Around Pend Oreille to Newport, WA

Wednesday July 29, 2009, 66 miles (106 km) – Total so far: 3,951 miles (6,359 km)

Clark Fork (town), for those who haven’t found it on a map yet, is at the mouth of the Clark Fork (river) at Lake Pend Oreille.  Lake Pend Oreille drains into Pend Oreille River, which goes up into Canada and flows into the Columbia.  If you’ve forgotten your high school French, the pronunciation is similar to the town we bypassed, Ponderay.  And if it’s been as long since your high school French as mine, you can infer the meaning from the context: Waterfront Property For Sale.We got an early start — it helps to cross a time zone line, so the 6:00 start would have been a 7:00 start 10 miles to the east.  It was cool; either 61 or 52, depending on whose thermometer you believe.  The ridges to the east kept us in shadow for over 10 miles, until a bit after 8:00.  By then, we’d passed the Beyond Hope RV Park, East Hope, and Hope.

Hazy start after rain last night in Clark Fork

While the houses were few and far between west of Clark Fork, there were plenty of houses east of there.  Can’t really blame them, the lake is always something to sit and look at.

Lake Pend Oreille

We worked our way west and north before turning south, through the town of Kootenai, and then into Sandpoint.  I think Sandpoint is a ski town (there’s a big setup on the ridge west of town), looking for something to do when the snow melts.  Virginia found us a good place for a second breakfast — hotcakes with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, eggs and sausage for me — then we started south.  There was road construction, as they’re building a bypass, and the flaggers were adamant we take the bike path.  Some bike path.

"Bike Path"

In fairness, they did use an old bridge as a bike/jogging path across the lake, so the path got better.  But this illustrates why some of us refer to these facilities as “bike ghettos,” as farther on it had stop signs for every driveway, they hadn’t bothered raising the path to grade between driveways, maintenance didn’t extend to fixing tree roots, etc.  All signs of second class citizens, given second class facilities to get us off roads for “real traffic” (i.e., motorized).

Somewhat better path across the lake

The bike ghetto ended in Sagle, and we somehow managed to ride safely on the shoulder and the right side of the lane as we have for the last 3,900 miles.  Narrow shoulder, but adequate, until we turned off U.S. 95 and headed west.  Up a little, then a nice, long downhill to the Pend Oreille River.  There was a stretch of two miles near the river where there were five osprey nests.  Apparently it didn’t bother the birds to have next-door neighbors!

We followed the river for a dozen miles, occasionally getting a good look at the river.  We hit Priest River, ID at lunch time, and it was welcome; 30 miles since second breakfast, plus it was getting hot.  There’s a good-sized and active mill on the south side of the river, so we dashed across after lunch trying to beat the lumber truck getting weighed.  But what a way to start the afternoon!  A quarter mile, steep stretch that had me diving for my granny gear, and that logging truck came up the hill to turn in at the top of the mill.

From there, it was mostly downhill, ending with a great downhill dash into Oldtown, ID.  The road tees into U.S. 2, and it’s State Street.  Look fast or you’ll miss the sign!  We turned left and now we’re in Newport, WA. Took us 14 days to get across Montana, and one day to pass through Idaho.


It’s only about 90 degrees, but that’s hot enough for me.  I’m still trying to adjust to the time change, as it seems to be getting hot (and I’m getting hungry) a lot earlier that I was on Mountain Time!


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