Saturday, December 24, 2011

Washington State, Idaho and Canada - 1995

Bicycle trip to Washington State, Idaho and Canada

Leave Harrisburg in 90+ heat on August 31 – layover in Pittsburgh for short time before heading to SeaTac. We had a few rough spots, but all in all a good flight. We could see the ground all the way. Arrive Seattle at about 8 p.m. their time – 11 p.m. our time. We found our Hampton Inn after a bit of driving around and had a little trouble getting the correct auto for our bike rack. At 2 a.m. our time we fell asleep – long day.

September 1

Early call from the Merrill’s gave us directions to the home of Cliff and Rose Goudy – in-laws of their son at Holy Cross. They live on Magnolia Island, reached by bridge – a lovely community – manicured. The houses are built on tiers of streets giving everyone a gorgeous view of the harbor. They hosted us to a breakfast at Fisherman’s Wharf – really terrific food – with the fishing harbor in full view of our table, lots of atmosphere.

John and Chip drove 470 miles to Spokane on Route 20 – wow. The first 150 miles are mountains – high and covered with conifers. Douglas Fir, Western White Pine, Western Hemlock. Then we came to very dry, arid land – high hills but desert dry with no green growth. The earth looks sandy. A quaint Western town called Winthrop with Wooden sidewalks was a delight, but we went to an elegant resort called Sun Mountain for lunch ($9 sandwiches). We sat on the deck on the edge of a cliff – absolutely spectacular views of brown mountains and valleys – the topography is startling in its range of hills and canyons. The next surprise are rolling hills of fresh cut wheat – huge acreage farms as far as the eye can see. Arrived in Spokane Brewery for fabulous raspberry beer and chicken stew. Good to see everyone!

September 2

Gorgeous day, cool morning – hot midday. Early call from Russ Oakley – he’ll be here at 7:30. We are off to his house in a lovely section of Spokane – high on a plateau adjacent to the business section. Their house is lovely – manicured, small lot, and gorgeous trees. Ann has done a fabulous job of decorating it – very comfortable feeling. The children are lovely and they love it here. We headed off at 9 for a bike tour down the hill to the city, which was without traffic in the early morning coolness. We met the rest of the group at a giant carousel and went on a 29-mile ride on the Aubrey White Parkway. Russ and Ann have a buggy with two seats for the children.

Returned to Riverside Park and pigged out on taco salad and root beer. Tired – many hills but a gorgeous ride. This city is so very unusual with the Spokane Ruin cutting a wide swatch of blue through the canyon of evergreen trees. You look down or up and the walls of lava rock have decided where the city shall be and where the parks shall be. A cookout at Russ & Ann’s was a great end to our day. His homemade beer was excellent – I tried them all!

September 3

Another gorgeous day and we get an early start. The men drive the vans to Cover D’Alene at 8:30 and Russ drive the men back to the hotel. We leave at 9:30 and the three men caught up to us at the Arbor Crest Winery. We went to the market and packed a lunch. They shuttled us up the mountain to the winery where we enjoyed lunch with a view. Then on to Coeur d’Alene – a total of 39 miles on a wonderful paved trail. The hotel is very beautiful and this lake is spectacular. I can’t wait to explore this place tomorrow. It was a terrific day of biking – almost flat and so beautiful all along the Spokane River – a very shallow, wide bed with river stones of every size. Cocktails at Oakley’s and dinner with the Merrill’s at Macaronies – to bed, to bed – biking makes the bed appreciated.

September 4

Another beautiful day, temperatures in 70’s. We had an early breakfast at a yuppie coffee shop – overpriced, but we walked around town and around the marina window sopping and getting our morning workout. John and Chip worked on the bikes and I went to the golf course with Jeannice. The pro-shop is one of the best I’ve ever seen. I bought a pair of shorts and a golf t-shirt – expensive! It was fun to watch the golfers trying to land their golf balls on the floating green. This golf course is magnificent – no rough. The rough consists of blue grass cut ½” longer than fairway blue grass. The green moves along cables anchored to the lakebed to vary the playable length from 100 to 175 yards. The 160-acre course has magnificent plantings including over 30,000 geraniums. We had a trip back to the hotel in a cruiser. It was an exciting ride across the lake. This lake freezes over in the winter. I visited the shops and had lunch before bicycling with the group for about 12 miles. Dinner at the Beach House was very good. Tomorrow we take off for points North. Gorgeous day here on this fabulous lake.

September 5

Beautiful day – cool mornings, warm afternoons and cool evenings. We left Coeur d’Alene after breakfast and drove East to Wallace Idaho. On the way we stopped at Lookout Pass in Montana to ride mountain bikes on the mountain. We rented bikes and had a guide. We are novice mountain bikers, but it was fun and we did about 15 miles, some rough on rocks and through streams, but some on old railroad beds. We went on to Wallace, the silver capital of this state. Today I visited the jewelers and saw some nice silver pieces – bought a pair of handcrafted silver earrings by a local artist, Rob Harper. The town is poor – 1,000 residents. They live for the she crowd and the limited mining left here.

September 6

Another gorgeous day – cool in the 50’s early, to 70’s later. Breakfast was huckleberry pancakes and they were delicious at Brooks Hotel. This is a little mining town in the mountains and hasn’t changed much in 50 years, I expect. We had a tour of a fake silver mine and a museum video. IT was a hazardous life and we were left with a pretty grim picture of lime of a miner in 1880. We drove to Pind Oreille (Ponderay) for lunch (200 miles) through the most magnificent part of Idaho and Montana. The scenery is breathtaking. When we crossed the Canadian border at Eastport and drove about 20 miles, we turned a curve in the road and behold these in the sky were what looked like mountains of ice. The sun was going down as it was late in the day and we all emitted an ahh as we drew in our breath at the sight. They were the Canadian Rockies and I may never see them quite so magnificent again as the light was part of the show. What a sight it was!

Arrived at Fairmont Springs tired – a quick cup of soup and a dip in the hot springs put me to sleep. We lost an hour as we crossed the time zone so I’ll sleep in.

September 7

Fairmount Hot Springs. Brisk clear morning. We had breakfast in the hotel dining room. This is a western lodge – large rustic rooms, western décor. We have had very comfortable accommodations. After checking out the two gift shops we left for Canada and Lake Louise. It is the most scenic ride we have ever taken. The mountains with their glacier tops are all around you – very steep – the tree line is low – about halfway up. Water courses down in waterfalls.

The Baker Creek Lodge and cabins is fantastic. We have our own little condominium with fireplace, kitchen, bedroom and living room – very rustic décor, but delightful. We decided to eat in and Sue and Jeannice went shopping. Our dinner was great – spaghetti with meat sauce, salad and cookies for dessert. The best deal yet - $12.70 per couple. We are having breakfast in also. Three couples in each of two condos. Some of them have two bedrooms and Jacuzzi tubs. The best thing is a beautiful glacial stream running by our back deck, bubbling over rocks.

September 8

Friday – gorgeous day. Cooler than any yet. I’m layered for our hike up to the Tea House overlooking Lake Louise. There is a low cloudbank covering the mountain peaks as we arrive at the Lake. It is a glacial, smoky green color – but as the sun comes out we unwrap the mountains and the lake turns turquoise. Our climb to the teahouse is marked at 3.5. The altitude contributes to our slow climb, but we make it in two hours. We see lots of chipmunks in the rocks. They are so tame that people feed them from their hands. The scones and lemonade at the summit were good, perhaps because were so hungry. We also spotted mountain goats on the rocky sides. They are gigantic and look very strong. The first one I thought was a horse. We also saw an eagle and quite a few more goats, but everyone is hoping to see a bear.

The trip down was more difficult than up on our knees and feet, but we came down in half as much time. We drove to Moraine Lake, but I as unimpressed after Louise. I’ll never see anything as breathtaking as that turquoise lake and glacier in one eyeful. While on the climb we saw an avalanche. It sounded like thunder and we turned to see a large chunk of glacier come over the edge and down into the canyon. It was a waterfall of snow.

September 9

Another gorgeous day – we drive to Banff and find Hidden Ridge Lodge to be disappointing. The views from our Quonset huts are fantastic so we will grin and bear it. We had an hour in town. It is a busy town – pretty good size and has the alpine look – nice stores. The hotel Banff Springs is beautiful and very large. It is set up in the foothills overlooking a majestic river surrounded by glacial mountains – sophisticated and rustic all at the same time. The scenery is unbelievable. We took a bicycle ride along the golf course drive passing glacial lakes and the Bow River. Dinners have been disappointing and expensive. Tonight it is Cilantro – 3 star?

September 10

We head downtown – cool morning but clear and sunny again. We couldn’t find church so decided to get to the shopping. We had good luck and finished that and lunch before our ride back came at 1 o’clock. After changing into our bicycle clothes, we’re off to a bike ride to and around Minnewanka Drive at Minnewanka Lake, Two Jack Lake and Johnson Lake. We were back for the cocktail hour and everyone wished Deanne and me a Happy Birthday with cards and a terrific bicycle t-shirt. We had some good laughs. They are a terrific group and we have had a fabulous time.

September 11

Off early after seeing the alpine glow on the mountain at sunrise – a pink sky – just beautiful! We drove to Calgary and left the Merrill’s at the Best Western. John and I headed south on Route 2 to Glacier National Park. Wow – the scenery is incredible and the drive on “Going to the Sun” highway was unbelievable and impossible to describe. These mountains with their glacier hats are so majestic and the road to the sun was literally up to the sky – John and I were breathless and glad to get back to river level. Spent the night in White fish – neat frontier town – ski country. Our hotel is fabulous, new – Whitefish Lake Lodge on a lake – condominiums.

September 12

Whitefish, Happy Birthday. Early morning is lovely on the lake. It is cool, but much warmer than it was in Canada. We have a driving day to Spokane. It is about 6 hours and we drove to Russ and Ann Oakley’s, arriving shortly after 2 o’clock. We got right to work on the bicycles and finished in 2 ½ hours. They are ready for UPS tomorrow. We had a swim with the children before dinner. Grant and Molly are delightful – grant is so loveable and we’re decided 3 ½ is a perfect age. They are so well behaved and are fun to be with. Ann had a fabulous dinner of salmon, asparagus and rice. The best meal since leaving home – really! The food has been very mediocre on this trip.

September 13

Off early after seeing the children. We went to UPS and sent our bicycles. We have a long drive today to Seattle on Route 2. It is very interesting to see the different areas. It goes from rolling farmland to barren dessert – bike land to mountains filled with evergreen trees. We stopped at dry falls to view the canyon caused 13,000 years ago by the melting of the glacier during the last ice age. It must have been quite an event to cause such deep erosion – it reminded us of the Grand Canyon. Then we stopped in Leavenworth, Washington for lunch. This town is a Bavarian copy – every building and shop has carried through the theme. It was a fun stop.

September 14

Home today. Another fabulous day of perfect weather. Left SeaTac at 7:30 a.m., arrived Pittsburgh 3:15. Left 4:00 and arrived in Harrisburg at 4:30. Everything is burned up in a drought. We’ll be watering until the first frost. Good to be home!

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