Outdoor Blog Entries

Exploring the City

Posted by Peter H., UREC Outdoor Leader on Monday, March 15, 2021 at 12:00 PM PDT

With over 2,200 miles of sidewalks in Seattle, there is no shortage of ground to cover. Yet cities are intimidating complexes that are all too easy to get lost in. The urban forest can also feel chocked-full of dangers lurking around every corner. Nevertheless, preparation and situational awareness will help you end up where you started, with a good story to tell. Scattered throughout the city maze are countless spaces just waiting to be discovered. Thankfully, the Internet offers a shortcut with ideas for where to go and what to do. Once well equipped with a destination in mind, it’s time to get outside. The city can be unpredictable and unforgiving so practice self-reliance by bringing all that you may need. So lace up your shoes and learn how to safely explore our urban backyard, even during a pandemic.

Google is a Godsend

Any successful adventure starts with a plan. Even if your carefully planned itinerary gets thrown out the proverbial window, an initial destination is essential before venturing into the unknown.  A quick Google search will go a long way in dictating the success of your trip. Discover the landmarks and hidden gems the city has to offer, then go see them for yourself!

Google Maps is an essential tool for finding where you are and where you want to go. Take note of cardinal directions, major neighborhoods, parks, and street layout. As convenient as step by step directions are, don’t be afraid to find the way for yourself. A “wrong” turn may lead you to an unexpected bonus quest. At the very least, you won’t be that clueless tourist with their head in their phone. Cars tend to favor hitting those most oblivious.

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

So as to not get arrested for indecent exposure, dress appropriately with a good pair of walking shoes, multiple layers, and pants. Regardless of the capacity of your pockets, a backpack is a time-honored solution for all your carrying needs. What you bring will depend on a variety of factors but consider the items on this list as a suitable starting point. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Explore

Now that you’re set and headed for your first destination, explore what the city has to offer. Take your time and leave no stone unturned. Maintain a spontaneous attitude and seize the opportunity for adventure. Open your senses to the many unique and sometimes offensive sounds, sights, and smells. Give those suffering from homelessness your empathy and remind yourself how lucky you are to have a home to go back to. Know where the parks are, as they are great places to relax and take a break from the incessant bustle of the city. Public transportation is not recommended at this time, so consider biking as an alternative. Seattle has miles of protected bike lanes that cross the entire metropolis.

Stay Safe

Protecting yourself and others is the ultimate priority. Avoid crowded areas and give everyone a safe distance.  In order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, face coverings are a necessity for traveling through the city. Primarily, your mask protects those around you, and their mask protects you. Extra thick face coverings may potentially add an extra level of self-protection. Additionally, don’t touch your face, find a mask that’s comfortable and wash after wearing. 

Be careful what you touch. The word is out, crosswalk buttons are often nothing more than a placebo for the impatient pedestrian. As fun as smashing buttons can be, control your urges and use your elbow. Those steel circles are a high-contact vector for dangerous pathogens. If your hands land on something questionable, immediately use hand sanitizer, but properly wash your hands ASAP.

Traversing the concrete confusion requires constant vigilance. Act defensively by avoiding potentially dangerous situations or areas like alleys or poorly lit sections of town. Always travel with a buddy to laugh at your jokes and remind you to keep your head up and alert. When crossing a street, look left-right-left and don’t rely on others for your personal safety.

Exploring the city will open your eyes to the immense density of culture created by a community that can’t help but live on top of each other. If you know what you’re doing, Seattle is an incredibly exciting place to explore.