I have really been enjoying walking to work. I used to alternate mostly between riding my bike or running, but lately walking has been so much fun. For my last shift, I stayed on Monroe Street for most of the commute. I usually try to avoid Monroe because it is so busy and so loud, but on the weekends, it slows down and the walk is pretty nice.
It’s three miles from my house to my fire station on the corner of Ash and Indiana. It takes me a little less than an hour. I dress warm. In the winter, when the snow is deep, I always walk. I never worry about getting stuck in the snow, like I might if I were driving. When I used to ride my bike to work in the snow, I rode about as fast as I would have if I walked. Likewise, with the snow, my running is not much faster than walking.
I listen to music, sometimes. When I do, I sing along. This helps me fit in with many of the people I encounter downtown (think Bill Murray in Zombieland). Although, the other morning, one guy was pretty mad at me for singing a song from Jesus Christ Superstar. He stopped pushing his hoarder cart to scream at me. Everyone is a critic.
Quite a bit of the time I listen to podcasts. I have hearing aids and I can bluetooth the podcasts right into my ears. Often though, the road noise is too much, especially with hearing aids on. I have to shut things down until I get off the busy streets. I feel pretty luxurious when I walk. I have a great headlamp that I wear. I dress warmly, and if it’s icy, I wear cleats on my shoes. It is all pretty awesome. I am going to get a noise-canceling headset so I can cut out the road noise and have an even more peaceful, quiet walk.
I always see cool things on the way to work, so I thought I might share some of those with you.
Starting the trip, I found this.
Now, if this were in the neighborhood I work in, it would not be much of a surprise. But, this was really close to home. I have to say, though, the presentation is pretty up-scale - nestled in some leaves and looking rather festive.
I lived between Maple and Monroe while I was in college, with my friends Lance and Rich. I worked on Monroe Street part time when I was a kid too. My friend Lance’s dad owned S&S Engine Rebuilding and he, quite nicely, gave me some part-time work in high school. So, we were always up and down Monroe. For a while, Lance, Rich and I were into micro-armor war games. There was a place called “The Bunker” over by the courthouse, off of Monroe. It was a geekfest hangout and we would watch the pros wage battle playing ANGRIFF! It was one of those games where you would measure the distance between your opponents' and your little tiny tanks that were displayed in a nicely constructed diorama. You would then roll dice repeatedly to determine whether you were hit and then roll some more to ascertain the damage. If the actual war moved as fast as this game, we would just now, forty years later, be concluding the attack on Pearl Harbor. We played the same game at home but using Legos as set pieces. The real fun was painting our little leaden tanks to prepare for slow battle. We would buy the tiny tanks in the basement of the Bon Marche where there was a toy store.
On this morning’s walk, I walked and listened to the Desert Oracle podcast. A favorite. There was a writer on this episode who was hawking his book “HIGH WEIRDNESS.” It was about all the wacky things going on during the 1970s. It really resounded with me. I had recently read an article about hope vs. certainty and it seemed to really connect with what some of what the author was talking about. One of his quotes was that the world is a weird place and you can be horrified and live in fear of this weirdness or you can hold it at arm’s length and just observe it and be fascinated by it. When this book makes it to Aunties, I will buy it. I was listening to all of this and thinking how it connected to the article about hope when I saw this sign on Golden Rule Brake Service.
I love this mural that Hoffman Music has been creating. I was talking the other day with my friends at Spokane Art Supply, right next to old Station 3 about this mural and it just keeps getting better and better.
Sarah used to live by old Station 3 on Sharp and Monroe. When I was dating her, we would often walk by the station. This was when I first had the idea of becoming a Spokane City Firefighter. Never in my wildest dreams, did I think that I would ever work at Station 3, the new Station 3, let alone be the captain of the ship. Crazy! Old Station 3 is now the KPBX Public Radio station. Last summer I walked by there and read the plaque on the outside of the building. It sounded familiar. I looked it up and saw that I had written this for them about five years ago. When I wrote it, I wasn’t sure what it was for, but there it is, my mumbo jumbo on a plaque on the station which eventually led me to this wonderful job and this beautiful commute.
As I continued up Monroe, I had to make a left to head to my workplace and home away from home, the new (over 25-year-old) Station 3. I make my turn west at the new Kalico Kitchen Restaurant. This was the site of the former Monroe Street Grill and before that it was Shari’s. And way before that, it was the Monroe Block which burned down. Kalico Kitchen was packed. YAY!
I used to worry about this corner. Now, I am just fascinated.
Weird things happen here a lot, it seems. Twelve or so years ago, we went on a call for an injury from a fight there when it was Shari’s. Some preacher tried to kidnap a cook. He punched a customer in the face who stopped him from the abduction. Then the preacher drove his Corvette across the street to McDonald’s and tried the same thing there. The police boxed him in his car in the McDonald’s parking lot. They put a gun in his face and told him to get out of the car. He then repeatedly rammed the cop car with his Corvette until he made enough room to get away. He destroyed the cop car and wrecked his car pretty good too. The funny thing was that it really wasn’t his car, but one he was test driving! We watched the whole thing unfold. The police put out spike strips, stopped and then tasered him. When we arrived to pull out the taser darts, he had one cowboy boot on and one off sitting on the traffic median, right about Indiana and Washington. In the most booming preacher voice I ever heard, he ordered me to give him water and that if I didn’t I would be cursed to hell. Well, I didn’t. Mostly because I didn’t have any water. So, we will see how that goes.
I have had weird arguments with family members in the Monroe Street Grill when it was later there. When I first came out, I had an old lady give me the evil eye in the lobby. I really hope Kalico Kitchen succeeds there. But, if they don’t, it’s not their fault. If I were the owner, I would hire an exorcist or a shaman right now. Then there was the guy who was shooting his shotgun off just to the west of Shari’s a while back, but that’s another story…
So, I cut from Monroe to Ash, south of Indiana, and then I finally have to cross Ash to get to the station, I cross where the Super C is. The Super C is a wondrous place next to the station. Yes, that is our friend Mary standing there in the picture. She will make it over to the station about an hour later to tell us about her recent Sasquatch encounters, family disputes and her worries about nuclear warfare and President Trump. I invited her to join us on Thanksgiving at the station for dinner.
Lastly, unbeknownst to us, the owner of the Super C, hired someone to “trim” the station’s shrubs and the trees a couple of weeks ago. When we caught the “pruners” doing so (strangely enough not licensed or bonded), they said they hacked up our shrubs, cut down our tree and were in the process of cutting more trees down because they were “told to do so.”
But, that’s another story.