Thursday, February 13, 2014

100 Mile Walk: Day Two

[This post is part of a series detailing Cale and my plans for each leg of our 100 mile walk to Great Wolf. Our goal is to establish a safe route that follows sidewalks and trails as much as possible, and provides good places to stop, refuel, and refresh along the way. We actively solicit your suggestions if you know the area we will be walking through.]

Day Two of our 100 mile journey is slated to be much longer than Day One. Our goal will be to walk from Bellevue all the way to the SeaTac airport. Bing Maps tells me it is only a 20 minute drive, but it will be a day-long walk for Cale and me.

Start: Hotel Bellevue, 8:30am
End: Cedarbrook Lodge, 5:30pm
Total distance: 16.4 miles

As we move out of familiar territory, key things to identify each day include:
  • A safe route, ideally with sidewalks and slow traffic,
  • A place to stock up on snacks at the start of the walk,
  • Places to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and
  • Places where we can stop, rest, and (most importantly) use the facilities.
Because this will only be our second day, I think we will be well stocked on snacks. And regardless, the path from start to finish will be through a densely populated area, so eating and freshening up along the way should be fairly easy. The biggest challenge for this day seems to me to be finding a safe route. To do this, I am using Bing and Google Maps to look at aerial and street-view pictures of the different alternatives.

Breakfast: Hotel Bellevue
Lunch: Rock Wood Fired Pizza and Spirits
Snack: Family Fun Center
Dinner: Copperleaf Restaurant

Morning Segment I

Start: Hotel Bellevue
End: Newcastle Beach Park
Distance: 3.5 miles
Time: 1 1/2 hours (8:30am to 10:00am)

We'll start our day with a hearty breakfast at our hotel, and then head out for a long day's walk. Our morning route will keep us on the same road (Lake Washington Boulevard) the whole time - although the name of the road seems to change occasionally. We will start out by following the Mercer Slough Nature Park trail that parallels 405. This will take us safely across I-90, with sidewalks and bike trails to follow the whole way. The Newcastle Beach Park seems like a nice place to take a morning break and refresh. Cale can play on the playground, and we both can use the restroom.

Morning Segment II

Start: Newcastle Beach Park
End: Rock Wood Fired Pizza and Spirits
Distance: 5.4 miles
Time: 2 hours (10:30am to 12:30pm)

Our second morning segment will be longer and harder, starting out without sidewalks. The road is slow (25 mph) and looks shady and pleasant with wide shoulders, but we will need to walk fairly carefully for much of the trip. I think the path we will follow becomes, at some point, part of the Lake Washington Bike Trail and parallels 405 for a while. Eventually, we'll use Ripley Lane N to jump over to Seahawks Way (go Hawks!) and connect back to Lake Washington Boulevard. There don't appear to be sidewalks here, either, but there are bike lanes and the traffic seems light. There is a sidewalk on the bridge we have to cross, and pretty views of the lake. Street view images capture a number of walkers and joggers along the route. Sidewalks appear as we get close to The Landing and our lunch destination.

In addition to having to do much of this segment without sidewalks, another challenge will be that there are few places for us to stop at along the route if need be. Cale and I will need to be sure not to drink too much water before we head out from the beach park!

Afternoon segment I

Start: Rock Wood Fired Pizza and Spirits
End: Family Fun Center
Distance: 3.8 miles
Time: 1 1/2 hours (1:30pm to 3:00pm)

After lunch, we will take Logan Avenue N south for about a mile. The road seems to start out with good sidewalks. They disappear at some point, but there is a bike lane that I think we will be able to switch to. The bridge to cross the Cedar River seems quite safe, and has a separate pedestrian area on the left-hand side. Since we will be approaching on the right-hand side of the road we will need to cross under the bridge to get there, and there seems to be a nice path to do so. From Logan Avenue, we will turn right onto S 2nd Street and then left on Shattuck Avenue S. The route seems friendly to foot traffic, with sidewalks and businesses.

We move onto bigger and busier streets via a quick jump on S 6th Street to 6-lane Rainier Avenue S. There appear to be sidewalks here, so we'll be safe, but the walk seems less pleasant and I expect we will find ourselves with long waits at stoplights. A right turn will take us onto SW Grady Way, another large street with good sidewalks that we'll follow for almost 1.4 miles. The Family Fun Center is along this road, and Cale and I will stop briefly there to refresh and play a few video games.

Afternoon segment II

Start: Family Fun Center
End: Copperleaf Restaurant
Distance: 4.1 miles
Time: 2 hours (3:30pm to 5:30pm)

Continuing along SW Grady Way from the Family Fun center, the current plan is to cross 405 on 66th Ave S, arriving at Southcenter. The greater Southcenter shopping area is huge! We'll walk almost 2 miles down Andover Park E and across on S 180th Street before we escape. Fortunately, there seem to be stop lights, cross walks, and plenty of places to stop if need be the whole time.

The biggest challenge of the day comes when we step outside of Southcenter onto S 178th Street and need to cross I-5. The road appears to be quite busy and without sidewalks. Unfortunately it is the only crossing I can find anywhere in the vicinity. The bridge over the highway seems particularly treacherous, with a low guard railing and only a thin strip of sidewalk. It scares me to think about crossing it with a 7-year old. Friends, help me here! If you know this road, can you tell me how bad it seems for pedestrians? Is there a better way near here for us to cross I-5 on foot? [Update: Several people have suggested crossing via South Center Boulevard, which has sidewalks and passes under I-5. Will look into that as an alternative.]

Once we make it to the other side, the rest of our walk will be through a residential neighborhood neighboring the airport. There aren't sidewalks for the start of this walk, but the speed limit is low (25 mph) and car traffic appears minimal. We'll walk down 51st Ave 2, turn right on S 182nd St, and then, after a few little turns, arrive at our hotel for the night. The restaurant at the hotel is fancy and reasonably well reviewed. After we freshen up in our room, I'll treat Cale to a nice meal at this "hidden gem in Seatac" to celebrate our first real day of walking.

Whew! I'm tired from just planning our Day Two route. I can only imagine how we will feel whe actually walking it.

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