A very smoky dawn broke on my 650th consecutive day with a trail/road ride. Upon first seeing the haze, the coastal dwellers among us wishfully thought it was fog. The smoke seared at our nostrils as soon as we went outdoors. Visibility was highly limited, and that remained the case throughout the day.
After getting up and about on the early side, Ariana of KXLY interviewed me while the crew prepared for the day’s excursion. At the conclusion of a thoughtful and inquisitive interview, we all loaded up and drove to where the ride left off yesterday. Todd and Karen met us at the day’s start point, and Todd graciously accepted an interview with Ariana.
Nan, a kind woman who we met along the trail the day before, showed up with her two grandkids to cheer us on at the outset. Ben Boyd joined us at the start and rode with us for the first 10 miles before generously returning to his logistically supportive duties to this venture. He has been schlepping people, gear and bikes around since we began yesterday. Todd rode with us for the first mile or so, and that mile turned out to be the only part of the day that we were on a trail, except for a very short stretch shortly thereafter. We fast found ourselves on busy roads while Ariana and the cameraman leapfrogged us for a while, catching footage of our progress.
We worked our way up a steady incline as we left the Spokane area and ventured toward a high plateau. We gradually left wooded slopes and moved into barley and wheat covered undulating fields that stretched as far as our eyes could see. The smoke restricted our views of distant highlands. The mid-August sun inevitably grew strong despite the constricting haze that blanketed the sky.
Because we can’t tell what kind of road surfaces are at play from maps, we ended up on a quiet washboard gravel road for a couple of miles. My wheelchair groaned and clanged as I attempted to weave it onto the smoothest strips of the road. This only lasted for a couple of miles before we again rode on asphalt. A large military plane lumbered over us as we approached the Fairchild Air Force Base on a side road by the name of Rambo before turning onto US-2. At this point, Jimmy stopped running at 13 miles and began biking.
The entrance to the base was choked with traffic as big rigs and other vehicles relentlessly and closely passed us. For the rest of the day, we rode along the US-2, but for a brief detour onto the old, dilapidated Sunset Highway. This navigational attempt to get us away from the heavy traffic of the main highway led us to a cracked, bumpy, neglected roadway that we could not tolerate for long. But the brief spell on this tortured asphalt paid off as we came across a great horned owl who flew in front of us, then rested on a branch in full view. At the same time, a pileated woodpecker flew by, enlightening the birdwatchers in us.
Back on US-2, there were two times that my crew had to block off traffic to get through sections that had absolutely no shoulder. Both times, the drivers who were delayed by our actions were extremely considerate, and we were not placed in any unmanageable circumstances. It was nevertheless stressful for all of us.
As we continued along the wheat fields filled with the songs and flights of western meadowlarks, my lithium battery performed even better than it did yesterday. I got 23 miles out of it today, as opposed to 20 miles yesterday, with far more elevation gain: 1525 feet today versus 615 feet yesterday.
After arriving at our destination of the town of Davenport, our thirsty selves headed straight for Iron Goat Brewing Company. We were delighted by their beers, and I was given a brief tour of their barrel works. Greg, the head brewer and owner, was a generous host who provided a special tasting of some of their barrel aged efforts. We appreciate Iron Goat’s brewing flair, their range and quality of styles, and their magnanimity in hosting such an eclectic but eccentric group. Hats off to Iron Goat, keep up the good brewing work. This was a fine conclusion to a wonderful day 2.