Arrival / The Albion loop - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

May 1, 2020

Arrival / The Albion loop

Today was a long day, so we’ll balance it out with a brief post.  It began with the almost six hour drive to Pullman.  We got an early start, leaving at 7.  We did well with our departure, forgetting only (as far as we know so far anyway) Rachael’s yogurt, which she had planned to eat on the road as her breakfast.  Some food panic ensued, until we found a food mart at the Mount Vernon Chevron station.

The drive to Pullman is scenic the entire way.  The first few hours north on US 395 are a bit slow going though as the highway crosses a series of five passes.  The road doesn’t really straighten out until we leave the last of the forests behind north of Ukiah.  Ahead lie about three hours of mostly open, empty vistas of broad, rolling pasture and grain fields.  

As soon as the last of the trees disappears behind us, another anxiety surfaces: outhouse-deficit panic.  Rachael wasn’t in need  of a relief break until the last sheltered spot was behind us.  With not a tree to hide behind in sight, Rachael sounded calm at first - I’m not desperate yet, she reassured me a few times - but then less so.  We were quite relieved to come to the McKay Creek National Wildlife Refuge, surprisingly open, and pulled off the road.  I was very excited to see a white pelican soaring above, and Rachael was even more excited to find an unlocked outhouse.

We stopped for a late breakfast in Walla Walla, enjoying a delicious takeout meal that we had phoned in from 20 miles away.  Sitting on the curb by a parking lot I had corned beef hash, potatoes and eggs; and Rocky had a super fluffy ham and cheese French omelette.  The best meal we’ve had since leaving Portland.

Two hours and many rolling wheat fields later, we pulled up in front of our new home in Pullman.  I’ll talk about it and Pullman later when I have more time, but for now I’ll just note what a shock it felt like to drive into such a large place after a month in the outback.  It’s a megalaopolis!

Leaving the John Day Valley, we take a last look at the Aldrich Mountains. Not much snow left up there.
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Lunch break, Walla Walla. Not sure why she looks a bit crabby here, when Rachael’s enjoying her favorite meal in a month.
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A closer look at the mural covering that wall behind us. Walla Walla really is a great place, and would make another fine spot for an extended stay sometime.
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The bridge crossing the Snake River, Highway 127.
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A long view east across the southern Palouse, just north of the Snake.
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Our new home for the next month. Quite a different look than John Day.
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We got an early start this morning because we hoped to arrive in time for a short ride.  It looks like it may rain tomorrow, and we didn’t want to sit out three days straight.  I have a feeling that we’ll see this loop again before we leave, so I won’t really talk about it now.  Let’s just see a few photos, to show you that we’re in a much different place from John Day now.

Video sound track: Can’t Keep It In, by Cat Stevens

Westbound, Pullman Albion Road. I expect we’ll see many such views like this in the weeks ahead.
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Albion extends its warmest welcome.
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Ron SuchanekThey went all out!
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3 months ago
It’s not in Iowa’s league, but this looks like it will be fine country for old barns. I’ll try to limit myself to one barn shot per day. This isn’t the one though. This is a livestock shot, with an incidental barn in the vicinity.
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Susan CarpenterAre we throwing down a barn challenge!
I may have to step up my game :)
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Susan CarpenterThanks, but no thanks. I know better than to enter a challenge I’m sure to lose.
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3 months ago
Jen GrumbyThose sheep look like they'd like to hang out with the goat caddies at CycleBlaze Ranch.
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3 months ago
I wasn’t sure what this was at first, until the fertilizer truck drove off and left the spreader behind.
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A lone tree in the hills.
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Some Palouse runes.
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On Hamilton Hill Road.
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Descending from Hamilton Hill to Union Flat Creek.
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Along Union Flat Creek. I’m surprised to see how diverse the landscape is here. I thought we’d just be looking at unending fields of grain and legumes for the next month.
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A lot of the ridges are crowned with this yellow flower. I’ll stop and give us a closer look one of these days.
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Andrea BrownThat's arrowleaf balsamroot and you'll be seeing a lot of that.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownThanks for clearing up some confusion, Andrea. I always mix this one up with similar balsamleaf arrowroot.
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3 months ago
Here’s the real barn shot for the day.
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Descending Wawawei Road, eastbound toward Pullman. The high country in the distance must be part of the Bitterroot Range, in Idaho. We’ll be seeing more of Wawawei Road before we’re done, so I’ll talk about it and its odd name later.
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Ride stats today: 25 miles, 1,400’

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Comment on this entry Comment 7
Andrea BrownI love the Palouse.
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3 months ago
Susan CarpenterI'm looking forward to this next month's journal with a bit more than the usual anticipation. The Palouse never ceases to enchant me. I spent four years in Pullman, living just outside town on SR27 surrounded by wheat fields and fascinated by combines. It was before my cycling days, and I eagerly await revisiting the area through the lens Team Anderson. Enjoy and stay healthy. Susan
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3 months ago
Bruce LellmanYou guys are going to love this next month of riding. Perfect place and perfect time of year for it. I'm jealous.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanIt should be great. Spring is just getting underway here. So strange to be pushed into enriching experiences like this by the virus catastrophe.
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3 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Scott AndersonViruses work in strange ways.
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3 months ago
Jen GrumbyBeautiful first loop! Can't wait to see what's next.

I love how you 2 have transformed the Coronavirus Calamity into an experience that benefits the many (youse, us readers, small businesses in John Day and Pullman, people who see your happy faces ride by, etc.).
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyWe’re doing the best to cheer everyone up in these troubled times. We even spared a scrap for a lucky dog!
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3 months ago