Roadside Attractions

00DA1867-89F5-4C40-8F84-137561E61997This is the first in a series of posts that follow a list of Practical Applications for the Spring, 2018 Special Edition of Field Notes, West Coast Series. You can read the suggested Practical Applications for each edition on the rear inside of the cover. It is a salutary exercise to to actually try each suggested use! I am using them as “writing prompts”.

My “road” is the Burke Gilman pedestrian and bicycle trail which extends from Ballard in Seattle to Redmond, WA. When not riding the bus on Sand point Way, I ride it to volunteer on the student Farm, shopping, visit friends along the way, attend classes and meetings at the University of Washington. Up north on Lake Washington near where I live, I walk on a shaded part of the trail often. Today I saw:

1. A stick fence woven from fallen branches, to the other side a patch of pretty bluebells.
2. Mounted on one of the branches that make up the fence was a small garden gnome. Lucky I stopped to appreciate the bluebells, otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed it’s eccentric placement. You just have to stop and wait until these small details separate themselves from the visual clutter all around you.
3. Lower than the walking surface of the trail, clear water was flowing out of a concrete pipe. Because of a field trip I made years ago, I know this is the water of Thornton Creek. The creek flows from a small pond near the I-5 Freeway and on the “other” side of a classic American Shopping Mall. There have been efforts over the years to daylight the creek in as many neighborhoods as possible. Where I am walking today, the creek is re-emerging from beneath a sloping hillside. The water follows a course from here to Matthews Beach and Lake Washington.
4. On the corner where the trail crosses a street one of those “Drop Off and Pick Up Where You Are” rental bikes are poised on it’s kickstand just in case a trail user needs it. They are $1 for 30 minutes of riding. This simple one speed bike actually requires a lot of technology to use. To start riding I download a small software app to my smartphone. To unlock the bike, I point the software app (which uses the camera on your smartphone) at a QR code that identifies the bike. Then I mount the bike and ride. The company owning the bike tracks the bike’s location using GPS satellites. At the end of my ride you I physically move a lever to lock the the rear wheel of the bike again. After that, my bank account is debited! I just put the kickstand down where I am, and leave. There are bikes to be found all over the place!


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