Ride the USA-Days 38-39: Grand Coulee Dam

Wednesday, July 1—Libby, MT to Grand Coulee, WA

I met Gloria and Shauna in front of the motel this morning. They hail from Alberta and come to the US often to ride. It seems Alberta is much like our Midwest with lots of long, straight roads, which are not nearly as fun as long, curvy routes with elevation changes. Apparently the pavement here in the States is much better, too. (Clearly they haven’t ridden in Michigan.) Gloria’s boyfriend was just leaving as we met—headed back to Alberta to work. She and Shauna were headed to Washington, as was I. Ran across them once later in the morning.

2015-07-01 08.57.122015-07-01 11.12.462015-07-01 12.06.12 2015-07-01 12.12.452015-07-01 15.44.50I thought this was going to be a casual day of great riding along a portion of the International Selkirk Loop to Tiger, WA, including the Wild Horse Trail Scenic Byway and the Panhandle Historic Rivers Passage in Idaho. The goal was to enjoy the ride and take only necessary stops along the way.

The route I chose, guided by Harley-Davidson’s annual adventure map, was excellent with mountainous terrain from Montana through the Idaho panhandle and well into Washington. I did some horizontal zigzagging, and at one point headed west from Tiger to Colville, WA on highway 20. About half way to Colville the landscape looked like Paul Bunyan had a bad day and took it out on the forest with his huge axe, hacking trees left and right. As I progresses it looked more like a war zone, or a tornado had touched down. Sure enough, two nights ago on Monday, June 29, the area was hit with 100 mph winds that snapped off trees like they were toothpicks and pushed them over with ease. I saw cabins with trees smashed through their roofs and house trailers pancaked by falling trees. Utility crews had removed downed trees to clear the roadway, bulldozed others into piles, and were furiously repairing power lines to bring electricity back to this rural community.

Nearly to the western end of the devastation and just east of Colville is Crystal Falls, where I stopped to take it all in.

Towards the end of the day the road emerged from the second mountain climb and descended into the Columbia River basin in the Colville Indian Reservation. The landscape turned from green to a crispy brown, much like the foothills of Idaho, eastern Oregon, and northern California. The temperature rose substantially. I was ready for some A/C when I arrived in Grand Coulee, but took a few minutes to visit the dam.

Shout out to so many friends from the potato industry and otherwise in Idaho and Washington!

My friend, Angie, who has been following my ride, sent me a text to warn me of a fire near Wenatchee that might be in my path.

Route:                   2W, 20W, 21S, 155S
Miles Today:         326
Time Today:         8:15
Total Trip Miles:  10,440
Weather:               Sunny from low 60s to high 90s
Lunch:                   Ronnie D’s Drive In, Colville
Lodging:               Grand Coulee Center Lodge
Dinner:                  Safeway

2015-07-02 10.05.12

Thursday, July 2—Grand Coulee to Renton, WA

I began the morning with a great breakfast of biscuits and gravy, two eggs over easy, two links sausage, and breakfast potatoes at Flo’s Café, next door to the motel. (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this classic breakfast.) Flo’s main customer base is local people, mostly older men who meet for breakfast and chat about the goings on in Grand Coulee.

2015-07-02 12.58.52Today’s plan was for a very casual ride through central Washington to Renton. Lisa was flying up to meet me and spend the July 4th weekend with our close friends, Tom and Tori. The route followed the Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway from Grand Coulee to Coulee City. Angie was right about the Sleepy Hollow Fire near Wenatchee. It had burned a significant amount of acreage, but was mostly contained by the time I rode through. The southern portion of the Cascade Loop Scenic Byway from Orondo to Monroe was terrific riding. I stopped in the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth for a break and enjoyed walking around the streets. The Huckleberry Cheesecake ice cream was pretty good, too.

I rode on through the Stevens Pass and stopped at Zeke’s Drive In for a late lunch. Their deluxe hot dog was one of the best I’ve ever eaten.

I was taking my time today, stalling a bit to give Lisa and Tori some time together before I arrived and Tom got home from work. I decided last night to see if a BevMo close to Renton had a bottle of Tom’s favorite bourbon, Angel’s Envy Rye. They had just one available on their website, so I bought it and diverted to the Bellevue, WA store to pick it up. When I finally arrived in the area the traffic was horrendous. It took an hour to ride the final 15 miles.

We had a great beginning to this reunion with Tom and Tori by catching up over dinner at The Calcutta Grill, complete with bagpipes playing ceremoniously at 8:30 pm.

Route:                   174N, 155S, 2W, 522W, I405S, Coal Creek Parkway SE
Miles Today:         242
Time Today:         7:01
Total Trip Miles:   10,682
Weather:               Sunny in low 70s to high 90s
Lunch:                   Zeke’s Drive In
Lodging:                Dabasinskas Residence
Dinner:                  The Calcutta Grill

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