Ragged lines on grey canvas
While I don’t much dig the whole “spring forward” part, I’m always happier when we are on Daylight Savings Time. It means more light after work allowing for these more meandering commutes home. It means that my typically late starts for weekend rides can still be a solid ride before dark. The mornings of course return to darkness for the time being, but it’s already lightening up by 7am and by the time I head into work it’s full daylight. Commuting both ways in the light is, in my mind, where it’s at.
Atlantis under flowering trees
It had poured rain all day on Saturday and not PNW drizzle either – a strong, steady continuous rain. I’d had some activities planned for early Sunday morning but what with it still pouring when I went to bed I wrote it off. But at some point during the early morning hours the rain petered out and Sunday turned out to a rather nice day – partially cloudy and warmish – I just had to get out for a bit of a ride. Of course having sprung forward meant that my usual late start was an hour later than normal, but as noted I still had many hours of light available. I headed out around 2pm with thoughts of heading to the Seattle waterfront.
Even just riding down 12th Ave into the ID it became apparent that there were throngs of people out. It’s been an odd winter with drought conditions in January/early February and then just weeks of heavy rain, pushing us into flood territory (and the snow pack going from well below average to above average). People clearly were hungering to get out of doors and a relatively nice day brought them out in droves. The thought of the waterfront crowded with light-starved Seattle-ites lost it’s appeal and I made a spur of the moment decision to head east.
Looking Northwest from Mercer Island
I was on the very familiar I-90 Trail/Mountains to Sound Greenway which follows I-90 and crosses the floating bridge over to Mercer Island. As I climbed up to the I-90 tunnel I was everywhere reminded that dates notwithstanding the flora considers it spring. The cherry trees have been flowering since late January and many are almost done with that, while others are at their peak. The dogwoods are blooming, daffodils are everywhere, green shoots on every branch – with the warmer weather today and a bit of sun peaking out of the layers of clouds it definitely felt like spring. There was of course plenty of other bicyclers out in this weather and while not the crowds the waterfront would have been, I was certainly not alone.
Flowering trees on Mercer Island
Just across the first section of the floating bridge, on the western edge of Mercer Island is a little park, which I’ve stopped at now and again. But I’ve wondered for some time of the road heading north from there would hook up with the primary Mercer Island Loop route or just dead-end among the mansions. A vigorously flowering tree also attracted my eye and settled the issue – I’d head that way. I pulled over and took a break and some photos down at the little park. I’d brought a book of poerty by Ryōkan with me and just randomly turned to a poem while I sat on the edge of Mercer Island:
The three realms are like a guesthouse.
Human life resembles a dewdrop.
Time for practice easily evaporates;
true dharma is rare to encounter.
One must sustain vigorous effort.
Do not wait for encouragement
from one another.
an excerpt from Monks by Ryōkan
Could you live here?
Continuing on I rode around the northern edge of Mercer Island to the second part of the I-90 floating bridge. Once you cross the bridge on the edge of the mainland the highway stays elevated over the marshes, estuaries and swampland. The trail wends it’s way through these mere’s before eventually intersecting with East Lake Washington Blvd. I had been hearing the call of nature and right at the intersection point with the E. Lk WA Blvd is a closed parking lot wooded toward the back. I headed back there to answer the call and found the pictured lean to. I used the “facilities” and then sat in this lean-to for some time. Clearly someone had lived here for a spell – there was evidence of a fire and a framework that with a tarp over it would have provided some escape from the elements. I asked myself could I live here?
View from the Lean-to
These out of the way and often more hidden encampments of the homeless are generally in these interstitial areas, areas that the rapacious developers have no interest in and the NIMBY’s won’t go to the mat for. Next to highways, on the edge of wetlands, in-between places where one can be out of sight and out of mind. Under this lean-to the rain would be diverted but the roar of I-90 would be a constant companion and in the summer the wetland is sure to produce an endless supply of mosquitoes. I felt I could live here, but it is my privilege that I don’t have to. Once again I turned to Ryōkan:
If someone asks
where I live,
“The farthest end of
the heavenly river shore.”
View from the tower at Gene Coulon Park
I headed south on East Lake Washington Blvd. following the Lake Wa Loop. It had fully clouded over while I was under the lean-to and as I rode there was the occasional spatter of rain. Nothing too serious but as I approached Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park in Renton I pulled over to put my tweed cardigan back on (yes I’d been able to ride sans sweater for the first time in ’14). I locked up my bicycle on the edge of the pier and spent some time up in the tower that climbed from the pier enjoying the view. I refilled my water bottle in the bathroom – they turn off the water fountains in the winter, which I understand the reasoning behind, but I think is an unfortunate practice. I sat at one of the picnic tables and read a bit more Ryōkan.
How can I
sustain my life?
winter this year
has been brutal.
Winter has indeed been brutal all over this year, but less so here in the PNW than elsewhere. We were in drought conditions until February and since then above average rain for weeks on end. The snow-pack went from well below average to above average and now the talk is of flooded. But this is no polar vortex or the snows in the Middle East, or flooding in London…
From Gene Coulon I pretty much just stuck with the Lake Washington Loop. Crossing over the Cedar River I noted that it was definitely in flood stage, covering the path as it ducked under the bridge and encroaching well on to the lawn at the edges. The route skirts around the Renton Airport – which has relatively newly repaved roads which made for some smooth riding – and then you are up onto Rainier Ave for a good few miles. Rainier Ave is pretty much the main non highway corridor from Seattle to Renton and it is a fairly busy, fairly fast road, but with a decent width and a bicycle lane it is also a major cycling route. At Rainier Beach the Lk. Wa. Lp. heads north to stay along the Lake and to head to Seward Park. But I decided to ride Rainier Ave all the way to the ID which is pretty much where I live.
I’ve ridden on quite a bit of Rainier and certainly drove the length of it back in the day, but this was the first time I’ve ridden the length of it and it is an interesting study in contrasts. It has several striations of gentrification running the gamut from looking like a chunk of a more desolate part of Detroit to one of the condo-fied bits of Fremont. It wasn’t great bicycling with the lane having ended when the Lk Wa Lp branched off, the surface being of variable quality and the traffic, but in the main it was fine. Eventually I hit the CD and at the edge of the ID I remembered there was this Wood Fired Pizza place that looked like a shack built around a food truck and I decided to check it out.
Margherita at Humble Pie
Humble Pie, pretty much is a shack built around a real stone wood fired oven. The oven itself is just enclosed by heavy duty chicken wire and only the bathrooms and the kitchen were full (and fully code compliant I image) structures. But they have a few taps of beer and make a pretty great wood fired pizza. It was the end of the day and while the ride wasn’t epic, it was enough to work up a good appetite. A pint of IPA and the pictured pizza were an ideal end to good days ride and one I was grateful to be able to indulge in.
You can view all my pictures from this ride here: Saving Daylight Ride.