By Julie Kumble
June 23, Day 5
Just the facts, ma’am: 69 miles, 28 miles of climb, 4,560 ft gain, 2,854 descent. We left Omak, WA yesterday after a sweet night in a king sized bed at the Rodeway Inn, a night that followed an even sweeter night at Mazama guest house ranch. Two nights in a row of no tent set up and break down makes for a spoiled and happy crew. A brisk and refreshing pool at the Rodeway and a massaging hot tub at Mazama floods the reality that water is life for us riders but also for the landscape and economy in these valleys. “Humans use less than 1% of all the earth’s water and that tiny fraction is so precious,” shouts Mark over a headwind. You gotta love a guy who yells “precious.”
The Methow River irrigates the high desert valleys. Impossible orchards of cherries and apples make a green patchwork quilt that rises up to the folds of the dry desert mountain folds. Garnet cherries stud the trees like jewels, bursting with that precious water. A booming economy is built around these jewels, with towering walls of wooden crates lined up near processing plants built near railroad tracks which run parallel to the river. The fruits get cleaned, packaged and shipped to a grocery store near you. Or near Juanita in Paraguy or Zhao in China. I don’t really know where they go but it’s a global industry. Red Delicious and Raniers sustain the lives of locals and migrants.
Department of Complaints
· Route 97 with screaming logging trucks, two feet of road shoulder and pounding heart. Damn, I hate that.
· Buffeting winds.
· No shade.
· 102 degrees radiating off the road. Heat.
Department of Awesome
· Downhills with tailwinds.
· A bald eagle soaring low enough to see its gleaming white head.
· An osprey scolding us as it lifts off its nest.
· Rambling conversations that unfurl for miles.
· A pick up truck with an NRA sticker that passes and leaves a wide berth.
· Simple road inspired observations, internal or shared, that tick past.
· Indian paint brush and lupine mixed up together in roadside sprays of orange and purple.
· Old barns.
· Best Mexican food this side of the border at Rancho Chico.
· Beauty and friendship that heals.