The next day was to be another long one; nearly 60 miles, and I was on the road and crossing the bridge over the Columbia before 6:00. There is a sloping loop that drops down off the highway into town and I was going along at a pretty good clip when I came to an intersection. I eased on my brakes but the bike barely slowed. I pulled harder on the levers and dragged my feet, coming to a wobbly stop. I checked my brakes and discovered that I had failed to reconnect the rear cable when I'd fixed the flat the night before!
Later, as I rode up a hill, the rear shifter seemed awfully stiff; I was pulling so hard on the lever that I feared I'd break a cable. Up ahead, I spied a rest stop and I pulled in, unloaded the bike, turned it upside down on a picnic table and splashed oil around the rear derailleur. It seemed to do the trick, I guess all the wet weather of the past few weeks had gummed up the works and all the drive train needed was a little t.l.c.
It was hot and windy as I rode along a bluff high above the River. Deep forest lined the four-lane highway and I got only an occasional glimpse of the Columbia as I pedaled toward Trail.
Around noon, I again crossed the River at the small town of Trail, and after another long, hot climb, I turned off Highway 3 and headed for the U.S. border crossing. I soon passed a sign indicating that the remote outpost ran banking hours; it was open from 9 to 5.
Later, a few miles north of Northport Washington, I stopped at a nice campground to beg for water. The land here in Northeastern Washington State is quite different than the country north of the border. It's drier and the forests of Ponderosa Pine are sparser. I got to talking with Ralph, the campground owner, and he told me about a problem that was plaguing the area; it seemed that heroin smugglers drifted down the River from Canada and federal agents were on the lookout for suspicious characters. Just then, a dark green Huey helicopter buzzed over at tree top level. The chopper had no markings so I couldn't tell if it was being piloted by good guys or bad.
I made 58 miles, camped at a small state campground on the Columbia and was up early and on the road by 5:30. It was a pleasant but hilly ride in the chill morning air to Kettle Falls where I had breakfast and resupplied at a supermarket. My goal for the day was the tiny burg of Hunters. Highway 25 rolls along through woods and past farmer's fields with the occasional glimpse of Lake Roosevelt; the massive body of water formed by Grand Coulee Dam.
My daughter, Annie, lives an hour away from Hunters and we had arranged to meet there. We loaded my bike in her car and drove to her house where I got the first shower I'd had in two days. Boy, did it ever feel good!
I'm staying with Annie and her family for a couple of days, resting and making repairs to my bike. I'll hitch a ride to Creston or Wilbur on Sunday, the 24th and continue my ride along the Columbia.
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