The principal reason for staying in Kalispell, was to see the Glacier National Forest, east of the town. It was distinctly chilly when we left the motel for the 30 mile trip to the Park. Despite the sun, it didn’t seem to be getting much warmer by the time we reached the entrance. We chose to follow the optimistically-named Road to the Sun, hoping to get a view of the park from a mountain look out. However, after about 45 minutes riding through tall, shady, forest, with only brief glimpses of the lake, we realised that we were simply wasting time as we were getting cold, and any view we were likely to see was going to be obscured by smoke. We turned round and headed back to Kalispell to start our westward journey again.
We crossed the pan-handle of Idaho as we headed for Spokane, WA. There are only two things I remember about Idaho. The first was a stretch of roadworks, which necessitated an eight-mile ride over bumpy, rutted, unmade road.
The second was the slogan chosen for Idaho’s car number plates.
All the US states have a catchy slogan: New York, ‘The Empire State’; Arizona, ‘The Grand Canyon State’; Nevada, ‘The Silver State’; Massachusetts, ‘The Spirit of America’; Texas, ‘The Lone Star State’; and so on … you get the picture. Now will someone tell us what was going through the minds of the folk who came up with Idaho’s slogan … ‘Famous Potatoes’? (Famous Potatoes! For Pete’s sake …)
By about 4pm we were getting thirsty, and our attention was caught by a sign for an ‘Historic Street’ as we passed through one of many logging towns. The historic street was not bike-friendly, being surfaced with loose gravel, and there were precious few buildings of any real interest. But at the bottom of the hill, there was the Loggers’ Bar.
We felt that we had accidentally stumbled into one of Larson’s ‘Far Side’ cartoons, or worse, ‘The Twilight Zone’. Behind the bar, an implausibly skinny man perched on a stool by the window, reading a newspaper, while a less than youthful woman with long, straggly, grey hair served at the bar. A chain-smoking elderly woman sat at the bar, attached to an oxygen bottle, and a grossly obese family munched chips at a table nearby. The only light in the place came from two small, dirty, windows, and was nearly completely blotted out by a collection of rather sinister old dolls and some bedraggled plants.
We wasted no time finishing our beers, and hurried back out to the sunshine before we were abducted by aliens … or some other hideous fate.
We holed up in the relatively luxury of the Fairfield Inn in Spokane for the night, and found a lively Irish bar/restaurant for dinner.