Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July 10, 2012 - Coulee City, WA - Steamboat Rock SP

The sun was shining when we got up in St. Regis.  The temps were in the low 60’s.  However, there were black clouds on the horizon.  I checked the weather at the campground and there was a slim line of showers right over US Rt 12, which we planned to ride.  We had a good breakfast at the campground and headed out towards Missoula.  It was about 75 miles away and it is ironic that that is where we were about 3 weeks ago.  We found Rt 12 and headed out onto it.  After about 20 miles or so, there was lightening in the skies.  We pressed on and only hit a few drops, although the roads were very wet.  We had missed the downpour and only caught the aftermath. 

Whoa...Is This a Warning or What!!!
After about 40 miles or so, we saw a sign that stated “Curves Next 99 Miles”.  Whoa…what a road.  There were no tight turns, but plenty of sweepers.  The road started almost at the headwaters of the Clearwater River.  It was the original route of Lewis and Clark through the area.  We followed the river for over 120 miles and saw plenty of rafters, kayakers and motorcycles.  It is a very popular road and must be a mob scene on the weekends. 

The Clearwater River Along US Rt 12 In Montana
The weather turned hot as we exited the Clearwater River Basin.  Western Washington and Oregon is basically semi-arid, high-desert areas.  The terrain and geography changed dramatically in only 5 miles or so.  By noon, we were cooking in temps that hovered around the mid-90’s. 

On US Rt 12, Above Lewiston, ID.
The Road Seen Below is the Old Road From the 1930's

We took all back roads and were shocked at the mile-after-mile of crops.  Most of it appeared to be wheat, oats, or similar crop.  The area was devoid of trees, and every square inch was crops.  All of a sudden the terrain changed to rocks and hills and then there was livestock.  This happened several times, but as best we can estimate, there was over 100 miles of crops and 30 miles of livestock.  BORING RIDE…Hey – one has to take the good with the bad.  Despite the fact we probably averaged 45 MPH on Rt 12 for 150 miles or so, had two construction delays, stopped for lunch, and several times for drinks and to cool off, we still did almost 500 miles today.  The last 100 or so was rough.  It was on a secondary road, and NOTHING was around. 

We enjoyed the ride and decided to shoot for Coulee City for the evening.  It is about ½ hour from Grand Coulee Dam.  They open at 9:00 AM so we can have a good breakfast again and take the tour, without straining our schedule – yeah…right. 

The state park where we are staying is a nice one, but the temps are straining our tolerance.  I believe once we head out west from here the temps will cool as we go towards Seattle, and most likely rain.  The campground is overrun with seagulls.  They are scavengers and several are waiting in the roadway for us to leave something out, or throw them something.

Steamboat Rock SP - Coulee City, WA
View of Banks Lake From Steamboat Rock SP

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