These last couple years, I find our family has stumbled itself into a fortunate position. The home we built is in a nice older neighborhood, less than a mile from downtown Mound [inaccurate, out of date, google map here
]. The school our daughter's will walk to next year is less than a half mile.
We've been practicing the walk to school with Maeve the last couple weeks with great success. I've been packing the toddlers up on the double stroller, the walkers walking, and we all walk Maeve to school. I took my camera along so I could document the walk the girls will take to school, and then walked all the way to downtown since it was such a beautiful day.
The pictures below are in order, starting from the end of our driveway, to the school, and finally to the hardware store, which was our destination that day.
|Here we are, about to embark on our journey. We have a great neighborhood, having good relations with almost everyone. On the right and across the street from our home is our neighborhood park, and on the left our neighboring lake shore lots.
|At the top of the hill on our street, note the boat on the left... nearly every yard or driveway has a boat (or boat trailer) sitting on it in Mound.
|Heading down the hill. The girls will take a right at the bottom of the hill which is a nice walking path.|
|The public walking path serves as a driveway for one home. It clearly was originally intended to be a street, but the city ended up just making it a sidewalk.|
The city does a great job of keeping this sidewalk plowed during the winter. We are fortunate in that our family knows almost all the people that live along this way. I continually quiz the girls who lives where, and what they should do if something should happen when they are walking everyday.
|At the end of this sidewalk, is another street, and we will turn left.|
|We are almost to the school yard, it's just around the corner to the right. The girls desperately want to climb the retaining wall on the left here... I am conflicted as I know I should let them explore and let them get it out of their system, but it goes pretty high.|
|Going around the turn, there's the school yard. This is about the halfway point to the school. We are very fortunate in that our friend, Sue, operates a childcare at the corner here. So Maeve and Cecelia know this can be a safe place to go in case of problems.|
|Look at the girls cross the street! |
This is Bartlett Blvd, the worst part about this walk. It's a wide straight street that encourages cars to go fast. One block to the left is a four way stop sign with crosswalks, so fortunately, cars are not going as fast as they might another block or two further away. The city refuses to put a crosswalk here, and the school will only put a crossing guard at the crosswalk (which is out of the way for everyone). After a lot of discussion, we decided it was going to be best for our daughters to cross here.
|Fortunately, the door where Maeve's bus drops her off is right here, so they won't need to walk around the building to get in.|
As we say good bye to Maeve, we will continue to walk towards downtown Mound, towards Wilshire, which is to the left.
|So here we are on a nice asphalt sidewalk that runs alongside the school on Wilshire. The school is on the right, and on the left side of the telephone pole, is the Mound Fire/Police building.|
|The building is relatively new. The tower design is part of the look Mound is trying to achieve as it build's it's downtown. In the horizon, you can see the old Tonka Truck toy factory, which is now light industrial and storage.
|So now we've walked past the Fire/Police building and turn left heading towards Mound City Hall on the right and the Little League baseball fields.|
|Here we are kitty corner to the Little League baseball fields. We we walk past them to the Andrew Sisters Trail.|
|Cecelia and us cut through the Little League parking lot to the Andrew Sister's trail. It's great for us, as it lets us walk to downtown without having to walk along busy Shoreline Drive.
|This is a short trail, honoring the Andrew Sisters (the singing group that sang Bugle Boy of Company C) who spent childhood summers in Mound, MN. Up ahead of us through the trees is the first glimpse of Lake Minnetonka.|
|This part of Lake Minnetonka is called Lost Lake. The city of Mound, as part of it's redevelopment of the downtown, spent considerable resources in cleaning this up. Janet says they used to call this area the dump. Note the transit center (ie. parking garage) up ahead.|
|This part of the lake used to be unnavigatable. The city was determined to have a harbor district like Wayzata and Excelsior, so it dredged (or redredged) a channel and this area of Lost Lake, and put in public docks. Unfortunately, is is very rare to see a boat tied up here.|
|So the city has this big empty field in a prime location all ready for someone to develop. It was envisioned to be mixed use of retail/office/residential. Unfortunately the economy bottomed out, and Mound is waiting for Superman.|
|The Andrew Sisters Trail continues down Auditors, but now have easy access to the Dakota Rail Trail, which stretches from Wayzata to beyond St. Bonifacious. Mound is unique, in that this popular trail runs right though it's downtown!|
Unfortunately, Mound doesn't offer very nice views for trail users. As someone pointed out to me, one would walk through Mound, and see a parking ramp, a parking lot, a drive through, and more parking lots. It's very sad.
|Our destination is ahead of us!|
|You can see the our friendly neighborhood hardware store, Mound True Value, to your right.|
In retrospect, I never realized how lucky I was to have grown up in a home that was next to a park, or I was able to walk to school, or the library, or the local grocery store. So I wonder, did my parents realize all this when they selected the house to raise their children?
Janet and I are fortunate that Maeve and Cecelia will be able to enjoys these amenities as they grow up. The grocery store, although not pedestrian friendly, will still be approachable for our kids one day, and our local library is just beyond that! We have the option of sending them on their own, and not being forced in a situation to drive.
Don't get me wrong, there are some things that need to get better. Mound is unique, in that so much of it sits, surrounded by Lake Minnetonka, and so the topography forces neighborhoods apart. Across the lake from our house is what is referred to by the locals as "the island" which you have to cross a bridge to get to. The bridges are NOT ped and bike friendly. Even though it's so close, walking to "the island" is not something one enjoys. Other neighborhoods are equally not as fun to approach, as the only way to get to "Three Points" or "Highland" from downtown is to walk along a busy county road.
But when I think about where we might have ended up... I am very thankful to Merrill and Velma for the home they selected, and to my parents, to raising me in a Strongtown.
This post was inspired by my new friend Nate Hood, and his post of a Stroll to the Gym