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US 395, Part 30: The End of the Road (Ferry County to International Border)

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As we cross the Columbia River for the second and last time, Ferry county is our final county along US 395. Formed as a cast-off from the formerly much larger Stevens county (as we mentioned in Part 29), it returns us to our country roots with a small population of 7,260 [2000]. Named for Elisha Ferry, the first state governor of Washington state, its county seat is at Republic, with only 954 inhabitants [2000].

US 395 maintains nearly exactly the same alignment to the international border as it had originally. We will follow it without further preamble. I hope you've enjoyed the US 395 exhibit as much I have enjoyed traveling and writing about it. Please send me your comments at ckaiser@floodgap.com.

Crossing Lake Roosevelt into Ferry county.

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The lake stretching west along the Columbia Basin. Lake Roosevelt was named for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who established the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam as part of his massive Depression-era public works projects. A bust of FDR sits at the visitor's centre at the dam.

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East along the basin, which stretches northeasterly into British Columbia.

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The old railroad bridge parallel to the steel span we crossed on.

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Ferry county line just past the bridge.

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Here, WA 20 will finally diverge off towards Republic. We veer right to continue towards Laurier and the international border.

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Looking east across Lake Roosevelt.

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28 miles to the border.

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Mile 243, going around the northern banks of the Lake.

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Some of the houses and terrain on the other side.

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Distance signage leaving WA 20.

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Boyds, a small outpost and railroad stop. The railroad tracks cling pretty closely to US 395 almost all the way to Canada. Just south of here, the modern mouth of the Kettle River begins and for some miles it will also parallel US 395.

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NB US 395.

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The Kettle, beside us.

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Some very dense forest in this alignment of a quantity not seen since we were in Oregon.

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Crossing one of the small side tributaries of the Kettle.

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And right next to us is the railroad with its own small bridge.

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Canada or Colville, the Lady or the Tiger? Amusing use of a country as a "control city." This side road feeds WA 21 at Curlew, although it is itself not state road. Incidentally, if you continue west of Curlew, you will reach Ronald McDonald's Grave. Seriously -- look it up on your map.

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NB US 395.

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Orient, another small outpost between the river and the border.

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Most of the habitations in Orient are closer towards Pierre Lake, a name whose derivation is unknown to me.

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What habitations there are, though, are few, and it didn't look like the gas station ever recovered from the OPEC embargo.

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Mile 263.

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A little ways on, the railroad tracks will jump back to the west and separate for their own trek to the border.

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Continuing on parallel to the Kettle.

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The terrain here is considerably less friendly now as we get deeper into the Kettle River Range.

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Hemmed in by the mountain range, the forest gets a little thinner this far in.

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Approaching the international border at Laurier.

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Mile 270, last milepost before the Canadian border. Here I got pulled over by the Border Patrol for photographing near the border crossing. When he saw my pictures, he just waved me on also.

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Border Inspection Station warning.

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Allegedly last US gas, but it's just the Laurier post office now.

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Plus, the Homo erectus guys just have the worst road rage you could ever imagine.

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Laurier, last stop in the United States and named for Canadian prime minister Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919), Canada's seventh Prime Minister and its third-longest serving to date from 1896 to 1911. The first Francophone prime minister, his legacy is in his attempts to lay the groundwork for unification between French and English Canada and his efforts to establish Canada as independent within the British Empire. Although defeated over his support of trade reciprocity with the USA in 1911, he remained influential in politics up until his death and his face graces the Canadian five dollar bill today.

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[The Canadian border in 2005.] The border and the official end of US 395. In 2005, this was just a temporary modular (at right), but by 2007 they had a proper building built. The building reads Cascade, the official name for the border "community," which we talk a little bit about in the Epilogue.

At this point, you have a choice -- you can continue into British Columbia. Otherwise, we end the trip here and turn around, becoming ...

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US 395 South

Going back, we'll begin at the beginning, the northern terminus of US 395. On the other side of the road is this, the very first and northernmost (and quite possibly largest) US 395 shield as of this writing, in front of the Customs checkpoint. The Customs agent on duty scanned my American passport on my first trip in 2005 and found that I had been in Canada exactly 45 minutes, which caused him to search my car figuring the only reason someone would be in Canada for that short a period of time is to pick up something illicit. Naturally, he discovered my doctor's bag and resuscitation kit which necessitated me explaining my profession. After about a few minutes of this, he gave up and waved me through.

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It's really disappointing that a major north-south route like US 395 doesn't have some sort of "miles to San Diego" or even miles to Los Angeles. In fact, there's not really any fanfare here at all.

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Watch that milfoil, boaters. Water milfoil such as parrot feather is a major aquatic pest and has managed to infiltrate just about every state somewhere. It is difficult to eradicate completely because of its hardiness and its ability to grow back even from small fragments, and being an imported plant from South America (Amazon River, naturally), it has no natural controls and tends to overgrow furiously wherever it takes hold.

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Distance signage heading back to Spokane.

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First "actual" southbound shield.

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And just a little something for the Canadians.

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As a postscript, I won't bore you with the trip back as much of what's worth seeing on the southbound side I included parallel with the northbound. I would, however, like to take a minute to talk about what I learned *not* to do on this trip. First, I learned that my photographic habits limit me to a hard cap of around 300 miles a day and that for some of the more curvy alignments I had badly undercalculated (combined with an inopportune traffic closure, this caused me to roll back into Burns on the return trip at 4am tired, badly dehydrated and extremely sick). Second, the body can't take doses of caffeine much over 300mg and above that one might observe palpitations/irregular heartbeat and nausea and vomiting. Well, the cardiovascular symptoms of toxicity weren't a big deal but between Reno and Coleville on what was supposed to be the final day of driving back, I was seriously ill and had to make an unscheduled overnight stop here in Bridgeport where I vomited about seven times (see Part 9). I should be glad, as this probably rid me of the rest of the No-Doz before something worse happened. Please, don't overuse caffeine (let alone use something stronger or illegal). As a physician I should really know better.

This may sound weird but I was really quite tearful on the return drive in 2005 because, as I've said, this was something I'd always thought about as a child -- to actually get to the end of the one highway I knew every city and curve of and the road that I still drive every day to work and back home! Yeah, I cried quite a bit. You have to be a roadgeek to understand the kind of perpetual, wistful longing for open road in my heart, but once you've been there and back to places you've only read about on maps and lands you never believed you'd actually see, you'll know why then.

Since my original 2005 trip, I've made another all the way to Canada in 2007 and a third as the long-suffering Saturn's final long run in 2008. I'll be redoing US 395 in widescreen hopefully in 2011. It's worth it on your mother road.

Thanks for coming. I'm glad I got to share the experience.

Get out of the car (and ride down the river home)

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