Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Way of the Sky: Vicissitudes and Altitudes of the Impoverished Mountain Kingdom in the Unincorporated Archipelago

Know the ledge

Drunkenly, we climbed the brutal backside of Skyway and it was one of several good ideas last night, which found me impaired and unable to post coherently from the road.

As we have previously discussed, Skyway* offers a rich world of discovery to the intrepid night rider. And as our reward for our intrepidness, the three-man crew, Voyage Physician Mr. Q and Voyage Engineer Jeremiah and myself, bombed a neverbeforebombed hill. A real beauty.

It's a roughly two-mile sortie from Skyway Bowl, down the Renton Avenue Extension to the stop light at Rainier Avenue, in front of the McDonald's I worked at one summer and later burned down. I didn't burn it down. Speeds in the 40+ mph range, maybe as high as 45 mph. It's hard to know, as the last descent is stiff but drops you at a traffic light.

There is also a bike lane down the hill, and the road condition is fair to good.

There are many ways to climb Skyway, but the one that seems easiest -- if not easiest, then perhaps best? -- is a three-stage climb of about 1.5 miles. What perhaps makes it best is the first and longest stage -- from S Henderson St to 51st Avenue S (cross street: S Gazelle Street) -- of about .9 miles takes place on the last leg of the Chief Sealth Trail. It's fairly burly.

The second stage, on 51st, isn't too bad, a tad under a half mile and gives you a chance to recover for ...

Stage Three sucks, but it is pretty short, about a fifth of a mile, climbing up 51st from S Bangor Street to the top of the hill, known as the Rainier View neighborhood and childhood home of my ninth grade sweetheart.

If you follow Beacon Ave for a ways, then take a left at Campbell Hill Elementary, the road will eventually take you the bowling alley. Take a right to bomb into Renton on the abovementioned descent, take a left to bomb back into Rainer Beach. A good ride, but rougher, darker, and with a flat spot, as I recall.

The whole ride was about 43 miles.

* As of 2000, Skyway was 44 percent white, 25 percent black and 22 percent Asian, the only place in the Northwest where whites did not represent 50 percent or more of the population.

The interesting thing about this, if it's true, is that the Census area groups Bryn Mawr, with waterfront and lake view properties, in with Skyway, which is filled with some views in some areas, but mainly aged houses and Soviet-style apartment buildings. As anybody who has attended middle school in Renton knows, there is a glaring disparity between the two neighborhoods. What they share, apparently, is status as unincorporated areas.

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