– Day 4 – Palouse to Cascades Bike for the Cure 2024

Crossing the Columbia River was the transition from the West and East portions of the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail. Those not from the Northwest may not be familiar with the term “Palouse.” The origin is unclear, perhaps from the Native American Palus tribe. The spelling evolved through the French Canadian fur traders to a more familiar French word “pelouse” which means “land with short and thick grass.” The Palouse is a distinct geographical region of the Northwest US encompassing parts of North Central Idaho, Southeast Washington, and Northeast Oregon. It is a major agricultural area, primarily producing wheat and legumes. It is comprised of temperate grasslands, savannas, and scrublands, and gently rolling hills covered with wheat fields.

That being said, Sherri reports that their route today was from Warden to Ralston. We drove to Warden from Potholes State Park, maybe a 30 minute drive. It was much warmer today and sunny with intermittent wind, but very light.

Sherri and Matt started riding at Warden. It was another tough ride as the trail bed appeared to be the actual railroad bed and very rocky. It was difficult to pedal through, slow going and much of it was back to a gradual uphill grade. The road stayed close to the trail much of the way and had hardly any traffic, so Mary Ann rode on it. The downside is that it had some pretty steep hills.

We rode to Lind, about halfway to Ralston, and tried to find a place to buy a sandwich. It was almost a ghost town; the only bar/restaurant that wasn’t for sale was closed for the holiday. Even their grocery store was closed. We ate PBJ sandwiches again and carried on riding toward Ralston. Sherri rode to where the camper van was parked. Mary Ann had gone back to the road, now flat and still no traffic. Matt persevered through the rocky trail until about the last 2 miles, then got on the road.

The whole ride was pretty desolate, but obviously on the edge of the agricultural areas, because we saw grain silos and huge produce storage warehouses along the way. Ralston was named after the Ralston Purina Company. Other towns along this trail were thriving concerns when the railroad passed through, but can no longer sustain businesses or a population.

We stayed in Ritzville with Mary Ann’s husband Scott’s cousin Darci, in her big 118 year old farmhouse. Her family is and has been a farming family for generations. She is retired now but her son still farms.

Ritzville is 10 miles North of Ralston, and Darci is another 10 miles beyond, past wheat fields and pea fields making it a lovely drive. She was a gracious hostess, providing showers, laundry and beds for us. We drove back to Ritzville for dinner at a local favorite, “Jake’s,” just good old  American food. We split one serving of homemade peach pie a la mode. Perfect!

Back to the farmhouse for a few hands of cards while our clothes dried and then off to bed. All for tonight but not without a word of fond and heartfelt remembrance of our dear departed loved ones, and a special thank you to our veterans on this Memorial Day Holiday, in your honor.

Sherri, Mary Ann, and Matt

Mileage today – 41 miles

Total mileage – 149

Matt at the beginning of the trail at Warden
Produce storage warehouses
Grain silos
Matt at the end of the ride at Ralston – A hard 41 miles