Trans-Canada - Day 18
Start Location: Missoula, MT
Ending Location: Union Gap, WA
Miles Today: 430
Trip Miles: 5915
States Visited: 12
Provinces Visited: 5
Low Temp: 48.8° F
High Temp: 90° F
Min Elevation: 328'
Max Elevation: 5206'
Well if you've looked at the map and the statistics, you can see that we chose to add the extra day and take route 12 through Idaho and Lolo Pass instead of just heading home on I-90.
Today was definitely a study in contrasts. In just a few hours we went from the lush, green forests and mountains of Idaho to the dry, brown grasslands of Eastern Wasington. The temperature also went from about 49° near the top of the pass to 90° in Lewiston and Eastern Washington.
We got a pretty early start since we are gaining time as we move west and were able to get to the pass before any traffic so the ride down from the pass saw very little traffic. The disadvantage of being so early is that it was pretty cold. Although it was 62° when we left Missoula and I chose to not even wear my vest, we decided to stop at about 50° and put on our vests and plug them in. They worked great! Within seconds you could feel the warmth and we had to turn them down so we didn't cook inside of them. I have heated grips as well and the only thing even the least bit cold were the outsides of my hands. They need to make gloves that are insulated on the outsides but have leather grips with no insulation on the inside. I didn't know how my electrical system would handle the grips and both vests but it worked great. During normal riding, the electrical system charges at arounf 7 amps and, with grips and vests, it charged around 17 to 18 amps. It appears we will never be cold again.
We have ridden many roads over the years but this ride ranks right up there with the best. I think Fred introduced me to this route on a trip to Glacier National Park that he and I and Jim did probably 20 years ago. I have ridden it numerous times since then and never tire of it. It starts out at the pass with a sign that says "Winding Road Next 77 Miles". The speed limit is 50 mph and I don't think there is any section that is completely straight for over 1/4 mile. The curves are also reasonable. No hairpins or tight switchbacks and I don't think there are any that have a speed limit of less than 30 to 35 mph and motorcycles can easily handle them at 10 to 15 mph over the posted speed. The road follows the Lochsa River much of the way and Linda even got some nice shots with reflections of the incredible scenery in the water.
It's very dry over here and the fire danger is listed as extreme on signs all through Idaho. There have been numerous fires and as we drive we can frequently smell smoke and many of the pictures show smoke in the distance.
Once we crossed into Washington we traveled back roads through fields and grasslands until we got to the Yakima valley where there are many orchards and vineyards and the color turns green again , mainly due to extensive irrigation.
We are staying in Union Gap tonight outside of Yakima, and will head for Everett in the morning. We are only about 170 miles from home now and should be there before noon.