Off The Press
February 26, 2013
By Joe Grove
The road less taken leads to the woods
I wonder where that road goes? With that question, I am off on another of Robert Frost’s roads less taken, as I explore Issaquah, my new home. With the scarcity of streets laid out in grids, discovery is the best way to learn my way around, especially being map challenged.
Sometimes, I leave the house on my motorcycle with my only intent being to take the next right turn or the next left turn. The most amazing find on these serendipitous trips has been the frequency with which roads lead to a trailhead or series of trailheads.
Too many years too late, I realize I am in a hiker’s paradise.
Shall I park the bike and see where that trail goes? There is a pull to do it, but having had both legs run over by a car a few years back and an aging hip declaring it is time for a replacement, I turn the bike around and look for new roads to explore.
While I ride, I think. I see Issaquah as the antidote to a serious issue raised by the naturalist and author Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in the Woods.” Louv coins a phrase he calls “nature deficit disorder.” He claims that in a high-tech environment, kids need exposure to nature if they are going to develop normally. Kids need to explore nature. I remember Bill Cosby in one of his early party records describing his discovery that there was dirt under the sidewalks of his neighborhood.
When I think about kids and nature, I think about the many boyhood hours I whiled away playing in the pine forests of Roslyn. Our house was on the edge of town, and it was out the back door, across an alley and into the woods. It was my brothers’ and my unrestricted playground. I followed it with 30 years of Alaskan outdoors and 20 years of Arkansas, the self-proclaimed “natural state.” Nothing quite compares with an early morning in the Arkansas flooded timber, watching a flock of Mallards drop in around you to feed on floating acorns.
At the age of 70, I still like to pitch a tent in the woods around Salmon La Sac, sit in a folding camp chair, watch the night sky chase the daylight away and marvel at the “starry, starry sky” with the occasional shooting star. In early morning, I brew a cup of coffee, heat up a Cup Noodles for breakfast and watch the daylight now dispatch the darkness. It is an experience every child should have occasionally, as it is a terrific balance to the touch screen existence they live.
You may not be able to take the kids on an overnighter, but many trails around Issaquah provide a great way to let the kids experience the work of a Creator rather than always the work of the creature. So, pack a lunch, load the kids in the car, find a trailhead, and don’t forget the Discover Pass, a real bargain at $30.