After we stayed in Billings MT, we cruised through Montana on I-90 and then stayed the night in Coeur d’Alene ID. This was the second time I’ve been to Coeur d’Alene as my first time was with the PSU cycling team when we were passing through on the way to Montana.
It is a really beautiful town. It’s right on a lake and there is a cute little downtown with tons of shops and restaurants and everything is surrounded with mountains and evergreen forests.
Every time I think of this town, I think of my Canadian bike teammate Peter. He is from Toronto originally, but he speaks this crazy ass dialect of French Canadian (I’m still not clear on where he picked that up). For instance, one time he was wearing a fake mustache, and started screaming what I translated as “I am Peter, I ride a bicycle, I have gray hair on my face.”
Here is our team picture, he is circled in red. Notice the mustache, also he is wearing a Super Mario T-shirt. I cut myself out because the photo was very unflattering. Also note, I am the shortest person on the team. A fact that the second shortest person would not let me forget. Hehe.
And just for good measure, here is a slightly unflattering picture of me at the “fixie crit” that weekend in Idaho.
Anyway, Peter INSISTS that Coeur d’Alene translates to “Heart of an Awl”. Awl, as in the woodworking tool. I told him that was crazy, he just chalked it up to some eccentric French Canadian pioneers. And by golly, when I put it in a web translator, he is absolutely correct!!
He also says Coeur d’Alene like a crazy French Canadian!!! The locals (and I’m pretty sure everyone else in the world) say “Coor dah lane”. He says “Coor duh laawn (with the French accent of course). So now every time I say it, I have to refrain from saying it like a crazy French Canadian! (BTW, I am totally going to tag this post with “crazy french canadian” and that only)
On another note, I recommend getting coffee at Java on Sherman. The baristas are very easy on the eyes. I totally told my mom that they were “smoking hot” when I returned with our coffees. Is that inappropriate? Whatevs. Oh, and the coffee’s good.
There is not a lot going on in Eastern WA. Right after passing through Coeur d’Alene, you pass through Spokane. Which is basically a lot of strip malls, and I hear it is quite cold there in the winter. The highlight of this part of the trip was the exit that advertised “Medicine Lake” ( which really is a tie for best exit sign with the Montana one that advertised two towns, Anaconda Opportunity).
Then you head south (if you are going towards Portland, of course) through what is called high desert plains. It was really hot and dry when we were there. Despite a climate which some may assume would be a barrier to agriculture, there is actually a lot of wheat grown in this area. Wheat, and really nothing else. We started to get low on fuel somewhere in these parts, and really worried that we wouldn’t find a gas station. (Alas, we did).
Continuing down I-90 S, at some point, the highway turns into one of those roads that goes through everytownusa and is flanked on both sides by things like Panda Express and Walmart, aaaand there are traffic lights. It’s sort of weird transportation planning if you ask me! And it was unbearably hot to be sitting in stop and go traffic.
Anyway, this place is called the Tri-Cities area. I have no idea what cities are in the Tri-cities and I have no idea why anyone would live there. But soon after you exit, you cross the Columbia River and enter Oregon.
I cannot describe how amazing it felt to finally get back to Oregon!!! What is even better, is that the drive from Eastern Oregon to Portland along the Columbia has to be one of the most scenic drives in America.
Here’s a quick geology lesson. The Missoula Floods occurred at the end of the last ice age. Basically, this ice dam would periodically break and cause water to surge down the Columbia River (and other places) and pretty much carved out the Columbia River Gorge. These events are described as “cataclysmic” or as I like to describe them, hardcore. They resulted in the dramatic views that we see today. If it weren’t for them the Gorge would probably be only “sorta cool”.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to capture the majesty of the Gorge from a moving vehicle with a crappy camera, so I didn’t try too hard. If you are interested in photos of the Gorge, click here for what google images has to say about it.
There are a lot of windmills in the Gorge. They are really an intense addition to the landscape, I have a hard time not imagining them as sentient.
And Mt. Hood serves as a blurry welcoming party back into Portland. I suggest if you ever want to really appreciate where you live, you should try driving 3200 miles to get there!
So that’s my trip back to Portland from NY. I’ve made the trip by car 3 times now. The next time will likely be on a plane, although I do plan on making the same trip by bicycle, hopefully next summer!
OH and P.S.
Here are some cool signs I encountered along the way.
Near the crazy canyon in Montana.
And these ones are from Wyoming.
There were quite a few places/things named Crazy Woman in Wyoming. I got the feeling that it’s not too progressive there.
Liquor weirdness. I’d suggest if you want to drink booze in Wyoming, you should pack it in.