"This trail will ruin my life!"
I was reading an article about the East Sammamish Bike Trail, a Rails to Trails conversion proposal, when this woman's words jumped off the page. She was claiming her life would be ruined if the trail was built. Really?
I've thought about that woman and her words often. When I ride the Burke Gilman trail I remember all the rage from those who opposed the trail. Biking or hiking trail, it doesn't matter -- the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene, the Pacific Crest Trail, South Dakota's Mickelson Trail, the Spokane River Centennial Trail, California's American River Trail -- there are always those who support and those who don't.
Once a trail is built the land owners along the trail display their positions. The folks not liking the trail build tall fences with locked gates and security cameras. They post "guard dog on duty" or "no trespassing" signs. Conversely those who embrace the trail build pathways from their homes to the trail for access. Kids sell lemonade. Tiny produce and fresh egg stands appear. Charming little hand lettered messages of welcome are hung on trees. Trail angels provide a bench to rest on or cold water to refill bike bottles.
The divide of "it's mine" or "let's share" runs deep in this nation. We see it everywhere we go, and our political battles often can be broken down into this simple, but profoundly different philosophy. As a trail user I try to be respectful of these differences but I do find myself feeling saddened or pleased by a trail's shunning or welcoming stance.
Early in our ride on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene we saw a number of "we don't want you" signs posted by property owners as we approached Harrison, a sweet little historic town. It's off putting, but the town wins us over despite the lack of welcome along the trail. By automobile the welcome couldn't be clearer...
Businesses welcome us as well. They make their establishments charming and deliver cheerful greetings when we enter. The Tin Cup in Harrison provides not only espresso and free internet but outstanding home-baked pastries, along with warm smiles. I had a right-out-of-the-oven cranberry-orange scone to die for!
Later in the day we stop, based on a local recommendation, at the Snake Pit in Enaville. My dark, cold beer was called Moose Drool. Our chicken sandwiches were thick and full of good stuff, including grilled green peppers. And the next day, after 15 miles on the trail, Ed ordered a most lavish dessert for lunch --- a steaming warm brownie, topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce, topped again with whipped cream, with a cherry plunked on top, naturally. The following day we returned again.
Further up the trail, in Kellog, we ride by an old train station that's been converted into a charming bike shop, Excelsior Cycle and Sport. We put our tandem in reverse. Ed buys a new biking shirt as we chat with the owner.
Continuing east we experience non-stop Idaho friendliness, delivered with hellos and smiles and a country graciousness.
Thank you Trail of the Coeur d'Alene! The ride is sweet!
"Good Morning! Good Afternoon! Good Night! These are not just mere greetings. They are powerful blessings, setting the best vibration for the day. Hence, whether it is morning, afternoon or night, make sure that you say your greeting right!"
~ Franco Santoro