Monday, June 30, 2014

SUN! So easy it seemed like a rest day.

29 Miles Whitefish MT to Glacier Campground and Cabins just outside (on a hill) West Glacier,  MT.
Sun makes so much difference in a ride. We are only 29 miles from Whitefish today and the route was on a quiet country road so we feel refreshed from the ride. The temperature was in the mid 70's, a perfect day of riding.
We didn't feel like we went that far but the alternative was a lot of climbing and double the miles which would put us on the road out of West Glacier about mid day and it has no shoulders for about 10 miles. We plan to get an early start tomorrow and do that section while all the tourists in RV's are still sleeping. We are still going to gave another low mileage day, only 20 miles to another campground but then we will have an easy ( easier) trip over the pass. Dale has had food poisoning that has kept him inactive all weekend so he and Lorriann want to do it in slow stages which works for us. I have no doubt that we are in better shape than we were in the Cascades but it is still a mountain pass. We want to successfully complete one pass before we leave the mountains!
When we were biking today we met a rancher down at the Flathead River that we crossed.  We talked with him about one thing and another and soon found out that he used to go horse packing back in the Bob Marshall wilderness area. I told him that I had been a hunting camp cook and he said that he knew the guy I had worked for. He had his own camp nearby the one that I cooked at. He remembered the "Cabin Creek" camp. I'd forgotten the name of the camp until he told me about it. He had some stories about some rescues that had to happen because of illness and injuries. It was fun reminiscing about that time of my life.

Our devotional that Dave and I read this morning talked about looking to the east. Seems appropriate as we prepare to leave the mountains.

Ezekiel 43:1-2
The man took me to the gate that faces east, and there I saw coming from the east the dazzling light of the presence of the God of Israel. God's voice sounded like the roar of the sea, and the earth shone with the dazzling light. 

We have been awed by the splendor and power of these mountains and the weather changes. This trip has truly been a gift of finding out how God cares for us through using our own resources but also depending on the kindness of strangers.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

No sheeting rain for us...

We were so wiped out from yesterday that we decided to rent a car to visit Glacier today. The weather has been crazy, torrential downpours one minute, weak sun the next. We have re - joined our friends Lorriann and Dale so were tourists together for today. We figure being old and having good credit trumps being young and strong!
I finally saw Glacier National Park after coming close 36 years ago. I traveled after college and was on my way to see Glacier. Instead I ended up in a job as a backcountry hunting camp cook in the Bob Marshall wilderness area in Montana.  I stayed in the backcountry until it snowed so I never made it to Glacier. But I have lots of other good stories to tell.
Going to the Sun Highway is closed for who knows how long so we will do the alternate route going over a lower pass. If you want to read a dramatic account of how another biker did climb to Logan Pass, check out WOW we are not that brave (or as willing to be wet and cold).
We drove as high as we could to the gate that is at Avalanche campground. See the photo to see several bikers who headed up there. We took a picture on the way up that may show the variable weather to you; we are standing in sunshine while behind us  across the lake, rain is pouring down. 5 minutes later we were looking out again (from the car)at pouring rain.
We drove up to Marias Pass. The wind was so strong up there it pushes you sideways.  I'm hoping that isn't the case when we get up there, although the weather reports look much better starting tomorrow.
Tomorrow we are going to start climbing towards Marias Pass, although doing it in stages to make it easier. Marias Pass is at 5216 feet and we are climbing from Whitefish at 3000 feet. As a contrast Logan Pass is 6664 feet. I wouldn't be surprised if these rainstorms dropped more snow up there. Whitefish was 60° today, it was 48° at Marias Pass.
We are looking forward to getting out to the plains since we just don't seem to have the oomph to do climbs very well in the mountains. Of course the plains has it's own challenges, we will have the heat seemingly for the first time on this trip. Jumping from the 50's and rain into 80's and 90's will be interesting...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

What a slog it was today.

Eureka, MT to Whitefish, MT 55 miles
Today's ride was a slog. It rained almost the whole way from Eureka to Whitefish with a steady uphill grade and lousy road with very small shoulders. Mostly it was just about enduring.
The best part of the day was the "Old Tobacco" road out of Eureka.  It was quite isolated and scenic but again hilly. We stayed on that for about 14 miles. We crossed our first two cattle guards. Definitely walked those.
Highway 93 is the most bike unfriendly road I've ever been on. Unfortunately there is really no other road to take.

We're pooped. Staying at the Best Western in Whitefish. Glad to be in a motel tonight. This is instead of an InReach message. 
We were so wiped out from yesterday that we decided to rent a car to visit Glacier today. We have re - joined our friends Lorriann and Dale so we are going to be tourists together. We figure being old and having good credit trumps being young and strong!
Tomorrow we are going to start climbing Maria's Pass, doing it in stages to make it easier.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Lake Koocanusa

Friday June 27th
47 miles
Koocanusa Marina to Eureka, MT
Lots of hills, rain
Again we started out in rain but in the afternoon we saw sunshine intermittently. The scenery was spectacular but unfortunately I seem to have forgotten how to transfer my photos from my camera card to my Note so until I am less tired or have some kind of breakthrough in understanding I can't post them.
 I figured at the average we are doing (28 miles a day so far including our rest days) it's going to take 5 months to get to Bar Harbor! So we will not go to Waterton Lakes in Canada, unfortunately.  But we figure we will do more miles each day on the plains.
I'm hoping it will be easier to bike to Whitefish than along Lake Koocanusa although we are doing much better with the hilly terrain.  We made pretty good time today we thought considering how hilly it was. And we didn't get lost! Well we were on Hwy 37 the whole time. The road had good shoulders and was really very lightly travelled. The elevation chart looks easier for tomorrow. 

I was trying to explore whether there are tour busses at Glacier and so many of them seem to be based on the Going to the Sun Road... and the few that say anything say July 1st. They aren't saying anything about if they go elsewhere if the road isn't open. I wondered about the east side but Dave says St. Mary's is a long way away from the "Maria's alternate", the route we will take since the Going to the Sun Road isn't open.
We will probably just go to the park and ask what we can see without a car and figure we will come back here. We would love to re-visit this area it is so beautiful.

We were riding in the rain this morning, but even saw some sun this afternoon.  Now it's sheeting rain on both sides of the valley but not raining here now. We are staying in Eureka tonight with a Warmshowers host. Warmshowers is a network of people who offer to host long distance bikers. It might be camping in the back yard or a bunk down in the house. It's nice to meet others.
We unfortunately tonight were a little bit of a wet blanket ourselves as we turned down an offer to have a picnic and go visit some land the family owns on a mountain near town. We are feeling kinda pooped even though we did those hills well today. They understand.

Dave's shoulder is better but still sore at night. He had some funny cramping yesterday in his calves but it's mostly better today. Don't know if it's some kind of side effect from the cortisone or not.

We got into Eureka in the early afternoon. I caught a little cell signal at the top of the hill before we came into town but the valley seems to be Verizon only. The restaurant had WiFi so we sat there for awhile.
Good night.

A lost day, as in we got lost...twice

Thurs.  June 26th Libby to Koocanusa Marina and Campground
37 miles
394 total miles
3 hours 25 min
Av. speed 10.6

A day when we thought two rivers were the Kootenai.  That's two other bodies of water, Libby Creek and the Fisher River. And a day that proves you are never too old to feel stupid.
We left Libby in rain so we suited up in our rain gear.  Luckily it was cool so the rain gear didn't feel like a sauna suit. The warmth was appreciated.  We started from Libby using the Adventure Cycling maps. It warned us at several points that the turns were onto roads that were unsigned.  One of the turns was on Old Haul road, unsigned.  Except the road had a sign "Jennings Haul Road". So that wouldn't be it, right? Besides it was on the wrong side of the river. So we followed a nice little bike path for a couple of miles until we got to Hwy.  2. Now that was wrong.  We stopped at a nice little antique store and dripped on her furniture while she brought out some other maps to show us where we missed the turn. And that wasn't the Kootenai, it was Libby Creek (it looked bigger than a Midwest creek, everything must be bigger out west). And the Old Haul road now has a new sign and a new name. So now we had four extra miles.
Then we did some hills on that road. Not too bad, but Dave didn't feel like he had much energy.  Don't know if that is some kind of side effect of the cortisone or not. But it flattened out and was really pleasant.  No traffic at all on the road. Some potholes but they were easily avoided since they had circles painted around them. Cheaper than fixing them, I guess.
The second problem came when we misread the map again. AC warned us that the turn was unsigned. So we sailed right and headed down the unsigned road. Nice road surface, no traffic.  However there were also no white stripes or any center markings. I kept thinking, wow this is a pretty rustic highway (Hwy. 37). But maybe out here in the west they have fewer people. ..But then I noticed the compass that I have mounted between my pedals, it showed we were going straight south, not northeast as planned. But we were next to a river that was flowing in the right direction. But again, it didn't look as big as the Kootenai...So we stopped and I showed Dave the compass which he did not want to believe. Maybe it's broken...Another compass, same problem.
Checked my InReach mapping app. We were a long way from any road that looked significant but the darn thing didn't label the roads!
So finally a logging truck came by and I flagged him down. Fisher River Road, which is basically a Forest Service Road. So back we went, up a hill and then luckily down a long grade. (Both of us marveled at how easily we had biked up that grade, must be getting in better shape). That added six more miles so we were at ten extra miles.
Finally up and over a bridge that we had seen and thought it went over the Kootenai.  It didn't, it just went over some railroad tracks so we were still on the correct side of the river. Now we were on Hwy. 37 and it looked like a highway with white lines and center stripes and everything! There still wasn't much traffic but the road had signs labeling it as Hwy. 37. Imagine that.
We huffed up the first long hill but it got easier. We stopped at the overlook for Libby Dam. When they relocated Hwy. 37 during the building of the dam they miscalculated how deep to dig the rock face and that caused a land slide. It's called the "damn shame" slide. They've reinforced it with concrete beams and the have instruments to calculate any slippage of the rocks that are there. It's a bit freaky to bike next to it as the guard rails in places are bent and broken.  Lots of instruments but I'm not sure if horns blow if the rocks are sliding...and what are you supposed to do at that point?
Well with our extra 10 miles we decided to stay at the Kookanusa Marina campground rather than a Forest Service campground about 14 more miles away. It's a nice facility with a restaurant on site. We'll have a longer ride to Eureka tomorrow but there aren't really other towns with camping along the way.
I called ahead to see if we can stay with a Warmshowers host in Eureka. She said there will be a big group but they have camping space in their back yard. Should be fun to see other bikers.  Hope we don't overwhelm the family.
Dave was having problems with a cramp in his calf, like a hard knot. Don't know if that is anything to do with cortisone?  Hope it goes away tonight.
I'm going to post this with no pictures as my photos were all done on the camera since it was raining and my phone was in a rain proof holder. I haven't transfered them to my Note yet. I'll post them separately later.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Rest" Day in Libby

Dave says thanks for the encouragement from all you folks on Facebook and by email and texts.  His shoulder was sore last night because the numbing agent was wearing off but it seems fine today. We ridden around the town of Libby to do a lot of errands and it's seemed fine. He is icing it today occasionally.  Tomorrow we will load up the bike and continue so that will be the test.

Today we went through our gear and reduced further weight. We've sent a box to my parents in Minneapolis with a tire and some tools that we've decided we don't need to travel with. We will want to change tires to a new set when we get to Minneapolis, which we figure is about halfway.

We reduced 10 pounds by mailing that to Minneapolis. Dave also found some sandals to substitute for heavy hiking shoes so those are in the box with the tire for when we drive home. We figure for the little hiking we might do, he can be in his bike shoes. We also sent home 5 pounds of warm clothes as the weather is really warming up. We still have things to layer if need be or we can just wrap up in our sleeping bags.
Another funny "old people" (or just forgetful people) things story...We brought our clothes in a net bag to the Post Office and forgot the bag there. A (motor) biker  couple was also there shipping clothes home. He happened to see us later putting air in the tires, recognized the bike and told us that we left the net bag behind. So we went back to the post office and the woman there who had been so helpful to us this morning (finding large boxes for us so we didn't have to pay for them)unwrapped the box again so she could pull out the net bag which she had added to the box after we'd left it behind! She also untaped and re-taped the other box so Dave could add his shoes!
Early in the trip we stopped at the post office in Sedro Woolley and mailed 5 pounds.  So all in all we have reduced 20 pounds. We are however carrying some freeze dried food, oatmeal, dried fruit and peanut butter as we have been camping in primitive campgrounds away from restaurants and will be in the next few days.

And we are either losing weight, or at least inches, as clothes feel looser. The New 4200 Mile Diet Plan. I plan to market it when I get home! Too bad I didn't keep it off this winter. I was working on cabinet construction which wasn't very aerobic, and having some anxiety about the trip. I'm a nervous eater, unfortunately.

We're heading into a rustic area along the Koocanusa Lake. We will have primitive campsites for one or maybe two nights so won't be able to post until we get to Eureka. We're heading quite a ways north from here as Glacier Park is right on the border. Then we may go further north and go into Canada to see Waterton Lakes. Right now the Going to the Sun Road is closed due to some late season snow so don't know that we will be able to bike it. I described that in the previous day's blog, Tuesday June 24th.
Dave is doing some bike maintenance and clean up. We're lucky that he enjoys it. He's doing the work in a little campground run by the volunteer fire department, directly behind the Venture Motel where we are staying. It's a nice shady spot where we had a picnic. We would have camped here but really wanted to have a comfortable bed for Dave, not knowing how the shoulder would feel after the shot. Also wanted a shower after a day without. We are getting spoiled though. Good thing we're old and have good credit. 
We met a guy who is raising funds for the Rotary Club, kind of creating his own route but is heading to Glacier next. His blog is at
I just love checking out other folk's blogs. The Internet has made such a community.
We spoke with our dog sitting family and our pups are doing fine. We miss them but know they are being well cared for. They are really bonded to each other so I'm glad we didn't separate them as we had been planning to do.
I'll write more in a couple of days.

Unfortunately the weather is supposed to degrade into showers and thunderstorms over the next several days.  Today was delightful, but we'll just switch into rain gear, didn't send those clothes back! Libby has lots of sculptures of eagles. In fact they have lots of things set up high on poles. We've seen an airstream and a truck as well as numerous eagle sculptures.  Two locals told us that Libby gets hardly any wind during the winter as the valley is sheltered. However they do get ice. We have been seeing crosses at the side of the road. Sometimes on a curve, sometimes not. The spookiest was this group of five in the photo below. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A shoulder shot

Dorr Skeels campground on Hwy. 56 on the Bull River reservoir to Libby, MT.  Distance 29 miles
2:18 ride time, 4 hrs saddle time (including breaks). Total miles 352
Day 12
We had an easy (really) 29 mile ride to Libby, MT. It seemed like it was all downhill!  I think the next leg we'll be paying for that as it's up and down along Lake Koocanusa, the dammed up lake of the Kootenai River.
It is beautiful country with the Cabinet Mountains along side the road. We are in a wide valley so it's got a lot of wide open views.
We came down off Hwy. 56 to Hwy. 2 and immediately encountered construction.  It actually worked out in our favor
They had the traffic stopped to use one lane while they asphalted the other side. We decided to use the shoulder which was quite wide. We started and got ahead of the traffic going in our direction.  We sailed down the hill first down the shoulder, then in the center to avoid the trucks. The guys just smiled and waved at us and one said "nice bike".
Far different from Lorriann and Dale who were told to stay in the lane and go after the traffic. Ken's blog said that they wouldn't let him ride the day before and gave him a ride in a pickup. It pays to not ask in some cases.
Dave has had a flare up of an old rotator cuff injury. It turns out it has been sore almost since started but he hasn't been feeling it while riding until yesterday. It's been affecting his sleep at night. 

The staff at the hotel have been so nice. They gave us a ride to the urgent care center and came and picked us up. We went in to the new hospital in Libby and the doc gave him a cortisone shot in the shoulder. He mentioned that he recommended giving it a day ro settle down but also added that he is an ultra marathoner and he immediately mountain biked after getting a cortisone shot in his younger years. So we went with the more moderate recommendation of a rest day tomorrow since the numbing medicine will wear off and the shoulder will be sore. 

The mosaic was an art piece at the hospital. The artist is Kim Rust.

So we may lose the buddies we have been connecting with each night since I think they aren't ready for a rest day just yet. Although maybe we will find them again further on down the road. See you later Lorriann and Dale. We'll be reading each other's blogs.
I saw a really pretty moth that had reached the end of its lifespan. So at least it held still while I took a picture. It is a western sheep moth. Thank you to Carl who identified it.

Several folks have told us that Glacier Park had a snow storm last week that closed Logan Pass. The National Park website says that there were 60 new avalanches on the Going to the Sun Road that they will be clearing. They expect that they may be able to run shuttle busses only part way to the top starting July 1. So it looks as if we won't be going over Logan Pass (even though we are at least a week away from there) unless they really work some miracles. Of course we may be much slower than a week. Also not sure if we will be getting there around the fourth of July which could be crazy busy. 

Here is the road status.

You'll have to cut and paste since my Blogger app isn't working very well right now.

There are some amazing photos of the current snowplowing. (Again you will need to cut and paste the address into your address bar).

Sometimes they clear the pass enough for just bikers and hikers to go through a few days prior to opening to cars. That would be ideal since we wouldn't be pressured to get to the top before 11 am (and share a narrow road with cars).

Our third state, Montana!

Monday, June 23rd
Clark Fork to Dorr Skeels Forest Service campground on Bull Lake which is a reservoir lake of the Bull River
42.5 miles average speed 10.7
(Max speed 32.4)
4 hours riding time but on the road for seven hours (we were poking along taking breaks and pics)
We have ridden 323 miles. Day 12 of our trip.
Today's ride was lovely.  We started with something that Adventure Cycling calls the "Heron Alternate". We left Clark Fork and crossed the Clark Fork River. The road was a little hilly but other than some huffing we made it without walking. Well no, we did walk once. Those river valleys are killers.
The route sheet said that the road would get very potholed. It actually just turned to a hard packed dirt once we entered Montana but it was fine to ride on with our 1.75 front tire and rear 2.0. (Read this as thick tires for those who don't know the lingo. Ok THAT'S  WHY WE DIDN'T REACH RAINY PASS...) The only problem was that when a car would come by (infrequently) the would be a checking cloud of dust. I pretended I was a cowboy on a range ride.  We're in Montana after all. The cars were very considerate and drove slowly by us.
Then we got on Hwy 200 which wasn't much fun. There wasn't much of a shoulder and what there was was uneven.  It was getting hot under the sun, although it wasn't humid, the sun is right overhead.
We finally came to the junction of 200 and Hwy. 56 and there was a nice little store. We had some cold drinks and some ice cream (which I regretted later since it sat like lead in my stomach. Ice cream is for when the ride is over!). I also charged up my cell phone. With all the pictures I take it tends to run down.
Hwy. 56 was wonderful.  The traffic was light. It started out with some hills. Dave was a bit grumpy with the Adventure Cycling description of "rolling". His shoulder was hurting but he hadn't mentioned it to me.
We met another cyclist, Mike, who is biking out to the coast. He had stopped and talked to Lorriann and Dale. (And I found out thru Ken's blog that he had talked to him too. Nice to meet other bikers who take the time to talk for a few minutes. He also described the terrain as rolling but the valley widened out and it truly was rolling. The snowcapped mountains were steeply rising all around us. Awe inspiring to be on a tiny little bike with all that splendor.
Stopped for a comfort stop and my legs were instantly covered with a new hatch of tiny mosquitoes which gave a preview of the night to come. I came out of the woods covered with bloody streaks from smacking them.
Also saw a sign  about a bear study which I have posted below.
We did come to an area of homes around Bull Lake. We tried stopping at a bar for some dinner. They were remodeling the kitxhen and only had hot dogs or pizza and they were out of cheese. No we aren't going to bike back when the cheese gets delivered.  We talked to a Harley rider who was interested in our trip but also tried to redirect us for the following days' ride. "No hills!" Yeah right.
Finally pulled in to the campsite next to Lorriann and Dale and immediately sprayed ourselves with Deet over the sweat and sunscreen. Wonderful sticky and fragrant.
But it was a beautiful site and once we at our freeze dried meal we felt better.  I discovered that I could do a washcloth bath in the latrine and the skeeters didn't follow me in there. Montana mosquitos do have one habit that I don't think Minnesota mosquitos have, they go into an empty tent even before you are in there!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Moving through Idaho

59 miles today.
We have had a full day of biking by the Pend Oreille river and then the Pend Oreille lake which is the dammed up part of the river. It has been hilly but beautiful with lots of overlooks of the Pend Oreille.  There have been so many eagles and osprey we have stopped counting them.
We are now in Clark Fork Idaho, very close to the Montana border. Tomorrow the route will bring us close to the Cabinet Mountains and our campground for the night will be a primitive Forest Service campground so I won't be able to blog tomorrow night.
We camped last night in Priest River. We had a $5.00 campsite especially reserved for bicyclists.
We've been connecting with Lorriann and Dale for the last there nights.  We haven't really biked together because we go different speeds but we are ending in the same towns at night and at the same campground last night and motel tonight.
Dinner tonight was in a gourmet restaurant here in the tiny town of Clark Fork. Funky little restaurant with fantastic food. I had a lamb shank, gnocchi and roasted vegetables. It came with wine, salad and French Onion soup! I hope I can climb the hills tomorrow.
We also met up with Ken, a guy that saw us struggling up out of the valley where we had camped the night before we were going to climb Rainy Pass. The picture of us was taken by him.
Even though he bikes much faster than us, we got ahead of him by using the U Haul. He had been a bit worried about us...Ken's blog is at
It's fun to read the different blogs and see what different experiences people are having on essentially the same route.
The last photo is a three spot Mariposa lily which my friend Joan Young helped me find out by asking another of her friends!  The community on Facebook is so fun.
I'll post day after tomorrow when we hope to be in Libby, MT.

The first map is Montana.  The last one is Idaho.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Some miles and our second state!

Saturday June 21
Ione Wa to Priest River Idaho
59 miles
We crossed into another state today!
We finally had a mileage day. It was a really enjoyable day on a low traffic road following the Pend Oreille river. The weather started out chilly in the morning but warmed up into perfect biking weather, about 70. Later in the afternoon it was probably in the high 70's but with low humidity it didn't feel burdensome at all.
We did find ourselves drinking quite a bit of water so by late afternoon we were on watch to find a water source. We found a Bible Camp where no one was around so we filled up with ice cold refreshing water there.
The folks we met last night, Dale and Lorriann, took off earlier than we did but we caught up with them later in the day. They are another couple doing this as a retirement dream. We have some similarities, Dale is a former engineer like Dave and Lorriann is a speech therapist and graduate school teacher so in the social services domain. Like Dave and I, opposites attract!
Lorriann is keeping a blog and is a really good writer.  You can check it out at Unlike us they were able to make it over the passes and so we can live vicariously through their triumph!

We  had a bit of an adventure with Dave losing his fanny pack and some guys finding it and actually driving it to us ! How nice!
We had stopped at a grotto called Manresa Grotto on the Kalispell Indian reservation. We stopped and had lunch and had a photo op.  In the repacking Dave left the fanny pack sitting there. For those who follow us on Facebook this is the second time this has happened.  It happened before we left home on one if our practice rides. The guys that found it called Matt in MI. Matt then phoned us and texted. It didn't ring on my phone but when I took my phone out to take a picture it looked like a family emergency.  Then Dave was going to grab his phone and found the fanny pack gone! So there we were thinking there was a family emergency AND no fanny pack with credit cards etc.
Matt had explained to the guys that we are crossing the country.  When we connected with them they volunteered to drive it to us!
The kindness of strangers has been just awesome on this trip.
I loved visiting the grotto and the caves on the hill. I've participated in a nine month prayer program based on St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises at Manresa Retreat Center in downstate MI so it felt meaningful.

The Jesuits were active converting the Native Americans to Catholicism at the turn of the century with all the changes that entailed. The tribe became less of nomadic hunters and fishers and became more farming oriented. Interestingly, later I saw a info board that explained this from a non Caucasian viewpoint with some of the sadness at the loss of culture. 
I'll post some pictures here.  We're just finished with breakfast so we want to head out. NICE to be riding.  We missed 210 miles of WA although we did follow the route in the truck. Rode 216 miles so far.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Our ride was in a vehicle today

Terry, one of the owners of the Methow Valley Inn, offered to bring us to the top of the next pass, Loup Loup. So our bike got to ride in another pick up to the top of the pass and partly down the other side and up another steep section.  On the ride Terry told us a lot about the Methow Valley and how many trails there are in the area for summer and winter sports as well as a lot about the climate and the landscape. It was really neat to hear so much about an area that we might have passed through without understanding it nearly as so well.
We started down the mountain to Okanogan.  Whew, what a downhill!  Dave was taking it slow because there was fairly new chip seal on the road so he didn't want to risk a skid out. We also stopped once to let the brakes cool.
On the way down we noticed several orchards where acres of cherry trees were entirely covered with netting. Later I spoke with a cherry grower and he said that netting costs about $20,000 an acre and ate to keep the birds away. He did not see the need for it. He said that he tends to let crows be, they don't actually do as much damage as songbirds,  but they do keep the smaller birds away.
He also said that the most damage to cherries comes from rain. The rain gathers on the stem end and swells the inside of the cherry but the skin splits.  He said that he and all the growers in the area use helicopters to dry the cherries if they have a big rain.
The area here is xeric, very dry. Their annual precipitation is 16 inches and half of that comes during the winter as snow. This compares with about 80 inches of precipitation up near Rainy Pass in the Cascades.
The land is sagebrush and Ponderosa and Lodgepole pines instead of the fir and hemlock we saw in the Cascades.