September 6th, 2006

walking around water

Back in April I circled Lake Union, from the Fremont Bridge around to South Lake Union Park, up to the University Bridge and back along the north shore. (The journal entry I link to is in late May, when I wrote about it.) That was about 7 miles (including about a half-mile each way from my condo to the Fremont Bridge) according to Google Maps, though I believe I added at least an extra mile by making detours to stay closer to the lake side than the routes that Google Maps plots.

Some time later - I believe it was Memorial Day weekend, when I wrote that post - I did the next loop, from the Fremont Bridge to the Ballard Bridge and back. That's about 5 miles.

A couple weeks ago I did another long walk through Magnolia up to the Chittenden Locks and back to the Ballard Bridge. It was rather complicated, so I'm not going to try plotting it out, but that was probably another 8 miles. It also technically doesn't count for the Ballard Bridge to Chittenden Locks loop, since I did not try to stay as close to the water as possible, like I did with the other walks, but it'll do for now. The "proper" loop, including walking to the Ballard Bridge and back, would be around 6.5 miles.

Last Saturday, I decided that rather than doing the "proper" Ballard Bridge - Chittenden Locks loop, I should take advantage of the good weather while it lasts and do the last part of the Seattle inner waterways, from the University Bridge to the Montlake Bridge and back, around Portage Bay. It's about 2.5 miles from my place to the University Bridge, and roughly 3.5 miles around Portage Bay, so about 8.5 miles for the round trip. But I did more exploring than that would suggest. I walked down past Husky Stadium to find the UW Waterfront Activities Center, because I've been wanting to rent a canoe there with a friend and go check out the marshes around the Arboretum. Then, after crossing the Montlake Bridge, I found stairs down to the Lake Washington Ship Canal and McCurdy Park, and wandered along the boardwalk across Marsh Island into the Arboretum. I returned to check out the rest of the neighborhood between the canal and Route 520, and then discovered a foot path leading down and under 520 to the Montlake Playfield, thus saving me some extra walking through Montlake. Adding my detours, I probably walked closer to 10 or 11 miles.

One thing I've enjoyed about these walks is finding the details that are hidden when just driving through. It's well-known that there are houseboat neighborhoods all around Lake Union and also on Portage Bay, but seeing them at a distance from the road, or across the lake, is a very different experience to seeing them up close from the obscure little side streets that access them. There's a whole neighborhood docked along Portage Bay Place E, a dead-end road tucked in by the University Bridge that you'd almost never know was there, even walking - on my first walk around Lake Union, I actually crossed the entrance to that road, and never realized it went back underneath the bridge and out to a set of houseboats. The path leading down to the Montlake Playfield was another discovery - I've driven right past the entrance lots of times, but never noticed it was there.

Related to that is the fun of getting to know my city better - discovering how things fit together and connect, finding new views of different areas, discovering parks and landmarks I didn't know about, or locating places I'd heard of and didn't really know where they were. Although there are still big areas I can reach just by walking from my place and plenty of side streets I haven't yet walked, I'm going to have to start using other transportation, either the bus or my car, to continue exploration. I'll probably use the bus, that way I can also learn more about the bus routes, and I won't be limited by having to loop back to wherever I park my car. However, the long walks and the desire to explore further afield just make me want to have a bicycle. Maybe next spring I can get one. Of course, with the many steep hills, I'm probably just as well off afoot.

The walking's also good exercise, although shorter walks on a regular basis would be a better plan. I really don't like being out in the rain, particularly when it gets cold in the winter, but I should make a point of continuing walks as I'm still not getting other exercise.