Wednesday, 16 August 2017

"Bug Off!" - Going to the Sun Scooter Trip - Part 2 - Omak, Washington to Libby, Montana

470 km

Clark Fork, Montana
I woke up to smokiness which matched my own fuzziness in the morning. Maybe that second beer was a bit strong...

I checked out rather late (about 9:00) and headed to Starbucks for a latté and then to McDonalds for an Egg McMuffin. I just couldn't face the 'continental' breakfast available '24/7' in the hotel.

Off I went - to more smoke.

Happily, as I ventured towards the Eastern part of Washington state, the smoke began to lift - a little.

A photo at the overlook seconds before the 'bug incident'
At one point, I stopped at an overlook on Sherman Pass (I figured out that in BC we call a scenic view a Viewpoint but in the US they call it an Overlook). I took some nice photos and then noticed a bunch of little flies buzzing around my head. I flailed my hands around my head and then shoved on my helmet. Unfortunately, a fly was stuck in my ear. I whipped off my helmet and stuffed my finger in my ear, hoping to encourage the bugger out.

At this point the bug went the wrong way. How did I know? The bug sounded like the alien form the Alien movie series - and it was right...! And it was loud!

After trying a few different techniques at the Overlook including whacking the opposite side of my head, shaking my head at an angle, and stuffing a rolled up napkin in my ear, I decided to find a doctor or hospital.

It was a full 45 minutes of me freaking out on the scooter while Siri calmly directed me to the nearest hospital. This was supposed to be a scenic ride but I was only aware of the weird squelching noises in my ear as I zoomed towards hopeful salvation. It was not fun.
Awaiting my fate at the hospital - bug was still in my ear at this point.
Siri finally directed my to the Providence Mount Carmel Hospital in Colville. As a Canadian, we are sometimes a bit smug about how good our medical system is but when I arrived at this hospital, which was clean, empty of other patients, and staffed with friendly people from the receptionist to the doctor, I was very impressed by the service I received.
The giant creature, now removed.
Basically, the bug had become stuck in my ear was and I was hearing it trying to break free. After an ear irrigation, the bug and the wax came out of my ear. It was pretty small for such nightmarish sounds.

After the ordeal, I did spend some time in the financial part with a very sweet young woman who, I think, was a new employee. She took and copied my Carecard and my Blue Cross card and said that they would try to collect from the insurance themselves and send me a bill for any outstanding fees. They didn't ask me for a credit card or any deposit - pretty nice! Apparently they don't get very many Canadians in Colville, Washington!

The rest of the ride of the day was pleasant - and even euphoric without the bug!

I sped though the panhandle of Idaho (the top, skinny part) and did see some nice scenes.
Albeni Falls description

Albeni Falls dam
One of these was Albeni Falls. There is a dam there that provides electricity for the surrounding region.

I was then headed on the Panhandle Historic Rivers Passage Scenic Byway. Nice name! During one of my stops, I ended up watching this guy in a speedboat zoom by. I believe this is Priest River.

Here's another photo from the same stop. Although it is clearer, you can still see that it is smoky in the background.
Pondering my Ponderay Starbucks
After my bug ordeal, I treated myself to a nice, cool iced latte at the Starbucks in Ponderay, Idaho. It is comforting that even after my disturbing incident, and far away in a foreign country, I was still able to get a satisfying Starbucks - and use my Canadian Starbucks card!

By this time, the river had opened up into a lake and, outside of Hope, Idaho, I took this photo of a nice little island in the lake. Things were getting a bit clearer.

I particularly liked this photo from Clark Fork Idaho - it might be worth painting.

Finally, I entered Montana. Unfortunately, I overshot this sign so I had to take my life in my own hands to pull a U-turn on the highway in both directions. What can I say, anything for the shot!

Train bridge near Yaak Falls - how near? No idea!
My last stop of the day was Yaak Falls near Troy, Montana. I was exhausted by this point, and I hoped that the falls were near the road. After a bit of a hike, I came across this bridge which crossed railway tracks. There were about three flights of stairs on the other side and I was too hot and too tired to check it out. I turned around, satisfied that I had already seen Albeni Falls in Idaho, and headed to my destination for the night.

I rode into Libby, Montana, and stayed at the Country Inn which doesn't look that great from the outside but had a very nice room from the inside. I wandered around and found a grocery store - some chain that I didn't recognize - but seemed like a Safeway. I went there and got a two piece chicken dinner from the deli as well as some Chex snack stuff that was really good and useful for road food. I also grabbed a couple of beers and headed back to the hotel to watch some Netflix.

It was not too wild a night and I hit the hay about 10 o'clock, looking forward to the scenic part - Going to the Sun!

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