Saturday 7/18/2009
Day 87
Bozeman, MT -- Wedding

Weddings mean ties. Lynn brought me one from home (and the slacks, shirt, and shoes). I did manage to remember how to tie it -- after two tries -- but the tiny safety pin we borrowed from the hotel front desk to pin it to my shirt was pathetically inadequate. We finally found another . . .

 . . . so I could be in this picture. To the right, Tania and Lynn, daughter and mother. That thin thing against the wall is an antique fly rod. Fly fishing is BIG in Montana. Just read "A River Runs Through It" by Norman MacLean. (In fact, read everything MacLean wrote. It all fits easily in two volumes.
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Sunday 7/19/2009
Day 88
Bozeman, MT to Missoula, MT, 203 miles

No pix here, just three fast driving hours (plus stops) west on I-90 from Bozeman after first attending a family brunch out at the bride's parents' place. Crossed the Continental Divide for the eighth and last time just east of Butte, over Homestake Pass, 6368'. Tania's first day on the bike was devoid of unusual challenges.

Monday 7/20/2009
Day 89
Missoula, MT to Clarkston, WA, 219 miles

This day started with a quick climb over Lolo Pass, 5233', on the Idaho-Montana border, followed by 150 miles of continuous mountains and canyons and pass after pass.

About 40 miles east of Lewiston, ID we dropped into the Clearwater River canyon (below) and followed it all the way down to the Snake River.

The water really is clear, quite devoid of sediment. The green color comes from entrapped air from the rapids.

Below the rapids the river becomes more tranquil and offers various recreational spots such as this one.

We arrived at Clarkston and had drinks and dinner out on the the balcony with Larry and Maryann, where this sunset view greeted us.

Maryann hadn't seen Tania since she was about ten years old, and couldn't wait to see her again. It was great that we had the opportunity to visit.

Later that evening I heard from Lynn that our good friend Warren Hodges, whom with his wife Jean we were to visit the next day, had passed away earlier that day. Jean discovered him when she got home from work, still in bed where he had kissed her goodbye that morning. I called immediately. Her house was full of people caring for her, and one of them assured me over the phone that Jean was absolutely still expecting us and did not want us to even think about skipping our visit on account of Warren's death.

Tuesday 7/21/2009
Day 90
Clarkston, WA to Sagle, ID, 160 miles

The ride was uneventful except for some bad construction delays north of Coeur d'Alene, and we arrived in time for conversation, drinks, and hors d'ouevres on the deck (below at right, second floor; my white head and T-shirt show up, above my white bike parked underneath). This is a very large house for two people.

It is now a very large house for one small, brand new widow (lower left, on the phone, where she spent a lot of time that evening).

Tania snapped pictures as the sun went
slowly down on a warm evening. Warren built, planted, and stocked this trout pond.


The field below their house at sunset.

Apple and wild flowers in the lengthening shadows. The trees are scrupulously trimmed just out of deers' reach, or there'd be no apples.

Me and Jean, and her Alaskan Husky, Yukon.

Warren was 78 and had a variety of health problems, but no one expected him to die so soon or with so little warning. The manner of his death was utterly without pain or suffering -- he simply died while asleep -- but the timing is an additional challenge for Jean that compounds her grief. But she is a remarkably strong and firm-minded woman. Always has been. I have never seen someone so calm in such a situation. Surely her many, many friends had much to do with this, but her own fortitude was abundantly evident. Tania took this photo over my shoulder while Jean and I were talking.

The Hodges' property is a hunting-free zone, and they have made all manner of wildlife welcome with feed corn all year plus hay in winter. Deer, elk, moose, coyotes, hummingbirds, and turkeys abound. Every night this turkey flock parades down from the hill towards the trees at right, where they roost (yes, I didn't know this, but turkeys can fly -- just).

Wednesday 7/22/2009
Day 91
Sagle, ID to Omak, WA, 232 miles

Taking an early start we rode US-2 west from Lake Pend d'Oreille and soon picked up Washington State Highway 20, which we would follow all the way to Puget Sound. We rode abut 100 miles before stopping for a late breakfast in Colville, WA -- still in hilly, relatively cool country -- then climbed up to Sherman Pass at 5575'. After that it was all downhill, literally and in terms of "quality of life". The landscape grew progressively more arid, the temperature climbed progressively higher, and the surroundings grew progressively less photogenic. We took this one photo while still in the mountains, but after that we were simply surviving from one 20-30 minute hop to the next, separated by rests in any available shade.

Me unpacking the bike at the motel. Don't know why Tania took it. It may not look hot, but it was sweltering.

Die, bugs. Good riddance. Better on the bike than on me!

Yeah, that's right, 110 degrees in blazing sun and not a breath of wind.

After recovering in the air-conditioned motel room for half an hour or so, we forced ourselves back into the heat to go shopping for dinner. We got groceries at the local Wal-Mart SuperCenter and retired to the motel to eat. The good news: the next day would be cooler.

More on that in the next update!