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3 Flags - Day 16

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Start Location: Salmon, ID
Ending Location: Colfax, WA
Miles Today: 381
Trip Miles: 4874
States Visited: 9
National Parks/Monuments: 9
Low Temp: 47 degrees
High Temp: 84 degrees
Min Elevation: 786'
Max Elevation: 7016'

Route Map:

So today we went from Idaho to Montana to Idaho and finally back into Washington. The day was also a study in contrasts. The scenery today went from this to this. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The day started out cool - 52 degrees - and got cooler. About 20 minutes into the ride and at about 47 degrees, Linda decided it was time to add the rain gear and I didn't argue. Linda decided that we should have done this earlier since within 5 miles the temperature came up 10 degrees. We still left the gear on until we stopped for lunch. We don't have any pictures of the morning because Linda's hands were too cold to hold the camera steady and I still haven't mastered the art of driving the motorcycle while taking pictures.

Although on the cool side, the first ride of the day through Idaho was scenic and very similar to yesterday's ride. Once we crossed into Montana, the roads were wider, the speed limit was higher, the temperature was warmer, but the scenery was only average. Route 93 in Montana, especially the area around Hamilton, must be the log home capitol of the world. We must have seen at least a dozen log home manufacturers along the route and many of them had as many as 15 to 20 log homes in various stages of construction. Although you need the right setting for them, they make very picturesque homes.

After slogging our way through Montana, we finally made it to Idaho and stopped at the Lolo Pass Visitor Center to eat our lunch. Not sure what it was all about, but they had some type of special inspection station set up for large trucks. They were inspecting the trucks very carefully and thoroughly - even rolling around under the trucks on creepers the whole length of the truck. For those of you not familiar with it, Lolo Pass is either the beginning or end, depending on where you start, of a 170 mile stretch of route 12 that goes from the pass at the Montana border to Lewiston, ID at the Washington border. Although the entire road is scenic and a beautiful drive, the first 70 or so miles are incredible. If you blow up that section on the Google map, you'll see that there's not a straight section to be found - it's all twists and turns. In fact, the section starts out with a sign that says "Winding Road Next 77 Miles". We didn't get a picture of the sign, you'll just have to trust us. I have driven this road several times but this is the first time going from east to west. Even if you have to do it in a cage car, you owe it to yourself to drive this section of road at some time.

The road follows the Lochsa River in the beginning and then as you get further down it follows the Clear Water River. They may in fact be the same but it was not completely clear to us. You can see from the pictures the differences between the river early in the ride and later on as we got further along. As we got part way down the pass, we passed two pilot cars coming towards us with flashing lights and 'Wide Load' signs. So we slowed down and sure enough we came upon the wide load. It was a boat that was enormous. I have no idea where a boat that big would be going in that direction.

Finally, we reached Lewiston and had to leave Idaho. At that point we turned north on route 195 and almost immediately we began to climb again, the temperature dropped 10 degrees, the scenery looked like this, and there was a ferocious side wind. I don't usually say this, but I was glad to have an 800 pound motorcycle. Anyway, welcome to the Palouse (or Paloose). This is the name generally given to this corner of Washington and refers to the Native Americans Tribe that is indigenous to the area.

One more night in a motel and tomorrow it is off to Everett and back to our own home.