Liming Spokane On A Sunny Afternoon — Old friend Dr. John Gilmore is back as a travel writer. Hopefully, you see him regularly.
By John W. Gilmore
Using a Lime Scooter for transportation is enjoyable and convenient in Spokane, WA. The small, electric scooter moves slowly, allowing me to look at the shops, stores and buildings that I would pass too quickly in a car, while allowing me to travel a longer distance than on foot.
Spokane, a city with almost a quarter million people, seems to have been created to support a much larger population. The streets are wide and the infrastructure well defined. Everything is clean, unlike most cities of its size in the US. There are people moving about, but the streets downtown never seem crowded. The openness of the large spaces and wide streets provide a feeling of quiet and tranquility. The large spaces are probably a leftover benefit from a world expo that took place here in the 1970s when they built many buildings and improved the infrastructure to accommodate large numbers of tourists.
A Lyft driver who has lived here all of his life told me that this downtown section isn’t the only downtown section.
“The city is very long running along the river, There are a lot of malls and business districts dispersed all along the city so there are clumps of people at different places,” he said. “The part we are in is mostly for Conventions” (thus the Spokane Convention Center).
He says there are many office buildings, banks, and a very large number of hotels in this part of town, which makes it convenient and inexpensive for people from out of town to fly in just to use the facilities. “A lot of people fly in from all over the west coast to save money. It’s cheaper to fly in here from all along the coast and even from Seattle to have meetings, because it doesn’t cost that much. We are geared for it here. We also spend more money than most cities on clean up and maintenance.”
Perhaps this part of city seems so quiet because of this. The large size with fewer people provides a great deal of comfort for the people who live there. It is a very long city with activities taking place in pockets. You don’t get that crushed in, rushing feeling you get in most downtown areas in the southern part of the city near The Convention Center with its many business related buildings and hotel complexes. There is a laid back feeling in this small city, but there are very few people of color. I float around as a stranger — a large black man over six feet tall and 260 pounds, receiving none of the strange looks and glances I receive in many East Coast cities, suburbs, and small towns, which is a bit refreshing. I find what I am seeking — Atticus Coffee Shop on Howard St.. It is said that one can tell the quality of a city by its coffee shop.
The coffee shop is full of people on this weekday afternoon. They sell many coffee related wares: beans, teas, cups, coffee pots and all of the rich, delectable desserts that go wellcwith coffee. In the rear whole families gather together sharing coffee at a small cafe cut into the store just for the purpose of large group gatherings. The tables are heavy, dark wood. Some are large enough to accommodategroups of six to eight with smaller two and four seater tables nearby crunched together in an adjacent space. Service is good, but just a bit slower, more relaxed than in larger cities.
People move in and out looking at the wares. Some, who are just interested in the coffee, enter in through the backdoor taking a break from their daily activities to catch a quick cup. There are many desserts, condiments, and more teas than I know much about. The baristas seem happy and relaxed, like many of the people I have seen in the part of town near the convention center and The Riverwalk.
This is a slice of their daily lives, but to me just a chance to hang out in a new city; a time after a busy conference when I can collect myself before a long flight with two connections across the country. I am the ultimate tourist, not engaging in much, but drifting from one place to the next just watching the people. I am the only black person in this whole coffee shop. There are very few in the city, but I have seen a few Latino individuals and black people as I took my Lyft around town.
Many of the black and Latin American drivers have drifted in from other cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles looking for quieter lifestyles and a smaller city. They seem happy to be here. I have heard, however, that there are some racial issues, but no more than in the rest of the country. I have not experienced them myself, yet again, I don’t live here. I still haven’t seen everything, and doubt that I will. It is not something I think of regularly anymore. There are other things you can concentrate on here as a tourist.
Taking a slow ride along Riverwalk, you cross a bridge over the falls with a spectacular view filling you with inspiration. You wind pass large buildings, museums, gondolas suspended on steel cables perched high waiting to take you on your sunset tour over the falls. In the other direction on your Lime you drive through the Spokane Falls Community College with its winding paths weaving through large, stone buildings, and modern architecture until you arrive back at The Convention Center where you can start again.
These scooters are not attached to any one part of town. You find one parked by the side of the road, unlock it with an app, and then drop it off at your destination. No money exchanges hands. It works like an Uber so you can pick one up and leave it as you would like. It is a great way to see Spokane. Don’t get caught riding on the sidewalks though. I have heard you can get a ticket for it as l was riding on the sidewalk along…with everybody else. Yet again, I think it is a little safer.