September 9: I wake up at 5:30 (living outside has led to becoming an early riser, even when I’ve slept indoors). By 6:30 I’m sitting in a diner considering my options. The evening before I reviewed the wildfire information provided to the town via info boards in front of the grocery store. There is a wildfire directly in the direction I need to go, only 3 miles outside of town. I sit in the diner for 2 hours trying to find a ride past the fire. Feeling the clock ticking away my time until winter, I break down and rent another uhaul. This one is an even bigger box truck than the last because they did not have any of the smaller trucks available. I drive 84 miles to Sandpoint, Idaho. My second-to-last state. I stay at the fairgrounds outside of town. There’s no real tent camping here. I’m required to pay the price for an RV and have to camp out of the way to avoid the sprinklers that will come on at night. The showers, on the other hand, are very nice. I take a long, hot shower. Hot water is something I have come to see as a treat instead of a consistent luxury.
September 10: Due to the distances between campgrounds, this is a short and easy day. I cross into Washington! My last state! I look at the sign at the border in amazement, and a little shock. Surprise that I’ve made it through 10 states yes, but on a smaller scale I just didn’t realize I would enter Washington this evening. I had thought the border was further along and I would cross it in the morning. Turns out the campground where I spent the night was just inside Washington. It seems less smoky here. The border crossing and the lighter sky puts me in high spirits. By the time I set up camp, I am too lazy to heat up the clam chowder soup I have for dinner, so I eat it out of the can, cold, like the heathen I have become.
September 11: This morning I am faced with deciding if I want to bicycle 40 miles or 80 miles to the next campground, which is really no decision at all. It only takes me until 1pm to reach Blueslide resort. I am now on WA route 20, the Cascade Highway, which I will remain on until I reach the Pacific Ocean. The weather is noticeably growing colder by the day, which reminds me that the mountain passes may close any time.
September 12: I spend almost all day walking my bike up a mountain. I rarely keep track of how far I walk anymore. Even the amount of miles I bike in a day doesn’t mean much. I can usually reach my intended destination. The miles are easier, even the walking is easier. I’m so much stronger than I was just a few weeks ago. I reached the top at around 1pm and stop for lunch at a lodging with a restaurant, Beaver Lodge. I ordered one of my favorite meals, a burger with an over-easy egg on top and french fries. While I am eating not one, but TWO cyclists come into the restaurant. They don’t know each other and I’ve never seen either before. The man is Phil, who is from Massachusetts originally but is traveling Eastbound to Havre, Montana. Kayla is from Boston, going west like me, and has been cycling the Northern Tier all summer. A solo cyclist! Westbound! From New England! And she’s FEMALE. This is the first female solo-cyclist I have met, and only the second female cyclist I’ve met at all (excluding myself). All three of us just happen to converge at this hotel restaurant at the top of a mountain. I stay the night at the Bacon Bike Hostel, located just outside of Coleville, Washington. There is no one staying here besides Dobby and myself. This hostel is run by a husband and wife for free. It is basically an entire house with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, a beautiful balcony, and laundry facilities. All they require is that you give them advanced notice of your arrival. There are some amazing people in this world.
I am so excited to get the smell of smoke out of my clothes.
We have traveled 2926.8 miles.