Monday, September 23, 2013

Yearning for Another Helping of Potatoes August 22-26

Newhalem Creek Falls
Popping in at the North Cascades Visitor Center in Newhalem, Washington to see our tax dollars at work I went out and hiked the "Rock Shelter" trail to view a historic site where Native Americans have cooked their hunted goat and worked their wool for over 1300 years. I wasn't able to locate any wool or even a scrape of leftover goat meat so I continued on to the Lower Newhalem Creek Trail to spy the creek's falls. Along the way I couldn't help but notice the forest was covered in vibrant green moss as if green snow had somehow managed to penetrate the forest canopy and lay about like a fresh blanket. It's a very furry forest!

Continuing west a little further down the road I had a gander at yet another set of falls, named "Ladder Falls". Back in the day (1950/60's) this would have undoubtedly been the most psychedelic waterfalls in the world. Sponsored by Seattle Power and Light, one of their visionary managers convinced the Feds to allow the company to install quite the audio and visual array along the falls which run parallel to the dam and power generation station. Visitors from all over the world would come to tour the grounds including the meticulously maintained gardens of exotic (and non native) plants , while the falls and surrounding grounds were bathed in multicolored lights all the while listening to contemporary music piped in through loudspeakers hidden in the tree tops. It sounds like it could have given a Pink Floyd concert a run for its money and may well have served as an inspiration to Walt Disney. Unfortunately, today the gardens have lapsed back to their untended native species and energy concerns have put an end to the light show. Oh, the 'good olde days!'.

Driving the next day in Mazama I saw some mountain bikers so I pulled over and took their word for it that there was a good ride to be had. So I had a go at the Mazama Community Trail (MCT) and rode a 14 mile loop. The Methow Valley System Trail Association has really done a nice job of getting permission from local land owners to facilitate a great community trail which is easy for all levels and has some short, more challenging spurs for those so inclined. 

Winthrop, a town stuck in the 19th Century
Later as I drove through Winthrop and took in the town's "old time" store fronts  I wondered if I had somehow slipped backwards in time to the 1800's. Eventually I made it to Omak which seemed to have enough of a population for me to reasonably assume I would be able to find a replacement tire for the one I can't seem to stop from leaking even with a can of "Fix-it-Flat" and inserting a number of tire plugs!  

My assumption proved wrong as the only place I could find a replacement tire at was closing in another 5 minutes so I drove into Spokane. Deciding to forgo a temporary used replacement I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a whole new set of tires. Oh the joys of shopping for reasonably priced tires for a heavy duty vehicle in a small market! My best bet seemed to be the local Walmart. The tire department was unmanned for the evening, but their stock was on display so I managed to locate three of the correctly sized tires I needed. I kept my fingers crossed that they had the fourth hidden somewhere. 

Can't decide which is cooler- the Purple late 80's Trans Am, the "Gumballs" on top, or the Dummy inside!!??
Lady luck was with me in the morning when the tire guys told me that they did indeed have the fourth tire in the shop. So I had all four of them installed as I watched the latest Star Trek movie for the second time while killing time in the waiting room. 

With brand new sneakers on the van (love that new tire smell) I was ready to put Washington in the rear view and re-enter Idaho which had recently showed me a very nice time notwithstanding  my bike accident and the scar which is still healing. 

Northern Idaho is about as wide as a 'wafer thin mint' so it doesn't take long to traverse it, but I did managed to extend my time there with a visit to Schweitzer Mountain to get another ride in the bag.  There they have a really popular trail called "Bear Grass" but its "Downhill" only. In other words, you have to buy a lift ticket. I chose instead to ride the 5.5 mile X-Country loop called "Sammy's Style". (Ride Specifics: Service road ride up, right onto Huckleberry Hill, Right on to Upper GRR. Left onto Overland. Merge left onto Lower GRR, Right onto Rolling Thunder, Right back onto Overland. Left onto Screech Owl and finish). Short and Sweet! And really Fun. Also, the huckleberries were in season so the snacks were courtesy of Mother Nature!

The only thing bothering me at this point is that my refrigerator is blowing fuses and I haven't yet been able to track down the reason. It is, none the less, another wonderful day and I'm not going to let that bring me down. I'll deal with it down the road once I've entered the "Big Sky Country" of Montana........

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