I awoke at 5:40 to Mark fiddling around with his bike. No, not yet pal. I went back to sleep, and apparently so did he… outside the tent however… for some reason. Maybe he and Paul had a squabble… I wouldn't pry.
Once we all rose at a reasonable hour we headed to our last road breakfast with mark down the street at the Mission Inn. They also had a really cheap, awesome jukebox, but I'm not sure my crew was ready for my antics in the morning, so I resisted. Mark met some guy named Floyd out front of the restaurant who was down on his luck. Of course he offered to buy him breakfast, so Floyd sat and enjoyed a meal with us courtesy of Mark. Floyd seemed kind hearted and had actually lived in Key West and Seattle. Where we came from and where we going to (short term at least).
After we all finished and were swollen from the meal, we headed out on the interstate highway, another potentially illegal thing (still not sure) we had coaxed honest Mark into. It would make for the shortest path to our destination, so I think his legs would do the talking. It did however mean one more pass, fourth of July. It would be a celebration.
Mark decided to march on and hope for the best with the bike instead of trying to make it to one of the bike shops along our path. It would prove to be the right choice. We ascended 4th of July muy rapido, with Mark leading the whole way. Afraid to switch gears, Lance Ceglarski (a.k.a Mark Armstrong) climbed the whole not in his lowest gear. He really left it all out there for his last hoorah (sp?). Impressive.
After we made it down the other side, we easily found the spot to get onto the bike trail that Joe had pointed out to us on the map the night before. It would be smooth sailing all the way into Spokane, or so we thought. We rolled on the trail for a while until it came into a town.
Couer d'Alene was the name, and ask me again I'll tell you the same. We got some little things at the gas station, where there were some odd workers to say the least, and we continued on our way.
The path became a bit difficult to follow after this point, fortunately quick thinking Chris had picked up a map of it at the entrance. The trail makers did their best of cutting through Couer d'Alene, but we were left without signs and a clue of where to go a few times. However, it was nice to pass through this park area with there were large gatherings of these things called humans that we hadn't seen much of in the few days prior. We all agreed it was nice to be back in some population.
We kept on keeping on and came to the Washington border. It began to rain right before we got in so it was a good time to stop and put on the coats anyway. At least Ali G thought so. I called Christie to see which way we should go off the trail. I wrote down all the directions she said on a map, and we headed to the end of the Centennial trail into Spokane.
When we eventually arrived in Spokane I attempted to follow the directions (I really did Christie), but ended up sticking to my comfort zone, the gps on my phone. We rolled through Gonzaga, the former home of the beautiful Adam Morrison, who Paul didn't know (really though?). Very nice campus, we'd have to come back. The bike path basically ended after that, and it was city traveling. I took us through some perhaps not ideal biking areas, but we were heading in the right direction. As we got closer, as Christie warned us, the grade of the hills were pretty severe. As Paul and I always say, we never finish easy (should be easily). We scaled the tough hills to their house and we were done. Woohoo! Mark had finished his week strongly, the bike made it, and Paul and I would have our first break day since Steamboat Springs in Colorado.
We were greeted out front by Christie, the non-nudist. She was even more pleasant in person than on the phone and had us all set up with storage for the bikes, laundry, and showers in no time. Supermom to the rescue, we needed it. Katie (who had just gotten back the week before form a NYC to Seattle ride with her sister Emily) was inside preparing loads of food. It's great to have a touring cyclist's perspective as they're empathetic to the insatiable appetite.
Before showering, I went into Mark and Paul's room and shook Mark's hand, congratulating him on finishing out the week with us. I can only speak for myself, but I think we all had a great time. Now it was time to relax and enjoy the final night with Mark on the team.
After we all showered up, the kitchen was filled with great hors d'oeuvres. I was the first to attack, the others better hurry. They did. Christie had made two different dips that were both amazing. I could go on forever, but needless to say, they could cook, and there was plenty of food.
Kit, Jamie's father, came back from work and we were ready to eat. We were in the kitchen for hours enjoying one another's company. The Querna's are great conversationalists, and Katie "can really fill a room" to quote her mother.
After a few beers and some great stories, the Querna's were ready for bed. Early to bed and early to rise makes a man (and woman after 1970) healthy, wealthy and wise. Mark went to bed shortly after they did. There was an inflatable mattress and two beds upstairs. We insisted Mark not sleep on the inflatable mattress as he had a long day of traveling the next day and had earned the spot all week.
Katie was sort of into documentaries were "people take themselves way too seriously". That left us with two options, a documentary about professional Scrabble players, and Fistfull of Quarters, the King of Kong, a documentary about nerds battling for the bout of highest Donkey Kong score on the original arcade Donkey Kong. We went with the ladder.
What a superb choice. Although it was a bit theatrical, these guys were definitely still freaks. It was fairly entertaining, and I dozed off towards the end. When we retired upstairs Mark was of course on the inflatable mattress and I almost picked him up and put him in the bed, but I restrained. We only had plans to see Mark off the following day, and we'd figure it out after that. A day off the bikes sounded like music to the ears.
Life was good.