I awoke the next morning to a thick fog. I mean crazy thick. Doubling back to check out Garnet at my leisure, I noted that the expansive view I had enjoyed earlier from the elevated dirt road was now a whiteout, with treetops just dozens of feet from the road disappearing into the mist at their base. I walked the town once again and followed a previously unnoticed path cutting through the freshly thinned out pine forest. I spoke with one woman who was reading a newspaper in her truck at the entrance of the town. She was apparently a guide from a nearby high-end ranch, Paws-Up, and had thrown a few celebrity names my way. Good stuff. On the way back to the highway, I followed a crudely spray-painted sign to a little settlement of Coloma, now just a collection of water-soaked log ruins. The fog persisted, giving me a pretty eerie feeling about the whole thing.
So I doubled back after getting my head straight and dropped back down onto the highway. From here it was a straight shot into Missoula, where I stopped at a local Quizno's for a fairly disappointing meal.. It wasn't long before it begins raining. Nice. I hide out in a covered entrance for several minutes, but the rain only picks up in intensity. I intended on picking up some bike parts while in town. I had spit out a master link clip a day or two before and was a bit nervous about going much further without acquiring a replacement. But with the rain pouring down on me, and every layer soaked at this point, I had decided that my best option was to just find a hotel for the day. I bargained with the manager and got myself a single for $50 a night. I pulled the bike right in and stripped down, eager to take a shower and dry off. I also took the opportunity to strip the bike down and investigate the electrical gremlins that had been plaguing me for days now, as well as cast a new power plug for my GPS out of JB weld. All was a success. Barely made it forty miles today.
Got up the next morning and reassembled the KLR. Rolled it out of the room and into the parking lot only to find my neighbor loading up his Harley and inspecting a very minor oil seep. Apparently, this guy is also heading north. He plans to take the ferry from Seattle up to Anchorage, but this new oil spot has him wondering if he is going to make it or not. All I could do was laugh to myself as I look over my shoulder at the KLR, dirt and silt clinging to the oil-covered engine. I left town, heading west from here. It was hot, but at least it was dry. At one point I pulled over alongside an old covered bridge for a bake break and stripped off my overpants, deciding it was just too damn hot today. Emptying the pockets, I strapped them down at the rear and made myself a sammich, wandering around the open fields and checking out the river as I had lunch.
Several hundred miles up the road, the temperature has dropped and I've finally “aired out”, deciding it was time to gear up once again. Pulling over at the next gravel parking area, I dismount and turn around to discover.... nothing. What the fuck? Where are my overpants? Not fucking cool.... Maybe I could double back.... Looking at my GPS, it's been at least a hundred miles since my last pit stop... goddamnit. How the hell could I have let this happen? I was just glad I'd emptied the pockets before “strapping” down my gear. Checking my watch, it's coming close to the end of the business day, so I was quick with the next couple of miles. Cruising through northern Idaho, which was quite epic, I flew into Spokane with minutes to spare. Stopping in at the nearest bike shop I could find, the salesman was cool enough to keep the doors open long enough for me to scout around and grab a cheap pair of Tourmaster overpants. He even gave me a discount and recommended that I head north from there and stop in at Nelson, BC. I figure, sure, why not? This whole trip has been without plans, as intended, merely following whichever direction the universe decides upon. I was told to go north.
I donned my new overpants, tags flapping in the breeze, and filled up at some greasy burger stop. At the next gas station, I asked the guy with the Jeep at the next pump over what he recommended as a route north. With that, I jumped on Route 2 and moved on. I stopped a few miles in at a rocky lake shore for a photo op and to get my head on right before continuing on in the fading daylight. I knew I wasn't going to make it to the border before night fall, and I still had some... contraband that I had to dispose of, so my next objective was simple enough. Find a place to make camp for the night. That was easy in this part of the country, much more so than on the east coast. Just before nightfall, I found yet another logging road and climbed into the hills, pitching camp at a sandy and remote turn around in the maze of double track.