25. McGillvary Campground, Koocanusa Reservoir to Eureka: Whole Ting! - From the Olympic Peninsula to St. Mary - The First Bite of the Northern Tier - CycleBlaze

June 7, 2018

25. McGillvary Campground, Koocanusa Reservoir to Eureka: Whole Ting!

We departed camp at 0800 knowing we had 50 miles to reach Eureka. The first 35 was the remainder of Hwy 228, the west side alternative. We saw no cars or people for the first 24 miles. The road had a few climbs, but we took it nice and easy and stopped often to photograph the vistas. By the time we reached the bridge over the reservoir about noon, we had met four cars and none had passed us. A true ride in solitude with a few deer and a pair of ospreys guarding their nest which was on a dead tree right next to the road.

When pedaling for hours on end day after day, Jackie thinks about family and friends far from home. And most often, her thoughts turn to her precious grandsons. During this ride, she thought about their 2 1/2-year-old grandson. When she was taking care of him and his 4 1/2-year-old brother in March, they woke in the middle of the night and wanted to crawl into the queen size bed with her. She thought she was being kind by allowing it, but then the little one wanted to kick her out because he wanted “da whole ting.” The whole thing to himself. That’s what riding 228 was like - we had “da whole ting” to ourselves and didn’t have to share. We had the luxury of riding side by side and not impeding anyone’s progress. Pure bliss.

MT 37, as sparsely traveled as it is, was an unfortunate return to traffic noise. That noise and the heat of the day drained us and we rolled into Eureka and the Tobacco Valley ready for a beer, a burger, and a nice comfy bed. The Front Porch Grill House covered the first requirements. The clerk at the FedEx store in Libby said it won a contest for best burger in the USA. We can vouch for the quality.

The Pruitt House met and exceeded our expectations for the third requirement. It was a genteel southern style mansion placed somewhat incongruously in hardscrabble Montana. Our room had a four poster king size bed, the necessary footstool to get up ON the bed, and spa bathtub. It’s no longer serving breakfast though because the owners are moving to Georgia. We got our early morning coffee at “The Daily Grind,” a small drive-up establishment that opens at 6:30am. A cheerful Amish woman provided us coffee, cocoa, mufffins, and croissant breakfast sandwiches. Her farewell wishing us safe travels stayed with us throughout the day.

The entire 45 miles of Hwy 228 was like this. Sunny, solitary, serene, constant up or down slopes to keep it interesting.
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Lake Koocanusa Bridge.
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Not sure if these are peregrine falcons or osprey, but a sign along the road noted the area is designated for nesting falcons.
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Today's ride: 51 miles (82 km)
Total: 894 miles (1,439 km)

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