West Route Post Number Eleven

“It was an Elan. A delightful little thing famously made of Kleenex and unicorn farts.” ~ Sam Smith

DAY ELEVEN

This was the opposite day to yesterday. I had no company, I took the Interstate for much of the day and I simply lost an hour due to longitude rather than sitting.

Leaving Okanogan and looking for route 153 in Omak was the highlight of the day. I was heading south on 97 and I knew that was wrong so I stopped for gas at the Omak travel plaza and asked for directions. Now, those of you who know me well will know that I am cumulatively tired if ever stop for directions but this will show the rest of the readers that it is true. The reason I was confused is that 153 is reached by going northwest into Omak to loop UNDER 97 and head east. Once I got on the right track I sailed along. The road climbs as it goes east and I actually stopped at the beginning of the pine forest 20 or so miles east of town to put on my leather flying helmet again. It works a treat even if it makes me look silly.

Not long after I entered the pine forest, I saw a coyote at the edge of the road investigating some roadkill but he ran as soon as I came near. Not a half mile later, I saw a bear run out of the woods from the right, across the highway and up the bank on the left chased by two more coyotes. I was trespassing on their land.

Cool, Grand, Dam.

Later, I came to the town of Coulee Dam, then to the Grand Coulee Dam itself then to the town of Grand Coulee. It all blurred together to me but there must be some significance. The dam is 550 ft high, and holds back the Columbia River with a lake that stretches for 200 miles and irrigates 670,000 acres. It is the also largest power station in the United States   

When US 2 joined with I-90 I had a choice to leave the interstate after about five miles and follow 2 or stay on 90 and make some time. I chose the latter which is why I am able to post this blog in addition to yesterday’s blog. The scenery around Coeur d’Alene and east of there is wonderful and once you clear the cities it is very peaceful. I made excellent time driving steadily at about 67-68 mile an hour. This is a very rural interstate highway with primarily long distance traffic as there are few towns along its path and they are very small. But to assuage the critics who may be aghast that I took the interstate, let the record show that in the entire distance in Montana I never passed a single car…not one. The traffic was so light there were many times when I couldn’t see any vehicle ahead or behind me at all. On the other hand, many dozens passed me because the speed limit is 80 and most were at or near that. Unlike Los Angeles though, I never felt strafed or crowded or intimidated. Folks gave me plenty of room and just zoomed by.

About Me

Hi, I’m Ross and I’m a tripoholic. I love driving especially in my old cars and then writing about the adventure that always follows. I’m old enough to know better but that doesn’t stop me. If you like stories of the road, every word true no matter how far fetched it may seem, then grab a beer or a cup of coffee and join me!

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May 2021
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The rural nature of the area nearly caught me out as I needed to refuel and several exits in a row had signs that said “No Services.” The Alberton exit showed that there was fuel so I took that exit into the very small town with one gas station and two pumps, one for each side of the island, called The Mountain West Co-Op. There was a jeep fueling on the south side so I pulled in on the north and put my credit card into the reader. It instructed me to withdraw it quickly which I did. Then it instructed me to re-insert the card, and then it instructed me to do that once again. After the third time it instructed me to see the cashier. But there was no cashier, it was an unattended station. On a chance, I walked across the road to the general store which had a sign saying, “We are not connected with the gas station in any way.” I was thinking my technology issues from yesterday and the day before were going to follow me all the way home, but the jeep had left so I tried that pump, the reader worked fine,  and I stretched the hose so I didn’t even need to move the car.

I got to Missoula by 3:30 even with my lost hour, got the motel, did laundry, went for a walk along the river, got dinner, wrote the blogs and it is still daylight. I even reworked the rest of the trip days since I am still short of where I wanted to be so there will be four more rather than three, but none will be to taxing. It was a perfect short drive day.

Impressions from the twelfth day:

•It started cool today so I had my full warm weather complement. After cresting the pass east of Omak and before Nespelem, it had started to warm so I began taking away layers. By the time I reached US 2 I was wearing just a shirt with an open collar and was comfortable until stopped in traffic, and then it was hot.  

• The hills east of Omak were a surprise. It was more alpine than the surrounding valley and much cooler. I had expected more valley all the way to Spokane.

• Though there were minimal Lotus roads today, the mix was great as I could relax and get to my support services much sooner than I would have taking the back roads so it turned out to be perfect.

• Thanks to all of you who have been making donations the last day or two. I am thankful indeed but the kids will be even more grateful. They need our support more than ever in this Covid changed year.

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