Tuesday, January 8th
The day started with a drive to Portland to pick up some last minute supplies including closed-cell foam sleeping pads, replacement tips for ski skins and another MSR Whisperlite stove.
Blake, Angela and Janet have done an incredible job preparing the students for their time in the backcountry. None of the students have skiing or winter camping experience so they’ll all be testing themselves. Based on previous classes, I know they’ll come back with amazing memories and new friendships.
My ride was fairly short. I had my bike in the back of the truck as I ran my errands. After parking at Linfield College and helping out, I headed out for a final ride through downtown Mac to see what has changed in the past few months since I’ve been in Spokane. 3rd Street is the historic focus of Mac and I ended up at one of the many coffee shops for some hot tea and a pastry treat!
Wednesday, January 9
9 pm flight from PDX to GEG got me home last night and this morning I’m riding around doing errands.
First stop, Ferguson’s Fountain Cafe for breakfast. They serve breakfast all day (my favorite type of place) and it is so much better than the typical greasy spoon. For you movie buffs and Johnny Depp fans, it was also the location for the restaurant scenes in Benny and June. I haven’t seen ‘gasp’ the movie but our friend, Jen, is such a fan she plans to visit Spokane just to eat there!!! Right next door is the also infamous Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle Restaurant, famous for their homemade ice cream. This was the first place I ate at when I moved here but the food was underwhelming, typical greasy spoon fare. However, the milk shake was fantastic!
Next stop, REI to pick up a deeply discounted down jacket ordered from REI Outlet.com and a new stove for us. Although I’ve been working with alcohol stoves, from a Trangia burner to homemade soda cans and Super Cats, our go-to has always been the Whisperlite. I bought my first one in Seattle in 1985 or 86 at the little REI co-op HQ and we still use it. During our Wales tour, we used both types of stoves as a test for upcoming trips and fuel availability will be the only criteria in the future…whatever is available will determine the stove we bring.
The only drawback to the Whisperlite has been that it only burns white gas (Coleman fuel, camp fuel, naptha, etc.). There is an International model that includes an alternate jet for kerosene and the XGK jet engine will burn just about anything. These other liquid fuel stove options were never enough of a draw to get me to buy a different stove but last year MSR announced the Whisperlite Universal stove. Not only will it burn white gas, kerosene and unleaded gasoline (yuck), but there is a second valve assembly included that allows the use of cannister fuels as well! For short duration, warmer weather trips, the convenience of cannisters is tough to beat and they are widely available. Yes there is the issue of disposal, but we will still be using white gas most of the time. For a small weight premium, we will be able to cook with nearly any fuel we can find!
After shopping for some groceries, I realized I needed to get to work. A quick dash home, had a shower, made lunch and actually drove in. It felt a bit like cheating but I’d ridden a bit already and I’m not trying to eliminate all driving, just incorporating more riding into my daily activities.
Enjoy the ride,