Our sleep was followed by an uneventful morning in camp. We were out of the RV park and on the road without a hiccup and grateful the rain had subsided and our tents dried. We rode back down the hill we climbed up the night before and were in new territory once again.
We rode up river toward the Wallula Gap. The winds bottleneck there opposing our direction of travel for the day. The Wallula Gap has an interesting history, having seen the ebbs and flows of the largest known flood to have occurred on Earth. 18,000 to 20,000 years ago a great glacial dam released a lake half the size of Lake Michigan. Glacial Lake Missoula was over 2,000 feet deep and 3,000 square miles, its shoreline still visible high on the mountains above Montana University. The ice dam gave way and drained the lake in 3-4 days, but it’s estimated it took up to a month for the water to work through the bottleneck at Wallula Gap.
We climbed into Walla Walla where we swung by a bike shop for a spoke wrench and a tavern for food, refreshments, and wifi. The Green Lantern was populated by tourists, farmers talking about crops, and locals throwing darts. While neither of us drank anything other than soda and water, we did enjoy a hearty meal and friendly staff; they even put ice in our water bottles as we got ready to leave town!
On our way out of Walla Walla we took Middle Waitsburg Road, which not only allowed us to avoid a 20 mile stretch of highway, but also ended up being one of the most beautiful rides of the trip so far. A few “rollers”, as the bike shop attendant told us, broke up the monotony of what had been mostly an uphill day. Along the way, we passed 3 other loaded cycle tourists. We didn’t stop and talk, but Sam got a passing high five! The real treat came when the sun came all the way through the clouds, lighting up the golden and green hills around us at dusk. These rolling hills wound through expansive wheat and pea fields, creating a certain feeling of “oneness” with the thousands of acres of farmland surrounding us. This evening’s ride had no shortage of wildlife, some domestic, some free as a bird, and others still were actually birds. On a quiet road, there was never a moment of silence, with birds chirping, crickets cricketing, cows mooing, horses naying, and dogs barking, we were never alone. Mike saw over a dozen deer galloping across the open fields, usually in the opposite direction of our travel. Sam apparently rides with his eyes shut because he didn’t see any of them…
At the end of Middle Waitsburg Road, we finally found a solid downhill, cruising quickly 500′ down into Waitsburg. Our taillights and headlights flashing we pushed through town to the Lewis and Clark Trail State Park. Camp was pitched in a slug and snail ridden site, but we did our best to avoid the buggers. After a long, hot day, we slipped into our sleeping bags and filled the campground with the soothing sounds of tired snoring!
Until Next Time, Gang