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Travel: Not Quite Midnight in Paris

   It was prime time in Paris. Friday night, just after 9pm, and the sidewalks of Boulevard du Montparnasse were crowded with people celebrating the end of another work week. There was just enough chill in the soft September evening to make me pull the soft cashmere wrap I always bring along when I travel, closer around me.

    I was taking one last stroll before going back to the Hotel Le Littré to pack my bags for an early departure in the morning and I’d just passed a small cafe when two women stepped out of a doorway and out onto the sidewalk ahead of me.

    Even with so many other people around, I noticed the women immediately because they were both dressed in vintage clothing from the 1930s or 40s: floral dresses, close-fitting hats and shoes with short heels.     Both were wearing coats and carrying handbags.
    The women walked quickly, purposefully, and the sound of their heels striking the sidewalk rang out over the noise of traffic moving along the busy street.

    I suspected they were part of some theater troupe or art installation because they were well aware of the looks they were given as they passed, but I loved the serendipity of the moment. Every time I’m in Paris, usually staying at Le Littré, a small pre-war hotel on a quiet street tucked into a residential area in the 6th Arrondissement, I imagine the human drama the street has surely seen. Sometimes, late at night when I can’t sleep, I hear laughter or a woman’s heels on the pavement and imagine similar sounds have been heard many times in the past century. I could close my eyes and travel back in time, supplying a visual image to fit the sounds, putting them in the age of my choice.

    That was part of the appeal of Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” wasn’t it: the idea that time settles around us in gossamer layers and—if we are fortunate and open to the experience— we can move in and out of history when the moment is right.
    And there, on my last night in the city, the two women had given me my own not-quite-midnight in Paris moment.

    I reached into the pocket of my coat and pulled out my phone. The women were walking fast and I had to hurry to keep up with them, but just before they turned and entered another doorway tucked between two storefronts, I held up my pone and snapped a photo. The light was poor and I was moving as I pressed the shutter button, so I didn’t expect much out of the shot. After the women were gone, I walked on, soaking up the energy and beauty of Paris before I had to leave, walking as far as the Musée Rodin before turning around and heading back to my room.

    I flew out the next day and the women and the photo on my phone were forgotten.  It wasn’t until later when I was going over all the photographs from my trip that I found it and the moment came back to me.

    I’d expected a shaky, out-of-focus, image and that’s exactly what I got. But what I hadn’t expected was the effect. You could clearly see the two women in period clothing walking on a busy street at night, illuminated by lights from the stores and headlights of cars on the Boulevard. But the colors faded into one another and all the lines and edges were softened. The photo on my camera looked exactly like a watercolor that could have been painted 80 years ago.

    Of all the photos I’ve brought home from my travels, the watery image my camera produced without any filters or manipulation on my part, is one of my favorites. I’d somehow managed to capture exactly what I experienced: a you-had-to-be-there moment in a beautiful city with a rich, dramatic, and poetic history.

    So, I set aside the cliche photos of the Eiffel Tower, Pont Neuf and Notre Dame. They are a dime a dozen. The blurred image of two women dressed for another time is the one I chose to keep where I can see it every day.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap's audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com


Centennial Trail temporarily rerouted around Sullivan Bridge

TRAILS — The Spokane River Centennial Trail at Sullivan Bridge is being closed during the daytime hours this week because of construction.

The closures started today,  7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and will continue through Friday, Spokane Valley engineers say.

Workers are building a protective trail covering beneath the northbound bridge. 

Signs are redirecting trail users via Indiana Avenue between the old Mission Avenue trailhead and the ramp located west of the bridge.

Great winter walking on plowed Rimrock Drive

HIKING — Spokane has a choice snow-free place for a winter walk at Palisades City Park thanks to a maintenance issue that prompted plowing of Rimrock Drive overlooking Spokane Falls Community College area.

After Monday's snow storm, Fairchild Air Force Base crews plowed the road, which is gated to prevent public vehicle traffic. The Air Force has a pump in the area that delivers water from the Spokane River to the base.

Cross-country skiers out to take advantage of the rare winter windfall were disappointed to see the mostly snow-free pavement on Wednesday, but the rare plowing event is a boon for winter walking on a flat surface with one of the best views you'll find overlooking Spokane.

The trailhead is off Greenwood Road up from Indian Canyon Road. (See Hike 78 in Day Hiking Eastern Washington.) 

High Drive meeting: Are sidewalks just for poor people?

TRAILS — A packed house showed up last night at the new Jefferson Elementary School for the city-sponsored meeting to unveil new plans for the $6.8 million project that will repave and remodel High Drive while changing access to the South Hill bluff trails.  The meeting provided a lot of answers to concerned neighbors and perhaps raised a few more questions.

One comment from the audience caught my attention as an illustration of how wide the views range on developing a public asset such as High Drive.  The comment from the man, Dave, reminds us that private property owners often take very narrow views of public interest on city right-of-way.

To paraphrase Dave:

The city should focus funding earmarked for sidewalks to poor neighborhoods where people need the walkways to get to the bus rather than waste the money on a sidewalk in an affluent neighborhood where it isn't needed.

First, Dave apparently doesn't look out the tinted windows of his vehicle as he drives to and from his South Hill home to observe all of the walkers and runners who use High Drive each day.

Second, more walkers and runners would enjoy the premier views of High Drive if they didn't have to walk in the road especially around dangerous curves.

Third, it's crazy that the city has gone this long without providing a sidewalk or path the length of High Drive, one of the finest pedestrian routes the city has to offer.

High Drive street project could impact access to trails

TRAILS — As today's news story points out, City of Spokane engineers are ready to present a new plan for the $6.8 million High Drive street project after public criticism of initial proposals this summer and fall sent them back to the drawing board.

The project is of major concern to the hikers, cyclists, dog walkers and runners who flock to the 25-mile trail system along the South Hill bluff. Initial proposals would have reduced access to the trails and eliminated up to 80 percent of the available parking.

The city will unveil the revised design in an open-house meeting on Thursday, Nov. 7, from 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., at the new Jefferson Elementary School, 123 E. 37th Ave

  • To get involved with protecting and improving the bluff trails and the natural landscape they traverse, check into the Friends of the Bluff


City projects could affect access to South Hill bluffs

TRAILS — The City of Spokane's plans to "remodel" High Drive in 2014 while updating sewer lines could change bike lanes and reduce parking options for the popular South Hill bluff trails.

Traffic flow, pedestrian walkways, and bike lanes will also be affected, according to the Friends of the Bluff.

A neighborhood meeting on set for 7 p.m.-9 p.m. on Tuesday (Oct. 8) at he new Jefferson Elementary School Multi-Purpose Room, 123 E. 37th Ave.
This might be the public's best chance to see the initial plans and provide constructive input, the Friends group says.

Life: Taking Baby Steps

   My granddaughter is suddenly a toddler. Over the last few months we’ve watched her crawl then, almost overnight, put one foot in front of another learning first to walk and then run. Her mother, my daughter, is trained to work with patients with mobility issues and she told me that learning to walk is really just overcoming a constant feeling that you’re about to fall. I watched my own four children learn to walk and I’d never really thought about it that way, but when you do, learning to walk becomes a very brave thing to do. The easiest and safest thing would be to simply sit down and stay where we are, but nature takes care of that and we come into the world with the drive to get up and move forward.

    My granddaughter is in constant motion these days, moving from one corner of the house to another, no longer unsteady and unsure. But those first stumbling steps have stayed on my mind. I noticed that while she was learning to walk, she never once looked down at her feet. She pushed herself up, put her eyes on the place or person she wanted to get to, and launched herself in that direction. She wasn’t thinking about what might get in her way—that was our job—she just had to move.

    Of course, as adults, we’ve learned to watch where we put our feet. We know that one wrong step could send us tumbling. When we set a target and move toward it, we do so consciously and carefully. You get smarter as you get older, right?

    The sad thing is that by growing up and growing older, most of us inevitably lose our inner toddler, the inquisitive, driven, risk taker we were born to be. We watch our steps so carefully, so determined not to fall or to fail, we risk never letting go and getting anywhere. We plant ourselves so firmly and deeply we take root. And one day some of us discover we’re stuck.

    I’ve heard the phrase “baby steps” countless times, but until I watched this baby learn to walk, I’m not sure I ever really understood its meaning. Baby steps aren’t small steps, they’re big leaps of faith and curiosity. They are the means to getting where you want to be, in spite of the risks. This is another of the benefits of being the grandmother, I think. Now, I have time to watch the process with just enough distance and none of the fatigue, exhaustion and worry of being the parent.

    Years ago, I threw myself headlong into into mothering. It was the most frighteningly wonderful thing I have ever done or will ever do. And the reward? Four unique adults who made their way confidently out of my nest just as this little one stepped in.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Walk-run benefits Bay Trail at Sandpoint

TRAIL – Introduce yourself to the developing Pend Oreille Bay Trail near Sandpoint with a running OR walking benefit on June 1, National Trails Day.

Pre-register online by May 28 for the 5K and 10K events, which include t-shirts and prizes. The route starts and finishes at Trinity at City Beach and goes along the lakeshore and Sand Creek.

The event will benefit Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, a group working to link a natural waterfront trail from City Beach to Black Rock and Ponder Point along the lake’s northwest shore.

Info: (208) 946-7586 or email friends@pobtrail.org.

Bounty of balsamroot along South Hill bluff trails

HIKING — I case you haven't walked over High Drive to hike the trails along the South Hill bluff, massive swaths of arrowleaf balsamroot have been in full bloom for several days.  Check it out.

Living with Coyotes program presented by South Hill bluff group

TRAILS — In mid-April last year, several off-leash dogs were attacked by coyotes that were defending the territory around a den near a popular South Hill bluff trail below High Drive.

Candace Hultberg-Bennett, a local wildlife biologist, will present a short program on what people can do to live safely and peacefully in the same neighborhood with coyotes.

  • The program starts at 7 p.m. at St. Stevens Church Parish Hall, 5720 S. Perry.

The Friends of the Bluffs have asked her to speak on her studies on how urbanization and the reintroduction of wolves have impacted coyote populations in northeastern Washington.

A public sentiment that emerged from the coyote-dog conflicts last year was the simmering discontent trail users have with people who violate city-county laws by walking, running and even bicycling with their unleashed dogs.


The Friends of the Bluff have scheduled another trail work party, 9 a.m.-noon, on April 27.

Meet at the High Drive and Bernard trailhead. Wear suitable work clothes and gloves, bring water to drink.

Info: robertsd@wsu.edu

Celebrities sign skateboard to boost Ferry County rail trail

TRAILS — Development of the 28.5-mile Ferry County Rail Trail from Republic along the Kettle River to the U.S. Canada border is getting a boost with an auction item signed by celebrities.

A Longboard Skate - donated to Ferry County Rail Trail Partners by Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder - is being signed by celebrities as a one-of-a-kind auction item. The effort is spearheaded by FCRTP organizer Bob Whittaker, who's also a professional rock band manager currently on a world tour with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Celebs signing the board so far include Nick Zinner, Karen O and Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as well as Eddie Vedder, Neko Case, Nick Cave and pro-skating champ Tony Hawk.

2013 FCRTP Annual Meeting 
The annual meeting of the Ferry County Rail Trail Partners will be held at the Carousel Building at the Ferry County Fairgrounds, 3 p.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday (April 21). Expect to find good people and refreshments, plus a Ferry County Historical Society presentation on area railroad history.

Grass widows not alone on South Hill bluff

TRAILS — Local writer Jim Kershner, a household name to long-time readers of The Spokesman-Review, is having a ball watching spring explode along the trails of the South Hill bluff below High Drive.

Last week he found a few bunches of arrowleaf balsamroot blooming a bit ahead of normal.

On Saturday he found the slopes alive (above) with grasswidows — that clearly were having nothing to do with being alone this season.

Coyote advisory:  Remember last year, when several dogs were attacked by denning coyotes as they joined their owners for hikes or runs on the South Hill Bluff trails? 

The Friends of the Bluffs are sponsoring a free program, "Living with Coyotes," at 7 p.m., April 17, at St. Stevens Church Parish Hall, 5720 S. Perry. 

Meantime, be proactive in your dog's favor: Keep your dog on a leash.

Dishman Hills Buttercup Hike April 6

HIKING – The 47th annual Buttercup Hike, a free family-style guided walk through the Dishman Hills Natural Area, will be led by Dishman Hills Conservancy members on April 6.

Hikers will set out on the two-hour walk at noon from the Camp Caro parking area.


Friends of Bluff planning future for South Hill trails

PUBLIC LANDS — The Friends of the Bluff is beginning to develop a comprehensive plan for the popular trails on the south-facing slope of city-owned land on the South Hill.

The group already has set “sustainable trails” as the highest priority.

The public meeting set for Wednesday (March 27), 6:30 p.m., at St Stephens Episcopal Church will consider questions such as:

  • What is a sustainable trail?
  • What is a “multi-use” trail on the Bluff?
  • When do we have enough trails on the Bluff?
  • How do we maintain existing trails?
  • When do we decommission unsustainable trails?
  • Trail signage or no signage?

Info: Diana Roberts, 477-2167

Email: robertsd@wsu.edu

Tonight: Trails groups update region’s growing routes

OUTGOING – The Inland Northwest Trails Coalition has rounded up a dozen local leaders in trails-related efforts for the annual “state of the trails” presentations tonight (March 21) starting at 6 p.m. at Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield Ave. in Spokane Valley. 

This is the place for trail users to learn where they can get involved in trail projects.

Natural areas will be covered, including the Dishman Hills, Palisades Park and Spokane County Conservation Futures areas.

The Centennial Trail, Trolley Trail and Fish Lake Trail will be reviewed as well as the expanding hiking, biking and nordic ski trail systems at Mount Spokane.

Progress on the Spokane River water trail will be updated and the Washington Trails Association will detail this season’s trails maintenance projects from Spokane County to the Salmo-Priest Wilderness.

Lunell Haught, INTC coordinator, said the consortium of outdoor recreation and conservation groups has pulled together to encourage city and county governments to engage in regional trail planning.

The group’s vision, she said, “is a system of paths, trails and open space corridors that connect neighborhoods, community and regional parks and conservation land in our region to engage people in muscle-powered recreational and conservation opportunities, promote active transportation and preserve open space to enhance our region’s quality of life.”

Dishman Hills group sets celebration, honors Hamilton

OUTCONSERVE – The Dishman Hills Conservancy will celebrate 47 years of securing prized Spokane County conservation areas at the group’s annual dinner, March 23, at All Saints Lutheran Church, 315 S. Spruce in Brown’s Addition.

Special honors will go to Michael Hamilton, who’s helped open public access to the Rocks of Sharon and other areas during his 20 years as the group’s president.

Sign up for the dinner by March 19 at www.dishmanhills.org or call Mary Weathers, 448-6462.

Spokane Valley plans trail in city core

TRAILS — A proposed bike-pedestrian trail through the heart of Spokane Valley will be discussed at a community workshop Monday, March 11, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Spokane Valley City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague, Suite 101. 

The proposed 12-foot wide trail would run about 2.2 miles down the old Milwaukee right-of-way, between University Road and Evergreen Road and between Sprague and 4thAvenue. Future extensions would be possible.

City of Spokane Valley Public Works staff members and design planning consultants will be on hand to introduce the project, review maps, and help gather input from the community.

Info: Steve Worley, project manager, 720-5014, email sworley@spokanevalley.org.

Washington outdoor recreation plan needs public input

OUTDOOR REC — If you enjoy the outdoors, you owe it to yourselff to participate in the online Washington State Outdoor Recreation Survey.

So far, about 800 comments have been filed on the easy to navigate Town Hall website

In addition to the survey, which can help channel planning and funding in the future, the site is asking the publicv to post their stories and photos showing how outdoor recreation impacts you and your family.  The information will be used in the final report.

  • In the last statewide survey conducted in in 2005-2006, WALKING was rated the most popular outdoor recreation activity in Washington.

The state’s outdoor recreation strategic plan, called the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), needs to be updated every 5 years to maintain the state's ability to receive federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  The funding is used for grants to local communities to build parks and trails, and conserve wildlife habitat.

Repairs temporarily close Centennial Trail segment near Barker Road

TRAILS — The Spokane River Centennial Trail is closed between miles 7 and 9 through Nov. 24 as workers  repair the erosion damage to the trail west of Barker, reports Kaye Turner of the Friends of the Centennial Trail.

The detour flows from the Walt Worthy building bollards (near the basalt water fountain; east of Sullivan and Krispy Kreme) out onto Indiana Parkway.

Progress east through the new round-about onto Flora going north until it curves right, east, onto Montgomery. 

At the "T" intersection of Montgomery and Riverway, turn right heading slightly south then east to the "T" intersection with Barker. 

Turn left, north, onto Barker. The Barker Trail Head is on the right before the bridge.

Cindy: Walk Stimulates Body, Soul

One of the best forms of exercise doesn’t require expensive equipment, trendy fitness DVDs or a gym membership. Everyone from Thomas Jefferson to health guru Dr. Oz have touted the benefits of walking. All I know is that while my “Buns of Steel” DVD gathers dust on my shelf, my walking shoes wear out on a regular basis. Six years ago, I started taking a 3 ¾-mile walk several times a week because I wanted the physical benefits of a regular exercise routine. But what has kept me walking is the way it feeds my soul/Cindy Hval, SR Front Porch. More here.

Question: Do you have a regular exercise routine? Tell us about it.

Centennial Trail among Sunset Magazine’s Top Trails in The West

TRAILS — The Spokane River Centennial Trail — celebrating its 20th anniversary — is listed on Sunset Magazine's list of 20 Best Bike Paths in the West.

That's no suprise to people who live here, and ongoing improvements are steadily making the riverside trail even better.

But wait:  There's no mention of the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.

Most of the trails on the list have an urban link. That makes marketing sense, but it clearly diverts attention to what some people might consider the BEST trails.

For info on more trails, check in with the Rails to Trails Conservancy.

Centennial Trail cleanup set for Saturday

TRAILS – Volunteers will be gathering all along the Spokane River Centennial Trail on Saturday to wail on weeds, pick up litter and sweep it clean.

To join the group, and enjoy the free lunch, preregister by Friday for the 20th annual Friends of the Centennial Trail "Unveil the Trail" event.

REI has contributed $5,000 to cover the cost of park rental, giveaways, prizes, food and other event costs.

Info: 624-7188.

When others want to choose for you

There were a fair number of people out walking, jogging and riding bikes this morning.

Here's hoping everyone looked both ways and paid attention to lingering slick spots and potholes.

But, for a few of us, there was another issue.

There was a young border collie being walked by a woman in my neighborhood. And he clearly wanted to herd people.

You can't blame these smart dogs for thinking we would benefit from their guidance. I mean, left to our own devices, look at the choices some of us make.

But if you feel certain that you are OK to proceed on your own recognizance, what do you say to the black and white canine wanting desperately to tell you where to go?

A) "Thanks, but I'm going to keep heading this way." B) "You have mistaken me for livestock." C) "That'll do, Pup. That'll do." D) "If it's all the same to you, I'll go ahead and exercise free will." E) "It's OK, my house is right down there." F) Other. 


Friends ready to rally for Centennial Trail

TRAILS — The 4th annual Friends of the Centennial Trail  Adventure Auction is set for March 9 at Northern Quest Resort and Casino.

Silent auction starts at 6 p.m.; dinner's at 7 p.m.; live auction at 8 p.m.

People who support the fabulous 39-mile trail from Nine Mile to the Idaho State Line (and beyond) already are getting tickets and gathering friends to join them at tables for a feast.

"Eighty percent of the proceeds go directly into our Trail Builders fund for projects on the Trail," said Kaye Turner, the friends group's executive director. "Remember the bumps at Barker Road - our Trail Builders fund fixed those."

Kris Crocker, KXLY's star weather reporter, will once again be the MC — and she's gathering a table of friends, too.

Tickets: 624-7188 or e-mail friends@spokanecentennialtrail.org.  

Spokane, Saturday morning

Rode my bike up to the North Side for an 8 a.m. haircut.

Had I known how much fuzzy frost coated the streets, I might have reconsidered. But the ride went fine and I was glad to get the exercise.

Stopped at the Huck's beer sale on my way back up the hill and purchased a Boddington's Pub Ale. Don't know a thing about it, but the tall yellow can caught my eye.

Spoke with Mike the butcher about the Super Bowl (he hates both teams) and Scott the cashier about his guitar playing (sometimes the neighbors aren't wild about it).

But here's what I found myself wondering during my ride home.

Are people with dogs healthier?

Not because of the emotional connection and blood pressure-lowering implications of canine companionship. I'm thinking of the benefits of getting out and taking your dog for a walk.

If I'm any judge of expressions, some of the many dog walkers I saw this morning would not have ventured out if not for their responsibility as pet owners. And it just seems like, over time, all that daily activity has to add up to something good.

And, of course, the dogs like it.   

Tuesday Video: Complete Streets ordinance passes the Spokane City Council 5-2

Just in time for the holidays: Last night, the Spokane City Council passed the Complete Streets ordinance in a 5-2 vote. (The same for and against as the vote for the Complete Streets resolution in April 2010.) As Councilman Jon Snyder pointed out in his recap, it was an "epic meeting." Council Chambers were packed with folks eager to testify.

I'm very proud of all the people who worked so hard to pass the ordinance and create a groundswell of support.

Downtown hike a great way to celebrate whatever water has flowed under your bridge

HIKING — My wife, Meredith, and I celebrated our 29th anniversary Sunday afternoon (and evening) with a lively troop of trekking friends, shown here bagging the Kardong Bridge on the Centennial Tail.

This was Bridge No. 18 in the 7.8-mile downtown hike of 18 Spokane River bridges. We could have made it 20 bridges had we scampered across the Maple Street and Division Street bridges, but we left that goal for another year of marriage.

 We started and ended at the Sandifur Bridge near High Bridge Park.

What next? We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Help stop vehicle vandalism along Centennial Trail, Spokane River

TRAILHEADS — Vandalism to cars parked at Centennial Trail parking lots and boating access sites continues to be a problem. 

Paddlers report a smash (a window) and grab incident at Mirabeau Park over the weekend, although they said nothing of value was taken.

Dealing with these opportunistic low-life theives is much like preventing damage by raccoons and other vermin: Don't leave and "food" out. 

In otherwords, it's not enough to make sure nothing "valuable" is left in your vehicle at a trailhead.

Make sure that nothing at all tempting is visible through the windows to entice a creep into a smash and grab incident.

Construction forces Centennial Trail detour

TRAIL REROUTED: Upriver Drive from Freya to Frederick:

A sewer construction project will create an Upriver Drive detour for Centennial Trail users for almost a year, the Friends of the Centennial Trail report.

The trail will be closed from Freya to Frederick Avenue on Upriver Drive. There will be a detour in place and signage to guide users.

The Friends group has maps and details on its website.

Directions: Coming from downtown going east take Ralph to Carlisle to Havana to Fredrick and back out on Upriver Drive. It may be possible at times to let Trail users back onto the east section of Upriver Dr. at times during this project. If you have a street bike avoid signed detour onto gravel road sections. 

Bikers, families to rule Albi-Audubon streets on Sunday

OUTDOOR NEIGHBORHOODS — The streets will be wide open for bikes, walkers, in-line skaters an family activities on Sunday.  Check it out.