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Last Ride 2014

Friday, January 2nd, 2015
Last Ride 2014 - Beachfront Atlantis framing the OlympicsMy favorite recent Atlantis shot

The end of the 2014 has been marked by unusually wet and warm weather (pineapple express!) interspersed with unusually dry, clear and cold.  Sure it’s not the approaching absolute zero of the midwest or what have you, but it’s been cold. However I wanted to get in one last ride for 2014, plus I needed to get some ingredients for a New Years potluck and I’ve had those coffee outside plans hanging fire so on NYE’s I set out for a little jaunt around the city.

Last Ride 2014 - I-90 Tunnel with the Cascades in the distanceI-90 with the Cascades in the Distance

As always I set out late, so I rode across Beacon Hill, stopping only once at a stairway that gave me the above view of snow speckled Cascade Mountains.  It’s only been four months since my summer tour in the mountains, and I have to say I’ve been pining for them a bit.  Both the Cascades and the Olympics, snow covered, but well below average, are really looking lovely on these crisp, icy blue days.

Last Ride 2014 - The Olympic MountainsOn the Waterfront

After this brief photoshoot I rode down the hill into the ID where I picked up Spicy Tofu Bánh mì for lunch at the always great Chu Minh Tofu & Vegetarian Deli. From the ID it was a short jaunt though Pioneer Square and the interminable construction to the waterfront where I had a wintery picnic.

Last Ride 2014 - Spicy Tofu Banh MíSpicy Tofu Bánh mì

On the water there was stunning views of the Olympic Mountains across the Sound and Mount Rainier to the South, somewhat obscured by the Port and haze. While I was eating a train that was just five engines steamed up the nearby tracks.  After lunch I took some pictures on the beach, but the cold air and fell winds soon pushed me back onto the bicycle. It was one of those days where you long for the climbs to warm you up and dread those icy descents.

Last Ride 2014 - Port of Seattle framing The MountainThe Mountain

I rode up the Elliot Bay Trail and then did the a clockwise loop around the Magnolia neighborhood. This begins with a good climb up to Magnolia Avenue which hugs the bluffs above the sound. Some nice views south and west of the Sound, West Seattle, the Peninsula and the Olympics.  I kept moving though and when the road turned inward a bit I took a residential road that dived down right to sea level and then pretty quickly followed was a steep climb out. This brought me to Discovery Park which I pretty much just rode across and through until I was back on the scenic loop route.

Last Ride 2014 - Atlantis makin' coffeeMaking Coffee above the Ballard Locks

I cut over to the Ballard Locks and as I was about to descend down to the locks proper I noticed a little secluded picnic area.  I decided to pull off over there and finally have make my coffee out of doors. Third time is the charm!  It was much cooler in the shade (and it wasn’t that warm to begin with in the sun!) so I was pretty happy when the coffee was bile’d and I sat for a spell enjoying it in the company of Ryōkan.

Last Ride 2014 - Coffee out of doorsCoffee and Ryōkan

Even though this was a pretty isolated part of the park a few people did come through.  A homeless guy came through and I chatted with him a bit. Mainly about the cold weather, but he was also curious if I’d seen his buddy on a ten-speed. I had not. He wandered off and I read this poem:

In town I finish begging for food.
Content, I carry the cloth bag,
wondering which place to call home.
Could that be my home near the white cloud?

Last Ride 2014 - Ballard LocksThe Spillway

My coffee drained I was rapidly cooling down, so I packed up and headed down to the locks. There were people out at all the parks I visited on this day. It may be cold, but it is sunny and many people are off – I’m not the only one wanting to get outside.  The locks were active as I was down there, a series of boats cruising into one of the locks and then slowly rising up as they are brought to the level the lake. A series of announcements from the Lock commander gave everything a bureaucratic edge.

Last Ride 2014 - Still waters run deepStill water in the lock

I walked my bicycle across the locks and through the park grounds and I was back on my bicycle. I rode through town and onto the Burke-Gillman Trail, which has a new separated bikeway in one of the previously more dangerous spots in Ballard. I took the trail to Fremont, where I stopped at the PCC and took care of that shopping I had to do. I loaded my groceries into my front basket – my saddlebag had my cooking kit and daybag in it – and in the now setting sun I began to make my way home.  I took a mix of the BGT, waterfront roads to the U-District where I was able to take my old commute route.

Last Ride 2014 - foam

The sun had set as I climbed up Capitol Hill but there was this layered yellow-orange-red glow outlining the Olympic Mountains deep in shadow above the Space Needle and the Seattle skyline. Glorious.  Since the traffic seemed fairly low on this NYE’s I rode on broadway and the entire length of the newish cycle track. There was still a glow in the sky behind Sodo and the distant mountains as I crossed the Jose Rizal Bridge and began my climb up to Beacon Hill. I arrived home around 5:25 in nearly total darkness after having ridden just over 25 miles on this cold, New Years Eve.  A fitting end to 2014.

 

See and realize
that this world
is not permanent.
Neither late nor early flowers
will remain.

 

More pictures from this ride can be found in my Last Ride 2014 photoset.

Saving Daylight Ride

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Ragged lines on grey canvas

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

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

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

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

 

Lean-to

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?

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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,
say,
“The farthest end of
the heavenly river shore.”

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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?
So far,
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…

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Humble Pie

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.

Saving Daylight Ride - Margherita at Humble Pie

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.

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3 - a line in the sand

We meet only to part
coming and going like white clouds,
leaving traces so faint
hardly a soul notices.
 
-Ryōkan

 
October 11th: Ocean
While it never did clear up as expected the cloudy weather made for a much warmer and comfortable nights sleep. The night prior I slept in a stocking cap and socks, on this night none of that was necessary.  After arising I did my usual morning routine of coffee, oatmeal and reading the news on my iPad. After cleaning up the dishes as well as completing my own ablutions I was ready for the days activities. I spent this day in contemplation, both in camp and at the ocean. I rode to the nearby gas station for some lunch supplies, but this was less then 1/2  a mile away. Otherwise I was at the ocean or my campsite the rest of the day. Thus there is not much of a narrative for the day so I’m going to focus on photographs and a few words to try to capture the feeling of this day.

 

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3 - solo gull
 

the seagull stands still
as water swirls about its feet

 
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3 - still life
 

gazing at the sea
grey upon grey –
shells, rocks, seaweed

 
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3 - flight
 

flying above the waves –
three black birds

 
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3 - shell
 

all alone at the ocean
on this grey autumn day

 
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3 - feet
 

footprints in the sand –
boots, paws, birds
and small bare feet

 
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 3 - grey upon gray
 

sitting
on the beach
forgetting myself

 

More pictures from this trip can be found in my Autumn Bicycle Camping photoset on Flickr

The more things change

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

 

 

Cancel all Debts

Robbers never strike at the homes of the poor;
Private wealth does not benefit the entire nation.
Calamity has its source in the accumulated riches of a few,
People who lose their souls for ten thousand coins.
-Ikkyu (1394-1491)

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Where the Sidewalk Ends

WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS
by Shel Silverstein

 
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.