Chillin’ in Chewelah

Marv and I had some maintenance to do on my motorcycle, so we combined a Friday Garage Day with a Saturday/Sunday round-trip ride to Chewelah. Marv came up to my place Friday morning, and we spent the day getting my bike up to snuff. Replacing the automatic cam chain tensioner took much more time than we anticipated.  I made a simple route to get us over to Chewelah and back.


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It was a clear and cool Saturday morning with the heavy weight of promise hanging over it. Saturday mornings always fill me with a sense of anticipatory excitement. I hadn’t made a full day of riding since returning from last month’s California ride. Back roads carried us from my place to Concrete, from which began the gradual climb to Newhalem.
After a pit-stop in Newhalem to clean the bugs from our visors and take a swig or two of water, we started the more abrupt climb to Rainy pass, and then Washington pass. Over the passes now, near Mazama, I pulled us over long enough for me to lose a layer of clothing. The air was hinting that rest of the trip would be at summer temperatures.
We stopped for what, but for my memory, should have been a forgettable lunch at Logan’s Café in Twisp. I recall I had coffee, a vegetable omelet, hash browns, and an over-buttered English muffin.  Marv had his preferred on-the-road fare – fish and chips.
Following Highway 20 east from Twisp, we went through the ruins from the 256,108-acre Carlton Complex fire of 2014. Remorsefully winding past the denuded skeletons of a forest that will never grow back, forever lost to the hungry desert eager to eat its death, I forced my mind to ignore the blackened remnants of the trees once teeming with life, reaching out to snag anyone who would hear the tragedy of their tortured ends. Their motionless branches, like arms lifted to point bony fingers of condemnation at mankind, their silent rage frozen in motion, projected at me a suffocating despair, scalloping out my complacency, and replacing it with a desolation so profound I could search in its midst for a thousand years and not find solace.

We climbed Loup Loup Pass and then descended into the Omak area. Our plan had been to take the  Columbia River Road through the Colville Reservation to Nespalem but, as we approached our turn-off, we saw a ‘Road Closed’ sign. We quickly made the detour north to Highway 153, and followed it around to Nespalem. It’s a good alternative I was planning to use for our route home the next day; now we’d ride it in both directions. The entertaining slalom of Cache Creek and Bridge Creek roads were covered at a mellow pace. 

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Crossing the reservation to its eastern border at the edge of the Columbia River, now Roosevelt Lake, we arrived just in time to catch the Inchillium Ferry before it cast off for its eastward crossing.  They had already loaded, and we were nearly the last to board. There were three guys on cruisers in front of us. Marv chatted with them a little, and one offered us suggestions on roads to take after we left the ferry. I was a bit perplexed at what he could possibly have been thinking. Why he would think he knew the roads over there better than we is beyond me, and besides, them being in the front of the ferry just meant we’d have to pass them after we disembarked.

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We took a nice set of county roads over to the junction with U.S. 395 a bit north of Chewelah. After checking in at the Nordlig Motel and getting cleaned up, we went for dinner at Mondo’s, a small Italian café.

Sunday morning we found the continental breakfast at the motel to be virtually non-existent, being only coffee and pre-packaged muffins. We set out on the highway, retracing our route all the way home. We even stopped at Logan’s in Twisp again, and had the same meals we had on the previous day.

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Approaching Diablo Lake, we found ourselves in a parade of cars we had a great deal of difficulty getting around. Finally having done that, we stopped for gas in Marblemount, and then rode on to the Cascadia Farms stand near Rockport. We took a long break there where I treated Marv to two large scoops of ice cream – one blueberry and one raspberry. Shortly after that, at the Highway 530 junction, Marv and I parted ways; he turned south, and I sped along to get home in time to get some things done prior to the beginning of the work week.

1 thought on “Chillin’ in Chewelah

  1. Pingback: Chillin’ in Chewelah | John Triggiani

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