Day 19 Lewis and Clark Trail State Park to Central Ferry Park, Washington: Our Own Estate! - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

May 19, 2011

Day 19 Lewis and Clark Trail State Park to Central Ferry Park, Washington: Our Own Estate!

The green hills and farms continued as we headed North on Hwy 12 towards Dayton. It dawned on us that what we had taken to be forage crops was actually winter wheat. How did we come to this enlightenment? A local newspaper declaring wheat rust to be a major local problem helped, as did the presence of lots of grain silos and elevators. Duh!

We have little way of knowing what size the town we are coming to really is, and what services we will really find there. (And don't say GPS!). Even Google Maps and the internet at large sometimes do not draw a clear picture. As we approached Dayton, around 7:30 a.m. a Shell station and an assortment of other buildings appeared. The GPS (!) identified the grocery store as McQuary's, but this small establishment was closed. So we relied on the Shell station. We knew that there would be no other source of supplies for two days, until we could reach Colfax. So we took on board some sandwiches, crackers, yogurt, and cheese sticks and stashed then in our cooler. While in the Shell we spied a newspaper ad for the real grocery store in town, and cycling down the road we found a whole real town, with a hotel and everything! Oh well, the stuff from the Shell will do fine.

One thing we forgot to pick up was water. Water is without doubt the most important supply if you want to negotiate 110 km of hot, lonely road over two days. We have space for 11 liters, but normally have been carrying 5. We left Dayton with only a fraction of that. After a while we called at a farm house to see if we could refill our bottles. This must not have been the first time, because the house had an outdoor spigot and a large sign 'Water'. We called our thanks to the lady of the house as we sailed away.

These kind people make it easy for passers by to find water.
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The last of the striped 'spumoni' hills faded behind us as the landscape became noticeably more barren. However there was the sweet smell of wildflowers and herbs to compensate.

We will always remember these "spumoni" hills.
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An apparently abandoned elevator is picturesque for us tourists.
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An isolated farm. Could we survive out here with our wits intact?
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We were passed by yet one more truck with wind turbine parts, but this time we could see that it had stopped up ahead. I whizzed down there to see what it was up to, but by the time I arrived it had crawled part way up a crude private road. Now I could finally see the sign that showed we were in the middle of the Lower Snake River Wind Project of Puget Sound Electric. On ridges all around were completed and partly completed turbines. We find these things endlessly intriguing. First for their sheer size and architectural elegance, and next because we had spent many years helping to resist expansion of fossil fuel electrical generation and trying to encourage BC Hydro to consider the wind alternative. Now here was the evidence that somebody, at least, was following our advice, and we were eager to see how it looked close up.

The project has spawned a small town of portables. Looking down on it, I remarked that the people were probably desperately reading their Siemens manuals to see how to assemble the stuff. So I was not surprised to find a piece of such a one by the roadside. OK, so it was not a manual, but it did say Siemens and I was proud of it!

Clearly they are dragging turbine parts up here, but how do they do it?
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This sign not only gave us our first info about the wind project but the names of contacts to ream out over the reckless driving of their transport trucks.
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The project spawned this small village. We speculate hungrily if they have a cook shack down there!
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A turbine blade lies waiting for installation.
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My Siemens "manual"
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More modern art
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Turbine closeup
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Even more turbines. These things are everywhere up here. We like them!
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Dodge, Washington
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An abandoned corral along the way. We have come across many abandoned houses and barns. Some abandoned houses have the obvious newer replacements right beside. Others are just sad relics out of some David Francey song.
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One of our maps does not show anything at the place where the highway crosses the Snake River, while another does offer the name 'Central Ferry'. All agree, though, that there are no services there, while Google allowed that there might be some sort of 'park'. The truth is that aside from some industrial structures the park is indeed the only thing. However, the park is by the river, with camping spots, covered waterfront picnic gazebos, washroom buildings, and large area of grass and trees. The tragedy is that the whole thing is shut down and barricaded and gently decaying. Without internet, we have no idea what the background story is, but this major wonderful facility has been tossed on the scrapheap by some government or other.

For us it's partly a blessing. Like survivors of a mythical nuclear disaster, we have our choice of waterfront gazebos. Each has a large concrete table and eight concrete stools. All are perfectly dry and secure. The large washroom building nearby is boarded up, but we do have four litres of water on hand, so we will be fine.

It is really nice to put your stuff down on a covered picnic table and casually look at your maps and figure out what you are about. Nicer is to have a place for a late afternoon nap when you have put in a hard day. Here at our private waterfront estate we have all that. We have just awoken from the nap part and are ready to go to dinner. The menu here offers ½ a sandwich and some cheese and crackers with fig Newton cookies for dessert. A wonderful choice before an early bedtime!

Sitting at our table, looking out at the evening shadow striped hills across the river the only sound we hear is a muffled car engine receding in the distance towards Dayton while a rather untidy formation of geese lazily fly past, honking conversationally to each other. A barge is being pushed upriver by a very small but powerful tugboat. How lovely it is.

Ask the GPS how to get to Colfax from Central Ferry on a bike, and it will advise you to go backwards down the highway, to get on Lower Deadman Road, and then to noodle about roads too small to show on most maps for 74 km. The truth is, the highway is perfectly fine for bicycles and gets you there in 54 km. Who writes these dumb algorithms?

The Snake River!
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Central Ferry Park - abandoned!
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Central Ferry Park - what a shame!
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A barge of our waterfront at Central Ferry
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Just one of the waterfront gazebos at our Central Ferry estate. If we were staying longer, we would have to choose which other ones to use. For example, there is a nice one just by our private boat mooring lagoon!
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Today's ride: 68 km (42 miles)
Total: 1,195 km (742 miles)

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