Thursday, February 10, 2011

Feet Get Democratic

Yesterday was my first ever trip to the WA state Capitol in Olympia, so it was only fitting that I got there on foot.  It was a really eye-opening experience to meet face to face with legislators and realize that they really are our voice in our government, and how truly lucky we all are to live in a democratic society.  While elected officials are easy targets for complaints and finger-pointing, I realized yesterday that they have a much tougher job than I had really thought about.  They have meetings every day with constituents eager to plead their case about whatever they might be passionate about, and the legislators must be courteous and take it all in and make the best decisions they can with all the information at hand.  With people on all sides (who knows, my reps might have met with some anti-trails group right after they met with me...), I certainly don't envy their jobs, but I do have a much greater respect for them all.

So, the meetings I had seemed to go well, and I'm optimistic that our WA trails will be safe for another year.  With the state deficit so high, cuts obviously must be made everywhere, which is why the WTA proposal makes so much sense.  It provides a sustainable means of revenue for trail maintenance, etc. that is also reasonable (i.e., by no means cost prohibitive).  The Discovery Pass would be similar to the NW Forest Pass, and would be an easy way to keep funding alive for many of the trails that I personally love and use very often (Mailbox Peak, Mt. Si, to name just a few), and I believe provide some of the easiest/closest to the city wilderness experiences for people needing a breath of fresh air.  If you live in WA and feel so inclined, I'd certainly encourage you to email your reps to let them know what you're passionate about.  For me, I think I'd grown a bit apathetic towards politics in general, but this trip opened my eyes to the fact that each of us really can have a voice in our government (even if it's a small one), and we need only exercise that option.  So I encourage you to make your voice heard on this issue or any other that you happen to be passionate about right now!

The specifics of my actual run aren't the most exciting, but I'll share a brief recap in order to complete the story.  Also, my friends at tmber have a great video recap in the works that I'm sure will tell the story even better, but onward to the word version for now.  With a planned 5pm start time, I left my front door closer to 6 just as the sun was setting (typical).  My friends at tmber did some filming before I left, but then lost me in Seattle somewhere, but no biggie.  The cool evening air felt great, and my first holdup occurred when I got through Ballard.  As I made my way onto the Ballard Bridge, I saw the red lights flash and the bridge begin to go up... not a big deal, but perhaps a harbinger of more excitement to come later.  I waited and had a gel and some water, and was back on my way soon enough.  I bumped into another photo buddy down by the Seattle waterfront, got some hoorays, and my Dad caught up with me here in the car.  He would stick with me the remainder of this trek, keeping me fed, watered, and on the right track.  Not much to report as I made my way through funny town names (Tukwila, Des Moines, Fife, Spanaway).  Our biggest excitement came from getting stopped by the police several times, but they were both friendly.  Then I ran into the small town of Roy sometime in the wee hours, and things got interesting.  Also, our friends at tmber joined up with us again here and continued on all the way to the Capitol.  I ran on my planned route out of Roy, but fairly soon ended up at a complete dead end with the road totally fenced off and impassable.  That route obviously wasn't happening.  So, instead of fiddling around with other small roads that might or might not work, I headed back to the highway for a route (albeit a good deal longer than planned) that I knew would get me there.  So, with my Dad patiently rolling behind for much of this night section with his blinkers on, lights on me, and cars and trucks whizzing by at arm's length, I made my way down to Yelm, where I finally cut over on another highway on the last stretch to Olympia.  The sun began to rise right around Yelm, and the colors coming up from behind Rainier were jaw-dropping.  Rush hour traffic on this 2 lane highway was less than pleasant, but I felt safer in the light of day and my Dad didn't have to run blocking for me anymore, so that was good.  I arrived at the Capitol exactly 17 hours after I began, and ended up with about 90-95 miles total under my belt.  After a Rocky-style run up the Capitol steps, I was off to meet up with a great group of WTA friends and get the lowdown on our meetings for the day.  I didn't shower, but did change clothes so I was a bit more presentable. 

This was a really unique trek and a great learning experience for me, I'm so glad I was able to help out with WTA's Hiker Lobby Day  in my own unique way, and I'm really thankful for the great nation we live in and the democratic system we have, even though it's a system we often love to hate.

Also, here's a nice article the Seattle P-I wrote on my adventure. 


Will Thomas said...

Wow! Thanks for helping to keep our trails open. The sunrise from Si was beautiful this morning. It would be sad to see these trails closed.

Sam said...

Thanks Will! Hope you are doing well!