Day 7 - Othello to LaCrosse - C2C - from Westport, Washington to Sandy Hook, New Jersey - CycleBlaze

June 9, 2016

Day 7 - Othello to LaCrosse

Well, I had no intention of leaving at the crack of dawn today. First off, I was going to laze about a while in the motel room, but more importantly, I didn’t have to leave super early because it was only going to get up to 78F today. Wow! Only 78F. So I pigged out on two, not one, breakfasts at the buffet and got my journaling in early.

8:30 saw me out on the long road heading east - Highway 26 to be specific. Mostly a straight shot with shoulders that crosses over the coulees that run northeast-southwest. The wheat fields were stunning - a mix of hundreds of hues of green and gold. Couldn’t resist stopping and walking up to the edge and peering through the waving wheat. Not to mention singing, “Oklahoma!”

Gettin' Close and Personal with the Wheat
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Stopped at the only place in between Othello and Washtucna at the US 395 junction. Peanut-butter cookies and a nice long talk with my friend Mary. Than back into the wheatfields - - except - - my first flat. Fortunately it wasn’t 100F and there was a side road where I stripped everything and patched the tire. It’s always the back tire.

Waving Fields of Wheat
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More rolling miles and then a few stiff climbs before a total wailer down into Washtucna. I hate to brake away all that climbing, but the corner store was calling me. Met some students from Washington State - a recent grad and a first-year grad student. And the chairs outside were the bomb - naugahyde floral with padded seats. Just perfect for the tired cyclist.

I had stayed at the Washtucna Motel on my first cross-country tour back in 1987. It’s just an empty corner, now. The tall grain elevators speak of the still abundant wheat fields, but the empty storefronts speak of the disappearing people.

What's Left of Downtown Washtucna
(The grocery is long closed.)
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Grain Elevators Loom over Washtucna
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After a short stay, it was back on the road towards LaCrosse. I don’t know why, but even with fairly light traffic and shoulders, the whoosh of high-speed traffic gets tiring. Old 26 came along not a moment too soon. Zero cars and a lazy amble to the little burg of Hooper and its historic gas station. I decided to take a short nap in the grass under the trees.

Old Route 26
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The Palouse River and Bluffs
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Upon waking, my back tire was flatter than a pancake. Blah. Plus the new pump - a Mini Morph - has the worst Schraeder connector I have ever dealt with. And I’ve been pumping up bike tires for 50 years. I think it ruined the valve of the first tube I put in - because a minute after I got the tire back on, there was a big whoosh from the valve. I got out a new tube and VERY carefully inflated it and prayed.

Under the Trees at Hooper
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Lucy in Front of the Historic Gas Station
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By the time I was back out on the road to LaCrosse, I was tired. I just wanted to get there and the turnoff seemed to take forever then the grain elevator kept receding away into the distance. The Tylers at the little cafe reopened to make me a burger. Normally they close at 7:30 and they are the only game in town. After a grateful supper it was to the town park for the evening.

Coming into LaCrosse with the Elevator Always Receding in the Distance
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Today's ride: 65 miles (105 km)
Total: 390 miles (628 km)

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