Day 18: The Wine In Idaho — Lewis and Clark Trail State Park, Dayton, WA to Lewiston, ID – May 26

Daily Miles – 82. Total Miles – 1220.
A strange yellow orb emitting radiant heat showed itself in the eastern sky this morning! The wind was calm, clouds had cleared, and we were able to have a leisurely morning with our coffee and oatmeal, got packed up, and hit the road around 9. Chandra remembered the historic courthouse in Dayton from a picture on the wall when she was clerking after law school. Strange how some connections can come full circle! We stopped in Dayton for water, coffee, and to look at the front tire. The tire was making a periodic noise – once per rotation. Sometimes, in the past, I’ve noticed this to happen when the tire is not perfectly seated and the simple solution is to deflate it and reinflate it which is what we did. I also pulled out anothe staple, although this one had not flatted us.
Dayton kind of reminded me of St. Peter since part of its claim to fame is that it was “supposed to be” the state capital at some point. The downtown was intact with old storefronts and we found a wifi connection to dump a couple postings online. Dayton was only a few miles from the campground, so this break was quite early in the day. Out of Dayton we climbed for a bit but got a nice push from the 15-20 mph tailwind. This climb was followed by almost 15 miles of downhill – the first 5 of so at 5% grade. Nothing eats up miles like downhill with a tailwind!! We realized we would make it to Pomeroy by lunch which at 40 miles would be nearly halfway. Nice. We got there and the wind was still howling with dark clouds on the horizon. So, we ducked into a tavern for sit-down lunch – I’ve had the Jones for pie anyway, although got shut down unfortunately. The strawberry shortcake made up for it! There was a mobile made of wrenches and Budweiser cans that said “Redneck wind chimes” — nice!

After lunch, the final push was up and over Alpowa Summit – really a pass at around 2700 feet.

Field Textures, Alpowa Summit, WA

The climb was mellow and pleasant and the descent leading into Lewiston was epic – dropping to 700 feet! We had to take a break beause our legs were stiff from NOT pedalling so long as we coasted down. Considering all the tire issues we’ve had, I used the drag break to keep us under 35 – it was difficult to muster the self-control, because honestly we could have been going 55! We made it safely this way though, and it startedto rain a little for the first time today which made the riding cold. We got to Lewiston and called th Hansen’s – our hosts for our rest day. They gav us directions to their house which involved an amazingly steep climb from the Snake River Valley up onto a mesa. We arrived and met JoAnn and her daughter Elsa. It was an interesting circumstance that introduced us. Chandra’s Uncle Sterling who works for the National Wildlife Federation in Missoula sent an email to a friend in Lewiston asking if anyone might be willing to put us up for a night or two. The message got forwarded around a bit and Jerome Hansen ended up offering even though he’s never met Sterling! So nice!
So we arrived and JoAnn took us on a tour of their wine-making operation. We got to barrel-taste a Merlot from local grapes, and a Cabernet and a Malbec from Washington grapes. It turns out, prior to prohibition, Lewiston was home to vineyards making wine that won international awards. During prohibition all the vines were pulled and other crops grown on that land. The Hansens, along with several other couples, have planted new Merlot vines and are trying to resurrect the winemaking tradition of this region. The climate is great for grapes because it rains hard in the spring and then the vines get stressed in summer heat. The Merlot has not yet been bottled, but they’ve bottled a mixture from Washington grapes that is in production and we enjoyed an excellent bottle of it over dinner. There remain many barriers regarding shippng out o state fo win which, as relics of prohibition, seem to cripple new poducers from getting started. These guys are undeterred though, and the results are not only some tasty wines, but a reawakening of the heritage of the valley. Awesome! The name is Clearwater Canyon Cellars. We’ll be looking for it!

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Jerome cooked tuna steaks, whole-wheat pasta with prawns and spices, and a great salad. We were stoked for such a wonerful meal! As we were talking about how rare tuna is typically served, JoAnn made reference to a trip to Midway. It took me a second to register that she must have been talking about Midway Island! It turns out that they spent a vacationon Midway just a couple years after I made my last visit (I worked there off and on for a couple years on a Navy cotract). Small world!
So it was a wonderfully relaxing evening of food, drink, and company, not to mention a little education on small production wine-making. What a perfect way to round out the push from Portland and rest for a shorter push on to Montana!
A final thought is that a combination of smooth roads and the new tire has given us two flat-free days! I don’t want to jinx us, but I feel like we might have figured out the fahrfegnugen and have somehow appeased Francesca, Patron Saint of Inflated Tires.

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