Tonight Shawn and I are in the little town of Republic, Washington, staying in a yurt in the yard of Paul and Janine. Shawn and I have been finding hosts through Warm Showers, and this is one of the many places where someone has graciously volunteered to host total strangers who just happen to be riding their bicycles a long way. It’s a really great idea, and so far we’ve had nothing but pleasant experiences. The place we’re currently staying has only hosted a handful of people a year in the previous to years, and so far they’ve already hosted more cyclists than they did in the entirety of last year! And the yurt is so cute, too.
Turns out that Paul used to be involved in the bike fun scene in Portland, and we spent a while talking about mutual friends and places we knew. His sister co-owns Portobella, the really yummy vegan restaurant in Portland on SE Division.
We didn’t get a chance to check out the town itself when we arrived, but we did note that it has a natural foods store. I have been surprised to find, so far, that at least half of the small towns we ride through in Washington have either a natural foods store or co-op. I haven’t been so weird about carrying stupid amounts of food since I realized that there were so many good places to stop.
Yesterday we really started riding in desert. When we left Twisp (and immediately had a steep climb to Loup Loup Mountain Pass at 4,020 feet) things started seeming dryer right away, and soon there were much less trees, except for the irrigated apple farms.
Last night we slept in the town of Riverside, where taking an evening walk wakes up every dog for miles. It also has a cute antiques store/grocery store with lots of antique bicycles used as decorations on the outside. On the way out, we also stopped at their cemetery to take photos of the tombstone of a friend’s relative.
The mountain pass today wasn’t very high but still felt brutal. Shawn and I think it’s probably because it was later on in our day, and that rather than a shorter steeper climb, it was a long one that just went, well, on and on. It doesn’t help that for the first good few miles, we had a stiff headwind. Bleh. Headwinds just suck.
The wildlife! I should mention that. Firstly, we see lots and lots of deer in this part of the state. They usually either stop and stare at you, or run. Which is good, because several towns have had signs that count how many deer have been hit this year by cars.
Today I saw: a hummingbird check out Shawn, a whole bunch of other birds I didn’t know the name of that were really pretty, a huge owl, and some prairie dogs. I had to look up pictures of them to make sure it’s what I was really seeing, but yup! I kept spotting them near sunset, checking things out and then hiding when they saw me. (And the day before our first mountain passes, I heard a pika!)
There’s also the usual assortment of cows and horses and cows and cows and cows. Both currently have babies hanging around, and the baby cows are hilarious because they’ll ignore all the cars and then startle away when they see us! I’ve also seen goats and a few sheep and some alpacas. I always say hi to animals. It’s some kind of strange compulsion.
Time to wrap this up, I’m tired! We have another big mountain pass tomorrow, higher than the big one we did in my last post. But we’re starting from higher up, and the climb is right when we start our day, so we’ll be fresh and we can just get it done.