Day 65 – George, WA to Easton, WA – 84 Miles
Today was the day of unexpected climbing. Unfortunately on Google maps you do not get elevation guides when you route for cars as I had to do to meet Daniella in Ellensburg. I ended up with one large climb followed by a nice descent just to have an even longer 15 mile climb before descending into the valley Ellensburg is nestled in.
We met sometime around 1pm and had lunch at this cool cafe that was converted from being a church. After lunch we rode a winding state road for a more or less gradual climb through a few towns until we got to Cle Elum where we stopped for coffee. From there we jumped on the interstate for a solid dose of incline and headwind for the last 14 miles to the small town of Easton.
Day 64 – Harrington, WA to George, WA – 94 Miles
Sorry for the delay. We did finish! Will have everything updated tonight.
Long day! Another day riding alone. I just want to note that I hadn’t noticed how close the Harrington camp site was to the train tracks. I spent the night and early morning waking up a few times thinking I was getting run over by a train.
The first 25 miles were a gift today as I was going mostly downhill and had the first tail wind in a while to make it to Odessa for a big breakfast. Unfortunately the winds weren’t so kind after breakfast. I bypassed dropping into one small town and made it to Soap Lake (both the town and the actual lake) to have a coffee by the water.
I chatted with a local there for a while, unfortunately I forgot his name because I’m writing this a few days late. He wished me well and I kept riding another 10 miles or so to Ephrata and decided on a family Mexican restaurant. After a huge meal I got another coffee and headed on my way for another 27 miles. These were rather boring with lots of sagebrush. I did pass something strange along the way though–a few bee farms. They were right on the side of this state road. Luckily I didn’t get stung but there were bees everywhere.
I camped for the second night in a row at an RV park with mostly permanent residents. I slept well and somehow slept clear to 6:30 am despite it being very bright outside–I guess the trains left me extra tired.
Almost stopped in to this Ephrata movie theatre — man did I miss the movies.
Downtown Soap Lake
The damn bee farms on the side of the road.
Day 63 – Coeur d’Alene, ID to Harrington, WA – 82 Miles
Before I talk about today, I’d like to mention something from the night in Coeur d’Alene that I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post. So when we were waiting to be seated at this cool kitchen and tap house restaurant called Crafted in downtown Coeur d’Alene, a kid and his dad walk up to us and the dad says something along the lines of, “Hey! It’s you, from Dubois… my kid recognized you guys.” We’re a little taken aback. We respond with yes we were in Dubois (Wyoming he means), a while back. He elaborates (again I’m paraphrasing), “We’re on a road trip and we remember you and the British couple from there. How funny to run into you guys again we just had to say hi.” Anyway, we explain our story and talk for a little while before we get seated and go on our ways. We had never spoken to them in Dubois, but I’m almost certain they had shared a table with the British couple, Kathryn and Rob at Cowboy Cafe because I remember seeing the Brits converse with a family at the restaurant.
Anyway, on to June 20ths ride. Another day alone for me. Daniella decided to rent a car again and go explore while I ride “the boring part” of Washington. We’ll meet in Ellensburg, WA on the 22nd to ride half the day together then.
I ate a large, early breakfast at a diner across the street from our hotel and am on the road before 7am. It’s in the high 50s when I take off and sunny. After just a couple miles on city streets I hit a trail that takes me all the way to the Washington-Idaho Border. It’s a very scenic trail for the first while with huge evergreens and mountains on one side. The trail continues past the border for a while, but I eventually get off of it to take a more direct route through Spokane Valley and into downtown Spokane. I stop into a downtown Spokane coffee shop for some iced tea and a croissant and hang out for a while before I go on my way again.
Unfortunately for me, there’s a huge hill to climb on the west side of Spokane to get to Airview Heights. After a very commercial stretch, I hit a patch of evergreen trees and a downhill and suddenly it seems like I’m back in Kansas–rolling hills and farmland. Thankfully, there weren’t actually too many hills and they weren’t too steep but the rest of the afternoon is marked by farm after farm and a few small towns.
The first town I pass through is Rearden. I’m hungry for lunch and I’m at about mile 55, so I stop into a local burger spot and get myself a double cheeseburger with all the toppings. I relax there for a little while then head on my way through another 14 miles of farmland until I get to Davenport. There I stop into the local pharmacy and get myself a freshly brewed iced latte from the vintage looking diner counter top on one side of the pharmacy.
Once outside the pharmacy, I begin chatting with a couple enjoying the afternoon with their children. The couple, Jarod and Linda, are as sweet as can be. I tell them about my trip and we talk for a little while. Jarod has an old friend that had done a similar bike trip in the past and Linda is actually from the Cocoa Beach area in Florida. At a point in the day when I was feeling kind of low and somewhat tired, the mix of coffee and an uplifting conversation with these amazing strangers (now friends), gave me the energy I need to keep going for the day.
The next 15 or so miles to Harrington go by rather quickly as I’m again met with more hills and farmland. I get to the quaint RV park at the end of town just around 5pm. The owners are as nice as can be and with only one other person staying at the park I get to pick anywhere on the grounds. The place is quite nice and is located right next to whole nine of the local golf and country club. I set up my tent and head up to the country club for dinner. I watch the beautiful sunset and use the golf club’s internet before calling it a night under the awesome Washington stars.
Day – Haugan, MT to Coeur d’Alene, ID – 80 Miles
Another long day that went my fast. No stopping for lunch today as we were excited to get to Coeur d’Alene which we had heard so much about along the way. Well, it surpassed the hype–CdA, as it is often referenced, was amazing; definitely one of the best cities/towns of the trip. The city is set against a huge lake and mountains all around it to the east. The views coming into the city were amazing and the downtown streets were lined with cool shops, restaurants and bars. We stopped at this nice park right on the water on the way in to take a few pictures and take in the scenery.
The ride itself was fun in my opinion. We had three pretty significant climbs today, which means three significant descents too. The first climb started from mile one of the day up to lookout pass which is the border between Montana and Idaho. If any of you are confused please look at a map of the U.S.–yes we were in Idaho a few days ago but need to cross back in for a day to get to Washington.
Anyway, right at the top of the first climb, at about mile 16 for the day and 1600ft of elevation gain, a major construction zone began on I-90 (the only way to get to Coeur d’Alene). This was interesting because the road became a tight single lane guarded on both sides by those huge concrete barricades. The road was very rough, so going down this mountain at 25+mph we had to be very cautious to avoid any potholes we could. Luckily the speed kind of helps with the rough road because you can just fly over any large gaps instead of really getting your tire in there. At any rate, despite the tight fit we were passed by a few cars until it stopped about 2 miles into the descent. We later found out an 18-wheeler was holding up traffic behind us and just barely caught up to us as the construction was finishing (another 3 miles later). On the descent, I did lose a water bottle that jumped out of the back pocket of one of my panniers when I hit a large crack or pothole. Daniella says she nearly ran it over when it popped out, so I guess we’re lucky she was able to avoid it.
After the first descent we were able to hop on an awesome trail for 15 or so miles called the trail of the Coeur d’Alene. It’s definitely one of the smoothest trails we’ve been on and was pretty scenic for the first few miles. After a while we popped back on the interstate because the trail heads further south to another town before looping up to Coeur d’Alene and was not what we were trying to do on an already long day. We hit the next climb after a few miles which we didn’t really expect but was pretty challenging. It was starting to get hot out so that was also a factor. After this climb we were on the home stretch and did another smaller climb just as we were getting into the Coeur d’Alene area. This one felt a little smoother because the surroundings were so amazing. We had spectacular views of the mountains and the lake that Coeur d’Alene is nestled on.
After a brief ride through the park and downtown we headed to the hotel. After getting settled in, we went back to downtown to pig out and get ready to watch the Car d’Lane Friday cruise which was a parade of classic cars that was happening in downtown. We ended the night celebrating Daniella’s birthday (June 20th) with four slices of pie at Shari’s Restaurant and Pies–amazing.
On to Washington tomorrow!
Day 61 – Missoula, MT to Haugan, MT – 89 Miles
We got off to an early start today and did the first 57 miles almost without stopping. At that point (just after 11am) we had reached the small town of Superior, Montana. We ate at the first place we found which was a BBQ cafe with a souvenir shop attached to one side and a casino on the other. Despite the appearance of the place and the sandwich (below) the “Smoked Montana Cuban” was delicious and filling.
After lunch there wasn’t much to see on the way to our stop for the night at this Silver Dollar Bar complex. For pictures of the place, check back tomorrow. They can explain the name. Anyway we got dinner at the cafe attached to the bar and of course some pie.
Aside from the first few miles getting out of Missoula, we were on I-90 the entire day. It was the best option It was actually a very scenic ride through the mountains and crossing over the St Regis River multiple times. There were a couple not so safe crossings over bridges where the road got narrow and we needed cars to basically merge into one lane to avoid us. Luckily it all went smoothly. Tomorrow we’ll try and head out early again as we plan to do another 80+ mile day.
Day 60 – Drummond, MT to Missoula, MT – 50 Miles
Short and easy day today as we rolled into Missoula just before 11am. The wind was slightly in our favor and it was mostly downhill. I forgot to mention that yesterday we dropped below 400o ft of elevation for the first time since somewhere in Kansas.
We took I-90 the whole way today which kind of feels like the cheap and dirty route, but it was still pretty scenic. Honestly, the other route was just a little risky considering we’re pretty anti-dirt road and being on the interstate is completely legal in Montana. We got more confirmation of that when we passed by the Adventure Cycling Association headquarters in Missoula and spoke to a very friendly representative there. For those that do not know, the ACA makes many cyclist friendly maps for different routes around the U.S. We’ve actually only used the maps for a handful of days, but they promote cycle touring and we love it! They gave us free ice cream, snapped our picture and put us on their visitor wall. We were able to spot a bunch of our friends from the road on the wall which was pretty cool.
We spent the afternoon walking around town and eating…duh. See below for amazing pizza.
Hellgate Cyclery, a local bike shop we stopped by.
YES – handlebars to open the doors to ACA headquarters.
The wall of visitors! We’re the orange ones right next to the blank spaces.
Big Dipper Ice Cream
Wow this pizza was amazing.
Day 59 – Butte, MT to Drummond, MT – 75 Miles
Today got off to to an interesting start. First we were on a bike path that had huge gaps and mounds that were trying to give us flats. The next bike path we were on was mosquito infested and I ended up swallowing a few by accident. We did end up having two deer cross right in front of us on the second path. Once we got back on roads we had some smooth riding for a few miles until we hit a couple dirt roads and eventually a dead end (thanks Google Maps). We found a new route and decided I-90 was a better option than to take a gamble on a side road that could be tens of miles of dirt/gravel road.
We ended up taking I-90 for the majority of the day. Before we got on we had actually seen a couple pairs of cyclists on it, so we figured it had to be ok. We didn’t see any signs indicating cyclists weren’t welcome (which we have seen on other interstates), so we went for it. Throughout the day we were even passed by a couple highway patrol cars and none of them stopped to advise us otherwise.
The wind was partially with us and partially a non-factor for the first 40 miles of the day. That, mixed with the downhill slope made the first 40 miles feel like a gift. We rolled into Deer Lodge, MT for lunch close to mile 43 and found a pretty good sandwich shop at the end of Main St. To our dismay, the winds had taken a turn for the worse while we were eating. The last 32 miles of the day were met with much stronger cross and head-winds as I-90 twisted and curved its way to Drummond.
In Drummond we found an amazinggggg burger spot with a burger book including over 100 burgers. Of course we topped it off with some ice cream at Frosty’s next door.
Dirt roads = not impressed
Montana is still beautiful.
Hitchhikers on their way to Seattle. This was actually the second time we passed them today, so maybe this won’t be the last of them we see.
Main St – Deer Lodge, MT
Historic prison in Deer Lodge.
The huckleberry trend continues.
Drummond has a number of anti-meth murals.
We love all the old cars and trucks we’ve seen on this trip–this one is a beauty.
Day 58 – Ennis, MT to Butte, MT – 80 Miles
Boom–another 80 mile day. Feeling very positive about today because we rode strong and climbed over 4000 ft. We had one short 3 mile 900 ft climb in the morning to get out of the valley Ennis is located in. Then late in the day, we had a long gradual climb to Pipestone Pass which is just 10 miles south of Butte. The descent was a lot of fun though because it was a little steeper and had some fun switch-backs I was catching up to cars on.
Anyway, we ended up loving Ennis! We had breakfast at the local pharmacy which also doubles as a cafe. We ran into two fellow tourers on our way out that were doing about half of the Transamerica Trail. When we woke up, the wind was blowing pretty hard from the North, but luckily it died down a little bit during breakfast because it didn’t end up being so bad when we finally hit the road. Although the day was long, it went by much smoother without the brutal headwind from the day before. It was still pretty cold most of the day so we stayed bundled up in our jackets until almost 1pm.
To be honest, Butte is quite ugly from first glimpse. The backdrop the town is set against is what seems like a huge mining excavation in the mountains. The streets are very wide and full of commercial shops, restaurants, and tons of small casinos. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by all the amazing small towns we’ve been through but Butte just doesn’t seem to have that much charm. Then again, we are still on the outskirts somewhat so maybe I’ll report back if my mind changes tomorrow.
What’s up with the socks on the chair legs?
Big breakfasts are a must.
Kip and Bob are on their way to Bend, OR from Pueblo, CO via the transamerica trail.
Nice little coffee shop on the side of the highway.
Near the top of the pass in between Ennis and Norris.
Montana is beautiful.
On the way to the top of Pipestone Pass.
Day 57 – Island Park, ID to Ennis, MT – 67 Miles
So happy today is over. We faced a brutal headwind all day. On top of that, it was freezing the entire morning. Even with a gradual descent for a large portion of the day, it was tough to get the speedometer above 12mph.
We passed lots of open plains surrounded by mountains all day. We did pass one large lake on the way out of Island Park and a few small rivers and creeks throughout the day. We also encountered a number of cyclists. We stopped and talked to two that were doing the transamerica trail. Seven others that passed us were packing very lightly and from speaking with the other two it seems that all the guys packing light are doing the race across America. There are basically no set times for the race. I think the only point is to get across the U.S. on the transamerica trail as fast as possible without assistance. Interesting race considering there is no prize or entry fee according to, Derek–one of the bike tourers we spoke to.
The view of Henrys Lake just north of Island Park.
Derek was on Day 19 of his trip along the Transamerica Trail.
Richard from Connecticut is doing the whole trail Transamerica trail. He started in Asturia and is headed to Yorktown. Goodluck!
The cows are always watching us.
Caught in action!
The Madison River right before getting into Ennis.
Ennis is one of our favorite towns of the trip. I definitely want to make it back here some day.
Day 56 – Driggs, ID to Island Park, ID – 81 Miles
After making some good time in the morning, we realized we had to add about 10 miles to our expected travel in order to stop for lunch in Ashton which was a little out of the way. We also decided to take a more scenic route through Mesa Falls and stopped to take a few pictures. All in all it was a pretty good day but a significantly different scenery for each half. The morning was nothing but open space and farmland with the Tetons out in the distance. The entire afternoon was in the middle of a forest. We also did some decent climbing (more than 2500 feet) but no real net elevation gain because we did have some nice descents too.
Lower Mesa Falls
Targhee National Forest
Huckleberry is all the craze from Wyoming all the way up into Montana. I love the ice cream. This soda Daniella got was amazing too.
Day 55 – Jackson, WY to Driggs, ID – 34 miles
On the road again! Short day today because per usual after rest days we get off to a late start. We didn’t start riding until after 1pm so we decided to have a short day. On top of the late start we also had the steepest climb of the trip getting to the top of Teton Pass. While we are used to 6% inclines, today’s was 10% for the majority of the climb. Luckily we were on an old road that has been converted into a bike and walking path for the entire climb. However the downhill was on the state highway.
Shortly after the steep 3 mile descent, we crossed into Idaho. We were lucky to find another bike path for 8 miles that ran alongside the highway all the way to Driggs. Driggs is a cute small town with one traffic light. Our motel for the night is a few miles north of downtown so we’re going to be lazy and get some Korean across the street now.
Long story short, I had to replace all the gears on my bike s0 I’m basically riding a new bike for the last few weeks.
I’ve become a fan of street signs on this trip and I found this one pretty funny.
A couple miles into the Teton Pass climb there’s a nice small lake to stop and hang out at.
The view from the top of Teton Pass.
Downtown Driggs, ID
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