David Freeze: A big breakfast, finding fossils and conquering Sherman Pass

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 17, 2017

Editor’s note: Salisbury native David Freeze is cycling from Anacortes, Washington, to Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Post is chronicling each day of his ride. Contact him at david.freeze@ctc.net.

By David Freeze

For the Salisbury Post

After just beating the rain to Republic, Washington, on Thursday, I found a great deal and perfect location at the Klondike Motel.

Tom, the owner, gave me a room with a balcony that looks down the main street, otherwise known as Clark Avenue.

This is my second-favorite town in all my bike travels, right behind Williams, Arizona, the gateway to the Grand Canyon.

I found out when I got the big breakfast/lunch from the Knotty Pine Restaurant that just last week, there were gunfights here as part of Prospector’s Day. The town is full of friendly people, as has been the case throughout the state of Washington.

My new friends from the road, cyclists Joe and Brett, went fossil hunting with great success. There is an ongoing fossil dig here. They found the fossils in the rain that fell all afternoon.

This part of Washington is considered the high desert and annually gets 12 inches of rain. Thursday continued the trend of an unusually wet spring.

My cellphone has been without a signal on all the climbs. I expect that this will end soon.

Gas prices in the area are just under $3 a gallon, although I have seen it as high as $3.20.

• • •

I got up at 4 a.m. Friday and was on the road before 5 a.m. to start climbing. Leaving Republic was easy, and the terrain was reasonable for quite a while.

About 10 miles below the pass, signs saying that snow chains may be required got my attention. The grade steepened sharply, and on and on it went. There was none of the predicted rain, and I topped the pass at 10 a.m. There was little traffic, but logging trucks were a constant.

Sherman Pass, at 5,575 feet, is Washington’s highest pass that is kept open year round. I saw only a little snow near the top, quite different from 3 feet or so on Washington Pass earlier in the week.

The descent from the top was very cold, and I put on everything available, even my ski mittens. It was on my descent from Washington Pass that my fingers were so cold that it was hard to work the brakes. Much better this time.

The next town was Kettle Falls, where all the logging trucks seemed to be going. Huge log piles were right beside the wide Columbia River with trucks coming from both directions dropping off more.

The Columbia looked similar to the Ohio River in size.

Kettle Falls is about 50 miles from Republic, and it’s another 10 miles on to Colville, where I would spend Friday night. Colville has at least one more massive pile of logs right beside State Road 20, the main road for my trip so far through the Cascade Mountains.

I failed to mention before that Washington has legal marijuana sales. Just a couple of days ago, I saw the fenced-in fields. I was told that although sales are legal, few people want the fields or stores next to their property.

Sometimes, quite often, actually, I am fortunate that the right choices work out. Friday night’s lodging was one of them. I called another motel in Colville first and things didn’t sound right. I ended up after 60 miles at Benny’s Colville Inn, a three-generation motel. Andy and Teresa are fun people, and we talked quite bit about cycling and travel. I got a good price, and they have an early breakfast.

Hopefully, it’s on to Newport today, my last night in Washington. In fact, I will pass briefly into Idaho before returning to Washington this afternoon, if all goes well. There will be some climbing, but only about 1,500 feet in elevation gain after 3,000 feet Friday.

Two more sponsors for my bike ride this year are back again. Dr. Delaine Fowler and Accelerate Therapy and Performance have worked wonders with my injuries. Dr. Tanya Williams is my dentist and operates Gentle Dental on Kerr Street. Thanks to both of them.

The next report will be from eastern Washington.

See more from David Freeze