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Bus to the beach

MONDAY, AUG. 11, 2008

STA offers cheap lift to recreation spots in, out of city

When the mercury creeps upward almost as fast as gas prices, it’s pretty miserable to be stuck in the city. Everyone eventually wants to go to “the lake” for a swim, but what’s a person to do without a cabin, a car or an extra $50 for gas? Here’s an idea: Take the bus. It’s cheap, it’s easy to figure out and Spokane-area buses have air-conditioning.

The easiest lake to reach is Medical Lake. Get on Route 62 at the downtown plaza, ride west for a good half hour, and it’ll drop you off right at the entrance to Waterfront Park.

Here you’ll find a sandy beach, picnic tables and barbecues, a playground and an interpretive trail that will take you all the way around the lake, if you feel like taking a walk. Motorboats are not allowed on Medical Lake, so every day is a quiet day at the beach.

Medical Lake’s Waterfront Park is wheelchair accessible: there are restrooms and a paved path all the way down to the waterline. This also makes the park easy to navigate with strollers.

Trip Planner – a link on the Spokane Transit Authority’s Web site that works a lot like Mapquest – makes it very easy to plan a trip from A to B.

“Depending on where you live, you may not even have to go downtown,” said Molly Meyers, STA communications manager. “If you are uncertain of which bus to get, go online and use our Trip Planner or call the ride hotline – they will walk you right through it all.”

Another family destination easily reached by bus is the new recreational center at Eastern Washington University in Cheney.

“We think it’s a pretty nice place,” said David Early, who’s the director of recreational facilities at Eastern. “A day pass is $5. Children with adults can use the center, too.” The new facility includes a fitness center, a climbing wall, an ice skating rink and gymnasium space.

“All people have to do is pick up the day pass at Sutton Hall or at the center during open hours,” Early said. The Cheney bus – route 65 or 66 – stops right across the street from the Pence Union Building.

“I guess many people don’t think of the bus as a way to go to a beach or a park,” Meyers said. “But if you spend a little time with it, we actually hit many family destinations.”

Reach Pia Hallenberg Christensen at (509) 459-5427 or piah@spokesman.com


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