On Thursday, we biked a little more than 100 miles from Libby, Montana to Sandpoint, Idaho. Of the 16 states we go through, Idaho is the only one I have not visited previously. Sandpoint is a trendy town on the northern edge of Lake Pend Oreille, the largest lake in Utah. It’s a beautiful spot, surrounded by mountains and with a sandy edge, giving the town its name. The lake was formed by glaciers, so that it has the same deep blue color as Lake Tahoe. This is our last rest day; we bike for 9 more days and finish in Seattle on August 4.
Sandpoint grew initially as a railroad town; it is a stop on the Northern Pacific Railroad system. The line was opened in the 1870s; like many of the western railways, much of it was built by Chinese “immigrants”. It is now part of the Burlington Northern system, the largest freight hauler in the US. The incredibly extensive railway lines throughout the US has been one of the surprises for me on this trip; I’ve never had a real understanding of the extent to which rail movement of goods is such a large part of the economy. Trains are more than 4 times cheaper than trucks to move the same amount of freight, and cleaner as well (yes, got this from Wikepedia). It’s also really scary to cross tracks on a bike when raining.