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Category: exploring

Downtown Adventures

Downtown Adventures

I love walking through cities. Now that Spencer is old enough to have more stamina, I can share this with him and explore more of Seattle together. Schools were closed for mid-term break a couple of weeks ago, so I took a vacation day on the Friday. On weekends, downtown Seattle is either packed (Pike Place Market, the Aquarium) or deserted (everywhere else?). Yesterday was a rare chance to go downtown during the week. At the time, we were still searching for a new family bike (more later) and I don’t care for driving and parking downtown, so we took the bus. Kids love the bus – playing fares, getting transfers and pulling the cord to signal your stop are all exciting to them. Before Spencer turned six, he could ride for free on King County Metro, but I’d always give him a coin to drop in the box. The bus drivers were typically good sports about it and would very solemnly give him a paper transfer that he would hold onto all day.
We took the bus to Pioneer Square. Spencer was fascinated by the life-size statues of firefighters.

Our first destination was [storefront] Mushroom Farm. This is a project set up in the lobby of an architectural firm as a demonstration of sustainable agriculture and how one business’s waste product can be another’s resource. The CityLab7 group collected used coffee grounds from local coffee shops over a two week period. he grounds, which are very rich in nutrients were then used as a growth medium for mushrooms.  

Examining the coffee grounds. This was before the mushroom spores were added, right? Right?

The inoculated coffee grounds were packed into bags and brought to the coolest greenhouse you’ve ever seen. Built of reclaimed wood and plastic, it’s set up in the street-level space near Pioneer Square that is owned by an architectural firm. As an aside, do you call a mushroom chamber a greenhouse? They need to be warm and humid, but don’t need light.

My friend Chris is part of the CityLab7 group and was on hand to show us the greenhouse and answer questions like “How big to they grow?” and “Are you a mushroom farmer?”. My questions were more technical, like “Hey! What’s that white stuff?”. As it turned out, the white stuff was the mycelium, the underground portion of the fungus. The mushroom part that we see (and eat) is the fruiting body, which produces spores. The mushrooms have since appeared, so it should look even cooler now. If the timing and schedules work out, I might get to go back and see it again.

Chris answers Spencer’s many, many questions.

The farm is open to the public 11:30am – 1:30pm on Tues-Fri until Mar. 23. It’s a fascinating project and looks beautiful, so if you get a chance, go see it!

Spencer is growing like a mushroom. The New York Times may have a better camera, but they don’t have a model who’s this cute.
We then walked back through Pioneer Square. A couple of blocks are pedestrian-only, which gave us more scope for activities like chasing birds.
Yes, dear – I’m sure those gulls were VERY frightened.

After we left Pioneer Square, our explorations took us to a rock & fossil shop and a lovely little pocket park with a waterfall. I would have taken more photos, but we’d been walking for a while and lunch was calling. In fact, when I tried to pull out my camera, Spencer said “Mommy! Don’t get distracted!” Our lunch at the Crab Pot and play time at the neighboring arcade are therefore undocumented.

The big attraction of the day was the Seattle Aquarium. They have touching pools, where you can touch sea anemonies, sea stars, sea cucumbers and more. Spencer is asking one of the volunteers questions. Many, many questions.

Our favorite exhibit is the octopus tank, but you never know how much you’ll see – the giant pacific octopus is nocturnal and has excellent camouflage. It can be hard to convince a little kid that a lumpy piece of red rock is actually a sleeping octopus. They’re justifiably skeptical when parents say thing like that. We lucked out that day, though, and got there just before feeding time. The octopus was very active, so everyone got a good view of it, suckers and all.

Come closer for a hug, little boy….

We had a great day downtown. It’s fun to break from our usual routine and activities and I’m going to make a conscious effort to do this more often. As much as I like my neighborhood, there’s much more out there!

Exploring the Sharrows in Millwoods

Exploring the Sharrows in Millwoods

We’ve been wanting for awhile to do a ride where we go explore the roads with the new sharrows in Southeast Edmonton, which have been installed painted this year as part of the implementation of the City of Edmonton’s Bicycle Transportation Plan. Weddings and illnesses have intervened, but we finally got a chance this weekend, while turkey was in the oven and warm sunshine tempered the autumn winds.

We rode from Angel’s place to her son’s elementary school, followed the sharrows partway along the Millwoods Road loop in light traffic, then ducked down 66th Street (which is busier and has no markings) to warm up with coffee at Millwoods Town Centre. I definitely felt like the drivers on 66th were more impatient than those we encountered on the marked section of our route.

Angel has fantastic new slouchy suede boots and shiny teal tights.

The idea is that you ride square down the middle of each sharrow marking, 
but that makes it trickier to photograph them.
(When you ride over these fresh ones, unlike the older ones around the U of A,
you feel a gentle bumpity-bumpity-bump under your tires from how thick the paint is.)

A better view of an entire sharrow marking, taken with the camera at handlebar level.

Most of the way along Millwoods Road, the markings are in the middle of the lane, as seen here. 
However, there are also a couple of sections where they were placed (like a bike lane) closer to the curb,
and then cars had parked over top of them (which makes them considerably less helpful). 

The roads with sharrows also have signs like this one, reminding drivers to expect bicyclists in the lane.
Coffee was lovely. I had chai and a poppyseed roll, mmm.
Since the chain cafe where we stopped had no bicycle parking (shame!), 
we sat outside in the sunshine at a table beside our bicycles. 
The cafe could definitely use a rack, since there were three other bicycles parked beside ours.

Our next stop was Millwoods Park. We took some portraits:
Angel and Daisy
Angel complained that the wind was trying to flip up the hem of her stretchy jersey dress while she rode,
but she looked so comfy and colorful. Not to mention badass, in this shot.
Deborah and Mary Poppins
Vintage herringbone wool shift dress, herringbone patterned tights, and vintage Naturalizer pumps.
I like to imagine that the pumps were nurses’ shoes in their previous life. 
I think in the future I’ll wear this dress with leggings instead, 
since it had a tendancy to ride up as I pedalled, 
but the wool was the perfect weight for 13C with a cool breeze.
After Millwoods Park we swung down 26th Ave to peer through the window of an LBS I had noticed.
Then it was back via the road past Grey Nuns Hospital, and a residential street with great Hallowe’en decorations already being put up, to Angel’s to chill out.
Magic Hour (LGRAB Summer Games Post 7)

Magic Hour (LGRAB Summer Games Post 7)

Today I’m blogging about riding a new-to-me greenbelt path, as part of the New Territory section of the LGRAB Summer Games, which end tomorrow! That went by fast.

I set out by myself on Mary Poppins tonight at about 9pm, when the sun is low in the sky and the light is gorgeous. Wish I had a better camera.

Me and my shadow.

My goal was to take a quick look at a nearby, long, paved multiuse path that winds east-west through parkland in several neighborhoods, dips into a ravine park that you would swear isn’t part of a city (which I have walked previously), and appears to connect with the river valley park path network (Part of it appears on this walking map (PDF) marked in yellow). Unfortunately I didn’t have time to explore more than a short section in the middle today – but I’m sure it’ll be part of many future posts.

The view east toward the ravine at the point where I accessed the path.
The view west toward the river at the point where I accessed the path. 

As you can see, it actually runs through a power line right-of-way, which is an innovative way to create public use for land that in some parts of North America is left fallow, or is sprayed occasionally with herbicides to prevent trees from growing (for ‘safety reasons’). They may not be able to plant large trees in this area, but I think the understated grassland approach they’ve taken to the landscaping is lovely and ecologically appropriate (No sign of herbicide use that I saw.). I found this article (dated 2003) that outlines some safety risks to be aware of in travelling on such paths, which is refreshingly balanced on the EMF issue.

This pedestrian bridge over Terwillegar Drive has won awards for its innovative architecture.
The view of downtown and Terwillegar Drive from one end of the bridge. 
(You can actually see all of the downtown skyline from the other end of the bridge, 
but my phone’s camera wasn’t equal to the task.)

The view toward the river from the other end of the pedestrian overpass. 

The plan was apparently for this path to connect with a pedestrian bridge over the river (under the North Saskatchewan River Bridge on the Henday) and Cameron Heights, but I’m not sure if that work has been completed yet.

My path home – which turns into the multiuse path alongside 23rd Avenue that Angel & I rode previously on our errand-running-and-exploring jaunt. So this path does also connect suburban neighborhoods with suburban grocery stores, restaurants, shops, and cafes for those who are so inclined.

I passed many people out walking, and a couple of other (teenage male) cyclists. Here is another view of the rec centre under construction:

This lighting could almost convince me to put Hardie Plank on the exterior of my home. Almost.

PS – Five doors from home, a guy at a house party on the front porch up the street asked where I got my sweet helmet (the polkadot Nutcase), and said they’d been talking about it ever since they saw me as I was leaving home about 45 minutes before. I guess wearing a silly helmet I’ve mostly seen photographed on children (like at the Fiets of Parenthood in Portland) is a way to remind people that bikes are fun! Hooray for advocacy through cycle chic!

Exploration & Errands all in one! (LGRAB Summer Games post 6)

Exploration & Errands all in one! (LGRAB Summer Games post 6)

Today I’m blogging about exploring a new part of town, as part of the New Territory section of the LGRAB Summer Games.

So last night I ventured over to Deborah’s for a bike ride with her and Audrey.

Audrey on the used bike she got for her birthday.
First we did the short route through Deb’s subdivision that we’re planning to use for a picnic expedition with the kids, around Tomlinson Park and into the park beside the stormwater pond off Thibault Way, and back home to drop off Audrey with her dad. Then we went to see the new school (Monsignor William Irwin Elementary) that Audrey will attend when it opens this fall. It has lots of sweet bike rack space, and reserved parking stalls for carpools and electric vehicles!
Then we headed out of Terwillegar Towne via Towne Centre Boulevard to 23rd Avenue, where we took the multiuse path to the corner of Rabbit Hill Road where the strip malls and grocery stores are clustered. There are actually some pretty interesting shops and restaurants in those strips, so we’ll probably make them a destination again sometime.
Me and Daisy posing as the sun set by the recently-opened Leger transit hub on 23rd Avenue, 
with the new recreation centre that’s under construction in the background. 

The girls, with their faux-flower decorated crates, parked outside the grocery store. 
There was no bike parking outside the cafe where we stopped for strawberry lemonade smoothies (tsk tsk).
By the time we had grabbed our groceries, it was twilight, and we don’t have headlamps (yet!), so we walked our bikes across the intersection at the lights and rode back to Deb’s taking the same route through the big neighborhood park that she already described.

We saw a family of bunnies!
Here is our actual route: a loop of about 6.2 km (3.8 miles) according to GoogleMaps.