Imagine a third of the riders with diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting in a small cramped park with a simple outhouse and a pump spigot from a well for water. Even this is beyond a normal “getting out of your comfort zone”.
This year things turn out much better.
We have all had a good rest in Sandpoint and are ready to tackle the Mountains of Washington. This undertaking must wait for a day though as today we ride just 35 miles to Newport, Washington for our nights stay. This lumber mill town/railroad depot sits on the Oreille River just upstream from Sandpoint. For us to go deeper into Washington would make for an impossibly hard ride with a climb at the end…not ideal for our first day of tackling the Cascades.
We leave Sandpoint across the causeway going south, the trains crossing the lake just to our east.
Once back on land we head west along the river bed on a smooth road carved from hardened stone.
No new flowers greet me but I am pleased to see so many of my friends.
The lake to my right is dotted with homes and I pass men fishing in boats close to marshes filled with cattails.
An old barn has seen better times.
After a pleasant 3 hour ride we pull into Newport where I learn that we are hosted by the United Christ Church…
fears of the Park fade to the back of my mind. Beautiful flowers adorn the grounds,
And the pastor is so thrilled to host us.
How different from 3 years ago when our group somehow contracted dysentery…I was never sure of the source but there were some suspicious culprits around. The onset was sudden and spread quickly just as we were to leave Sandpoint. With the intervention of prophylactic Peptobismol
and some less than adequate isolation techniques the spreading was stopped but still wreaked havoc that night in the park and for two more days on the road.
When we first arrived in Newport we discovered there was no clean toilet to be found in the “park”, in fact what was available was a hole in the ground covered by a wooden box…i.e. an old fashioned outhouse. In addition the water source was a single pump suspiciously close to the single outhouse. To make matters worse a homeless schizophrenic man lived in the park and was none to happy to have his home invaded by nearly 30 riders. Our stay for the night was less than ideal to say the least…
And so it was with some trepidation that I rode into town only to find all my fears unfound.
When I arrived at the church I read the memo board to find wonderful surprises beyond my surmise. Clean bathrooms, a shower at the school just up the street, kitchen facilities, and dinner at yet another Church, Catholic at 6 PM tonight.
And then to my delight a 7:30 AM breakfast served where we have slept the night brought in by yet another Church, the Lutherans.
Never have I stayed in a town where 3 Churches have come together to host us.
Kindness from strangers after hearing the tale from 3 years ago has made this one of the most pleasant stays.
What better way to start the ascent of the Cascades?
As I walk back from the showers I know who to thank…Those who watch after us from High Above,
the Folk of the Churches below on the ground, and two young woman who work tirelessly back East in Blacksburg, Virginia to make sure we are safe and sound.
There is an Ancient Greek saying “ The Gods help those who help themselves”.
We riders are just one small part of a group helping each other from Coast to Coast.
As one solo cyclist who has no responsibilities except riding safely each day and helping my fellow riders along the way,
I take this opportunity and quiet time to thank the myriad of others who aid us in our journey across this Great Land.
Bless You All And Stay Safe.
P.S. Here are some beauties from the Catholic Church…