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420/Easter Ramble

Friday, April 25th, 2014

4-20 Easter Ride - Atlantis at the Locks

Atlantis at the Ballard Locks

It’s rare that these two significant holidays occur on the same day but instead of celebrating either I went for a rambling ride along Seattle waterways. The weekend had been rather grey and rainy and Sunday was expected to be similar but with that spring like character of occasional sun breaks. I’d been hankering for a ride as I’d spent the last weekend (which, of course, had been the nicest of the year to date) sick and was still feeling a bit weak and tired from that. When I got out of doors it was warmer than expected and while grey it was those high thin clouds the sun burned through.

4-20 Easter Ride - Looking west

On the Seattle Waterfront looking West

I rode through the ID and down to the Seattle Waterfront. The waterfront is under a huge amount of development with the former viaduct being torn down, a tunnel built under, the seawall being replaced and a park built downtown. Considering it’s a massive tourist zone makes for fairly chaotic riding. I stuck with riding on Alaskan Way except for a few bits where I was directed onto new Bicycle/Walkways.  It being Sunday morning and Easter/420 it wasn’t all that bad. So I headed to Elliot Bay Trail at the entrance by the Olympic Sculpture Park.

4-20 Easter Ride - rocks

Seaside rocks on the Seattle Waterfront

I’ve ridden this trail many times but this time as I neared the end, where I was going to begin a loop around Magnolia, I decided to do a clockwise loop instead of the usual anti-clockwise.  So I hung a left on a spur on the trail and noted that it had an extension to Smith Cove Park. Well I’ve never ridden this section before! This turned out to be a fairly short stretch (less than a mile for sure) that wended around the rail yard on the east and a bluff on the right to this little park tucked in-between the industrial waterfront and a marina. I hung out at the park for a bit taking photos, reading and relaxing. The little park was empty when I arrived but three other bicyclers arrived whilst I was there.

4-20 Easter Ride - Atlantis at Smith Cove

Atlantis at Smith Cove

Feeling slightly well when autumn comes

Not yet disappeared
like a dewdrop
on a blade of grass,
I am still in this floating world,
moon in the morning.
-Ryōkan

4-20 Easter Ride - The tide is out

The tide is out

From Smith Cove Park, I rode down to the marina which also had a little park there and then I rode back on the Elliot Bay Trail spur and then took the exit for a clockwise loop around Magnolia. This begins with a nice climb up that bluff I’d just been under and then it was gentle ups and downs most of the way around to Discovery Park.

4-20 Easter Ride - Lighthouse side view

Lighthouse at Discovery Park

I rode through Discovery Park and then made my way down to the Lighthouse. This is down a narrow, steep road which always promises a nice slog up from the shore. Down at the beach there was more people than I’d seen so far, but the holidays I think kept it from being too packed. I spent a good bit of time on the shore, enjoying the pleasant weather and being on the water. I walked around the lighthouse and then sat on a log and read and watched for a spell.

4-20 Easter Ride - mud

The beach

If I had known
how sorrowful this world is,
I would have become
grass or a tree
in a deep mountain!
-Ryōkan

4-20 Easter Ride - Ballard Locks

Balard Locks

I made my way up the steep hill back into the park and rode some of the parks trail and closed roads to the northeast entrance from which it was a quick jog through the neighborhoods and along the Ship Canal to the Ballard Locks. You have to walk your bicycle across the locks and on summer days the narrow walkways can be tough to get through – especially if there are people pushing bicycles through both ways. Today though, once again, it wasn’t too crowded even though now the clouds had burned off and it was sunny and warm.

4-20 Easter Ride - Ballard Locks spillway

Ballard Locks spillway

I lingered going through the locks, stopping at each of the sections to look into the water or take some pictures. But soon enough I pushed my bicycle through the park and reaching NW 54th Street I saddled up and begin to ride toward home. I cut though the industrial bits of Ballard to the Burke Gillman Trail, which was as busy as ever on a nice weekend day. I rode the trail into the U-District and there dropped off it and stuck with streets that were on the Ship Canal to the Montlake Bridge. I then followed the Lake Washington Loop along Lake Washington until I rode up the hill to the I-90 Trail which I rode to the ID and then it was back home.

Check out all the pictures I’ve posted from this ride: 420/Easter Ride.
The poetry of Ryōkan is from Sky Above, Great Wind, translated Kazuaki Tanahashi

A Beautiful November Ride

Friday, November 11th, 2011

The Atlantis in Autumn

November is historically the peak of storm season in Western Washington but it doesn’t really kick in until mid-month. This year appears to be no exception with storm season beginning today, but yesterday was a perfect autumn day.  We are at the point where the trees have fully changed colors, but most of the leaves have yet to fall, leaving them looking like huge smokeless fires.  With daylight savings time having ended this week the sun sets “earlier” and the shadows are longer mid-afternoon.

As seen from the Ship Canal Trail

Riding along the Ship Canal.

This week had become rather unseasonably warm as it progressed and it peaked yesterday with a temps in the upper 50s (f) and clear blue skies.  I sort of dithered around in the morning and early afternoon but finally set out to ramble around the city.  I avoided the Burke-Gillman Trail, opting instead to ride from my place in the U-District to the Fremont Bridge via Wallingford but after crossing the bridge dropped on to the Ship Canal Trail. I think I’ve only ever ridden the SCT once before, typically just sticking with the roads that parallel it, but I wanted to check out the new section they were adding to it.  There is one bit of hazardous street riding you have to do right now to get between the SCT and the Elliot Bay Trail (or the street equivalents thereof) which takes you to the downtown Seattle Waterfront. They’ve been working on a new section of the SCT that’d bypass this little jog on an interchange and I was curious to see that in action.  It wasn’t open for riding on it, but I did take a look at it and it seems to be done with just finishing work going on. When this is in place it’ll definitely make it a lot easier to ride into the city or to West Seattle.

Riding in Discovery Park

Riding the unused roads in Discovery Park.

Magnolia LoopSince I was now in Magnolia I decided to ride around this neighborhood and through Discovery Park. I’d ridden through this area for the first time every about a month ago on a beautiful October day and with the sun already sinking toward the ocean seemed like an ideal route to return to. The signed Magnolia Loop takes you around the neighborhood that sticks out Northwest into the sound from downtown Seattle. The route takes you to Discovery Park, the former site of Fort Lawton. A sort of odd park in that it has a still active federal Radar Station, a selection of old historic buildings and a rather Levittown-esque block of private homes roughly in the middle of the park. The northern portion of the park has a water treatment plant and a lighthouse.  Most of the roads through the park are closed off and make for some nice cycling.

Autumn Leaves

Like a tree of fire.

After you ride through the park the route mostly hugs the coast, much of which is a narrow park with just a few benches but no houses between the edge of the land and the water. This is some nice, easy riding – you have to climb to get to the center of Discovery Park but it’s pretty much all downhill from there. On this route  allowing unobstructed views to the south and west and with the sun heading downwards there is just amazing views over the Olympic Peninsula to the west and Mount Rainier and West Seattle to the South with the Seattle Skyline popping up as you look south eastwards.  Hard to beat.

Mount Rainier and West Seattle

The view to the south of Mount Rainier and West Seattle.

Having made my way around most of Magnolia the route is now inland, through residential and commercial propers that parallels the working train yard and then back on the edge of the ship canal as you head toward the locks. From here the sun is behind the hill of Magnolia and while only twilight wasn’t enough light for my remaining iPhone pictures to come out. Sadly the last time I rode this ride I dropped my camera (the perils of shooting from the saddle) which survived except for the button that allows you to take pictures which was lost. All I’ve got left now for picture taking is my iPhone which alas has too small a sensor for good lowlight pictures.

...and the last light of the setting sun

The Sun Setting Over the Olympic Peninsula.

My ride was nearly over though; I overlapped with a bit of the start of the Magnolia Loop as I headed to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, where you can walk your bicycle across to Ballard. I’ve taken this route a few times but this was the first time that I’ve been there when one of the locks was empty. Alas no picture of that. I then rode through industrial parts of Ballard to Fremont where I visited my favorite end of ride destination: Brouwers Cafe. Here I had a few pints of beer (as I posted on Google+) and what may have been about the best non-pizza post-ride food I’ve had: Porter infused Mac-n-Cheese made with with Fusilli pasta, sharp cheddar and chanterelle mushrooms.  I’m getting hungry just typing that in. It’s looking like we’ll be hunkering down for the late November storms for some time, so I’m glad to have gotten out for this day. It was a good ‘un.

Reach skyward

See all my pictures from this ride, in my Beautiful November Ride set on Flickr.