Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 10 - Spokane or Bust

I woke up early because it was too hot to sleep anymore.  It was the first warm morning of the trip.  We had been riding for a week, but it didn’t seem like that long.  In retrospect, so many things had happened and so many extreme swings in emotions that I really can’t believe it was only a week.  So day seven began and we rode away from the casino, ready to meet Spokane, (Spo-can as the locals call it).

We stopped in a small town to get breakfast at a place called Harvest Café and had the best breakfast that either of us has ever had in our lives.  Our appetites had been disturbingly insatiable and we both ordered the “haystack,” which was two eggs, hashbrowns, and biscuits, smothered in cheese and country gravy, with crushed bacon on top.  It was an enormous amount of food, spilling over the edges of the plates.  We each finished every last dribble of gravy, Brenton soaking his up with the extra side of wheat toast that he ordered.

We had more hills that day than we had even through the mountains.  Brenton says it was because through the mountains we were following railroads and interstate that were made to be as flat as possible, but that the roads going into Spokane were merely meant for every day cars and not semis and trains so they don’t worry as much about hills. 

The climbs into Spokane had us a sweating for miles without relenting, but were offset with green fields of tall grasses swaying in light breezes over dramatic crests and valleys with dream houses nestled in between.  Deer braved the road side and barely balked at our strange parade as we huffed passed.  There was a dead moose on the side of the road, followed by the remains of a porcupine, reminding me that I was farm from home.

In Spokane, we found a bike shop to tighten the rear cassette on my bike, and then shyly shuffled our filthy bodies into a laundromat.  I was able to do some blogging while our clothes were revamped and Brenton did the grocery shopping for the next few days.  There happened to be a natural foods store next door to the laundromat.

The dogs and our bikes were settled in between the grocery store and the laundromat in the only shady spot, behind the tables of a little café patio area.  There was no one there when we left them, but by the time we came back out, the patio was full.  We were a little bit nervous, and kept checking on the dogs, but they were so wiped out from walking along side of us as we climbed those epic hills, that they were sleeping like the dead despite all the stranger danger. 

We ate some disappointing Mexican for dinner and Brenton played on his lap top.  He discovered that the nearest camping was sixty miles away, and stealth camping was not an option in this heavily populated area.  We swallowed our pride and booked a hotel room.  It was a Holiday Inn on our way out of town, right off of highway 2.  We headed that way.

Spokane is not the most bike friendly town.  They had bike lanes downtown, just like at home, but no where else that we rode, not to mention the insane hills that I would terrify me to drive a car down, let alone bike down.  We found highway 2, and to our dismay, not only was there no shoulder, but there was a curb at the edge of the road so that we couldn’t even ride in the dirt next to the highway.  Brenton checked the map for an alternative route, and there was none. 

The highway was a non-divided four lane, and traffic was not that heavy, so we headed off on the side of the road with our big orange flags at the back of our trailers as our only protection.  We rode up the six miles hill for less than a block, when the squeal of brakes behind me sent my panicky body bailing into the curb.  A woman had swerved at the last minute into the other lane in order to miss us, and just about hit a few other cars.  I got back up and kept pedaling, but was shaking so hard that each breathe came out in broken bursts like it had been chopped up buy a sous chef.  We rode like that, up a five percent grade, expecting at any second to be crushed under the wheels of a car, until the curb finally ended and we gratefully trodded through the loose gravel, dirt, and weeds, of the rough edge of the highway. 

A five percent grade is about the steepest thing that we had climbed so far on this trip, and off roading it was a strenuous endeavor.  As if that wasn’t enough, the ground became soaked with the run off of someone’s sprinklers and we were riding through muddy weeds.


The hotel was a welcome site at the top of the hellish hill, and the hot tub, cable, (which we don’t even have at home), and soft clean bed, were a guilty luxury that we relished in for a comfortable night.      

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