Karen had mentioned she was going for an early walk, and had hoped she would catch us before we left. I heard her leave for the walk as I was getting up. It was one of my proudest days yet on tour as I found out I had gotten up before Mark. I went online to get a blog up and check my email. I had received an email from Katie Querna, the daughter of a warmshowers host in Spokane. She mentioned that we could stay with them the night before Mark had to fly home. At the end of her email she included a little factoid that read, "p.s. My parents are nudists… have fun!". Not sure of how to take that, I decided to play a joke on Paul and Mark. I told them that we were all set, but left out the nudists part. I figured the trip was about new experiences, so what the hell. I planned on telling them right before we rolled up to their door. It would be good.
I had just finished up a blog, and was getting ready to submit when the power went out at the Schusters. Damn. It never came back on while we were there, so I was unable to get the post up that day.
Jamie's father Tom was up shortly after having gotten a whole two hours of sleep, so we had a chance to meet him before we got going. We were all in the kitchen for a while eating bagels, muffins and some fruit that Jamie had prepared for us. We talked about the route we were taking to see if we could avoid the interstate, but it didn't look like that was happening. We hung around for a bit longer pushing the boundaries of overstaying our welcome as we often do. I went upstairs to grab my laundry that was done and it was neatly folded in a nice stack. I wonder who the culprit of that was… senior organization himself. I took the nice folded pile, and jammed it into the chaos that are my panniers, and I was the last one ready to go. We went outside to take a picture with them and then we were on our way. Man, it was hard to leave these great hosts sometimes.
Our first stop was a relatively easy ride to a small town called Thompson Falls. We grabbed some more supplies (bread, peanut butter, nutri grain bars) at the grocer that Jamie told us about, and also got a nice big pineapple that we cut up with Paul's knife. It was delicious, but the acid was burning our lips as we all were chapped up really badly.
We set out for Thompson's Pass, about 22 miles ahead again our highest remaining pass at 4852. We had a decent climb to it as we were around 2,300 in elevation at Thomspon Falls. The ride was fairly nice for the first 16 miles or so, but the final stretch, the grade really picked up. We found out later that some sections were 8-9%, that's pretty rough. I pedaled a bit ahead because I wanted to take pictures of Mark conquering his last pass. Sure enough, right before the top, he had a mechanical issue with his bike and was forced to walk up the last section. Bummer.
Thompson's pass was a cool milestone for us because we were changing states and time zones. However, neither sign was at the summit. Really disappointed, we rolled down the other side into Idaho. I never spun the pedals until we were about 100 feet from our stop in this place called Murray. Murray was a tiny town over the pass of maybe 50. There was one bar open that we could tell, and we were all longing for some food after the nice climb. Mark was a bit concerned about his bike as something was not quite right with his cassette (rear gears). We asked inside if there would be anyone close that could help, already knowing the answer. The closest place would be another 30 miles towards where we were going and a cut back on the interstate highway a few miles.
We pondered what we'd do as we ordered from the fine bar's delicasy of hot pockets and other freezer foods. Paul got a questionable bbq sandwich, while Mark and I both got bean burritos. They were good enough. I couldn't believe it, but I was actually able to pick up a weak enough wireless signal on my computer, and found that we were 30 miles away from our next town.
Hoping Mark's bike would hold up, he took it easy on the shifting and kept his fingers crossed. We continued slightly downhill for a while, and then came to a crossroads where the signs were a bit vague. Heading down the road we thought was right, I stopped at the first house and asked the locals if we were heading in the right direction. They confirmed, and we continued on.
It was a fairly nice consistent ride all the way to our next stop in Enaville. Everyone waved to us, and we had a good feeling about Idaho. There was this cool bar/restaurant called the Snake Pit that we stopped at once we got into Enaville which was fairly legendary in the area. The Snake Pit was cool, and filled with people. We hadn't seen many in a while, so it was very nice. The service wasn't the best, but we met a really nice guy named Joe who worked there. He was a cyclist and noticed our gear. We got to talking to him about things and how mark had some mechanical issues. Before we knew it, he was on the phone with a guy the next town over. He was going to put Mark on the phone, who admittedly "didn't know shit about bicycles", so I took it for him. After talking to this nice guy for a while, it came down to one of two things. I wasn't able to fix either, by looking at the bike, so we just hoped to make it through one more day.
We also asked Joe where to camp in the area, and within seconds he was back on the phone asking a local campground if they had room. They did, and he told us where to go after we were done eating. What a guy. Our dinners finally arrived after talking to Joe for a bit more, and we all put them down with ease. Good place.
I actually had cell service for the first time in a while, so after I finished dinner I went to call up our warmshowers hosts in Spokane for the following night to confirm that we were real humans and not just digital entities.
I spoke with Christie Querna, Katie's mother when I called. We would be their first guests, as their daughters had just returned from a cycling trip, and were eager to return the favors they had received through warmshowers along the trip. Christie, could not have been more excited to have heard from me. We talked for a while, and she clued me in on the fact that they weren't actually nudists and that Katie had been playing a joke on us. Touche. I also let her know about the joke I had intended on playing on Paul and Mark. We laughed for a while, and she raved about how cool the Snake Pit was. It wasn't hard to tell they would be great hosts as well. I was excited for Spokane.
I returned back to the restaurant to confess to my teammates about what I had planned on doing to them about the nudists. They took it well and we had a good laugh. Here comes Joe the superhero again. After we had already paid he came around and brought us each a bowl of their huckleberry ice cream. It was magnificent, and a nice touch. Thanks for everything Joe.
Before we left, Joe told us what to look for to pick up the centennial trail, a bike path that lead all the way to Spokane after we crossed one more pass on the interstate. I wrote it down on our map, and we set off toward the campground.
We rode a bike path about 5 miles toward the campground which was right on the other side of the interstate where we would need to be in the morning. Perfect.
Once at the campsite, we set up our tents and got ready for bed. Paul and Mark showered while I did some writing. I was picking up wireless from the house, so I went to ask the woman if I could use her password. She didn't know it, and her husband wasn't around. Damn, it would have been perfect. Oh well, I'd have to wait for Spokane.
Day 5 down for Mark, with one easy day with a low pass the following day. It looked like he would make it, but we were a little worried about his rear gears. One more night of camping and the next night at a warmshowers host. We had a nice balanced week for Mark. By midday the next day we would be in a state that bordered the ocean for the first time in two months. Wooohooo!
Life was good.