Home on Whidbey is a family blog revolving around Fran, Ed, Brad, Yessi, plus puppy Benton, and our family, travels, friends, neighbors and community. Thanks for reading.


Snohomish Centennial Trail

On Mother's Day Ed and I enjoyed a sunny, warm, beautiful 45 mile round trip bike ride from Snohomish to Arlington and back, along with every biking family in the Greater Seattle area.  It was crowded and lively with the good cheer of having a family-bike-ride-with-mom.  It's a well-maintained and easy to ride trail that passes through beautiful countryside, including forests, farmlands and wetlands with stunning views of the Cascade Mountains, but especially Mt. Pilchuck.   We'd wished we'd taken a picnic (more on that further down in this post) as there were picnic tables and benches nicely placed along the way in pleasing spots.

Ed @ Machias Trail Head and Rest Stop

Fran @ Machias
In my home town, Langley, we now have signs marking the Langley Loop. The Langley Loop is a great idea for helping all sorts of people to find Langley, a village off the highway.  I'm advocating more "loops".  It's easier for automobiles, but much, much easier for hikers and bikers.   They are tired and hungry and can't just drive around until they find something.

Langley dancing the Langley Loop:
Here we go loop de loop
Langley Town Photo - 5/19/12 on the day Langley danced the Langley Loop de loop.

As with any town, when you live there, or are quite familiar with it, signage is insignificant.  As a result, locals can be somewhat cavalier about maps, giving directions and signage.  I remember, years ago, when my then young son, Brad, and I were still living in Seattle but doing a bike weekend on Whidbey Island.  We'd headed to South Whidbey State Park for camping and then the next day we were biking to Langley for the Island County Fair.  We'd been given directions to enter Langley on Saratoga Road.  The first business we came to, Langley Lumber, was closed on Sunday, so we asked a motorist where Langley was.  After they stopped laughing, they told us it was just down the street two blocks.  Obvious to them, not so obvious to us and exploring the possibilities of Langley's location on a fully loaded bike was not that easy.  And, this is my point.  If Langley had had the Langley Loop signs back then, we would not have had to ask where Langley was, so obvious now that I live here too, but not so obvious all those years ago.
Saratoga Road
Ed and I had that same experience when we arrived in Arlington last Sunday on the Centennial Trail.  We were wanting lunch but first we needed to find downtown Arlington.   Road map?  Nope.  Signage?  Nope.  Restaurant signs?  Nope.  Here's a trail dumping 100s of riders into their town and not one entrepreneur or chamber or city sign to be seen.  We finally asked other riders and found our way to Arlington's main street.  There we found a bike shop and asked for recommendations to a good eatery.  We got some hand waving but not very good information.  The restaurants recommended were closed.  Our Arlington lunch experience left us unsatisfied in a number of ways.

There's a message here.   Bikers do spend money.  Bikers do eat and drink.  Bikers will return in their cars if they've had a good experience.  Bikers are good for the economy.  As are hikers.  When Brad was hiking the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand he found lots of eager businesses along the way -- hostels, eateries, bars, bakeries, shuttle services, kayak services, lodges, sporting goods stores -- ready to serve the hikers.  He's finding that in some of the towns along the Pacific Crest Trail (of note so far is one of  the best sporting goods stores, south of Wander on Whidbey, and the town of  Idyllwild) hikers are seen as assets, but not all.
Welcome to Idyllwild
Bicycle Trails and hiking trails are awesome for the users, and the wise towns are capitalizing on the economic benefits of having trails in their neighborhoods.  When I rode the Galloping Goose Trail on Vancouver Island a few years ago, entrepreneurs were popping up from B&B's to kid's lemonade stands.  When Ed and I rode the George S. Mickelson Trail in South Dakota two years ago, the only trail-oriented business we found on the 114 mile route was a bicycle shop and on the Trail of the Coeur d'alenes we found a fabulous State Camp Ground, but few services. 

Now I'm not suggesting that the trails allow billboards and mini strip malls, but I am suggesting that there are missed business opportunities for the towns along these trails to provide services and information about their services.

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