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Day 3: Richland, WA to Dayton, WA

It’s July! Happy Canada Day to any Canadians reading this!

Before delving into what went down today, I have to say, it was really nice to have an off day yesterday. I needed it. I didn’t drink any beer, and my bike didn’t leave Ben’s backyard. Instead, we went to Hamilton Cellars, which is located on Red Mountain outside of Richland and has some great views.

Oh yeah, they also make an excellent malbec and cabernet franc, which just happen to be my two favorite red varietals, so I might be a bit biased towards them. We also checked out the Richland Regatta, which was a series of hydrofoil races on the Columbia River.

Overall it was a chill day, and I’m very grateful to Ben for giving me the chance to unwind a bit.

Today was decidedly not chill though. I learned my lesson from Saturday and made sure to be out the door promptly at 6 to get as much distance as possible covered before it got hot. The first quarter of the ride actually followed the Columbia River downstream on a series of bike paths. It seemed like every sprinkler in the city was running, because with such a large water source available everyone keeps their lawns green through the summer, even though it’s a desert! The views along the river were great in any case.

After 18 miles, I got to the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers, which in terms of water volume is probably the biggest river confluence west of the Rockies. (The confluence itself is just past the railroad bridge in the photo below.)

Crossing the Snake brought me to the small suburb of Burbank, which was a good opportunity for breakfast, considering there would be no services for the next 36 miles! I’m definitely getting to the more rural parts of the county though; there were no bakeries or cafes in Burbank, so I had to get breakfast at a gas station convenience store.

Then it was off into the wilderness, literally. For the next 36 miles it was nothing but farm land, mostly wheat fields. The road was labeled as the Lewis & Clark Trail, so I figured if they could travel this way over 200 years ago, I could certainly survive. Then again, they had Sacagawea and I don’t. Either way, the most interesting thing in this stretch was this giant grain elevator, which is so big it’s mentioned on Google maps.

Fortunately, my decision to start early really paid off. I was at the halfway point of my ride at 9:15, and by the time I rolled into the tiny town of Prescott at 10:45, I was 3/4 done.

Prescott may be tiny, but the community swimming pool was hopping, and more importantly they had a big cooler full of ice water. When all the water you’re carrying has gotten warm in the sun, you really appreciate how refreshing ice water can be!

It was nearing 11 though, and that means I was in the heat of the day. But the town of Waitsburg was only 9 miles farther, so I pushed on to have lunch there. Ben had actually recommended a Cajun restaurant in Waitsburg, but a bit of googling revealed they had sadly closed in February. So I went to the only restaurant in town that was open on Mondays— the brew pub!

Yes, I know the sign is politically incorrect. No, I don’t care in the least. Anyway, Laht Neppur makes some really good beers! The peach hefeweizen was my absolute favorite. Very refreshing in the hot weather, and incredibly tasty in general. Honorable mention goes to the oatmeal rye milk stout, which had a really rich flavor despite only being in the 6-7% ABV range. But really, they have a lot of good stuff and it’s hard to go wrong there. They’ve also been around for 14 years already; it’s hard for me to fathom that such a small town had a craft brewery in 2005!

I left Laht Neppur at 1pm, so now it was really the heat of the day, but it was also less than 10 miles to Dayton, albeit with a 400-foot climb. Sometimes it’s important to remember that this isn’t a race. I just maintained a steady 13-14 mph and knew that I’d get there eventually.

About halfway between Waitsburg and Dayton was Lewis & Clark Trail State Park. It’s not very big, but it does have quite a few trees for shade and some interesting interpretive signs about both the Lewis & Clark expedition and the local indigenous tribes.

I got into Dayton just after 2, and boy did it feel good to be done with my riding and able to take a shower that early in the afternoon! When it came time for dinner, guess what? The only restaurant in town open on Mondays was the brew pub! So I dutifully walked over to Fire & Irons. The only beer that really impressed me was the Scottish ale. Nothing else was better than good, but it’s still worth noting that they had one stand-out.

And here ends today’s entry. Tomorrow I’ll be crossing my first state border as part of this ride. It’s only 70 miles but there’s a lot of up and down. On the plus side, the temperature is supposed to stay comfortably below 80 the next few days, so the midday sun should be much more bearable.

Total distance: 74.3 miles
Average speed: 14.1 mph

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