Last week I hopped on a JetBlue flight for a 48 hour whirlwind tour of the eastern suburbs of Seattle to find an apartment that we'll call home for the first year of our lives on the West Coast. My one overnight was at the Motel 6 in Issaquah, which is a community located west of Seattle on the southwest corner of Lake Sammamish. I chose to stay Issaquah because it was one of three communities we were considering (we finally decided on Redmond, home of Microsoft, for convenience to my wife's job at the Overlake School). Ironically, Issaquah is located directly off I90, so I felt right at home at the very western edge of the Mass Pike. The Run (map): I woke up in my motel room at about 3:30am West Coast time because I'm used to waking at about 6:30am East Coast time. I waited until there was a little light at around 5:30 and headed out the door to explore Issaquah. I first ran east on NW Sammamish Road. Along the road I hopped on a bike path with a small sign, "Issaquah Trail System." I followed that trail under a bridge and into a small wooded area behind some of the Costco headquarters buildings. On that trail there were multiple warning signs about bears and cougars. The trail ran right along I90 at one point, and didn't seem like the best place for bears and cougars to hang out. Nonetheless, I'll admit the signs made me nervous, and the two deer that I almost literally ran into on a small wooden bridge over the Issaquah Creek made me jump! You'll notice on the map link a little back and forth on the trail where I was trying to decide whether to challenge the deer for a crossing or just loop back around the the road. You'll also notice the loop returning me the NW Sammamish Road. Off of NW Sammamish Road I turned on 221st Place SE and worked my way down to the Issaquah Front Street area, which is the small downtown shopping area. Downtown Issaquah is very quaint with some notable local joints including XXX Root Beer, an old fashioned Shell Gas station, and the local running store Uphill Running (the day before I went into meet owner, Trey, and had a great conversation about the local running scene.) Finally, at the Southern end of the shopping area, I took a right turn on Newport Way NW and worked my way back towards I90 to cross on the footbridge that led directly back to the Motel 6. Thought for the Day: Our goal with apartment hunting was to find an apartment in a community that we felt we could also buy a house, and thus minimize he chances of making my daughter change schools twice in a year. One remark made by my real estate agent as she toured me around made me laugh. She would say, for a given community, that we could buy a house, but "it would be older, built in the 1980's." In that market, 1980 might seem old, but in the Boston market it would be relatively young. The house in which our Jamaica Plain condo is situated was built in 1880 -- 100 years older than the "old" buildings in the Northwest! To me, a house with any insulation (we literally have none in our house) and wiring not covered in cloth would be a major upgrade. Don't get me wrong, I love all the unique/antique architecture in Boston. It's a beautiful city. I would just like to be a little warmer in the winter.
I woke up yesterday morning in Bangor, Maine. It occurred to me that with my upcoming family move to Seattle, which is about the furthest west point in the continental US, I was starting my day about as far east as I could reasonably expect to travel. I was in Bangor for the funeral of my friend Vincent Cote. For six years I traveled to Bangor often with Elizabeth, my then-girlfriend and Vince's daughter, and I logged a ton of miles in and around Bangor from the summer of 1997 to the spring of 2003. Today, I am married to the love of my life, Amanda, and we have two wonderful kids: Anna (6) and Max (3). We have traveled to Maine many times with our kids. In fact, our travels to Maine are part of what inspired our move to Seattle. My wife and I wanted our children to be raised in a place that had access to many different types of outdoor activities. The Seattle area, with its lakes, Puget Sound and many mountains is an ideal place to further explore with my children our love for the outdoors.
When I learned of Vince's passing, it was Amanda who encouraged me to make the four-hour drive from Boston to Bangor. I am grateful to Amanda for the encouragement, and I was excited to return to Bangor after 11 years away to reconnect with old friends, say goodbye to Vince, and get in one last run in Bangor. In this blog, I aspire to talk about running, the outdoors and other topics from the perspective of someone who has lived, worked, and run in New England for 16 years (adding in my four years at Princeton University, I've had 20 years on the East Coast). From my competitive days as a member of Reebok/New Balance Boston, to working for Boston-based New Balance to owning two running stores, I have matured from a 22 year-old college grad to a 38 year-old adult. However, I am also excited for learning new roads and trails and having new experiences out west. THE RUN: My 3.8 mile run started (map) on the Penobscot River waterfront park where the Penobscot is the border between Bangor and Brewer. I did a short out-and-back, traveling north on the Kenduskeag Stream trail. To call the Kenduskeag a stream does not do it justice, as the rapids in the water are larger than in most streams that I'm used to in Eastern Massachusetts. After returning to the Bangor waterfront, I ran across the State Street bridge to Brewer, then south on Main Street in Brewer and back to Bangor on the Union Street Bridge. Check out the pictures in the gallery to the right. THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY: One thing that I noticed during this trip to Bangor was all the new buildings, particularly around the Paul Bunyan statue where the new Cross Insurance Center has erased much of the Main Street end of Bass Park. While its great to see business growth in a small US town, it was too bad that it had to come at the expense of a green space; not to mention that it makes pictures of Paul Bunyan an advertisement for Cross Insurance. On the positive side, the downtown area appeared more lively and I was happy to see a triathlon-based store, Triathlete Sports, in the downtown.