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Ah, bridges.

How much we depend upon our beloved bridges around here in the beautiful Puget Sound region.  Pulsing arteries jampacked with cars, buses, bikes – and painfully clogged during those peak commuter hours.  We’ve got so much natural gorgeousness around us…lakes, the Sound (salt water), rivers, mountains – all within a short drive for most of us.  Meaning, you can’t go far without eventually running into one of those.

Today was the annual Beat the Bridge run/walk to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  The jewelry line I represent, Silpada Designs, has JDRF as its charity of choice.  One of the girls on our local team here had a wonderful idea for us to do Beat the Bridge and pledge to donate the commission from one of our jewelry parties as part of our fundraising!  What a great idea! With 10 of us participating and an average party commission at around $300 (yes, it’s true) we were excited to set our team goal at $3000!  Which bridge you may wonder?  The University Bridge, not far from the U of W campus where the race starts and finishes. 

This was planned back in February. And yes, we had the best of intentions.  However, the Universe had other intentions, which I discovered around 6am this morning.  

Bottom line, we didn’t go.  Damn that pouring rain already!

I knew that I’d be walking most if not all of this 8K – and most of the other girls were planning to as well.  Back in February I figured this would be a great way to kickstart getting back in shape for this summer’s 5Ks by restarting the Couch to 5K plan I’ve written about in here occasionally over the past year.  It’s an 8-week running and walking program – just 3 times a week – that gets you ready to run a 5K when you’re done.  And yes, it works!

But illness and stress earlier this year really sapped my energy and my poor lungs.  I had a bad cold and cough for about two months – it just wouldn’t go away.  It was all I could do to eeek out a game of hockey, much less hit the treadmill or go outside in our (cold, shitty) winter weather.  Soggy, soggy soggy.

Nevertheless, I was ready to get out of bed super early and drive to the freeway bus stop where my carpool was going to scoop me up this morning on the way into Seattle.

But let me back up to Saturday for a minute…a glorious, sensuous, warm and sunny day – the kind of day we’ve been starving for here all spring.  Spring so far this year has been a repeat of our rain-soaked, chilly winter sans the snow.  I had a few things planned for Saturday but decided to squeeze in another mini-adventure when it dawned on me that I really should verify I know how to get to the freeway bus stop where my carpool was going to pick me up.  I had an idea in my mind of how to get there, but realized it had been – gasp – nearly 10 years since I’d ventured to that bus stop with a friend.  I’d better go drive over and check it out!  And it was a beautiful day – a perfect excuse to open the sun roof and get some vitamin D the natural way, crank some music and just drive.

So what’s the big deal about this bus stop?  Well, it’s perched literally at land’s end before the freeway turns into one of our two floating bridges that connect Seattle with the suburbs.  These bridges were built decades ago and at the time were very state of the art given they ‘float.’  Lake Washington was determined too deep to do any sort of structural building underneath, hence the floating design.  And I’ll keep it to that because I’m no expert in structural engineering.

Now, there is an oddly creepy-looking pedestrian bridge over the freeway on the east side of the lake, which is how my friend P and I last got to that bus stop nearly a decade ago.  P and I have fallen out of contact and I’d forgotten where we had parked to walk across that bridge, hence my sunny journey in the car yesterday.

Boy am I glad I checked it all out.  There are major projects underway to build a second portion of this particular floating bridge to help with congestion…and, as I soon found out, plans to remove that pedestrian bridge!  Yep, once I figured out where to park and found the foot trail that was supposed to get me to the pedestrian overpass it was all blocked off.  Wow.

So it was a neon yellow vinyl fence that stopped me from my foot journey over the freeway.  And I was not one to rebel and climb through.  Who knows – it might not be structurally sound any longer.  Actually that’s not a good feeling since thousands of cars drive under it every day, but anyway I wasn’t going to chance it.

But I looked across the freeway and could see people waiting at that elusive bus stop.  How the hell did they get over there?  There was no parking lot near it at all – just a carved out covered area in a small, grassy hillside to stand or sit. 

As I started to get a little frustrated (NOW what?) I paused for a moment and just drank in everything around me.  I’m standing on a dirt trail in beautiful sunshine.  I’m mere steps from incredibly ritzy homes (in the ‘high rent district’ neighborhood around here called Medina).  And I’m also mere steps from, well, a 20 foot drop down to a roaring river freeway, with the hillside below covered in tangled, dirty weeds from decades of car exhaust.  How rare is it we stand still so close to a freeway like this?  Thankfully my time roadside has been those rare occasions when I’ve been in a fender-bender or have a flat tire.  It’s just astonishing watching and hearing the amount of cars whizzing by every second and being so close perched at the angle above it on the foot trail.  I think back on how many thousands of times in my life I have gone back and forth over that bridge.  As a child in the back seat of my parents’ old station wagon.  On my own as a teen and a freshly-minted drivers license in an orange 1970 Volvo (LOVED that car, wow). And countless times as an adult.

I jumped back in my car and drove back to the main road.  Aha!  I found a small, gravelly parking lot for bus commuters.  The trick was to park there and walk over the main road that goes over the freeway, not the pedestrian bridge.  Then, jump onto the trail on the bus stop side and voila – you’re there!  Wow, cryptic.  Believe me I tried searching online for maps long before I got in the car.  Anyway, a little resourcefulness pays off.

I walked over the freeway, again in awe of the cars whooshing by below me.  And looked to the west toward our beautiful, shining Lake Washington and the Olympic Mountains a little hazy along the horizon.  This is our back yard.  And how awesome it was to take it in on foot rather than as a stressed out commuter.  As I stepped onto the foot trail down to the bus stop I ran into a very nice lady out walking her dog.  She was disappointed that the pedestrian bridge was now closed off – she sounded like she walked over it fairly often so this might have been a really recent closure.

After my bridge and freeway adventure I drove over to my friend M’s house.  Back in the car, I laughed to myself and thought WOW, I am SO GLAD I did all that foot trail and bus stop homework a day ahead of time.  I am a terrible morning person and I would have been a total zombie case trying to figure it out that morning, worrying my carpool would be held up. 

After a quick visit with M (she is going to host a jewelry party in combination with her new office opening and we’re so excited!), I headed back home, grabbed a bottle of pinot grigio and walked up to my neighbor A’s house.  We’re getting in a groove of watching any of The Real Housewives series (on Bravo) that she has in her Tivo a couple of times a month.  Sadly I have not yet made the switch to flat screen TV but that’s another post.  If any of you follow the New York housewives, you’ll understand the pinot grigio (it’s the signature drink of one of the cast). 

So after getting caught up with A and laughing our asses off at fabulous trainwreck TV, I headed home to carbo load with some penne and pesto and forced myself to bed early.  I knew I had to leave the house around 6am to get to that good ol’ bus stop for my carpool.

And, it started to rain.  What a huge contrast from the tease of sunny spring we had earlier in the day.  I kept optimistic – the weather forcecast for Sunday was a ‘chance of showers.’  Actually, around here you could use that forecast every day and be pretty accurate.

I was tired this morning.  But I got out of bed, got dressed in my walking/running gear and after scaring myself looking in the mirror I dabbed on a small bit of foundation (my face is naturally ruddy so anything to tone it down helps) and a little flick of mascara for those tired eyes.  Keys, hat, sunglasses (I’m eternally optimistic plus sensitive to glare)…and…phone.

Wow.  My phone had blown up with tons of voicemail and texts last night after I’d forced myself to go to bed early, but I didn’t see any of it until early this morning.  I keep my phone downstairs at night because I don’t feel a need to have it with me 24/7.  

When I saw how my carpool driver plus a ton of others in the group were going to cancel, the wind went out of my sails.  Just poof and pffffttt.  Why cancel?  Rain. Yep, it was still raining hard this morning and even still is now in the early afternoon.

So I was a sheep and I bailed too.  I felt a little dejected because I was looking forward to trying this race for the first time with friends, but I have to know that it just wasn’t meant to be.  And I won’t dig too deep for the reason right now.

‘Cause I’m tired.