I just want to announce it now: I have located the ugliest trail in Puget Sound. Don’t try to argue with me about how your trail is uglier, because you’re wrong on so many levels. There’s simply no escaping my conclusion, and I shall now endeavor to prove it.
Today was a beautiful day, which in Seattle means that there is no possibility of something known as “drizzle.” We get drizzle a lot. Drizzle can be soft and gentle, like a fog. Drizzle can be icy and penetrating, like tiny needles. The thing that is always true about drizzle, is that it lingers. It doesn’t pass swiftly, like those glorious southern rains that sweep the landscape clean in a few moments. It hangs around, hands in its pocket, kicking rocks and whistling. You glare at it, you intimate that you’d like time alone, you suggest other activities… but drizzle is tone-deaf and socially inept. It just stands there, leaking. When drizzle finally clears off to go bother the coastal rain forests for a day or two, I will admit that I get excited. Finally, I’m free to be outside! And when I realized last night that the weekly Monday afternoon staff meeting was limited to only the Curriculum Committee (of which I am not, nor have I ever been, a member), I bordered on ecstatic.
I checked the weather forecast and did a happy dance of joy. This morning, I loaded the Panasonic onto my car, sans plastic bag – I was that confident – and took it to work with me. The Panasonic enjoys hanging out at work. Students admire it. One young lady even asked to examine it, confessed a fondness for vintage steel, and then said she’d like to acquire a frame herself and build it up to be a <gasp> fixie. “What’s a fixed-gear?” asked the kid flopped on the couch in my office. And the young lady proceeded to provide a detailed, mechanically brilliant explanation of how a fixed gear bicycle differs from a coaster hub bicycle differs from a freehub bicycle. Kids today!
But I digress… for 1.5 normally work-filled hours, the day was mine: Boy-free, student-free, colleagues-free. I decided to try out the 520 Trail. For those of you who do not inhabit the drizzly northern climes, no, this is not some weird coded police drug reference. The 520 Trail parallels Highway 520 (you see where this is going already, don’t you?), running from Kirkland to Redmond (also known as Microsoftville). I chose it because I had limited time before I needed to be back in Kirkland’s neighboring town, Bellevue, to pick The Boy up from school. The 520 Trail starts a mere three miles from my place of business. I didn’t ride to the trailhead, as I knew the route was up a very busy, very steep hill, and I’d had enough of that yesterday. I drove to the neighborhood bordering the trail and left my car there.
The light was fading quickly, and the sky was doing interesting things. Long grey streamers of cloud converged and swirled over downtown Bellevue. The sunset was turning out to be outstanding.
The trail… not so much. When I say it parallels the highway, I’m really not kidding. I should have known, as my massage therapist refers to this trail as “the dog run.” Indeed, you know how people put the dog run in the most barren part of the yard, up against a fence? Well… just stick a few hundred thousand commuters next to your concrete RV pad, and you’ve got the 520 Trail.
The Panasonic and I were disconcerted by the volume of the traffic noise, as well. Who knew that all those cars would be so loud? I mean, in my car with NPR blasting out of my thumping stock speakers, it’s nothing but a dull roar. At first, I was just annoyed, but eventually I realized I was screaming my thoughts to myself in my head. This is not a good sign, I’m sure, though I guess it beats actually screaming them aloud. Also, the trail is very hilly. Did I mention the ride the day before? Did I mention the skiing? Did I mention the non-competition-strength thighs?
We ended our journey, puffing and totally deaf, near the Microsoft campus, after temporarily losing the trail among the road crossings and ridiculously vague bike trail signs that told me only that I was in the vicinity of a trail. In fact, had a commuter not peddled out of the trailhead, I might not have realized that the narrow track of pavement behind the Azteca Mexican Restaurant kitty-corner across the busy road from the previous trailhead, was in any way related to my present route.
On the way back, I noticed that God was blessing downtown Bellevue with a giant vortex of sunlight.
Perhaps this is because I put The Boy in Catholic school there, but frankly, anyone who lives in this area will tell you that the residents of that fair city consider this sort of thing to be their natural state of existence. Anyway, I gave up and retreated to the car. The buzzing in my ears took at least fifteen minutes to subside, curiously vanishing the second I entered downtown Bellevue.
See, I told you it was an ugly trail! A mere 6.2 miles, round-trip.