By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Eight years ago, West Seattle writer Linnea Westerlind “decided all of a sudden to try to visit all the parks in the city in a year.”
Not that she wasn’t already having enough of an adventure, as the parent of a son who was six months old at the time she started her exploration – and then, “in the middle of that, I had twins.”
So with three little park-going companions, she continued the park visits. “I loved parks and was just in love with the park system and decided to turn it into something more tangible.
“Discovering Seattle Parks,” just published by Harbor Island-headquartered Mountaineers Books, is the result. It’s also, Westerlind says, the first guidebook to Seattle parks in more than 40 years, spotlighting more than 100 of them.
After hearing about it, we requested an interview, and sat down at one of her favorite West Seattle parks – Lowman Beach – this past Monday.
Lowman is featured on pages 216-217 of her book, and as with other entries, this one will teach you something you probably didn’t know about the park – who donated it to the city and who it’s named after. (The information is so up to date, it even mentions the just-completed Murray combined-sewer-overflow facility across the street and its viewpoint attributes.)
This is Westerlind’s first book; her writing background is mostly in public-relations communications, “lots of writing for different companies,” currently focused mostly on nonprofits.
Parks #99-#110 in her book are in West Seattle and South Park. If you think you’re an expert on the parks here, you might be interested in suggestions for other parks in the city to enjoy. We asked Westerlind about her favorites: “Woodland Park [p. 97-100],” for its “great amenities,” including lawn bowling and a BMX bike course. “I also love East Montlake Park [p. 172-173], right in that little island between the 520 Bridge and University of Washington … then down in South Seattle, there’s a quiet little stretch called Chinook Beach Park [p. 183-184], with a lovely rocky beach that’s become an important place for salmon.” It’s on Lake Washington, just a few miles from the Cedar River.
With three young sons – the oldest now 8, the twins almost 6 – we figured she would be an expert on playgrounds, too. (The entries in the book are accompanied by icons marking them for/as kid-friendly, dog-friendly, barbecue grills, views, beach or waterfront, spray park or wading pool, unpaved trails, paved paths, historic significance, accessible, public art, and/or gardens.)
“My kids tested hundreds of playgrounds!” she said. The ones that impressed her/them: Montlake Playfield [p. 170-172] near Highway 520, with a “fantastic playground for older kids, a cool obstacle course, unusual spaceship-type climbing (toy).” Also, “Powell Barnett Park [p. 145-147] in the Central District,” with a “nice mix of challenging climbing equipment and cute, colorful climbing toys for little ones,” plus a “nice walking path.” In West Seattle, Ercolini Park [p. 217-218] is her favorite kid-friendly neighborhood park, not just for the legendary toys but also for the “little loop trail … I spent a lot of time walking that in circles.”
You will find driving and transit directions to parks in her book, too. And each chapter is “anchored around a major park,” with those “anchors” also including trail maps. One more bonus feature: The last chapter spotlights major regional parks outside Seattle, “worth the drive.”
Westerlind took the photos you’ll see in the book and is excited that many were published in color – though she certainly has spent many a gray day in parks, too (including the day of our interview). Overall, she says, “I’m just excited to share my favorite parks and inspire people to explore and be outside, especially for families, I’m really passionate about getting kids outside … and Seattle has such a great park system. We’re lucky … so many amazing places we can explore and new things we can find everywhere. … I think the book can appeal to people with a broad interest – hiking, looking for new offleash areas, parents looking for playgrounds … something for everybody. Hopefully even for longtime West Seattleites, there’ll be something new to discover in West Seattle parks.” And she hopes it will be helpful to new arrivals as well.
Her website complements the book – it includes all 400+ city parks, while the book “only” gets to 122, including the aforementioned group of regional parks outside Seattle. Her website includes more than 50 regional parks, street ends, “interesting public-access” spaces, too.
Westerlind has a variety of events coming up around the city this summer at which you can meet her and find out more about the book. The first one is tonight. Here’s the list, so far:
June 14th (tonight), The Mountaineers Program Center Event for Youth and Families, 6-8 PM.
June 19, 7 pm University Bookstore (U District HQ)
June 22, 6 pm Fjall Raven Store Appearance, 1113 1st Ave.
June 24, 3:30 pm, Booktree Kirkland
August 13, 10 am-2 pm, Click! Design That Fits (West Seattle)
August 24, 7:30 pm, Third Place Books, Seward Park
She’ll be updating her appearances on her website’s events page, and hopes to lead a few park walks this summer, at least one in West Seattle.
The book, by the way, is 256 pages, listed at $18.95, and will be widely available in stores by next week – locally, at Metropolitan Market (WSB sponsor) and Alki Mail and Dispatch – you can buy it from the publisher online, too.