Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wet weather, wine, dams and more dams

The night of June 29 passed uneventfully, with the noise of the swollen North Thompson River lulling us to sleep. Saturday morning, David and I had breakfast at an A&W in Valemount, which served surprisingly tasty food and good coffee. Daniel arrived as we were finishing and told us not to wait -- he'd catch up in Clearwater, about 150 miles south.

The weather finally turned on us and the run to Clearwater was a wet one, although the scenery was spectacular with clouds and mists filling the valleys and hanging on the mountainsides.

By the time we arrived in Clearwater, it was nearly time for lunch and we tried another truck-stop A&W restaurant with equalloy pleasant results. Again, Daniel arrived as we were finishing up and joined us for the next leg south to Kamloops.

Our original plan was to go east to Salmon Arm and then southeast to Kaslo and Kootenay Lake, with a couple of ferry rides thrown in for fun. Unfortunately, eastern British Columbia was seriously socked in with rain and floods -- hence the detour to Kamloops, where we Daniel found us a tired but well-equipped $75 motel room.

David decided he'd head off on his own in the morning to visit friends in Spokane, but took advantage of our dry room to sack out on the floor on his Thermarest. First, however, he had to mop up the floor because the little fridge in the well-equipped room decided to defrost itself.

Daniel volunteered to forage for dinner and returned with $75-worth of Chinese food, which ended up being breakfast, too.

David left us at Kamlopps (A) and rode straight to Spokane to visit friends, while Daniel and I took a slower pace and a longer route through Kelowna (B) and the Osoyoos wine region (C), stopping for the night at a state park at Bridgeport, Wash. (D). Next day, we visited the Grand Coulee Dam (E) and stopped at a KOA campgrund on Couer d'Alene Lake in Idaho (F). After a wet and stormy night, we surrendered to a strong crosswind when we left Couer d'Alene and only made it to Lewiston, Idaho (G), camping and drying out at Hells Gate State Park on the Snake River.
Send a hungry man out to forage for dinner and you might end up with $75 worth of Chinese take-out. It was great for dinner and still good for breakfast the next morning.
The weather reports for southeastern British Columbia weren't good there was heavy rain and flooding ovefrnight, but we tried turning east out of Kelowna anyway, hoping the front had passed. Unfortunately, it hadn't and after we encountered increasingly heavy rain and this rockslide, we decided to turn back and go directly south through Osoyoos to the U.S. border.

Sunday morning, July 1, Canada Day, we bid David aloha, packed up and headed south to Vernon and Kewlona. The weather was soft and sunny, there was no traffic and the road was scenic. We stopped at a small town cafe for coffee and cinnamon buns fresh from the oven.

The weather held up through Vernon and, although the reports for eastern B.C. hadn't improved, it was so warm and sunny in Kewlona, we decided to turn east again.

Not five miles up the road, however, we'd gained more than 1,000 feet in elevation, lost 15 or 20 degrees in temperature and got wetter and wetter from the rain. We passed a house next to a river that had been engulfed, with several feet of water rushing over what had been the front and back yards.

A mile further, a car coming from the opposite direction flashed its lights and the driver waved at us out his window. We rounded the next turn cautiously and found a rock slide covering the right-hand lane.

While we didn't mind adventure finding us, we decided not to seek it out and turned back to Kewlona and then south to the border through wine country.
Mission Creek had overflowed its banks a few miles east of Kelowna, flooding this home.
Back in the sunny Okanagan Valley, we stopped at the Noble Ridge winery -- one of many in the region.  
We shared a chilled bottle of Noble Ridge pinot grigio and an assortment of cheeses, olives and prosciutto.
Approaching the U.S. border, we had to cool our heels for about an hour at a gas station/cafe while a squall went through and rain cooled the Canada Day afternoon.
Sunday night, we stopped in Bridgeport, Wash. at a park next to the Chief Joseph Dam on the Columbia River. The dam is the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the U.S. Our sleep was interrupted by the sound of fireworks set off by local farm workers who kept blasting away until 4 a.m.
Monday morning, we visited the Grand Coulee Dam, the largest producer of hydroelectric power in the nation, which is just 40 miles upstream from Chief Joseph Dam.
Built between 1938 and 1942, Grand Coulee is the largest concrete structure in the world and the legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, after whom the lake created by the dam is named.

After lunch in Grand Coulee, we rode to Couer d'Alene, Idaho and camped in a KOA on the lake. That evening and overnight, a series of thunderstorms tested the water repellancy of my tent and I awoke Tuesday to find several puddles under my air mattress. We packed up our soggy gear and set off for the south hoping to get close to Bend, Ore., but a strong crosswind wore us down and we decided to stop at Lewiston, Idaho, where David and I had camped last year.
Lewiston is on the Snake River, which carved a deep gorge in the high prairie. While US 95 takes a more-or-less direct route into the city, the old highway still twists and turns its way down to the river. We took the old road. That's Lewiston, Idaho on the left and Clarkston, Wash. on the right.

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