Day 22 Palouse, Washington: Small town life, and death - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

May 22, 2011

Day 22 Palouse, Washington: Small town life, and death

It rained in the night, but our new sealed seams and silicone treated nylon kept us snug. Up at 5, we made a survey of the town. Yesterday had been so hectic that we could not really see where we were. Downtown has one street, named ... Main Street. It features the Green Frog, a pub, grocery store, post office, print shop, and five antique shops. There is also the combined city hall and library. I am sitting outside the library typing this, at 8 a.m. Sunday morning. After our survey of town we went to the pub (opens at 6)where the owner made us breakfast.

Breakfast spot in Palouse. Actually, the softball players were pretty good!
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Shut up, eat and drink, breakfast in Palouse. Entrance could use a facelift.
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Dodie searches for news on Facebook.
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Dodie has now retired to our tent by the river for a nap.

By this late hour, the town has come to life a bit. That means four or five people have passed in cars. However, I am the only "street life". Therefore no one has asked me why I have dragged a chair, cushion, and table from the Green Frog, and am sitting at it in the middle of the sidewalk.

Palouse street life.
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Aside from the businesses mentioned, we found a number of unoccupied buildings. This repeats the scene photographed in Colfax. We understand Pullman and Moscow are more vibrant centres, but something must be killing this area. Is it wheat prices, fuel costs for farmers, overall economic slowdown? What forces built these lovely brick buildings over 100 years ago, and where are those forces now? The economist in me wants to know, but I have no history and no data for the place. Hell, I only just found the public washrooms!

Buildings in Palouse I
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Print shop and museum. The town is oriented to antiques and museums. What lies in its future?
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Palouse buildings II
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Palouse buildings III
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Around eleven we set off for another walk on Main Street, and ran into Palouse's mayor, Mike Echanove. We literally did run into him (or the reverse) because he is a runner. 'Steve and Dodie?' he said. Mike knew we were in town from Dean, and had read part of our blog. Here we ran into yet another example of the openness and kindness of the local people. Mike offered us the use of his car, either to see the surrounding area or to chase down any bike parts. However we did not need to take up this generous offer, since we knew T Jay was on his way to meet us at the pub with the wheel.

From the mayor we learned that several of the features of downtown were new, such as the lamp standards and banners, and the clock. Also at least one building had been taken down to prepare for a planned community centre. We learned a bit more town history, such as that after a boom in the early 1900's the town had also grown to accommodate miners in Idaho, who came here to access the rail line out and to use bank services.

The mayor, Mike Echanove and Dodie
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Mayor Mike's trail.
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With this economic driver now gone, we later learned from Dean that Palouse is approximately equidistant from the University towns of Moscow and Pullman. With cheaper house prices, it can act as a bedroom community. However Dean was quick to point out that the town has a spirit and pride of its own, and will not have to reply on some satellite status for the future. We could see that Mike Echanove and the other fine people of this town are the best assets for helping future opportunities to materialize.

Dean had invited us to join some friends of his who usually convene at the pub for lunch after church. So around 11:30 we made our way over, and met an additional six local people. Dean explained to them what we were all about, and also explained CGOAB. I fielded some not quite so usual questions, such as what we do to charge electronics. But of course, I was ready for that one!

At this point T Jay arrived, having left the wheel at the tent but with a new 'in package' freewheel puller in hand, plus our previous spare spokes and the two FiberFixes. T Jay described what he had done to the wheel, and casually mentioned replacing the four spokes. 'FOUR spokes?' Dodie and I chirped. Yes, he said, we had missed two. (Actually I believe these broke after the second FiberFix went in, when I told Dodie to 'just ride!'.)

T Jay attributes the spoke problems to the wheel just being too weak, and he recommended going to a double rim for Dodie, such as I have on my bike. We could swap out the rim and keep the freewheel and hub, or go for a cassette. We will take T Jay's advice, and make the changes when and if we reach Missoula! For now he has expertly repaired and trued the wheel and we are as good to go as we can be.

By the way, the wheel came back so clean I scarcely wanted to put Dodie's grungy chain on it. T Jay is a meticulous worker. We can unreservedly recommend 'Paradise Creek Bicycles' in Moscow, Idaho to any cyclist in need.

We sat in the pub for quite some time, and listened with great interest to accounts of how the bike shop is organized and of some epic bike tours that T Jay has done. We were truly reluctant to get on with our next things, because we really enjoyed this chat.

Family lunch at the pub. Dean is on the left, T Jay on the right.
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T Jay shows the way.
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We chatted for quite a long time.
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One of our chores was to try to make the donation recommended as the camping fee at the Lions Park. We also wanted to contribute towards the community centre. We found that at the grocery store they did in fact maintain brown paper bags for these causes and maybe more. The system, with no receipts and no accounting of why and how much seems to work for the people here, and it works for us!

In the later afternoon we tried out a short trail by the river that Mayor Mike had recommended, and then sat near the Library looking at the routes for our next stage, as recommended by Bill Bonte, by T Jay, and by Lawrence Hammond (the cyclist from Pullman). We flipped a coin and went with Bill Bonte's version. We figure this as 80 km to a camping spot just beyond Plummer at Heyburn State Park. Depending on terrain we will probably need to stop at Tekoa, about 50 km distant from Palouse. Google shows no place to camp or stay in Tekoa, but we know what that is worth. Tune in tomorrow, though, to see if this blog is in fact coming to you from a ditch outside of town. PS - don't panic if there is no blog at all, since it most likely means no internet rather than a wet ditch.

p.s. We are now local experts! We encountered two lost tourists (from Richmond, BC) - and were able to offer directions after our 1 and ½ days residence here. Everyone knows how to get to Moscow, right?

Also, our campsite is getting an upgrade! A man came to mow grass while we were packing gear and writing this blog entry. He was on a John Deere, of course.

The wheel. Good as new, and looks new!
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That darn puller.
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Tim Doeblar told me this story in the pub.
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The car in the showroom is about a 1965 Dodge. They did have some later models!
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Downtown has been enhanced lately.
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More enhancement is coming, says Mike.
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We recommend this place!
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