Wednesday, February 27, 2008

NPR - Walking revisited

This week the trusty, dusty - but washed and cleaned this last weekend - is in the shop for a new clutch and related issues. At nearly seventeen years, the van doesn't have problems, it has issues, similar to get old, some things just wear down, and then they make noises, leak, clunk or bump, or somesuch thing. Things of warnings for the mechanic to do now than wait for it to break.

The shop where I'm taking it now, Small Car Performance, specializes in VW Vanagon, and especially the later wasserboxer models (post-microbus model). It's not the dealer where I bought it and had it serviced all the time before. They also have a shuttle service, but not this shop, which is your choice of taxi, friend, family or feet. So, knowing a taxi ride is $25+, feet sounded pretty good.

So, cranking up Google Earth I discovered it's 7.1 miles from my home, about right by the odometer. But I can't walk on the highway, so it's an 8-plus mile walk one way. The walk is up older streets in Tacoma to the new Narrows Bridge, across and onward home. And it was the walk through these areas that made it interesting.

Neighborhoods settled and developed long before being incorporated into the City of Tacoma and before zoning and building laws governing lots and homes. You walk past the history of then rural Tacoma and the subsequent development of individual homes over decades. On top of that, you see the interspersed conversion of homes into business with the old to new small commercial buildings alongside houses on the main traffic streets.

It's the dynamic history of Tacoma, all in a short walk down the street. I could have ridden the bus, it's a major street with a route it's whole length (I had to walk about half it's length), but it would lose the slowness of walking and the opportunity to experience it, to stop and look. And to meet and talk to people. A human experience. A history lesson. A snapshot in time, one day in the life and evolution of a street, one long passed its prime playing catch up with the new neighborhoods.

Too bad we don't do this enough. And when I pick the van up I'll have to reverse the direction of the 8-plus mile walk, to see the same things but from the other direction and side of the street. And stop at a different cafe to taste their coffee and the work of their barista.

No comments:

Post a Comment