– travels without elroy

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I visited Seattle in the last week of March, and I wanted to traipse the trails I once did. I needed to feel the beautiful Pacific North West trees cover me, and give thanks and say goodbye to the parks and paths that sustained me so well when I lived there, in the way that nature always does. The only thing missing was the boy, Elroy, the Boston Terrier-Pug mix. I did see him briefly, and he asked me if we were going for a walk – but he wasn’t mine to walk any more, though this was rectified at a later date.

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The picture above Elroy is the Arrowhead Trail entry to St. Edward park. This is a state park, and Elroy and I would walk there most mornings – about 7:30-8.00 o’clockish.Evenings too though at times. There are plenty of posts, especially from 2010-2011, about the park in this blog.

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The park has so many paths. Elroy and I usually took the easier Seminary trail to Lake Washington, and one of the more difficult ones back (I am terrible at going down steep paths, but pretty good at going up them). Then we’d do the easier Plateau and Volunteer trails. Today, Arrowhead Trail, Seminary Trail, South Ridge (very steep!), Plateau Trail, Volunteer Trail, and then Arrowhead back to the bus.

The bus(es) was/(were) relatively easy to take to the park. A 522 from the city to NE Bothell Way and 68th Ave NE, then a short walk down 68th Ave NE and NE 175th, and catch the 234 to Bellvue. Get off at 68th Avenue NE and NE 175th Street. Arrive NE 153rd Place and Juanita Drive, about 10 minutes bus drive down the road.

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If you scroll through the blog you’ll see a lot of St Edward shots. This one was at the beginning of the walk, so I thought I’d take it to indicate the beginning of the trees.

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All that exertion brings you down to Lake Washington. Actually, the exertion is on the way back. Elroy would wade into the water, not paddle, he didn’t swim, and look out to the other side. I imagined him sniffing the brush and chasing squirrels up the trees and casting occasional looks my way to make sure we were still walking the same trail.

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These lilies were on Volunteer Path which was Elroy’s and my easy path. The mountain bikers really liked using it too, so I had to watch out for them. I encountered a few, but it was a Tuesday, overcast, and just coming into spring, so definitely not downtown traffic. I had not seen these lilies before. This is a pretty terrible, extremely cropped picture, but you get the idea!

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Leaving along the Arrowhead again. Elroy and rarely took this one because it led to the road, and we usually had a car (so, no need to head towards a busy road), and it was covered with gravel. After a year and a bit away, the gravel has become a little more a part of its surroundings, and it was an easy walk to the bus stop. The buses, too, except for a mis-step in the university district, were pretty much one after another. Not too much waiting. That is not always the case! A lucky day.

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This is Rhododendron Park, or as D christened it, “Rhopa”. I discovered this maybe a week or two after I arrived in Seattle in 2010. I was desperate to find somewhere nearby to walk Elroy; a place where he could have a freer run than the walks along the Burke Gilman track. It actually wasn’t that close on foot, but by car, it was a sweet, quick, exercise spot. The boy came out in welts after that walk along the various roads it took to get to the park. We thought he might have rubbed into some poison ivy (note, not from the park). A call to the vet, and a dose of pet Benadryl (for allergies) and he was right as rain.

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The grass was still soggy, though drier than some post-winter experiences – maybe the drainage had worked out, or it had been a dry winter. This used to be the start of the walk from the car park. The mums (yes – the dads were at Blyth park) were minding their kids, and playing with them on the play sets. One kid was playing basketball on a court that looked at home in a way that it didn’t in 2010 when the concrete was poured. A boy was smoking dope at the back of the trees, and two tables were pulled out from the tree-covered garden, which was where they used to do that.

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Old and new graffiti on this. Beautiful tree with berries behind it. And I have a picture of that older graffiti at the front already, but didn’t take a clear enough picture of the newer stuff on the side.

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Nature’s homage.

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The weather was surprisingly warm for Seattle for that time of year (last week of March), and there are plenty of cherry blossoms in the warmer parts of town. These were early Rhododendrons, getting a jump start on the season.

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This was part of the course Elroy and I would take. He’d do the crazy 8s run in this park. I am sure he’s still enjoying its circuits (the park’s). Kids often enjoyed playing behind here, too. The kids’ playground is just to the left of the edge of the picture.

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I am figuring those flags used up Kenmore’s art budget. I left Rhopa and headed towards Bothell Way to hook up with the Burke-Gilman trail.

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Not on the Burke-Gilman yet. This is Juanita Drive/175th, I think. This is the Sammamish Slough/River from the bridge leading up to Bothell Way. which followed the road you took to get where I used to live, and you could access it from the bridge I crossed to reach the track, a small dog tugging at the leash. I have walked the Sammamish River Trail from the Burke Gilman beginning point in Kenmore.

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Who said I didn’t belong in the city? Or at least the Kenmore side of things, which, I know, hardly qualifies!

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So, a 372 came along just as I reached the conjunction of Bothell Way, and 68th Ave NE (okay, a little further than the conjunction; I was at the bus stop!) I’d done a lot of walking, but needed to do some more. I took the bus to the point I used to alight from when I lived in the area, and took the Burke Gilman along the Sammamish and the houses that fronted (or backed onto) it. This was new at the golf club. Jimmy’s Grill, everyone welcome. Maybe just the signs were new.

I remember walking across the golf course with D and his kids, and a dog the size of a house barking at us, because were were trespassing, really. Even though it was so tempting to have so much open space near us, that dog would have eaten Elroy for dinner.

Another woman lived across from it, and she’d throw the frisbee for her two Boston Terriers. Elroy’s cousins. Wednesday, and I can’t remember the younger male’s name. Sometimes they’d all contemplate playing together.

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The graffiti in Seattle is often esoteric and erudite, or quirky, at least (see the graffiti in Rhododendron park) – but the tunnel seemed to be painted over except for these images at the end. E never liked the tunnel much. His tap-tapping feet scurrying through, except when he decided to cross the path and upend a few cyclists. He never did. I don’t think I’d have got him into a tunnel at all if he’d brought that kind of chaos on us.

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The Sammamish River from the bridge closest to Blyth Park. Again, if you went to my flickr, you’d see more than enough shots of this, and when it was a lot greener – or my camera just took better shots. I walked the Sammamish trail once – 10.9 miles, 17 kilometers. Not an unbearable undertaking, but a bit of a challenge. I cracked the sole of my shoe, and damaged my arch for a while. Discovered Marymoor Dog Park. D and I took Elroy there once. He enjoyed acting out with the big boys. Pretending he was going to jump into the pond with them. He just hovered on the edge, egging them on, wisely knowing that swimming was not his forte. We saw a huge dog bound through long grass like a kangaroo.

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The Sammamish from the other side, this would lead you towards Seattle.

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The entrance to Blyth Park, or the side entrance. Every now and then they’d “fix” this fence. It wouldn’t take a local too long to gain access for all we park users who accessed it from the trail. Once ultimate frisbee got put into the park, it wasn’t as much fun to use for little dogs and walkers – but there was an upsurge in those zipping flying discs around. Elroy enjoyed running down to the river, and always hoped we’d explore the woods behind the play area. They were just too soggy. I didn’t get my waterproof shoes until after I’d left!

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The cherry blossoms weren’t out in the park, or not at this point (they were in the U-District) – but this crocus was pushing through the woodchips.

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Leaving the path, I wanted to get to the Yakima fruit market. There is no straightforward walk to doing this, and in the summer, when the brambles are overgrown, I think it’s almost impossible. It involves a small side track across this creek – and watch it, that packing crate cover/base is not stable, but was welcome –

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and up this small path. See the ivy down its sides, or whatever that plant is. This is not part of the Sammamish trail, but a kind of dog-leg to it.

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Then along this path in front of this block of apartments, and I’m not sure if the river side of it is part of the community or not. Their cherry blossoms were in bloom.

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The path runs along the river, and you need to watch out for the geese poop!

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Yakima fruit market from a distance. This road is a bitch to cross, and there is no easy way to do it. Definitely not set up for pedestrians. The used car yard seemed to have got rid of the stuffed animals it had on the bonnets/hoods of cars to catch people’s eyes. Maybe they’d just been put away for winter.

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Yakima fruit market closes for the winter. I used to walk or drive here quite often to get our fruit and vegies. Or mine, more so. And for plenty of the plants I tried to get to grow in the garden. It’s a gem of a place. Fresh, delicious, and pretty cheap, sometimes hard to get and unusual, stuff.

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I had forgotten about this Blueberry Streusel bread, but it was something I used to eat often when I lived in Kenmore. Cellular memory. As I walked along the Burke-Gilman trail my body started to remember it, and then I thought, I needed to have it for my next few breakfasts, lunches, snacks and so on at the hostel.

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I bought a few Pink Lady apples, too. Pink Ladies are actually from my home state, Western Australia, but they grow very well in Washington State, and they’re my all time favourite. I used to think I didn’t like apples very much at all until I rediscovered them. I think the Pink Ladies were on the other side of this wondrous display of fruit.

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There is a lot of road work along Bothell Way at present, and the businesses suffer, understandably. This was one business’ way of making sure it stayed in the public eye.

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The next step was back over the road, and down to the river, again. The paths led me to Bothell Landing. First I sat and had some of my bread, some actual blueberries, and an apple. I was holding out for the sausage rolls from the Hillcrest Bakery, that Elroy and I always used to enjoy.

Bothell Landing had been a nice park, and off the road, it still was. In 2010, they ripped down some older shops and started a huge redevelopment. Then the money ran out. Apparently they’ve just started working on it again. You used to cut through a little path running along a creek to get to the main road. The creek is trapped behind a fence and rubble now, as seen in the photograph above.

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There was an Auto Tune at the front of this picture, and a Safeway supermarket at the back. It was a small supermarket, but fitting for the area. A lovely shop assistant in there always remembered me. I’d take a 40 minute walk in the morning, along the Sammamish River Trail, from Kenmore to Bothell, to get basic groceries ands so on. Apparently it has shifted elsewhere within Bothell.

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However, Hillcrest Bakery was still open.

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I found this bakery soon after moving to Seattle. They did a great rye bread (without caraway seed, the way I like it!). I’d buy two loaves, freeze them, and use them for morning toast and lunches. The bakery had a Dutch background, and some of the breads and sweets had a definite unusual Dutch, possibly even Indonesian, influence. This place is a gem.

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I bought a Bavarian sausage roll. I don’t really eat them that much, or pork or meat that much, but it was a real throwback to childhood. A party-sized sausage roll, or slightly bigger. Usually I’d come here in the morning, after walking Elroy at St. Edward Park. This would be if I had the car. I’d buy some Mexican Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies for D, and my bread and sausage roll for me. I’d then drop into Yakima Fruit Market, and sometimes forget and leave the bag that had housed the roll in in the car. Mr Snuffle-chops would make short work of those few crumbs.

Bothell was the one disappointing aspect of the day. The roadworks and development, the grey gloomy sky, seemed to have sucked the prettiness out of the small University satellite area. The sausage roll wasn’t heated that well, and my first bus came quickly, but I didn’t take it, because I thought I was going to the U-District – but then I remembered I hadn’t visited my smallest and most unique little park. More about that later.

So, I hopped the university bus, was going to get off at the park stop, thought better of it, went to the U-District – but not after going the wrong way for some time (walking in the rain, and taking the bus to the end of the line – but I got to see some pretty houses and scenery) – and then ending up at the Seven Gables wehre I saw the Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) movie, The We and the I. Loved it. Not as disturbing as “Kids”, though it can make you squirm, but ultimately, positive.

Also love the Seven Gables. One of those Art Deco film houses that dot the Seattle artscape, and I was impressed that I made it to the cinema, on time, despite my misadventures in directions. The problem is the street/avenue thing (make sure you know which one is which. There were a couple of overseas students who had the same problem as I did. That is confusing 50th St with 50th Ave, and so on. I know there is a way to read them. Well, I do now! The students were searching for the Apple store! So close, yet so far. And the fact that the Seattle bus stops have the same information on them on either side of the street causes confusion to hapless Australians, though I should have trusted my sense of direction on that one. 🙂 )

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I looked out for somewhere to eat along the U-District once the film was out, but the place my book recommended was a lunch place only, so I hopped a bus to the city, and ate at the Pike Place Chowder in the Pacific Place. Not real romantic, but their chowder is pretty good – or the seafood bisque, anyway.

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Then it was a walk home along 2nd Avenue to the hostel. You can see the Space Needle in the distance.

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The following day, I headed out early, and the first stop of the day was to see the tiny, but long park, that Elroy and I used to sometimes visit, next to the Lake Forest Park Civic Center. He didn’t like the rain, so he’d run right along the edge of the fence. I’d lose him under the ferns. It’s such a hidden sweet park. It’s very hard to know it’s there.

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Pinks are difficult to properly capture in film, so the the pink of these camelia are too strong. I haven’t edited the picture, but the hints of spring were beautiful against the misty, hazy, skies.

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Lake Washington from the pier. It was fairly early in the morning, though not so early that some local elementary school kids weren’t having a biology lesson in the Civic Centre next door, and they soon tumbled into and onto my pier. When no-one is around, it’s like you’re the only person in the world, jutting out, extended onto a beautiful body of water. I saw a water plane (probably from Kenmore Air) land, but wasn’t quick enough to take any photos.

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Elroy hated walking over any bridge/path like this. You always had to leash him – probably scared of falling through the cracks, though that was highly unlikely. There are a few photos of this view in this blog, and also on my flickr.

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And guess who I finally saw on Friday for a lovely walk around the Arboretum – a park a little more difficult to get to by public transport? On reflection, I maybe should have chosen Discovery Park – one I haven’t visited, but also not that close to the buses. However, the Arboretum was one of the first parks I visited with Elroy when I had first arrived, and our photograph even ended up in the paper as a reflection of spring (he was chasing a squirrel), and it was the park that D & I had a walk through when I left in November 2010, autumn pushing into winter (it snowed later that week) – so maybe it was fitting for a quick visit and return.

It was a beautiful spring day, and a walk, a talk, a conversation, some explanation, the sun shining down, the Magnolias in bloom, the boy jaunty as he sniffed here and there, and no crazy 8s, but some sprints to catch up! He’s six, after all, age catches up even to the liveliest of spirits. It was a good choice.

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