It was guaranteed to prevent the Monday-morning-back-to-work blues. The garage door slid down to the pavement, cutting me off from the house and emphasizing the cold I was exposed to. I turned on my tail light and head light. The early light in the east was as easy to spot as a little kid behind a crowd jumping with both hands in the air. Rolling down the driveway I turned away from it. One car passed me on Hastings Road, a four-lane arterial, and I was fortunate I was approaching the light at Highway 2 at the time. Bicycles don't trip that light.
Continuing on, a couple of early risers working out at Anytime Fitness witnessed my passing by and a bus getting ready to start it's first run pulled into the park-and-ride across the street. Another car got ahead of me just before Mill Road. The driver stopped at the red light, waited a second, and then turned onto Mill. I opted to wait. Bikes trip that light. So do cars if you wait long enough.
From Mill I went west on Waikiki and onto Rutter Parkway. The Little Spokane River reflected what little light was bending over the horizon. A tom turkey gobbled nearby in the murky woods. An occasional oncoming car lay claim to its share of the narrow roadway and my reflective yellow jacket brightened in response. A pair of geese honked overhead and gracefully made a final approach to the Little Spokane in the semi-darkness.
A deer stared at me with suspicion. Its survival instinct took over and its tail flashed white as it darted away. I continued on the long and straight section of Rutter Parkway that takes you to Nine Mile Dam. A few years ago the state rerouted Rutter Parkway from a death-defying downhill to a gradual curving descent connecting to Nine Mile Road. It's also easier to climb than the old route. I remember back in high school I was a passenger in a friends '62 Mercury whose wimpy brakes reflected the price he paid for the car. His back was arched and he had both feet mashing the brake pedal. He made little change in the speed the stop sign coming towards us. My feet were also pressed against the floorboard, more in preparation for an impact that fortunately did not happen than in support of the braking effort. But I digress.
Mist floated above the spring runoff pouring over Nine Mile Dam. A spooked marmot ran across the rocky precipice facing this side of the river. Stopping at what it decided was a safe distance, it looked back and kept an eye on me until I moved on. I headed south on the Centennial Trail.
For the next few miles quail warned each other of my presence. Chipmunks scampered across my path. A tom turkey flared his feathers at me as if to communicate that challenging him for possession of his harem would be the worst decision of my life. Birds caroled me.
I arrived at T.J. Meenach bridge and was reminded a city is here. As the crow flies, I was less than two miles from my destination. I crossed the bridge and climbed Pettet Drive, Bloomsday's Doomsday Hill. Twenty days from now I'll be running up that hill.
I followed Summit Boulevard around to the Sandifur Bridge. A new fence and a sign overlooked by ospreys in a nearby nest informs the public about the upcoming construction of the Centennial Trail through Kendall Yards. The ospreys whistled at me to move along. My shadow kept pace with me as the rising sun shone on the Sandifur Bridge while the Spokane River churned below.
An STA bus preceded me into the Peaceful Valley neighborhood on Clarke. I cut over to Main and climbed up the hill to Monroe Street with the sun shining on my face. I must have looked happy because a couple of pedestrians smiled back at me. I waited patiently for the red light to change, crossed the street, and arrived at work.
Spokane is awesome. Where else can you ride 25.5 miles to downtown and encounter deer, turkey, marmot, osprey, quail, chipmunk, geese, birds of many feather, and only three traffic lights?
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