15. Twisp to Okanogan: Catching the Rainshadow after Pass #3 - From the Olympic Peninsula to St. Mary - The First Bite of the Northern Tier - CycleBlaze

May 26, 2018

15. Twisp to Okanogan: Catching the Rainshadow after Pass #3

After a relaxed morning we departed at 0900 and made a brief stop at Herb's Harvest Food for more Gatorade powder and bananas. We were on our way, grateful for the cool breeze that kept us from overheating as we worked our way up Loup Loup pass. It was less difficult than Washington Pass, probably because the ride up was roughly 13 miles, compared to the 28 miles up to Rainy Pass. The climb was steep, though, with no downslopes to ease the tired muscles. Jackie stopped at 1000 to catch her breath and give her sore butt a break. We both paused at mile 10 to stretch a bit and tank up on good old Gatorade, high in electrolytes. Traffic was fairly light on Memorial Day Saturday, and that was a good thing because the shoulder sometimes disappeared into a sandy verge - deadly for laden touring bikes. At times we claimed a driving lane. Overall, it was a 2.5 hour spin to the summit. The landscape was much dryer on the Loup slopes, with scattered ponderosa pines, sage, and scrub plants. No more Pacific rain forest. We had entered the rain-shadowed Cascades. Still enough rain, irrigation water and strong sunny days to support the orchards that we saw along the way. Rivers last week had overflown the banks, but were gradually receding.

The coast down the east side was 5-6% grades for about 13 miles. On the way down, we stopped at a pullout with some shade and ate the pizza leftover from the previous night's dinner. Nothing quite like leftover pizza warmed in sun straddling the back panniers.

After reaching bottom, we cruised past apple and cherry orchards before stopping in Okanogan. We had booked a Quality Inn because we expected a certain level of accommodation for our $77, but this place didn’t measure up to middling standards. The carpet in the common areas was stained, the breakfast lame - dry Hostess donuts, a few pieces of fruit, and waffles made with fakey batter. On the plus side, our room was clean (except for the windows), and they actually opened, something not common in chain hotels. As the sun set, the air cooled and we enjoyed the fresh air coming in. Camping is creating an appetite for fresh air.

Dinner was at the only place open, “Dawgs, Brats, and Beers.” A second hotel/restaurant, “The Cariboo Inn,” was closed. There was a small selection of draft beers and pub style food. Satisfying, but not that special. BTW, the high school mascot is the Bulldog.

Okanogan had its heyday 100 years ago and for a history buff, it would have been cool to visit the museum and read the plaques on the sandstone buildings. But, we’re restless souls and headed on down the road after breakfast. Jackie ran out of Aveeno, so we stopped at a Walmart in Omak 5 miles down the road. There’s a DQ in Omak, too, but we didn’t wait for it to open. If we had do-overs, Omak would have been a better choice.

The Okanogan County courthouse. The clear morning air makes for great photos.
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Reached the Loup Loup top, took the selfie to prove it. Didn’t notice the bullet dents in the sign until after posting.
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The competition for grazing land was a common theme in the development of the U.S. west. Similar skirmishes between sheepmen and cattlemen played out in our home state of Montana.
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Today's ride: 32 miles (51 km)
Total: 427 miles (687 km)

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