The Tekoa-Garfield loop - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

May 23, 2020

The Tekoa-Garfield loop

After today, we have one ride remaining here before we pack up and drive to that coronavirus hotspot, Portland.  After almost two months of empty roads, small towns and few people we’re both a bit apprehensive about returning to Portland, even if only for a week.  We’re starting to feel antsy though, ready to move on.

Today’s not our final ride here then, but it is the last one in the Palouse.  We have several ideas in mind for today’s route, but Ron Grumby settled it for us with his whimsical suggestion for the song we should have used for the video on our ride from Tekoa last week.  It’s an idea too good to pass up, so we’re off to Tekoa again.

It’s warmer today, but still mostly overcast and of course still windy when we bike south from Tekoa on our way to Farmington.  Nothing new here - it’s always windy over here, it seems.

South on Tekoa-Farmington Road.
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I was attracted to this field from a distance, thinking at first it was blanketed in dandelions.
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It’s this plant though, which we’ve been seeing for weeks but never bothered to stop for. Now that I’m finally getting around to it, you’d think I’d have taken the time to get it in focus.
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Bill ShaneyfeltMight be some kind of biscuit root.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lomatium
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltBiscuit root is a much more romantic name than lomatium, isn’t it? Or desert parsley. Interestingly, nearly every reference to lomatium is for its herbal medicinal properties. Sounds like a cure-all. Probably effective against COVID-19 too, I imagine. Even better than bleach!
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyBut is it better than a few doses of hydroxychloroquine + azythromiacin (as a preventative, of course)?
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1 month ago
Ron SuchanekMmm, biscuits!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI’ve been trying that mix to good effect for the last week or so. I’ll try biscuit root next for a follow-up test and report back.
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1 month ago
I’ve got the bloess ‘cause we’re leaving the Palouse.
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Suzanne GibsonGod bloess you!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonWhat a nice thing to say! Nothing to sneeze at, as my grandmother would have said.
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1 month ago
Ron SuchanekI was gonna comment but can't top Jen's or Suzanne's.
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyDepartures can be very moessy
Especially from soil that's so loessy.
But if you dig deep
A Palouse Earthworm you'll keep
In pockets of shirts that are droessy!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyEew!!
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1 month ago
We’re right at the eastern edge of the Palouse here. Our road to Garfield closely parallels the Idaho border.
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Smith’s Charter Service is out of service.
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Ron SuchanekNow you tell me. I wonder if I'll get my money back.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekI’m sure if you get in touch with Smith you could get a voucher for use WHFO.
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1 month ago
Ron SuchanekTo Scott AndersonIll give him a call, and while I'm at it, I'll ask about your refund from Capital One.
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1 month ago

We arrive in Farmington about an hour later, after weaving through the low green hills along the Washington-Idaho border.  It’s the same remarkable Palouse landscape we’ve biked through for three weeks now, but we’re both both starting to feel like we’ve had our fill of it by now.  I’d love to come back and see this country in a different season some year, but it’s feeling like we’ve had our look for this round.

There’s not much to see in Farmington, so we stop just long enough to review the next segment of the ride before continuing south to Garfield.  Through a planning oversight, we forgot to load today’s route to our GPS devices.  The route is in my head, but that’s less well shareable than the GPS route would have been.  We talk over each segment as we get to it to make sure there are no mistakes - which could really be serious in this area with no cell coverage.  Fortunately, there are almost no paved roads to choose from here.  Get started on the right one, and you’re set for another ten miles.

Not all of these small Palouse towns are memorable. There is hardly anything to Farmington. We were nearly out of town before seeing anything I thought worth stopping for.
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On the outskirts of Farmington, looking toward Idaho. The state line is just a few hundred yards east of town.
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Horseshoe art, by the Jasper Johns of Farmington.
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Beautiful country south of Farmington, on Garfield-Farmington Road.
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South of Farmington. I’m going to miss views like this when we leave the region.
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Bruce LellmanAnd I'm going to miss your photos of it.
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1 month ago
This doesn’t look good, but relax - she hasn’t been sideswiped by a UPS truck again. She’s just off looking for mushrooms.
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Ron SuchanekIf she'd just be patient, they're going to be legal in Oregon soon.
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North of Garfield, we briefly get a glimpse of Steptoe Butte from a high point on the road.
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We arrive in Garfield at about 1:30, just in time for lunch.  It’s still feeling chilly and windy (we’ve been biking into the wind all day so far), so we look through downtown for a sheltered spot to sit out of the wind and eat our turkey and cheese sandwiches.  There are benches all over town, but somehow none is out of the wind.  We pick the best of a bad lot, and I chivalrously sit on the windward side, doing my best shelter my chilled partner for a few minutes.

Garfield isn’t much larger than Farmington, but holds more interest. There’s this inviting store, for example.
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And the Busy Bee Cafe. Looks like a very inviting spot to stop in for breakfast, if we’d only planned ahead. And if it were open.
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Leaving town, we bike north On Route 27 on the third leg of today’s jaunt.  This was the one part of the ride I was least looking forward to, because Route 27 is a primary north-south connector extending from Pullman to Spokane.  I thought that on Memorial Day weekend it might be busy, but the highway is nearly empty today.  It’s a surprisingly nice ride - we’ve got the wind with us now, the route is generally level, and there’s more of interest along it than I’d expected.  Especially worth stopping for is the John F. Kelley cabin, an excellently preserved homestead cabin built in 1872 by one of the early settlers in the region.

At Belmont, on Route 27. I’d never heard of the BG&CM line somehow, and had to look it up: the Bountiful Grain & Craig Mountain Railroad. What a great name! Surprisingly, it’s still an active shortline.
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Video sound track: One Tekoa Over the Line, by Brewer & Ship (with thanks to Mr. Grumby for the inspiration)

On Route 27, just south of Oakesdale: the John F. Kelley cabin, believed to have been occupied between 1872 and 1890. On the National Register of Historic Places, it is the oldest building standing in the Oakesdale area and one of the only remaining pioneer cabins in the Palouse.
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One of a grove of giant old willows that must date back to the founding of the Kelley homestead in 1872.
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A detail of John F. Kelley’s cabin. “ The basic, functional design of the cabin, the adz marks on the wall logs, and the dovetail-fitted ends of these logs all render the structure a good example of early pioneer-era construction and architecture. The walls, foundation stones, rafters and door—all handmade—attest to the basic building skills of pioneer settlers. Additionally, these parts of the cabin give a clear indication of the types of tools brought by and utilized by these pioneers.”
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Barn of the Day, from the John F. Kelley homestead.
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For the final quarter of the ride we’re back on the really quiet roads again as we cut back east on Warner Road to Tekoa-Farmington Road again, and then follow it north back to Tekoa.  Not the most dramatic of rides, but a very nice last look from the saddle of the Palouse before we head west.  Actually, if we’d ridden this three weeks ago I’m sure we would have been stunned by its unusual beauty, just as we were by any of the early rides we took from Pullman.

On Warner Road, a beautiful connecting road between Oakesdale and Farmington Road. Hardly a car for six miles, but we did pass another bicyclist, two runners, and this bonus Barn of the Day.
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Returning toward Tekoa on Tekoa-Farmington Road, backtracking the first few miles of the day. Ahead is Tekoa Mountain, the highest point in Whitman County.
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Dropping into Tekoa, with Tekoa Mountain rising behind it.
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Ride stats today: 45 miles, 1,400’

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Jen GrumbyTotally worth another visit to be able to include that song!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYes, and I wish we could go back soon to use the song again. Frank passed on a much earlier, much weirder version, performed by Gail Farrel and Dick Dale on the Lawrence Welk show: https://bestclassicbands.com/brewer-shipley-lawrence-welk-8-17-18/.
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyHmmm. A modern spiritual, eh?

Well, that's one way to interpret it!
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1 month ago