Showing posts with label Stairs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stairs. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Joys of Stair Walks: Urban Walking Adventures in Seattle and Beyond

I have always loved stairs.

I find them mysterious.

When I see a set of stairs nestled into a hillside, I want to climb them to see where they lead.

So you can imagine my joy when I found the book "Seattle Stairway Walks:  An Up-and-Down Guide to Seattle's Neighborhoods" by Jake and Cathy Jaramillo (2012).

I bought the book for Hubby for Christmas 2012 (a great stocking stuffer), because I thought it would be fun for us to not only get to know more about Seattle, but something we could do together.

Last Saturday we completed the last of the 25 walks in the book. 

We decided to walk all of these walks 15 months ago and saw it through despite life's challenges.

The last set of stairs on our 15 month odyssey 4-12-14.

The walks range in length from almost five miles to walks only .4 miles; walks that took over two hours to complete to walks that were only about 30 minutes; walks with 400-500 steps up and down to fewer than 200.  

Those stairs took us to parts of Seattle we knew nothing about, even though we have lived here for 10 years and have used similar books for "walking tours."

The book contains 25 walks with clear maps and written directions.

Most walks brilliantly combine nice residential neighborhoods with park settings and a route that takes you back to your starting point without any backtracking. 

The authors take good care of you, too, by pointing out dangerous intersections and where to cross safely along with warnings about muddy and slippery sections of stairs and trails. They also include the location of restrooms (always a plus for those of us of a certain age - kids too), whether the walk is kid friendly and the availability of cafes, stores and other amenities.  The number of steps up and down, time allotment and distance are also included for each walk along with clear driving and bus information.

The walks were also designed  to maximize the views.

But most of all, it was all about THE STAIRS.

When I think of the research involved in searching out all of those stairs, it boggles the mind, not to mention counting all of those steps and the distances and time involved. 

We walked urban stairs:

We walked historic stairs:

We walked long stairs,

 short stairs,

and seemingly hidden stairs.

We walked stairs with views,

fancy stairs,
woodsy stairs,

rickety stairs,

modern but gorgeous stairs,

stairs with art,

stairs with quirks,

and stairs that led us over bridges.

(Hubby and I have a thing about bridges.  No bridge can be crossed without a kiss in the middle.  This particular walk had five bridges! Awww. I know. Maybe that accounts for our 30 years of marriage!  Kissing on bridges!)

And don't think we were just walking up and down stairs. 

We were walking up and down hills as well.  Every time we walked down some stairs, we knew that we had to get back up somehow.  They should have called this "Seattle Stair and Hill Walks!"

That is steeper than it looks! (is "steeper" a word?)

But it was great fun and I will miss it.

You should try it!

I know this book is Seattle specific, and you are probably wondering, how does this relate to me if I don't live in Seattle?

Well, who knows?  Maybe you DO have stairs near you. 

You do if you live in San Francisco,


the East Bay,




Los Angeles or



(check your local library or Amazon for a book for your area).

But even if there are no stairs, you can do the same thing with urban walks.

Try to find a book of walks for your area.


  • Because for one thing, it's great exercise. 
          I am 65 and my husband is 61, and I feel that as long as I can walk
          several miles and haul my butt up those stairs, I am doing OK.

  • It's also a chance to spend some alone time with your significant other in beautiful settings.
          When I go for walks on my own or exercise at the gym, I usually have
          the headphones on and am rocking out to some music. When you walk
          with someone else, it's just the two of you, sharing what you are seeing,
          and who knows what other insights and discussions will pop up?  You
          might solve the problems of the world together.

  • You get to know your town.
           If you are a newbie, finding a book that takes you on walks around town
           is the best way to become familiarized with your new surroundings.  If
           you have lived in the same town for awhile, you will be surprised at how
           many places you DIDN'T know about.

“Sundial” for marking the equinox and solstice in Solstice Park

  • You learn stuff
          Most books include background history and architecture about what you
          are seeing. I am walking and reading the background stuff to Hubby (I'm
          a bossypants like that).

A scale replica of the Statue of Liberty at Alki Beach was donated by Reginald H. Parsons and the Seattle Area Council of The Boy Scouts of America in 1952. The statue may allude to "New York-Alki", the name of the 1851 settlement at Alki, where the first white settlers of Seattle landed.  Many tourists mourned the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center at the site.

 Now this is important...

Fashion Tips for Stair Walking:

For you guys out there, I know, who cares? 

I know you probably don't care about looking fabulous.  Wear your baseball caps or Seahawks "We won the Superbowl" jackets like some people I won't name (but their names start with "h" and end with "ubby").

But ladies, when stair walking, WE must look fabulous!

  • Find the right shoes.
         When I am not running or playing tennis, I am not a running or tennis
         shoe kind of person nor do hiking boots do it for me any time.  I want to
         look fabulous when I am out and about.  No "sensible shoes." And tennis
         or running shoes don't work that well anyway, because they can be
         be very slippery on muddy trails and stairs.  After trial and error, I settled
         on a pair of moto boots (that's motorcycle boots for those of you who are
         not fashionistas) that took me across Europe. 
         They are comfy and I can tromp through just about anything.  And they
         look fabulous!

  • Opt for clothes that are easy to walk in, but still fabulous.

        I can't tell you how difficult it is to trudge four miles and walk up
        500 stairs in skinny jeans (though I managed it in Paris.  You have
        to look fabulous there no matter what).  Even with Spandex, it hurts.
    Here I am tromping up the steps of the Trocadero in Paris.

And this is what I look like tromping up and down the stairs of Seattle.

Flashy leggings tucked neatly into the boots lend a bit of whimsy to the occasion, but with enough give and take that you don't even know you are wearing them (BTW, speaking of which. I have a theory about leggings. When they were invented, that's when America got fat.  Elastic waists and Spandex will do it every time.  But I digress)

Add a long top to obscure the fatty bits and a scarf and denim jacket to add to the cool factor and you have the perfect outfit. 
You will also look fabulous enough to enjoy the "reward*" after the walk.(you can do variations on this theme depending on the weather).

And don't forget the backpack.  A purse doesn't cut it on walks like these 
(and if you are in Seattle, have an umbrella in it). 

So if you are looking for something fun, interesting and healthful, I can't think of anything better than urban walks, especially if they include stairs. 

If you live in the Seattle area, get "Seattle Stairway Walksby Jake and Cathy Jaramillo. 

If you live in other areas, find something similar.  I know you will have as much fun as we did.

I am sad that it's over, though we will definitely be revisiting these walks and sharing them with friends and family.

New adventures await. 

But I will never forget these last wonderful 15 months of stair walks.

Hubby and I started this together and saw it through, despite those things that life throws at you to distract you.  But we did it!

It was magical!

Oh, and that reward* I was talking about?

Plan your walk to coincide with Happy Hour and/or a meal, whenever and wherever that may be! 

You and your significant other can relive the sights and places you discovered over a craft cocktail and delicious food. 

And because you are wearing something fabulous, you won't feel embarrassed walking into the coolest of establishments (you are welcome)!

(BTW, I am working my way through all of the fine restaurants and bars in Seattle A-Z, but that's a whole different blog which you can read on Friday!)

Now I am going to haul my butt up my own stairs and take a nap, basking in my accomplishment!  Owww, my legs!

Thanks for Reading!

See you Friday for

"My Favorite Seattle Restaurants A-Z
with One Sentence Reviews!"

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