Thursday, 24 September 2009

Day 19: Whitefish, MT - Chelan, WA

Dams. And damns. Today's route zig-zagged its way across northern Montana and the Idaho panhandle before entering Washington, which is the (counts on fingers) eleventh state of the trip. And much of it was Good, though longer than anticipated even with the extra hour gained from crossing from the Mountain time zone into the Pacific. Forests, rivers and lakes at first, with a particularly good bit being the road along the shore of Lake Koocanusa.

I was supposed to turn off halfway down this, but failed to do so as the road didn't merit the luxury of a signpost. Instead I went all the way down to the end, at Libby Dam.

Onwards into Washington and turn left at Kettle Falls to run down the east side of Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake, which hav a very interesting history if you are interested in hist. which few boys are. It was created in 1942 when the Grand Coulee Dam, about eighty miles away, was completed. The Grand Coulee Dam is Dead Big,

and Woody Guthrie wrote songs about it. But it's not as impressive as the Hoover Dam, and it buggered up the migration of the salmon and generally made the Native Americans rather cross.

At Miles, the route deviates away from the lake, or rather the other way round, and a good thing too as it meant I didn't have to follow a brace of cocks driving smelly bus-sized motorhomes more than a few hundred yards. Once away from the lake the scenery keeps changing - cultivated grassland, uncultivated badlands more akin to South Dakota, semi-desert and later on, back down at river level, orchards with an overwhelming pong of apples.

Anyway, the dam duly visited, I set forth to Chelan, using the TwatNav as a guide. At least when I reached the bottom of five miles of 12% downhill only to find the bridge that takes US-97 over the Columbia river closed for roadworks, I didn't have to cycle back up. But it did leave me with a sixty-eight mile detour to reach a destination I could almost smell.

Bugger.

This meant that by the time I got to Chelan, found a room, cranked up teh Intarwebs to find the location of the nearest liquor store, programmed the TwatNav to find it and got there, it had closed twelve minutes earlier. And this is one of those stupid states where you can't buy whisky in the local horriblemarket.

Double bugger. Still, at least I have beer.

Thought for the day: In many Catholic countries it is traditional to commemorate fatal road accidents by placing a small cross at the site of the crash. In Montana, this is official state policy. So when you come round a bend in a full-on four-wheel drift that would have The Stig nodding in approval, only to find a Several of these crosses right where you're pointing, well, this is a good time to check that your life insurance is up to date.

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