In response to road construction on the highway out of Odessa, our ride leaders put together a quick detour. It turns out that the road less traveled was a very pleasant, rolling ribbon through the Palouse wheat country (lower picture). After 20 miles, the side road took us into the hamlet of Harrington, WA (population 400). Three of us (Minnesota Vern, Bainbridge Andy, and I) wanted to pick-up a sandwich for lunch, so we found the "Harrington Haus" on the main drag--the only food spot in town.
We were soon greeted with a big smile by the proprietor, also named "Vern." I asked Proprietor Vern what kind of sandwiches he had. He rattled off "hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and ham." I asked him if he had any turkey sandwiches. He thought a moment, said "sure", grabbed a $20 bill from behind the bar, and said "I'll be right back." I looked out the front door and saw Vern heading down the street toward the little grocery two blocks away. I soon realized that we had transcended into the fifth dimension of "Harrington Time."
Meanwhile, a lean, hungry man walked into the bar, looked around, and asked us in loud voice, "Where's Vern?" I responded that he went to the store to get some turkey. The man then asked "Why?" I replied that we ordered some turkey sandwiches. The man glared at us and proclaimed that he made $32 per hour and didn't have time to be waiting for Vern to be shopping for turkey. He needed a hamburger and wanted it now. He then sat down with the three of us and we had a chat of sorts. The man asked us where we were headed. We told him Washington, DC, on a bike ride for the American Lung Association. At some point he then mentioned that he was a smoker, and proud of it. I noticed a pack of Marlboros in his pocket. He then berated the voters of Washington State for their stupid decision to outlaw smoking in bars. We smiled and were very good listeners.
Vern then came back with a bag, presumably with the turkey in it. At that point we met Pam, his lovely wife. She made our friend his hamburger and Vern worked on our sandwiches. All told, what was to be a quick stop turned into an hour-plus. But, had we not stopped and been drawn into Harrington Time, we wouldn't have met Vern, a wonderful guy who just wanted his customers to be happy (top picture with me); experienced Pam's warm hospitality; nor met the $32 Marlboro Man who was just trying to get his burger, get back to his truck, and get on with life.
We got on with the rest of the ride, caught a magnificent tailwind that swept us up a long, gradual grade at blazing speeds (up to 15 uphill mph) to the outskirts of Spokane--where gravity took over and sent us down into the Spokane Valley. We capped the day's 81 mile ride at Gonzaga University for the evening, and had Friday off. Betsy met me at the Holiday Inn Express downtown and I lapsed back into civilization for 30 hours. It was wonderful seeing her and taking a day off from P,B, &J and Gatorade.
Tomorrow morning we leave Washington State for our second state--Idaho.