A Pullman walkabout - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

May 2, 2020

A Pullman walkabout

We gear up for an early start on today’s ride, stepping out the door of our new home at 9:30.  With isolated thunderstorms forecast beginning at 2 and that sobering cloudburst in John Day still fresh in our minds, we want to be sure to return home in plenty of time.  Our plan for the day is to bike east on the Bill Chapman Trail to Pullman’s sister city  Moscow, Idaho and then continue on east toward Troy.  It’s an out and back, so we don’t know how far we’ll get.

We get about ten feet.  It’s much windier than we expect, and it looks like it could rain any minute.  We go back indoors to check the weather report, and it agrees - it is likely to rain any minute, and last for a half hour or more.  A ride suddenly feels less enticing, and we consider taking a walk - we can test out the state of Rachael’s improving foot, we can explore our new home a bit, and we can take the opportunity to get a bit of space from each other.  

I then remember that we both have reasons to take our bike in the shop for a health check-up, and that seals the deal.  At 10 we call B&L Bicycles to see if we need an appointment, and they say that today they’re servicing walk-ins.  Perfect.  It sounds like an excellent plan for a grey, blustery day.  We hop on the bikes and coast down to Pullman’s small historical commercial center.

The attractive sign in the yard of our new Home gives us a warm feeling.
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B&L Bicycles looks like a fine store, and has a lineup of stickers designating it as one of America’s Best Bicycle Shops (rated by National Bicycle Dealers Association) for the last five years running.  However, we were misinformed on the phone.  They aren’t taking walk-ins today, because of the plague.  They are taking stand-outsides though, so we take our place in the well spaced, short queue on the sidewalk and wait our turn for attention.

We’re here for different reasons.  Rachael’s gears are in need of adjustment, and my front brake has become an embarrassment - starting just a few days ago, is squeals horrendously and chatters.  When our turn is up we explain the situation, leave our bikes and phone numbers with the service representative, and then go our own way to explore town at our own pace.

A few hours later, Rachael gives me a call.  She stopped back in at the shop to check on the status of our bikes.  Hers is done, but mine has issues.  The shop is having trouble with its cantilever brakes for some reason and can’t get to it today if at all.  It’s a model they’re not familiar with and  think maybe the brake should be replaced, but it’s not happening today.  Disappointing, but I think I’ll just live with the squeal until we return to Portland next month.  

Rachael doesn’t have to go far before she finds something worth a photograph: an appealing restaurant take-out menu.
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Main Street, Pullman.
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Actually, I shouldn’t have called this a Pullman walkabout, because I don’t end up seeing much of the city.  After about two blocks I come to a nice riverside walkway that leads me in a couple of blocks to a steepish hill with some striking architecture crowning the top.  This must be Washington State University.  I work my way up the hill and find one delight after another to catch my attention.  So this is really a WSU walkabout.

A pause for reflection: May, 1964

Before looking around though, a personal aside.  I’ve been to Pullman before, exactly once: in May, 1964.  I spent two nights here, probably in a college dorm although I don’t remember for sure.  Actually I don’t remember anything about Pullman at all from that visit except for the college’s running track.

In high school I was a fairly decent distance runner by the standards of the day.  I was our high school’s best miler, and one of the five or six best in the city.   I ran my fastest mile ever in the spring all-Seattle track meet: 4:28.6.  A laughably slow time now, but way back then it was enough to place me third, just edging out one of my rivals from Garfield High, and earned me one of the places in the all-state championships in Pullman.  

I’d like to say that I showered my family and school in glory with a standout performance, but actually it was a humiliation.  I’m not sure what happened but I ran a poor race, finishing well below my best time, and I think finished 15th out of 16.  I did however beat one of the other Seattle entrants, so that’s something.  Thinking back, I think beer was involved - I have a vague recollection that some of us slipped out of the dorm and managed to score a case, but I might be making that up.

The one clear memory I have of the race is at the starting line, shaking hands with one of the runners.  A thin, short, gangly young man who looked like he was about 12 or 13, but was well known to all of us as well as anyone in the country with even a passing interest in track and field: Gerry Lindgren, from Rogers High School in Spokane.  Gerry was a genuine phenomenon, and one of the finest distance runners the nation has ever produced.  He wasn’t best known for the mile, and really excelled at longer distances.  Still, his mile wasn’t bad: later that year he ran his lifetime best at 4:01.5, as a 16 year old.  He shattered the high school records for the 5,000 meter run and 2 mile indoor, setting national records that would hold for 40 years.  He beat the Russians in the historic US/USSR meet, and was a favorite to win the gold in the 1964 Olympics until he sprained his ankle in training.

So, that’s one of my few claims to greatness: I competed against Gerry Lindgren.  And shook hands with him.  And saw him for a few brief seconds before he left the entire field far behind.  No one else in the state, or in the whole country even, was really in his league at the time.

Pullman is well into spring. Fruit trees are in full bloom throughout this part of town.
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I’m not familiar with what this one is though. It’s very common here,
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Bill ShaneyfeltMaybe a crabapple? Lots of varieties. Most of them around here are not much as far as fruit goes, but a few are great. Flowers are variable. Purplish leaves look right.

https://www.greenandvibrant.com/crabapples
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3 weeks ago
The WSU power plant.
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College Avenue, the most direct and steepest access to the campus.
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Looking down College Avenue, the historical commercial center begins just at the bend in the distance.
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I think this is Carpenter Hall, and home of the School of Design and Construction. Their school’s website claims itself as “ the premier destination for integrated design and construction education in the nation. Having all of the built environment disciplines (Architecture, Construction Engineering, Construction Management, Interior Design and Landscape Architecture) within the same school and engineering programs within the same college, provides the opportunity to deliver a truly integrated, transformative, and unparalleled educational experience for students.”
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Building detail, Carpenter Hall.
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Saucer Magnolias, Merrill Hall.
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Thompson Hall, built in 1894, is the oldest building on campus and was the original administration building. This is the building I saw from below that inspired me to climb up.
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The campus has some magnificent trees and feels like an arboretum. This is an avenue of maples leading up to the entrance to Thompson Hall.
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One of the maples from the image above. Such a strangely textured, rippled trunk.
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Image not found :(
Palouse Columns, one of the only art works on campus I could find a name for.
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Stevens Hall, built in 1895, is a women’s-only residence hall. Such an elegant building, it makes me think of a national park lodge.
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The front portico, Stevens Hall.
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Stevens Hall.
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Cherries in full bloom, Stevens Hall.
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Bryan Hall, another of the oldest buildings on campus. The clock tower was built in 1909.
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The iconic clock tower on Bryan Hall is impressive, but I really admire this elegant giant in front of it: the Lowell Elm, planted here in 1893.
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The Lowell Elm.
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I’m not sure I’ve seen an American elm when it first leafs out before.
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Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltOh, of course. They look like potato chips.
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3 weeks ago
A colorful arrangement in front of Bryan Hall.
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Bill ShaneyfeltBirch, maybe swamp birch? Grows here in OH.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_alleghaniensis
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltOr maybe a paperbark maple? I’ll probably make it back up the hill later in the month, and maybe it will have leafed out by then.
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Stimson Hall, built in 1922, is the oldest remaining men’s residence hall on campus.
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Stimson Hall.
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The campus also has some intriguing and entertaining sculptures and art works scattered about.  Here are a few that particularly appealed to me.  

Bookin’, the delightful bronze statue in front of the library. It is intended to mimic the walking posture of Glenn Terrell, a former president of the university.
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I was surprised to see that some of the books have barely legible titles on their spines.
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Andrea BrownAnd some even have the texture of a cloth binding! Cooooooool.
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownIt is cool. I’d like to know more about how he did this. I wonder if somehow he bronze-coated actual books.
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3 weeks ago
Such a creative, entertaining sculpture.
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I don’t know what this one is - I couldn’t find a name for it - but I like it.
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A detail of our mystery sculpture.
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And another.
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I give up. Undetonated ordnance from WWII?
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Bruce LellmanQuick, Bill, what is this?
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3 weeks ago
Shawn AndersonAlmost looks like a vintage air compressor or boiler tank.
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3 weeks ago
Another unlabeled art work, in Spring Park. It looks like a bear to me, but maybe it’s supposed to be a cougar, the WSU mascot?
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Jen GrumbyLove your story about shaking hands with Gerry Lindgren!

Great tour of the campus. Impressive buildings, sculptures, and trees! It's painful to imagine being a senior who was hoping for a commencement ceremony on May 9.

Now it's postponed until at least August.

Will be interesting to see what WSU and other schools do for fall term.
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI wonder what’s in store for them this autumn too, as well as for all of us. So many things seem possible, few of them good.
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3 weeks ago