Monday, September 3, 2007

The Great Bike Ride – Day 8

Monday, September 4, 2007

Today was the first day of our second week on the road. Once again we were blessed with clear blue skies and temperatures from a pleasant chill in the morning to a hot afternoon.

The intention was to take US 2 from Kalispell MT to Spokane WA, but the GPS (not mine!) directed us south on US 93 toward I-90, and none of us figured it out until we were far enough down the road to make it not worth going back. Nonetheless, we ended up on a couple of great roads, virtually alone through the ranch country along Montana state route 28. At Thompson Falls, we found a cool local place for lunch, and got a recommendation from a couple there to take the road over Thompson Pass. This meant we missed going past Lake Pend Oreille (pond-o-ray), the site of the 1969 Boy Scout National Jamboree, which I had attended. Oh well. It was still a nice road.

After crossing over the Thompson Pass, we ended up on I-90 to run through Coeur D'Alene Idaho and Spokane WA before heading north on US 2 and WA 174 to the site of Grand Coulee Dam. The terrain changed from the green forests of the Montana Rockies to the arid prairie of western Washington.

On that 1969 trip to the National Jamboree, we flew into Seattle and rode buses across Washington to the camp grounds. Along the way, we stopped at Grand Coulee Dam, and I've always wanted to come back, particularly once I came to understand the role of the dam in the Manhattan Project, and my granddad's connection to all this. One of the neat things about this dam is that water actually flows over the top of the dam, as a sort of man-made waterfall.

So I was little disappointed that there was no water going over the dam when we arrived here today. Maybe it's because conditions are very dry out here this year, or maybe because with the third powerhouse operational, they use all the water spinning the turbines.

At 8:30pm, after it becomes dark, a laser light show is displayed on the face of the dam. Interestingly, they release water over the top of the dam during the show to create a white screen on which to project the lasers. Of course it's dark, but you can hear the rushing water. After the show is over, they shut it back down again.

Tomorrow we plan to tour the dam, then head to Richland WA, another key Manhattan Project site. Jeff is heading to Seattle for a couple of days to see friends, and will rejoin us in Portland on Wednesday evening.

Oh, and we now have ridden about 3,000 miles.


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