2014-03-12 47 -122
On the fence of a different Jack's backyard in Wedgwood
Copy & pasted from Talk:Seattle, Washington:
- I'll be finishing up at work around 6 or 6:30, so if lighting looks sufficient I might try it after work. Less excited than yesterday about before work though, since it's not nearly as convenient from my location... -- OtherJack (talk) 13:47, 12 March 2014 (EDT)
- Leaving now from the u... be there 6:40ish ... -- OtherJack (talk) @47.6541,-122.3148 21:12, 12 March 2014 (EDT)
... I posted using geohashdroid just before taking off by bicycle on a second consecutive unseasonably sunny and warm afternoon, hoping for my second second consecutive geohash success and my second ever Ambassador achievement. Not to mention the second consecutive Seattle hashpoint within stone-throwing distance of North Seattle's incarnation of 80th Street (a street I used to live on, in fact.) All but one stoplight decided to be green for me, and I arrived on the hashblock at 6:37pm with dusk only just beginning (yay for Daylight Savings Time which had just taken effect a few days before.) Not shady at all.
I hadn't been to this part of Wedgwood that many times, yet I had an unconfirmed feeling I'd been on this very block before while going door-to-door for a ballot question a couple years ago (I'd certainly been very close by.) I hoped the inhabitants of the hash property (if they were home) didn't recognize me from annoying them back then!
But first it was time to determine which was the hash property. After locking up my bike at the corner of 77th, I strolled north on the sidewalk until the gps latitude matched the one I'd scrawled down. The hash appeared to be barely in the yard of a wide, low, pastel green house. As I walked up to their front door, a cat sprang into view in the window. Alas, no one answered the door.
Back on the sidewalk I thought I'd try matching the latitudes again, just to see if the next property up seemed to be within the margin of error. In fact, this time they didn't match until I passed the property fence! So I had to try the next house... it's nice when you get two chances at this, for once.
When I rang the bell at this next place (a tall thin brown house) I immediately heard a dog barking, and then the sound of people restraining it. (All right, I have a chance now!) A lady asked who it was - I said my name was Jack, and asked if I was interrupting. She then went to get another person, who asked again who I was, then opened the door, still holding back the dog. It was a 30-something guy with a very slight European accent. Thankfully, we did not recognize each other. We were both amused to learn we had the same first name ("Jack" is quite unusual among Americans our age, though common in younger and much older generations.)
When I briefly explained what I was doing and showed him the yellow gps, he actually thought it was kind of cool, and was happy to lead me around back! However, it took unusually long to complete the hashdance, and by the time I managed to get a (terrible) proof photo at the fence and a shot of the yard itself, he seemed to be realizing how weird this was. The older lady who originally answered, and a little girl, were watching the whole time from the second floor balcony - I assume they were all related. So he escorted me back out in front, and we bid farewell. I suggested he google geohashing, though I have no idea if he did. I think I did manage to tell him it was invented by an online comic strip, after he asked how I found out about it.
Unexpected post-geohash adventures in Wedgwood
So I got back on my bike and started rolling north so as to turn onto 80th. I had been riding for all of 15 seconds when... what the heck was this on the left?? The houses had ended and there was a big fenced-in field of grass with lots of tall, bizarre-looking blue poles covered in artistic decorations, and a couple small wooden sheds. What on earth. I soon saw a sign explaining how this was a privately owned place for the Wedgwood neighborhood to gather and communicate in case of a major disaster! Couldn't they just use the public street though? I'd never seen any place with this particular purpose.
As I continued north past the fenced-in area, I saw two guys wheelbarrowing and shoveling a bunch of dirt right nearby. Figuring they might be connected to the disaster sculpture park, I rolled up and inquired. They turned out to be a local teenager and his dad, working on his high school senior project, which was going to be a small native plant and wildlife garden. They had nothing to do with the fenced-in lot, but were happy to tell me its story, which they knew quite well.
It turned out the place was used as a Christmas tree business during the winter, and it was mainly known as such (I even remembered passing by it once while driving on the main road on the other side.) But recently some neighborhood people had gotten a grant to turn it into said gathering-space-in-event-of-a-huge-disaster for the remainder of each year. The salient feature was apparently a ham radio they were setting up in one of the little sheds. With no apocalypses as of yet, though, the space had largely been used for art fairs, concerts, general happenings, and of course Christmas tree sales. It sounded like a nice asset for the neighborhood, really.
Having learned all this, I thanked father and son and took my leave once again for NE 80th St... and stopped within a few seconds, once again. This time because I'd forgotten to turn my lights on in the deepening dusk. However, I found that I'd stopped in front of the main building of the Christmas tree operation, and decided to take a few pictures of it to commemorate my visit.
It was then that a chipper middle-aged local woman appeared and started talking to me out of the blue. She asked whether I was a fan of the building, or something like that... when I tentatively answered yes she pointed out a SECRET yet visible feature of the place that was pretty damn cool. But I cannot reveal it here (so she says) because the company would not be happy to hear of its existence. So you will have to look for it yourself if you are ever around.
When she asked why I was in the area, I explained (truthfully) that I was going to various neighborhoods for an online project, and writing about them. Her strong, immediate reaction was that I had to go see and document something called the Wedgwood Rock. "It's Wedgwood's most important monument!" she earnestly exclaimed. It was a giant glacial erratic boulder. But where was it? She didn't know.
The internet knew, though... and I was astonished to find that it was only a block away from my cousin's house, which I'd probably been to four or five times! How could I have missed a giant glacial erratic boulder in such proximity? I had to investigate, so I began to take my leave. The woman explained that her name was Mary, "M-a-r-y." "How else would it be spelled?" I asked. "Huh, that's funny... honestly I don't know!" she pondered. Interesting. I guess it could have also been M-a-r-i, but neither of us thought of it.
Anyway, within a few minutes I was at the Rock, which was on the corner of two curving, hilly residential streets, and was indeed quite impressive, the size of a large room of a house (or a very small house.) I must never have noticed it before because I almost always approached my cousin's place from the other direction.
After a couple minutes of admiration and photos I figured I might as well go say hello to my cousin and her husband, who I hadn't seen in many months. They were in, and she seemed happy to have a family visitor. We caught up for about an hour, and I learned more about the Rock. Apparently it's much trickier to get down off of than to climb up, and my cousin had to talk several people down from the thing back in the day.
The visit was ended when I got hungry for dinner - it had long since gotten completely dark out. My favorite teriyaki from my old neighborhood was basically on the route home, so I had some chicken yakisoba (not quite as good as I remembered, unfortunately) and then finally arrived home at 9 pm, hours after I'd originally planned. But with far more quirky knowledge of Wedgwood!
Backyard of another Jack! @47.6862,-122.2907
| OtherJack earned the Ambassador achievement
All two of my ambassador ribbons so far have been on the 12th of the month. Huh.
| OtherJack earned the Consecutive geohash achievement
| OtherJack earned the Bicycle geohash achievement