The campground was full of RVs, parked close together, but we found a good spot and had a leisurely afternoon and evening to prepare for the arduous day facing us tomorrow. Much of the riding today was not the most spectacular and the roads were too major to be really enjoyable, but it had to be done to get back into the mountains.
Stats for the day: 57 miles; 2700 feet of climbing and 3200 calories
We started the day with a tough 500 feet climb immediately out of the campsite. There was no time to warm up at all, but the good part was that we very quickly got great views of the lake.
Then we descended to the River Columbia, dropping more than we climbed. At this point the Columbia is a mighty river. It flows from Canada south and then reaches the sea just north of Portland, Oregan.
Once we got to the river it was back to the awful I97 – Interstate 97 and one of the major north/south routes. There was a good shoulder and we tanked along. After about 17 miles we reached Entiat, a small community by the side of the river, At 8am on a Saturday morning the only place open was a bar that did not look like the place to savour the breakfast. We were served coffee by a seriously overweight young woman who was playing electronic darts with an equally overweight man. It would be chulish not to remark on the obesity problem that we have observed in the United States – because it is on show everywhere. I mean serious obesity, not just being a bit overweight (as I am the last person who can speak about that!!). Just like the kindliness of almost everyone we meet, the seriously oerweight are there all the time.
It is a major problem and it is unclear to me how societal attitudes to obesity are evolving. However one point to note is that we see remarkably few people smoking. When I was last in the States 10 years ago there was far more smokers in evidence and today we see very few. Perhaps societal attitudes to the dangers of obesity will turn in the same way that they have in relation to smoking.
Anyway we sampled the coffee at Entiat but nothing more, ate our pasties from yesterday and were on the road again. The road followed the river for the next 17 miles or so, with a few ups and downs and then we finally gave the trucks and RVs up, and slpped off to a side road that climbed away from the river.
By this stage we had been on the road for several hours and it was getting really hot. We finally found a restaurant at a town called Monitor, but it was closed. It was about as useless as the organisation in England that bears the same name. We also had to rejoin the hot and dusty shoulder of the I97, and plodded on until we found a bakery where we stopped for coffee and sustenance. There is however a slight problem with these specialist, chique bakeries in that they are designed as an antidote to the obesity problem and so I always leave having had a little something that was delightful but slightly empty. It was good to get off the main road however.
We came back out to the heat and traffic, but soon left to go through a delightful little town called Cashmere, where we stopped for bread. Then we climbed up narrow roads, and lunched under a pear tree in an orchard beside the road. This is fruit country where the lack of rain water is made up for by fantastic irrigation systems, with the water from the mountains being recycled to grow crops. Occasionally we would pass an orchard and a badly directly sprinkler would cover us with water. It was fantastic and tempting to stop and wait for another soaking.
After lunch the road was steep – often a feature of minor roads, and having sweated away we then dropped back to the main road again, resentfully losing almost all the height we had gained. Then I97 split, with the main road heading to Seattle and taking most of the traffic with it, and the original I97 heading off up towards Blewett Pass (which is tomorrow’s peak to be conquered). The road climbed steadily from 1070 feet to about 1700 feet over about 6 miles, which is a steady climb on good shoulders. This was a wooded river valley, climbing back up into the mountains. At 1700 feet we reached the campground – 57 miles covered and yet it was not yet 3pm.