23 March 2013
Las Vegas, NV
We’ve just been informed that we should put ice down the front of our shirts and shorts, but beware of getting freezer burn in areas too delicate to mention. Clearly we are on another vacation planned by Gina.
No fields full of grizzly bears on this trip nor any expected lightning bolts. Nope, this time she’s selected a more serene, hospitable environment … Death Valley, California. Landscapes rife with burning sun, black widow spiders, and an average daily cycling mileage that exceeds all of the miles ridden IN TOTAL during our preparation for this vacation.
We arrived in Las Vegas yesterday, our jumping off point for today’s shuttle to Pahrump, Nevada, where we will meet the rest of our fellow riders before cycling into the belly of the beast on Sunday. Meeting the group of riders that finished this same trip yesterday (see Adventure Cycling Association, Death Valley Loop for details), we’ve received a preview of our ride, some of the information welcome (you’ll love it, it’s fantastic, we’d do it again), the rest of it not so much (it’s hot, it’s hilly, it’s windy, and did we mention that it’s hot?). Just another day on a Burritowagon holiday is what I’d call it.
It’s doubtful we’ll be on the grid during this trip, but we hope to still be blogging for a post-ride posting. Until then, enjoy our banner photo of cooler temps in Seattle. This is what we’ll be visualizing when our rubber meets the road … and starts to melt.
18 November 2012
Looking Back to 14 thru 16 Sept 2012
Priest River to Sandpoint ID 30 miles (TNV 444 miles)
Sandpoint to Priest Lake and Back to Seattle
Well, we avoided the grizzlies and lightning bolts but not the ever-present danger of succumbing to an unfinished blog. So how did our Two Nation Vacation end? After a 30 mile ride back to Sandpoint, we wrapped it up in style, spending the final few days with our generous host, Ron, at his fabulous cabin on Priest Lake. Ah, look at those blue skies. Maybe waiting a few months to post this on this grey November day wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
13 Sept 2012
Ione WA to Priest River ID 62 miles (TNV 414 miles)
All I do is think about bears on this trip. Brown bears, black bears, grizzly bears. As we were approaching the town of Priest River via Highway 2, which, by the way, has a very “worthy” gas station stop (i.e., ice water and ice cream) a few miles before town, Gina asked me the name of our motel for the night. Picturing their website in my mind’s eye, I was tempted to reply to her “The Bear’s Inn” or “The Country Bear Jamboree” or something similar, for all I could visualize was these, of which there are heaps in their motel photos (and in person):
And yet the place is named “The Eagle’s Nest Motel.” I don’t get it. I did not see a single carved eagle. However, it is the “newest and cleanest” hotel in the area, built in 1994. 1994! It’s nice to know that 1994 is still considered recent. My wardrobe certainly appreciates that sentiment.
Today’s ride was most definitely fantastic, nearly all of it spent cycling on a back road tracing the meandering Pend Oreille River. A delicious second breakfast, no traffic, only one loose little dog that was all bark and no bite, and a replication of Stonehenge for our viewing pleasure. And if that weren’t enough, we chased it all down with tacos and margaritas. Thanks, Idaho, for such a welcoming return.
12 Sept 2012
Salmo BC to Ione WA 44 miles (TNV 352 miles)
Gina likes loops. Loop walks, loop hikes, loop bicycle rides, any kind of loop that prevents her from repeating the same scenery twice. This is slightly ironic given her penchant for constantly repeating herself, particularly when it comes to her lists of things to do for the day, week, month, year, and really, life in general, but that is beside the point. The point is that Gina likes loops and here we are, cycling the Selkirk Loop.
Today we also cycled the Salmo loop. This is a new loop, one we created ourselves, not out of intention but out of the combination of not believing the cue sheet we were reading and a very poorly marked map. Salmo, as we discussed in yesterday’s blog, is a small village, one with a city limit that extends maybe a mile, two tops. This morning it took us 17 miles to exit the city limits of Salmo. No joke, no exaggeration, no real thing to be proud of, 17 full miles.
Following the suggested back route out of Salmo along the lovely Salmo River, we were perplexed when we hit Highway 3. The cue sheet said to turn left, but on our map, the Official Selkirk Guide map, the one handed out to every tourist to help them circumnavigate the Selkirk Loop regardless of number of wheels carrying them, a left turn on Highway 3 would send us climbing up “The Pass” to Creston, The Pass that every inquisitive stranger has, to date, asked us if we rode over and to which we have replied every time, No, we have not/are not crossing The Pass. So a left turn here would just be wrong.
“What an idiot!” we exclaimed of the cue sheet author as we chose to turn right instead of left, the Official map our champion, the author our goat. “Idiot, idiot, idiot” we chanted as we rode along the busy road, not quite registering the fact that the sun, which should have been shining on our faces, was instead warming our buttocks, and the road signs, which should have been informing us of towns to the south, were now advertising businesses in Salmo.
And then we saw it, the final road sign, telling us we were about to arrive at the junction of Highways 3 and 6, but the only direction one could then go on Highway 6 was North. Huh? We need to go South on Highway 6. Ohhhhhh, said the lightbulb. Shoooot (or something like that), said us. Standing at the outskirts of Salmo, our unnecessary loop completed, who are the idiots now?
This is the part of the story where we tucked our tails between our legs, silently turned the bikes around, and headed back south. South on the combined Highway 3/6, south to the place where the roads split and we took that right-hand turn, south to the border crossing into Washington state where we were made to remove our helmets and sunglasses in order to regain entry into our country, south along one of the quietest roads to date, south to a shared cheeseburger in Metaline Falls, south to a nicer-than-expected roadside motel outside of Ione.
11 Sept 2012
Nelson to Salmo BC 25 miles (TNV 308 miles)
I am being attacked by a dog only in this case, I am being killed with kindness. My new best friend and I are sharing the jump-seat of a pickup truck cab along with another canine cousin and my new BFF is intent on licking every last drop of sunscreen from my body, including the side of my face. She’s super cute and frankly, super stinky, as is her traveling partner. Stuffed in this miniature back seat, they are not the only ones covered in dog fur. We could now all use a good hosing down.
Outside the windows we watch the torn up, under construction, shoulder-less, grooved pavement roll past as we exit Nelson in a similar manner to which we entered – via a thumbs-out, thumbs-up hitched ride in a pickup truck. Having just started our day’s ride, we hit a construction zone at mile 2 of an 8+ mile climb and quickly determined that there was no way on God’s green earth we were going to tackle that next stretch on just two wheels.
What we have learned, though, is that one of the blessed (and sometimes cursed) things about traveling in Southern BC is that most everyone drives a pickup truck. It only took two attempts before a very nice young man on his way south to cut a load of firewood pulled over, loaded our bikes and bags next to the two chain saws rattling around the bed of his truck, and gave us a lift up the road. A few “clicks” later (as they say here in Canada) and one last lick from my new BFF, we were deposited at the summit, beyond the construction zone and (conveniently) the day’s lone climb.
While regrouping at the summit, which included Gina making sure that her bike was not “hurt” by being laid out flat in a rusty truck bed with my bike draped across like a cozy duvet, it was time once more to ponder the best route forward: the still shoulder-less albeit lightly traveled Highway 6 or another off-road option, the Great Northern Rail Trail. Asking a nearby local for directions to the trail, Gina was informed by said local that “Oh yes, the trail is just around the corner and would ya believe this past Spring we saw 5 grizzly bears out here in our field where the rail trail runs through?” I think I’m gonna need a bigger bell.
Opting, perhaps obviously, for the highway, it took only a few miles of riding before the shoulder re-appeared, lifting our spirits and finally our pulse rates. This little bit of exercise required a refueling stop at the Ymir store, a super cute off-the-beaten-path grocery/cafe with a very non-people-person behind the counter. But no matter her grumpiness, the homemade eggie sandwiches and drip coffee went down just fine.
Our final destination – Salmo BC – is a quiet village tucked here in the Selkirk Mountains. There’s not much to do in this town, but there are three liquor stores. I’ll drink to that.