My Favorite Run in the Whole Wide World: Myrtle Edwards Waterfront
It rains almost two inches over the weekend and we are set to hunker down for a dreary fall, when voila. Beautiful weather appears out of nowhere. The days are getting shorter and I know my favorite run is almost at an end - soon it will be treadmill winter for me. I have to time it perfectly. Check the precise moment of sunset on the internet, yank myself away from work a few minutes too late, and set off. Out the office door with Nala. Headphones in, black baggy in pocket next to peanut butter niblets (i.e. bribes). We turn left and run about a quarter of a mile down the road then up the gravel path inside of the SAM sculpture garden. Sometimes the pebbles get kicked into my shoes, but today the ground is still a little damp so no worries.
We pass couples strolling, tourists snapping pictures, tinker toy looking structures,
the giant red metal iconic figure, and pull a u turn back down the ramp onto the trail that runs along Myrtle Edwards Park. Nala is being not exactly bad but isn't so great either. She has the dreaded leash aggression. This means as cute and petite as she is, she acts like a big bad wolf around other dogs. Every time we come upon a fellow canine, she starts yanking on me, jumping and twisting like she's doing acrobatics on a trampoline. I run with her leash threaded around my waist so this means she's squeezing the breath out of me. She doesn't like vinegar water so at one point I thought of filling up a water gun and spraying her to make her behave. But I figured the spectre of me running with a plastic water gun - even if pink and purple - probably was not a great idea. So I went on the internet which suggested diverting attention.
This brings us to the treats. I call her name, wave the treat and she's torn. Do I jump after the dog or do I go for the treat. Usually it's the treat but on a day like today, my regular few pieces aren't enough. There's an entire zoo of dogs out here. With the occasional pause for bribery and doodoo issues, we run along the trail. There are two separate paths. One for peds the other for cyclists. We are right on the waterfront. Some people walk down the rocks onto the shoreline. The view is extraordinarily gorgeous. The water is sparkling. The Olympics are clearly outlined.
We pass the grain storage thingymajiger that barges pull up to and unload their wares into. It's quite ugly really, but I think it's designated as a historic landmark. Today there's no ship docked. We pass the fishing pier, the little tackle/convenience kiosk and come to another pier where fishing vessels are moored (cruise ships park there too but are done for the season). The trail is really nicely maintained up to this point. But then the Myrtle part ends and it converts to a single lane that winds through the train yard. It always smells like cooking oil back here. I have no idea why. Crisco actually. There are stairs leading to an overpass. A man has made a nice little home under there. I see him sometimes sitting in his easy chair reading a book. I used to be scared of him. But he pays us passersby no attention.
This is the messy part of the run. There's garbage that floats in from the trains. I think this is part of the port's property that they allow us to use as a trail. It would be nice if they cleaned it. There's no great view back here, but it serves it purpose. We come to a fork. You can go straight along the railway for a bit longer before it turns into a major arterial. This is one of my wishes. I wish they would build a link for this trail so that you could get to Discovery Park safely. Instead if you go straight, you are running or biking right on a major road. No thanks. So I veer left. Now, in order to do this, it has to be daylight. I push it sometimes and then get scared and turn around. The path winds along the bottom of Magnolia hill. On the one side is a vast parking lot/shipping storage area. Usually there is a field of audis or vws parked out there and no one works after five. So it is very quiet on this trail. On the other side, is the hill. No houses in sight. Vast undergrowth of blackberry bushes, ivy, weeds and trees. This is one of the places where I imagine bad vampires or other horrid things springing out to get me. Thankfully Nala is here and she wards off the evil spirits. Still, I wouldn't want to run here in the dark.
There's an older man who drives up here in a green station wagon. He used to scare me too until I realized what he was doing. He's made little huts out of scraps of timber and old aquariums apparently for stray cats. He has bowls out that catch water for them. I've never seen a cat in one of the little houses. But they must live there. We run along this quiet trail and see only the occasional traveler, when we emerge back out onto a little road that winds its way back to the waterfront. This is my special treat for making it this far. A true joy.
We are at a marina filled with boats. I run and look out at the water and instead of seeing the channel leading to the ocean, I'm now looking back over the sound so the city is on my left, Mount Rainier is in the middle, and to my right is more open ocean and the Olympics. The mountain rises up over the commercial district outlined with these big red mechanical things that unload cargo. I'm not sure what they are called in real life. To me, they look like the giant metal robot giraffe looking monsters from the Star Wars movies. We run up to the Restaurant (Pallisades), turn around at the circle and then head back. We move a little faster because the sun is setting. Clouds are dappled in the sky which makes it more beautiful than usual. Everything is tinged in raspberry tangerine sherbert. Mount Rainier is front and center. It is begining to fade. It looks like a pink ghost.
When I was a kid, we lived on a hill and could see the mountain from our kitchen window. I spent hours and hours imaging that mountain erupting. I had an evacuation plan figured out. I knew its precise distance away from us. I calculated how long it would take for lava to travel so far. I felt we were fairly safe because we were uphill and lava might not flow quite so far upwards. I read everything I could about volcanos. To this day, I still am not sure if Mount Rainier has erupted in my lifetime or not because I've imagined it so vividly.
I'm pulled back into reality because I can't breathe thanks to Nala lunging after another poor doggie. Bribe her with a pretend treat, but she doesn't go for it. The sun is setting. I make it back to the sculpture garden before they close it off. Run back along the road, cross the street and am back at my office. I love this run.