Day 11 - Murray to Plains - C2C - from Westport, Washington to Sandy Hook, New Jersey - CycleBlaze

June 13, 2016

Day 11 - Murray to Plains

(Frustrated because the site dropped all my text.)

Cloudy morning - got up quietly and packed up.

Leaving Murray on a Cloudy Morning
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The road was almost entirely empty except for a logging truck every half hour or so. I would pull off and wave them by - it was easy for me to pull off I was going so slowly.

Slow Going for This Boy
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I won't tell you how many times I had to stop on the way up Thompson Pass - the operative word is "many". Still I made it up to the top and took a long apple and cracker break looking down on the switchbacks I had just climbed.

Cresting Thompson Pass
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Looking Down on the Switchbacks
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Then it was time for the well-deserved tide down the mountain. By now the sun had come out and the temperature was perfect. Mountains, elk, and streams with sunshine. Not bad.

The Return on the Investment
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Elk Running Across the Road
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Your Typical Creekside Montana View
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I took the Thompson Pass route for a couple of reasons. First, the road has almost no traffic and isn't too bad of a climb. But also, you end up at the High Bridge at Thompson Falls - a recently renovated railroad bridge 200 feet above the Clark Fork River, with an island park in the middle.

High Bridge at Thompson Falls
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The Bike/Ped Walkway
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And the View from the Bridge
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The town proved less inviting. Dial-up speed Wi-fi at two cafes where I stopped - lunch and dessert. The library was closed and the chamber of commerce was not where the state tourism website said it was. When I finally reached the chamber president on the phone, she said she was itching to quit. Not even a tourist info kiosk. I was finally able to connect at the courthouse after the info person returned - she was the first person in about 8 who knew or cared assisting me - and Montana courthouses are supposed to have public access Wi-fi. And one wonders why Thompson Falls is struggling.

Downtown Thompson Falls
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Anyhoo, the wind was blowing hard and in my direction so I set out for Plains - 26 miles away - zooming. Except that Highway 200 is a tricky road - often without shoulders and with high-speed traffic. When I rode this highway in 1987 on my first cross-country tour, the speed limit was 55 mph. Now, they are going 75 mph - big diff.

Highway 200 Has Narrow Sections with Fast Traffic
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Once when I pulled off the road to avoid a scissors, I caught a big, ole train.

With Choo-Choo Trains to Keep You Company
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There are killer goathills every few miles - the train tracks claimed the low ground. But you get a great panorama of the valley at the top of each.

And Steep Goathills Every Few Miles with Panoramas on Top
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Finally, I got into Plains. Stopped by the grocery for cookies and milk and other essentials. Then went by the library and asked the librarians where I might camp. They suggested I see Len at the fairgrounds in his little yellow house. He took me to a perfect spot under some big cottonwoods - with showers and bathroom nearby. Charged me $5.

Ahhhh - tent up and sleep.

Plains, Montana - with a Great Library and a Fairgrounds on the River
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Today's ride: 56 miles (90 km)
Total: 600 miles (966 km)

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