Connell, WA to Lyons Ferry, WA

40.1 mi / 12.0 mph / 1737 ft. climbing
Home: Lyons Ferry KOA campsite

We were out early to beat the heat on another hot, dry day. WA-260 and WA-261, our only roads for the day, were absolutely superb biking roads. Barely any traffic, and almost all of it moved completely into the opposite lane when passing (displaying further positive Mexican cultural influence in this region!). Even though we also had a good shoulder most of the time!

Actual cowboys, actually cowboying (the cows were quite vocal in their displeasure at being cowboyed).
Actual cowboys, actually cowboying.
Yellow and green. The whole area continues to be much more green than I expected; apparently Google’s aerial photos, which show everything brown, are taken later in the year).
Power generation is a big thing in eastern Washington, so no matter how far out in nowhere we were, power lines were never far.
New water bag (Hydrapak Expedition 8L) is awesome. Here it’s set up to turn my bike into a mobile water dispenser).
I still don’t fully know what “The Palouse” of “The Palouse to Cascades Trail” refers to, but saying “we’re into The Palouse” sounds right for these images.
Into the Palouse.
Into the Palouse.
The Palouse to Cascades Trail was a tremendous example of the value of converting rail lines to public use, providing a route over the Cascades and across the Columbia that far exceeds any road alternatives. This, the Columbia Plateau Trail, is the exact opposite. Mistakenly shown as a paved(!) bike trail on Google Maps, it’s unrideable by nearly any type of bike. And here, one of the best biking roads in the country (Rett kept referring to it as our really-wide bike path) parallels it 50 yards to the west. I guess it’s nice that it’s preserved for some future use, but I hope the state didn’t pay more than a dollar for it!

We had a lot of ups-and-downs, but nothing too major or tiring, thanks to the still-favorable winds. Though an 8%-grade down-and-up karate-chopped into the last plateau above the Snake River was a surprise I hadn’t quite mapped out!

The ~800 ft. descent into the Snake River gorge was a nice one, with little steps of flat (or even slight uphill) built into the steep downhill, so we didn’t need to be hard on our brakes the whole time (this structure means riding up the hill in the reverse direction wouldn’t be excessively brutal either.

Rett and the railroad bridge over the Snake River. She was singing along to her music and somehow I could hear her from this far away.
Railroad bridge over the Snake River.
Vehicle bridge over the Snake River. Normally a long, shoulderless bridge like this would be a nightmare to ride over, but we saw one car (oncoming) during our entire crossing.

We got across the bridge and into the Lyons Ferry KOA before 1pm. We were able to check in to our site a bit early because they unexpectedly weren’t watering (“we basically can’t stop watering here”), and thankfully we got a site with one of the best shade trees in the campground.

Whenever we’re in a motel, Rett loves to find the HGTV channel on the TV as soon as possible, and then veg out to whatever series they’re playing for that day. In Othello yesterday morning, it was Unsellable Houses, which is somewhat more interesting to me than most, because the twin sisters hosting it do their renovations in the Seattle area, so I’m always curious to see if I recognize the places. In the morning before we checked out, they had an even more-interesting episode, because it was set in Monroe, the very town we had just lived in for a month! We definitely paid attention to all the neighborhood shots (“there’s the bridge we biked over a million times!”), and that’s when I looked them up and reminded myself that the twins are based in neighboring Snohomish (and I pointed out to Rett that we’d unknowingly rode right past their office on the way to a brewery during a training ride a couple weeks ago). The Monroe house was owned by cousins of theirs, and they made a big thing about how the whole area is filled with other members of the Kuna family, and the episode ended with a big family party.

What does this have to do with bike touring? Well, not much. But a little! While Rett did laundry (in the air-conditioned laundry building!) a father (Mike) and son (Jake) stopped to chat with me. They mentioned they were from the Seattle area, then Snohomish was mentioned, and then Monroe, and then through a sequence I don’t precisely remember, I must have mentioned that we’d just been watching this HGTV show set there yesterday, and they said “oh, yeah, Leslie and Lyndsay. They’re great! They’re our relatives. We were in that episode!” Haha, WTF? This is not quite a coincidence on the level of running into George and Penny on the road in Nova Scotia, but still pretty wild to meet people we just saw on TV here in the middle of nowhere. I believe Mike said he was the twins’ uncle, and Luke, another family member being brought on as a real estate agent in that episode, was also staying at the KOA cabin just two sites over from us.

Anyway, nice guys, they said the girls on the show work their asses off, and that the show is pretty close to reality (I’m always a bit skeptical about how much is faked on these shows). Then, the bike touring connection: for nearly 20 years, Mike, Jake, and some other relatives/friends have done the famed two-day double-century (206-mile) Seattle-to-Portland ride. In one day. On beach cruisers. In flip flops. Nuts! And so far from what we do. But that means they definitely understand then how much of cycling is a mental game, and that if you commit yourself to something ridiculous, your body will usually find some way to make it happen.

Railroad bridge over the Snake River.

But as fun as it was to meet those guys, it was nowhere near as fun as the truly-important meeting here at the meeting of the rivers: my parents! A couple hours after us, they rolled in with their truck camper to the spot directly across from us. And no, sorry, this one wasn’t a random coincidence, we planned it (a bit). They’re driving from home in the Chicago area to my nephew Noah’s high school graduation in Portland, Oregon. We thought our paths might roughly cross somewhere, either on their way out or the way back, and it turned out that Lyons Ferry was the spot for that to happen.

Mom, Dad, Rett and Neil

It was great to see them, and like the Mobile WarmShowers Experience we were just granted, we were treated to the Mobile Mom & Dad experience, with a load of homemade goods (especially pecan tarts for Rett!) to re-fuel on. I think we were all glad to see that we had successfully made it to this meet-up on schedule, with everyone feeling good and strong and capable of more!

Camping together!
Campsites at Lyons Ferry KOA.



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One response to “Connell, WA to Lyons Ferry, WA”

  1. Sophie Harms Avatar
    Sophie Harms

    Awww it’s so cute that Louise made pecan tarts for Rett! The cowboys cowboying are very cool, the photography was definitely giving Marlboro Red ads (in a good way, lol).

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