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1 Paterson Boarder Crossing: Well that was easy. Basically from Rossland (very cute) you are descending a 7% grade for many clicks... You think this is great and blast along, with no other cars. A few questions pop into your head and one of them is, "Why is this road so deserted? It's an excellent road!" You see a large semi in front, and pull over the double yellows, down hill to pass the truck (which is hauling). As you sweep around the subsequent bend, your question is answered. This is the only road out of Rossland south, with no turn offs and that, right ahead, is the Paterson US Border station. And they're watching you overtake this truck at twice the legal limit. Welcome to the US, son. Is that a graduated slow down series of 70, 50, 30 kmh signs you've just blown through? The truck, it appears is just as surprised at the abrupt border station, and has to pull into the oncoming lane as his brakes are overheated from the 10km of down hill grades and he's not sure he can stop before he smears you into the border guard's bollocks. But the American border guard is standing outside his booth, facing you with one hand on his hip and one palm up, legs apart, daring you and the truck to nudge his tackle. Prepared for the worst, he directed us to remove our helmets. Thank Christ my wife has a nice smile. He held out his hand for our passports and directed his attention to what he referred to as "my little cookie on the back". Works for me. We were waved through in less time than it took to slap our helmets back over our chops and in the land of the free, home of the brave, and more importantly, cheap goods and services.
2 China Bend: There's no reason to stop here, except to change your bike's computer to MPH and MPG (imperial or US). But the Columbia takes a significant turn here, and there is a rest area. We decided to walk out on the huge metal dock next to the boat launch. The signs warn you not eat more than one each kind of fish you catch here per month as the river is contaminated with heavy metals: copper, mercury etc... I thought back to the smelter right on the river in the middle of Trail. No wonder the Americans think we're cheese-heads. Why would you continue to run a smelter mill adjacent to a river that serves as drinking water for hundreds of thousands? Who would build a mill in down-town Port Alberni?...But I digress.
|As we walked back to the bike, that same Beemer rider we had seen in Nakusp whisked by with a wave. It must have been the air. Did he know we were only riding a Vstrom?...A 73mpg (imperial) Vstrom that is...|
|As you see, the rain gear is going on. Too bad we were about to hit one of the big reasons for the whole trip: SR20|
6 Wauconda: We didn't stop. Heck we didn't even notice it really. But it has the curious reputation of being one of the few towns actually sold on Ebay. Sorry no pic...it shot by quicker than Spuzzum going over Niagara Falls.
7 And just like that, you fall into desert heat. The temperature rocketed from 70 ish to, well, very hot.
|Wow it looks like the Cache Creek, Lillooet area, only the road surface is perfect.|
9 Desert...hot...: The scale of this land stood out. We ran beside sage brush covered ridge for a while, with oasis like green patches snaking beside some unknown river off to our left. Pictures don't do this landscape justice - it's too big, too grand to be caught and adequately rendered by a micro-lensed camera.
Desert Sampler...Between Tonasket and Omak
10 Omak: If there's a recurring theme of this ride, it's that we would have rather stopped somewhere else. The Royal Motel was excellent - very good value, spic and span, a real mom and pop operation with nice touches and excellent value $49 a night...try that in Canada (no don't - you'll likely wake up with bed bug bites and the clap). The Mexican restaurant was the best we've eaten at bar none (and I include San Diego venues, Mexican venues etc...): Rancho Chico. Wow. The food was excellent, no dross, real Mexicans, serving real Mexican cooking. High quality ingredients with a smile. Again the price was out of this world...The same meal at Gina's would have been three times the cost, and half the quality. But the town itself is fairly devoid of any aesthetic or cultural attractions. Now Winthrop. That's a town!
Track available here