For the week’s urban hike installment, Pooch, Bestie and I set our sights on the Mercer Island Thrift Shop. Note the use of the word island. The only way over, besides swimming or paddling, is to walk across the I-90 Floating Bridge. It is the second longest floating bridge in the world and an official Seattle landmark.
One of the last times I was on the bridge via bike, last season, one of my companions had an unfortunate accident, resulting in a trip to the ER. I have been skittish ever since. Facing my fear head on, in a manner that I could control, seemed to be a cure. I was able to appreciate the nuances in the grade and shifts in the path. It was only concrete, there was no troll under the bridge, reaching up to grab unsuspecting travellers. People traverse the bridge (in methods other than a vehicle) every day. I saw that I had nothing to fear. That companion had an unfortunate afternoon, I could not even pick out the spot where she fell or what could have been the cause. The bridge was as safe as it ever had been. I just needed to be aware of my surroundings.
Fortified with the requisite coffee from Dorothea Coffee, we picked our way through Leschi Park, and down to the bridge. Having been in this area many times on my bike, I am very familiar with the roads, but have never slowed long enough to appreciate the beauty of the neighborhood. We appreciated an old fashioned bridge, picked out dream houses and Pooch got a good romp in the urban forest.
I am always amazed at the jewels we find in the city when we go on our urban hikes. Now in my fifth year here, I feel as if I know my city (at least the north end) better than I have ever known it. It is an intimate friend, ready to share its secrets of coffee and groves. I can rely on it on days full of sun or days full of rain. It is always ready for an adventure.
Looking across the bridge, it feels like a great expanse. The highway traffic’s noise and speed is somewhat intimidating. Walking across seemed to take forever and was mildly stressful. Our guard was up, keeping our eyes and ears out for cyclists and making sure to stay to the right hand side, with Pooch closely to heel. I cannot even imagine what Pooch was feeling.
Coming to the Mercer Island side, you walk right into a park. The noise (and stress level) drops tenfold. You hardly notice the ambient noise of traffic amidst the trees, and you can understand why the lakefront owners do not mind living next to a highway bridge. (All other benefits aside, of course.)
We bounced around several of Mercer Island’s parks, admiring the perfect landscaping and wondering how much of the city’s budget has been allocated to parks, as they were overflowing with sculptures and absolutely pristine. By then, the sun was high and it was lunchtime. So we disentangled ourselves from the greenery and made for the straight streets of the Island’s downtown area.
The pet store attendant (as Pooch was having her snack first), said that there were no cute coffee shops or bakeries for us to visit. That was shocking. In the land of independent stores and buying local, Mercer Island had a huge gap in its infrastructure. However, right outside, was a wood fired pizza truck. We figured it was the best local grub we would find, and ordered a veg pizza with a salad. It had a crispy thin crust and was loaded with toppings. The price was also surprisingly affordable. We ate outside in the sun and agreed that we were eating at the best place in town. Indeed, a steady stream of people walked or drove up for pizza. It also had the best reviews on the island. High five for pizza.
Following our pizza with a requisite sunshine ice cream cone (from a global chain), we traversed the last quarter mile to the thrift store. We had nothing specific in mind, the best mentality for thrift store shopping, and Bestie walked out with a solid haul. I found nothing, but admired the shockingly sexy castoffs of the Mercer Islanders. Where did they wear such finery, to the pizza truck? Maybe that is why it wound up at the thrift store, they were all dressed up with nowhere to go.
Booty in hand, we set off to the mainland, and, as is always the case, the journey home was much shorter. We were old hands at walking across the bridge with a dog.