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“The last few miles were like a bad dream, but I’d reached a state where somehow, perversely, it was harder to stop than to carry on.”
— Nick Hunt, Walking the Woods and the Water


I’d reached the point in my encircling walk of Seattle where I was ready for it to end.  I suppose we encounter this type of mental hinderance many times in our lives, when tasks have lost their sense of newness or joy or wonder.  Perhaps my energy was flagging a bit because, unlike my other segments which I started bright and early in the morning, I hit the sidewalks this day after working four hours at my job.  It was past mid-day when I resumed my walk at the Ballard Locks.

The walk started pleasantly enough with a trek past Shilshole Marina to Golden Gardens.  This is another of Seattle’s popular beaches for summer recreation on the Sound.






From Golden Gardens, I tried to stay relatively close to the waters’ edge as I walked north, but I found this difficult.  First I had to climb up several sets of very steep stairs up from Golden Gardens to the bluff above.  I was back in a residential area with labyrinthine streets, no sidewalks, and ravines that resulted in plenty of dead ends.

One of the stairways up from Golden Gardens

One of the stairways up from Golden Gardens

After walking in what seemed like loops, I finally hit NW 100th Street and decided to follow its straight path to 15th and then 3rd Avenue NW.  The walk became a slog.  There were no long views across the Sound as I was now heading back inland.  I perked up when I saw Swansons Nursery — suddenly I knew exactly where I was.  I put one foot in front of the other, watching the street signs go up incrementally to 145th Street NW, which was the northern city limit.  There I turned west for my final few blocks to Aurora Avenue North, back where I started my journey.

Walking in NW Seattle

Walking in NW Seattle

Swansons Nursery

Swansons Nursery

Back wherre I started, 145th and Aurora Ave N

Back where I started, 145th and Aurora Ave N

Estimated walking distance: about 7-1/2 miles

I’d accomplished my goal — walking the boundaries of my city, about 70+ miles.  There were some exceptionally lovely parts, but even the uninteresting, normal, or ugly parts were worth it because they took me to areas of the city that I had not seen before or that I would have bypassed in a car without a thought.

I learned that Seattle is larger than I knew, and yet, walking revealed a series of neighborhoods that were knowable on a smaller scale.

“How excellent it is to see the world reveal itself to one who goes afoot — and how much larger it is.”
— William Least Heat Moon, Here, There, Elsewhere:  Stories from the Road

It felt good to be an explorer in my own backyard:

“On occasion, . . . I go out into my home territory and try to travel it as if a stranger so that I can see familiarities in a different light and from a new angle, commonplaces viewed freshly and examined closely.  The point is as much discovery as rediscovery.”
— William Least Heat Moon, Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road

Now I will have to plan for new activities and explorations.  I have at least three things I want to return to — walking Seward Park’s loop trail and using the Elliott Bay Water taxi to get to West Seattle. I’ve fallen in love with Seattle’s RapidLine transit routes, and want to catch the RapidLine C back to West Seattle someday for breakfast (I saw many good looking bakeries and coffeeshops).The summer is still young!



“The cold was our pride, the snow was our beauty.  It fell and fell, lacing day and night together in a milky haze, making everything quieter as it fell, so that winter seemed to partake of religion in a way no other season did, hushed, solemn.  It was snowing and it was silent.”
— Patricia Hampl, A Romantic Education

Yesterday's snowy day at Green Lake

We get excited about snow in Seattle because it seldom lasts too long.  I find it’s best to slow down, park the car (there is no snow removal on most residential streets, so the snow packs, becomes icy, and stays that way until it turns to slush and melts), and walk if I need to get anywhere.

It’s nice to get a taste of winter wonderland, especially if the inconveniences are short and sweet.  Snow gives a time-out from our regular routines.  Who doesn’t enjoy the special pleasures of an unexpected “snow day.”

Here are some photos from a walk around my neighborhood:

Scalloped-edged fence

Snowy steps

Weathered clothespins

Patterned snow on paving bricks

Pine cones with snow

Basketball hoop in the snow