The night in Riverside was fraught with worry. A few hours after we settled down to bed we heard a bomb shelter alarm that very much shook me and barely phased Stephanie. (For my part, not much I could do about a nuclear apocalypse in our tent though. -S)Though I debated getting out of the tent for several sleep addled minutes, I eventually decided that if there were indeed an emergency, someone would probably come get us. Or worst case we die in each other's arms as romantically as can be.
Then around 5am the same siren went off. I was pretty sure it meant nuclear war with North Korea had just started and that we missed the memo by missing the news. But, since the weren't any zombies, big explosions, or mutated nuclear people running to and from our tent, I decided it might have just been the fire truck at a nearby firehouse playing a prank on us foreigners...
Since we were to have a long day ahead of us today with much climbing, we got up early “for us”. The laundry I had hung up the night before was dry enough and after we finished tearing down camp but before we were fully packed up, Stephanie made friends with another good dog. So after, let's say 45 (definitely more like 15. -S) minutes of petting the pup and telling it what a good dog it was, we set out to scale Wauconda Pass, home of the Black Panther, and the most incredible technological advances we could ever dream of.
Before encountering such a marvelous place, we biked about 15 miles to Tonasket, often called Tonka Set by those unwitting characters that bike around the country dressed in pink. We stopped at a wonderful little place where there was a cute kiddo playing with a wooden puzzle, and the best serving of biscuits and gravy one could hope for. Here's a post meal me so that you know it was legit! Orange short sleeve was a poor life decision, if you don't fully cover in pink, you turn pink yourself... Lesson learned...
So on we went toward Wauconda pass! Home of the most incredible technology, and by that, I mean a ghost town...
And by that I mean it sounds really cool, but then turns out to be a little bit disappointing... Let me paint a word picture for you since my art skills leave you with the feeling that something more could be had...
The day was hot and long, we'd been climbing and climbing most of the day, our water getting dangerously low. We knew from looking at the maps that Wauconda was mere miles away from us, a lush wonderland for those with the proper roots, and a safe place to rest for those without. Fueled by that knowledge we persevered. Climbing, climbing, the heat engulfing us, water levels shining and shrinking, we just knew Wauconda would take care of us. Rounding a hill, I saw it, in all it's glory, a big purple building, with big bold letters, stating GENERAL STORE! I was rapt with anticipation, my pedal strokes getting ever stronger, bolstered by the possibility of a cold drink and a sweet and salty snack. We get closer and closer, I'm for the first time today catching up to Stephanie. We unclip, are greeted by two older men, locals, and we see... We hear... We feel deep down to the bone... The general store is closed... At 4pm on a Wednesday, it's closed. It's been closed for months, maybe years, or possibly even hours, it's hard to say, hard to comprehend. (Or that’s what it feels like. In reality, it’s been closed the last 15 minutes because it’s just a backwater post office in a more backwater town that happens to sell some salty treats. The irony of the day is that we would’ve made it in time, only we were fixing a flat on my new punctureless tires only an hour before. -S) Our dreams of water snatched away by this demon. The old men joke with us, banter with us, but it's not enough to keep alive the spark of hope. It's too late for that... One of the two tells us that despite it's impeccable exterior finish, the proper General Store has been closed for a while, because the woman who runs it had been mean and nasty to her employees, driving all of them to quit. The only store this little town had left was a postcard and soda selling post office.
He then tells of of a fabled, little old school house turned RV camp ground, just a quarter mile up the road. You can see it right there he says. But with tears in our eyes, it's hard to see anything... He warns us that the camp manager sits atop the hill overlooking his domain with a loaded 38, but the promise of water the last shred of it leaving our bodies in the form of one last tear, allows us to laugh off that warning... Perhaps to our own peril...
With lightly renewed hope and a whole butt load (very sore by now and fairly toned I'd like to add) of determination, we trekked through uncharted territory to the watery promised land of an old school house with wells for RV hook ups. We pull up to the little school house, sensing no danger, and that's when it all went wrong... Stephanie saw a yellow jacket!
It didn't actually bother us, and I never saw it, but it was almost certainly left as a trap by the murderous land owner we'd been warned and had forgotten about. Having escaped the near certain doom of that one yellow jacket I never actually saw, we go to the first frost protected pump. My bike is leaning against the post. I open up our first water bottle. I placed it under the spigot. I lift the handle, cautiously at first. No signs of danger yet... And that's when it strikes! Water shoots out in all directions. I scream! My clothes... They get sprinkles of water on them, and my water bottle got none! Acting with as much speed and alacrity as I can muster, I slam shut the treasonous pump, and valiantly save myself, my bike, and my damsel (this damsel had suggested that perhaps Alex move his bike a little out of the way before filling up and was herself a safe distance from the hydrant. -S) from a misfortune of cataclysmic proportions.
We move onto the next pump... And everything worked just fine. We got our water and went on our merry way having drank our fill and refilled fully. There is a good chance it was all in our heads...
The climb up Wauconda Pass was one of the least awful. Mostly because of the promise of super heros. It was still very hot and very uphill. Luckily for me, I did encounter a super hero at the top of the pass. Check her out!
After meeting my hero, Stephanie materialized up the pass, and one of our old man friends who didn't share his name with us pulled up next to us in his pick-up and introduced us to his pup, Dog Man. Stephanie obviously geeked out over Dog Man, and it felt like I caught a glimpse of my super hero in her, for just a second... Strange...
The ride down from Wauconda Pass was cool and delightful. We met a hitch hiker we'd seen earlier that day who'd been all over the world and now just bopped around from place to place doing odd jobs. His favorite summer work was landscaping. Give him the right tools he said, and he turned it into a lush landscape.
We moved past him a bit for another 3 miles down hill to a beautiful park camp ground. They had the sprinklers on prepping for a big BMW bike really coming into town a few weeks later, but for that night, we had the pick of the litter, camp spot wise. We chose a spot near the bathroom under a big tree and by a fence so we could bear bag, dry clothes, charge electronics, and pee with ease. (Actually, the first thing I did was lay down in the wettish grass to undeaden from the heat for 20 minutes while Alex did important camp prep things. – S) The city park manager told us about showers for $0.25 for 3.5 minutes and traded us some quarters for a few dollar bills. Stephanie found an extra quarter in the shower already, and since she'd forgotten to bring a towel, I snuck in to conserve water with her. We used only one of our 12 quarters for both of us to shower and launder our clothes. Talk about some good quality efficiency.
After we got cleaned up, Stephanie put together our tent and give while I prepped lentils, rice, and broccoli. I had the chance to call my mom, let her know I was well, and then sit down for a nice meal with my favorite person (sorry everyone else) as we shared food and checked in about our day and our hopes for the next day. It was a tasty meal thanks to copious amounts of garlic powder and swiss cheese. Yum.
(Also, our camp neighbors had come to shower and brought 2 of their 11 (!!) dogs with them. One was white, part wolf and gorgeous. We had a mini-therapy session where we each got scratched behind the ears and assured the other we were indeed good girls. The other was less friendly but busy at maintaining the safety of the truck bed. I understand... it’s a tough job. -S)
We got to bed fairly early, and then realized that the downside of being near the bathroom was the lights, so we had to throw on the rain fly for light blocking and missed out on stars a little bit. We slept we after such a hard day.
7/26/2018 08:15:25 pm
Hey, what does it mean when there are no travel updates? I'm hoping it means that you're having such a good time that you have no time to anything other than just be in the groove!
7/27/2018 05:44:45 am
yep. the days are longer than expected and writing doesn't make the cut.
7/27/2018 08:26:38 pm
Nice to hear from you. Hang in there and make those memories!!
2/1/2020 05:48:10 am
Well, it makes me happy to know that you've won the cup! I know that you guys have worked so hard for it, and you really deserve an acknowledgement for that. Of course, that victory wouldn't be possible if you didn't work hard for it. You did not come just for yourself, but you were there to represent France in all aspects of the game. If you played it really well, then that means that you really deserve that victory. I couldn't help but be happy on what you have achieved so far. I am pretty sure that there is more to come!
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