New Route

A cousin once made fun of the ludicrous names that so many modern blacks are given.  Her mother was named Rohte Gene and her aunts were Alyf Bell, Bess Faye, and Kathryn LaMerle (my mother).

At my current rate, i’ll expire of a surfeit of joy in a few days, as so far it’s been just too good to last and there’s way too much i want to tell about.  Where to start?

How ’bout an embarrassment?  Oh, just a minor one.  I’ve stopped telling about the major ones so i can run around loose as long as possible before they have me committed.  I’m getting senile but i retain my low cunning.

I ended the post titled “Settler” with a photo of a bridge i described as “the little pedestrian bridge at the foot of B Street”.  Oops, my bad.  In the first place, the bridge i had in mind is at the foot of Western Street.  More importantly, the bridge in the photo is nowhere near B Street and is a new bridge of which i was completely unaware and mistook for the old one.

With fine dramatic irony, the incompetent military instructor in Henry Reed’s “Judging Distances” inverts the usual order and says, “Maps are of time, not place”.  In any case, an outdated map is of only partial utility, and my paper map of Petaluma dates from 1983, a time at which there was not a single pedestrian bridge in Petaluma although i’d spotted on a visit several years ago the handsome rough wooden one at the foot of Western Street between the Washington Street Bridge and the D Street Bridge.  Its proper name is the Balshaw Bridge, it dates from 1989, and here it is.

Balshaw Bridge

And here’s a shot into the mouth although you have to look very close to see just how rough the roadway is.  It’s almost a corduroy road, and i’m gonna have to do some serious practice to be able to take it at full speed on the Segway, spraying splinters in my wake.

Balshaw Bridge over the Petaluma River

And doncya just love that “No Diving” sign?  It was a wonderful Aha experience many years ago when it struck me that laws in thirteenth-century England requiring the use of French in courts meant that English was being spoken.  Laws are almost always reactive; and since they prohibit existing behavior, they are proof that the behavior was taking place.

Still, how was i to know that Petaluma now enjoys two pedestrian bridges, that wooden one i’d incorporated into my favorite route to and from downtown even though it passed right in front of a siren (not Thelxiepeia luring me to my death with attractive song but rather Baskin Robbins with enticing carbohydrates), and a much newer one of similar design but of steel with a smooth concrete roadbed (located north of the Washington Street Bridge between it and the Lakeville Bridge.

I discovered the new bridge thanks to another joy of Petaluma, that folks here seem every bit as gregarious as i am.  See, i was looking for a route downtown that would minimize the Segway hostile Washington Street experience, it being probably the busiest street in town and there being no bike lane.  So last Sunday i tried heading west on Madison off Payran to reduce travel on the irregular Washington Street sidewalks to two blocks.  And whaddya know, a couple of little girls had a lemonade stand.

Who can pass a lemonade stand operated by little girls?  Certainly not i, so i whipped an immediate u-turn and pulled up in front of the stand.  Hard u-turns display the Segway at its finest, and the girls squealed with delight.  I seem to be the only Segway in town, and few people here have tried one although i’m rapidly remedying that want.  One of the girls asked to try it before i could even offer, and her mother said yes to my inquiry.  So after both girls had demonstrated the immediate facility of the young on the Segway, i offered their mothers trials and we got into conversation while i sipped my complimentary lemonade.

And they told me about the new pedestrian bridge serving a bike trail which is now my preferred route downtown.

So here’s the new route, starting from Lakeville Street.  It’s clearly a southern extension of the Lynch Creek Trail and leads downtown to connect with the Petaluma River Trail.

DSCN0951

The route is now a work in progress, but the northern end is well paved, lined on both sides with fragrant wild fennel, and leads to the new bridge named Copeland Crossing.

new steel pedestrian bridge over the Petaluma River

It’s structurally pretty much identical to the Balshaw Bridge and handsome in its own way.

new steel pedestrian bridge over the Petaluma River

After you cross it, though, the pavement ends and there’s a gravel portion before you hit Water Street.  Segways don’t like gravel.

DSCN0977

Water Street itself is a bit nondescript.

Water Street

However, there are points of interest.

Water Street

And finally, you reach Washington Street, where there’s no traffic signal to tame the heavy cross traffic, not even a crosswalk.

Washington Street crossing

If you survive the crossing, though, the ride down the Petaluma River Trail to the Balshaw Bridge is lovely, especially if you avoid the cobblestones and stay on the nice, smooth bricks.  Segways don’t like cobblestones, either.

Water Street

You can continue along a unscenic aperture along the riverbank to B Street, beyond which the landscaping becomes lovely.

DSCN1022

At the end of Water Street you find the Petaluma Yacht Club.

Petaluma Yacht Club

 

Opposite the Yacht Club are the beginnings of 1st Street and C Street, where you enter what Petaluma’s real estate community is now labeling “The Theater District” (a lovely space, but oh please).  I am supposing that that ridiculous hype comes from a Deco movie theatre on C Street.

Petaluma cinema

 

Hmmm.  This seems to have turned into a rather too exhaustive photo essay, but hey, it’s a break from the “pages all black with words”, as a critic remarked before i started adding pics.

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