Day 21 Colfax to Palouse, Washington: Small Town to the Rescue - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

May 21, 2011

Day 21 Colfax to Palouse, Washington: Small Town to the Rescue

One of the advantages of staying at a slightly overpriced motel is that they often have unlimited coffee and cookies laid on in the lobby. So it was with the Best Western Wheatland in Colfax. Dodie went out after a while to get me a coffee and cookie, but came back to report the cookies were all gone. It seems a gaggle of mostly Chinese folks had emerged from a tour bus and snaffled them.

In the morning we reengaged with the gaggle in the breakfast room, where we snagged the last table. It was our turn to ask them the Usual Questions. It turns out they are from Richmond, and their tour is structured for them to photograph this clearly photogenic area. Their one non- Chinese member, Leona, asked us the UQs. She remarked that by the time she gets home from these tours she feels more Chinese than not.

After manouevering our rigs through the corridors of the Best Western, we were back on the street. To set off for Pelouse we needed to travel a bit more through town, an opportunity for a closer look at it. At first I regretted taking the opinion of the deli woman at Rossauers, that there was not more to Colfax, since some historic looking buildings soon appeared. On closer inspection, though, they were unused if not derelict. No, Colfax still gets a pretty low rating for charm, services, prices, etc.

Downtown Colfax
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Colfax historic building - unused!
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More Colfax
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More unused buildings in Colfax
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Getting out of town was also not that easy, since the way starts with a 4 km really steep hill climb (push). After that, the road to Palouse has the advantage of almost no cars, but the disadvantage of being up and down. The hills are not killers, but they sure got in our way.

Not so easy to climb out of Colfax
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Actually, they must have been respectably steep, since my bike easily went over 50 kph on the downsides. Dodie complained that her bike did not feel stable enough for speeds anywhere like that, and a checkup revealed - yes, another broken spoke!

Rolling countryside on the way to Palouse
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Dodie likes this house
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Old metal, new shed
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Water! The large shop behind had every imaginable tool, could have fixed the bike. So near and yet so far.
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More countryside. Our camera does not capture how neat this area is.
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My theory is that the broken spokes came not from powerful climbing (not Dodie's speciality) but from the stress of heavy braking on the downhills. In any event, in went our second (and last) FiberFix.

The place that we stopped to make the repair was a spot with several grain silos and several sprayer rigs. These rigs have a huge 'wingspan' when extended and must be very costly implements. However, they are everywhere, showing that local people are not exactly organic gardeners. We wondered what an analysis of the water we have been drinking would show.

Now with a hot day and even more cautious riding to preserve the wheel, we again found water supply to be an issue. We had set off with five litres and were now looking low. We stopped at a farm but found nobody home. Beside the wonderfully well appointed shop, chock full of tools that could have helped with the bike, we found a spigot and filled our bottles. Well, we do not seem to be glowing in the dark yet.

Poison at our lunch/wheel repair stop.
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More premium poison.
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Let's get sprayin'!
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Again, to preserve the wheel, we walked up hills that otherwise we would have ridden. One such walk attracted a man in a pickup to stop to see if we needed help. We explained the situation but predicted the wheel would still reach Palouse intact. The man advised us to go in Palouse to the Green Frog, where he said there would normally be helpful people.

We arrived in Palouse (wheel and all)

On Church Street, Palouse
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and immediately reported to the Green Frog.

The Green Frog
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Frog Wall
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The plan was either to try something we read in CGOAB - ask if there was someone in town with bike tools, or phone Bill Bonte in nearby Moscow. Bill had written to us in the Guestbook, and surely would have an idea of what to do. At the Green Frog, Mary Rothlisberger not only made a cappuccino for us but also called Mark Van Horne. Mark is a combined woodwright and hot rod guy, and had a shop across the street full of tools. Mark emerged from his shop and listened to our tale. Unfortunately his tools were for hot rods and not bikes. However, he did know the owner of a bike shop in Moscow. A cell phone call got T Jay from Paradise Creek Cycles on the line. T Jay had some other commitments, but he came out and had a look at the bike. We arranged for him to pick up the wheel later in the night, and to return with the hopefully good as new item tomorrow.

Mark Van Horne, saved our skins!
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Meanwhile, our colourful bikes on the corner of Main Street had attracted a small amount of attention. Lawrence Hammond, a cyclist out of Pullman, rolled up on his Trek racing bike. He offered excellent advice about our best and safest route to Plummer. Lawrence participates on a triathlon team, and was a very interesting person to talk to.

Lawrence Hammond shows Dodie the best routes
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Dean Huber walked over and after gathering the answers to the UQs, also advised about local roads. More, he sallied forth and returned with a selection of excellent pamphlets about not only cycling in this region but also photography.

Dean Huber: hard to find a nicer man.
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It seems we have not been the first to notice how beautiful and photogenic this place is. The pamphlet 'Photographing the Palouse' gives suggestions from four professional photographers about where and how to get the best shots.

As if to reinforce this, the van bearing our Richmond friends from the motel pulled up and parked beside the Green Frog. Thirty avid photographers poured out, with tripods and $100,000 worth of equipment and began snapping everything from the Green Frog wall and sign (hah! I had already got those) to one of Mark's hot rods parked in the street, to us and our bikes. I, in turn, photographed them photographing us! We had a grand old reunion, and reviewed all that had happened to us and to them since our joint breakfast at the Best Western.

Dean Huber most kindly gave us his phone number and address, and the invitation to come to his place should we get to feeling wet, lost, or in need of any help. With a few more directions to the campsite by the river, he headed off and we were again on our own.

We toddled off to the river and set up our tent. There are old picnic tables here, and water, but power and toilets seem to have been abandoned for quite some time. A sign suggests we make a donation at the pub or the grocery store, but the Lions do not seem quite serious about this spot.

Camp by the Palouse River
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Dodie's bike on crutches, awaits wheel surgery.
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After our set up we wandered back downtown (a two minute walk) and went to the pub. We are not pub people, but Dean recommended it as the best (and only open) place in town. The big screen TV had auto racing - sort of like the movie Cars that is Avi and Violet's favourite. But it was too loud, so we are now back at our picnic table as night comes. I will hang out here waiting for T Jay, and upload this to CGOAB from outside the closed library tomorrow morning. Tomorrow will be a forced rest day, but we like this town and are eager for a more in depth tour of Main Street.

Main Street, Palouse Washington
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How we felt in the Green Frog
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More Green Frog wisdom
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Dodie and photographer Leona from Richmond, BC
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The Richmond gang arrives.
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Chair art
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Steady eye
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Smile!
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Even more, apropos Green Frog wisdom
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We found friends at the Green Frog!
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The pamphlets that Dean brought
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Today's ride: 30 km (19 miles)
Total: 1,283 km (797 miles)

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