was willing to give 21 mph. The Rear Admiral, with the speed and accuracy of a modern day Annie Oakley, shot the Jack Russell right between the eyes with a blast of ice-cold water from my water bottle. The dog was defeated, and I lost some valuable ice-cold water. . . but ankles were saved in the process! (did I mention I lost some valuable ICE-COLD water?)

There are a number of extremely large forest fires burning north of Okanogan and northeast of Winthrop. The Tripod and Spur Peak fires have burned more than 74,800 acres, or nearly 117 square miles, of national-forest land. They were both started by lighting, and have been burning since July 24th and are only 20 percent contained as of this writing. We could see the huge amount of smoke coming over the tops of the mountains as we rode in the Okanogan valley today (see photo below).

Tomorrow is the Loup Loup pass (elevation 4020) and we are hoping for two non-smoking seats on SeeMore as we travel just south of the fires.