Thursday, September 13, 2012

Where there is Smoke, there is Fire

I was having trouble remembering what day it was, and I was thinking it probably time for a shower and a bit of a hand wash of the socks and long underwear. A motel in Twin Falls, and some internet connection to see whats up in the world of interwebs.

  Did I mention that I tried really hard to get my packing fine-tuned and get rid of as much unecessary gear?  I spent the time in Tahsis trying to configure and re-configure the gear.  I decided to go with these fuel carriers, rather than the more cumbersome aluminum carriers attached to the foot pegs.

In spite of lots of angst and figuring, Blondie still looks like she is going to give birth, or she is trying to emulate a gold rush burro travelling up the Deadhorse Pass...they didn't have burros, did they?

Well, I remembered to mark my mileage around the Conuma Hatchery, as the bike rolled over 78,000 kilometers.  I said goodbye to my friend the Elk.  I have spent more than a few times catching a cat nap in front of this guy.

Long underwear is very hand when you are stealth camping, and the temperature in the mornings  is getting down to freezing.

I had planned on leaving south from Victoria, and meeting up with my friend Garth in Seattle. Unfortunately Island BMW could not get it together to have the parts ready for me when I arrived at 8:00 AM, and I ended up missing the window for the Coho.  I thought about heading over on the Anacortes, but I thought that two ferries would lengthen the day.  I used our old standby, and rolled through the Peace Arch Portal at a little after 1 in the afternoon.  I told the border guard that I was heading for Mexico, and after determining that I was not going to leave any of my "stuff" in the US, I was free to roll.  I got away from I5 as soon as I could, and determined that I was going to head in a generally easterly directon until I hit Utah, and then move south.

My first night of camping, at the height of the Cascades.  No wonder I was cold in the morning!

I had to stop and take a picture of these guys scaling the rack face.  A tough job: dirty, dusty and you had better not be afraid of heights.

I headed east on number 2 towards Leavenworth.  I remember riding from the west towards Levenworth three years ago, when Ian and I were new to riding.  I think that we were pretty tired and angry with each other after a 700km ride that day.  I think that I have learned from that experience.  I was not much impressed with Leavenworth then, and even tho there were few tourists, it was time to move on.  I found a good place to camp for the night, on the road to Ellensburg.  Part of the old hiway was inviting, and served me fine.  The sky was clear, and in the morning I realized that I had chosen to camp at the height of the Cascades, and no wonder I was cold and anxious to get going in the morning.

I should have invested in the wind power sector.  All over Eastern Washington and Idaho these aliens have landed and are quietly spinning away.  There are huge banks of them positioned so that they take advantage of the prevailing winds which blow across the prairies.  

I approached Lewiston from the East.  The fields of wheat which my family of riders and I had rode through three weeks ago were all harvested.  This shot above is from a small town to the east of Lewiston, where I stopped in a farmers market to buy some bread and have a coffee.. The fields are a golden colour and serve as a sharp contrast to the blue skies.  Needless to say, the weather is warming up.  I am still dealing with lots of smoke from fires in eastern Washington and Idaho.

I had to take this picture for my sister.  When we went through Lewiston last month, she remarked on the smell coming from the mill.  I noticed this time that guys were fishing for salmon below the pulp mill, so I am thinking that the Snake River would not be allowing dirty effluent into the river.

Down the road, this historic site was an original Nez Perce site...

I ran into a bunch of firefighters rushing to deal with a spot fire on the highway.  These young people are true heroes, trying to keep the fires from spreading and causing more damage than they already have.

I was low on fuel, so went into this small Nez Perz town, called Winchester.  Nice little community.

On the road again, I saw another alien sitting in a field, ready to pounce on tourists..

I left it pretty late to find a place to crash.  Fortunately I found an old meeting place for the tribes, and I was able to set up a quiety camp for the night.  This hawk was watching me as I came in and got settled.  The coyotes were in all of the fields surrounding my spot, and throughout the night they would set up a little chatter amongst themselves, bragging about the killing of some poor mouse.

In the morning, this is what greeted me:

A large part of Idaho and parts of Montana are on fire, and the smoke is drifting westward. I was plagued with smoke and limited visibility all day as I travelled east and south.  I saw lots of mobile fire teams moving to cover off these spot fires.  A lot of the fires appear to be what we would call grass fires, and the more traditional "forest fire" was not readily apparent, although lots of fields were burned and scorched.

This afternoon, I had a wonderful ride down the Hell's Canyon area south of Lewiston, and also enjoyed some brand new paving on the Payette River system.  These guys could teach some of our contractors a thing or two about smooth roads without joints.  This was a wonderful ride, and set me up in order to endure the traffic of Boise and the boring interstate towards Twin Falls.  While I write this, there is a documentry on Chaco Canyon on the television.  I visited this area two years ago, and I want to ensure that I make the time to see further sites in Utah and Arizona.