The Coon Family Hiking Club
Official Hike #3

7.46 miles (12K)

Jim, Tammy, Jamie & LeRoy: 2 Hours 11 Minutes
Al & Dotti: 2 Hours 20 Minutes

For a description of the Bloomsday course, and some general thoughts on the Bloomsday event, please visit
2004 our first Bloomsday Race.

Bloomsday - 30th Anniversary

Thirty years ago, the residents of Spokane saw their very first Bloomsday Race. At the same time, Dotti and I had planned to get married in early May, and my leave was approved, so I could fly home from Diego Garcia, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. But, as all too often happens to the military man, the Navy canceled my leave, and all of our plans evaporated into smoke. Our church wedding was gone. In typical Dotti fashion, her wedding dress had been loaned out, since she wouldn't be needing it, and we were very depressed. Then all at once my leave was reinstated, and I arrived home just a bit later than we had hoped.

But there was no putting the genie back into the bottle. The church wedding was gone, there was no time to reschedule. And Dotti couldn't get her dress back. (Her brother's wife had had it altered and she wore it 9 days after Dotti and I were married, in their church wedding. At least they are still married too. J) So, on June 10th, 1976 we drove over the Interstate Bridge from Portland to Vancouver, Washington, because Washington had no waiting period for getting married; we bought a marriage license at the courthouse, and walked across the street to a little wedding chapel (that has since become a Bail Bond Shop) and were married: no tux, no wedding dress, and no frills. Inauspicious, you might say, but that humble beginning has carried us through 30 wonderful years.

So, 2006 not only marked the 30th anniversary of the first Bloomsday Race, but it brings Dotti and I to our 30th wedding anniversary as well. But it doesn't end there!

Eight months after the first Bloomsday was run, our dear friends Jim and Tammy said their vows on New Year's Day 1977. Before another Bloomsday will be run, they, like us, will have been married 30 years. So, this was indeed the 30th Anniversary Bloomsday Race, at least from where we stand.

It was 51° and it felt cold! Dotti and I still felt chilled for a couple of days even after the Bloomsday Race had been run this year. Dotti and I have walked in much colder weather (e.g. 24º at Pocatello on February 7, 2005) than what we saw during the race, but we spent a lot of time standing around in the cold beforehand. Also, if you dress for standing around in a particular temperature, you are going to be roasting when you start walking, and after 7.5 miles, you will be really overheated. So, we were underdressed for the temperature we had to face. But it was still a wonderful event, and we are very happy that we were able to do it!

This was my third time for doing the race and it was Dotti’s second. (Unfortunately, in 2005, while Dotti was actually there for the event, she had an injured knee, and she was unable to participate.)

The cold damp weather held down the participation for the race this year, and while the number of people doing it was over 44,000, that was far less than the over 50,000 that did the last one that Dotti and I participated in together in 2004. It was one of those kinds of days that would be perfect if you were running to set a personal best record. However, if you were walking a slower pace, it was cold enough, and damp enough to make you uncomfortable.


Part of the fun of Bloomsday is the pre-race events. We needed to get our race packet of information, and our racing "chip" that would be used to electronically track our race time.

After picking up our packet, we then would be able to spend some time in the vender area, where various running and health products would be on display. In 2004 that is where Dotti and I purchased our first set of blinking warning lights that we could clip on our clothes when we went walking after sundown, so we would be seen by any passing motorists. This year would be our son LeRoy's first time to do the race, and to visit the Bloomsday pre-race vending area.
Saturday, six of us piled into Jim and Tammy's van and headed down to the Spokane Convention Center. The sky was blue and it was a nice sunny day, where tee shirts were quite comfortable to wear. Spring was well on its way to making everything green in preparation for summer, and spirits were high in our little group.
LeRoy and Misty were in the back seat, and obviously enjoying themselves. Tammy and Dotti saw something out the right side of the car as I snapped this picture over my shoulder from the front passenger seat, while Jim was driving us. We were looking forward to having some fun today and were also already beginning to feel the excitement of the rapidly approaching race day.

There was plenty of blue in the sky while Misty, Dotti, and Tammy head across the parking lot where we found a spot to leave the car. Things get really busy around Bloomsday in the downtown area, and finding parking is pretty tough on the day before, and impossible on the actual day of the race.

The nice large "Park Here" sign is accompanied by the "PAY HERE," and even so, we still had a little bit of a walk to reach the Convention Center.

Here's Dotti in the middle with Jim, LeRoy and Misty on the left and Tammy on the right as we were waiting for the streetlight to change to green. At least traffic was light at this time, and we didn't have to wait long.

Misty and Jim were looking at something off behind me as I took this picture. LeRoy was looking at me as if he thought I had something suspicious up my sleeve, while Tammy and Dotti were discussing what we would find across the street in the center.

The view across the street was really welcome to us. In 2005 there was a line of people extending out from between the buildings here, and running out past the electronic sign in the dominant position of this shot, and back under where it says "Opera House." That line had gone on forward between the buildings, all the way behind them both and wrapped around behind the one on the right, and after going many yards along the rear, turned and went another 50 yards or more back into the rear of the building, before we could even approach the tables where our packets were held. We were very happy to see that a similar line didn't exist this day!

The section of road on the other side of this streetlight was completely blocked off to automobile traffic and we just had to wait to get across the closer section of asphalt and we would be on our way. The foot traffic was pretty light, and that was a promising sight for us.

When we were ushered into the back of the Spokane Convention Center, there were some tables where our packets were awaiting us. Inside the packets were instructions on what we needed to do on race day, our racing "bibs" with our official race numbers stamped on them, and our "chips," that would track our race times for us.

As always the people handing out the material were very friendly and we had a nice verbal exchange with them as we went by. There were displays at various points around the room where there were mannequin legs mounted, demonstrating how the ankle straps were supposed to be placed on us for the race.
Next we entered the vending area, and as you can see, there were plenty of people here. LeRoy, who is standing on the far left of this picture, said that he felt like he was back in Japan again, with the one difference being that it was more difficult to see over the top of this crowd. He had always felt crowded during the years he was in Japan, and went out into town, and he prefers less busy environments whenever possible.

There were rows and rows of booths where venders were displaying their wares. We potential customers moved slowly through the crowd, stopping to chat with those manning the booths as well as with each other.

This was taken somewhere near the middle of the room, and shows a few of the booths that we passed. Off in the distance is an arch of purple balloons. That is a very welcome sight during the actual race, because it will mark the finished line.

The giant loaf of bread at the end of this aisle made for a nice land mark, easily visible from just about anywhere in the room. There were several tall displays like that which were useful when we got separated from each other, and were trying to meet up, using our cell phones to help out.

LeRoy looked liked he had seen about all he cared to of these booths, but Dotti was still going strong, as Misty was looking for some new and interesting sight.

Yet another weight loss scheme, and just reading what it said on the banner was enough to steer me on another path. There had to be some nice snake oil around here somewhere; we might as well get the genuine article.

I thought it might be nice to note the companies who put their money forward to help make Bloomsday a really cool event. Obliviously they are hoping to make money through having their names associated with Bloomsday, but they added their support for the race right up front, and I think that is a good thing. (There, I actually said something nice about Microsoft, and it wasn't easy. J)

Back in the car, we turned onto Washington Street the road where we would be waiting for the start of the race the next day. It was getting close. Across the street are two port-a-potties, items that would be very import to us on Sunday. We would be standing around waiting before the race, and then later after we finished, we would need these facilities. All along the race course there were many more of these. Fortunately, we didn't have to stop during the race, because the lines are always long if you do, and that will add many minutes to your finish time for the race.

The connecting walkways, running between the buildings, are one of the things we like about Spokane. When winters are cold, or even when summers are hot, it is nice to get in out of the weather, and to stay in, even when moving from one building to another.

The roads in the downtown area would appear completely differently in just a few hours, when roads would be blocked off, and crowds of race participants would be jammed in like sardines waiting for the race starting gun.

On the left is the building where we would be catching our bus back to our car after the race on Sunday. Going inside the building felt really nice too, getting out of the cold. With all of the sunshine here on Saturday, it was hard to imagine what it would be like on the next day.

Heading north across the Spokane River, I caught just a glimpse of the Spokane Falls off in the distance. The falls are a wonderful scenic aspect of the downtown area of this beautiful city.

RACE DAY! Dotti and Tammy have their smiles, as well as their "bib numbers," on display for the race. Soon we would be heading over to the shopping mall, where we would leave the van and catch a bus downtown for the race.

Dotti and Misty getting a pre-race hug.

Looking out through the window in the background, it is hard to tell how cloudy it was. But the sunshine of the day before was gone.

BONUS PICTURE: Here is another photo taken in Spokane 1982 where these two were sharing another hug. When I took this picture, we were all a lot younger. J

Dotti & Misty

Dotti and Claudette, Jim and Tammy's oldest girl, share a hug. Claudette was only 6 months old when we first met her, and she has since grown into a beautiful woman who is now raising 4 beautiful children of her own. We couldn't love her more if she were our own daughter!

Claudette and LeRoy, who first met when she was 6 months old, and he was one year of age. That was nearly 28 years ago. It is amazing how fast those years have gone by. We are so proud of them both!

These two "kids" are older than I was (almost 27) when they first met in 1978, and I am over twice as old today than I was then. But we are still having fun! And I am so thankful for these two great kids being in my life.

Sami is 13 and she ended up doing the best time of us all this time around for Bloomsday. She is a great kid, and she is learning the violin, and doing well at it!

Right after this Jim and Jamie arrived from dropping Hunter off with the babysitter, and we loaded up Jim and Tammy's van, and LeRoy took his car too for the overflow crowd. We drove over to the mall parking lot where we would be catching the bus downtown.

We are in line now, waiting for the bus. This is Jamie (isn't she cute?!), the mother of our grandson Hunter. We didn’t get a chance to take her picture while we were back at the house, because she and her dad Jim (his back in shown here) were driving Hunter over to his babysitter. (Jamie was understandably very nervous leaving him with someone other than a family member.)

I finally got a picture of my best friend Jim, over the top of Jamie's head. You can tell he is enjoying waiting in line.J

We arrived just as the time for the deadline was approaching for catching the last bus downtown for the race. The starting time for our group wasn't for another hour and a half at this point, but the city didn't want to mess with bringing participants down at the last minute. By the time we finished waiting through the line, and were set to board a bus, it was past the time when the last bus was supposed to have left, but fortunately they kept running buses a while longer than the official schedule said they would.

It was almost funny when we were first trying to get into line, because we parked down near where the buses were leaving from and then walked back along the length of line that was forming up for the buses. Unfortunately, the line was growing as fast as we were walking, and it was like a dream where you are hurrying, but getting no closer to your destination. Finally we just put an end to it and merged in.

Jamie (you can just see her elbow on the right) picked a flower from a tree, and put it into Dotti's hair. She looked so cute with the flower that I had to snap a picture.

Off in the distance you can see the busses waiting. They had just opened up a new one and the line was starting to move to fill in the space vacated by those who have just boarded. We are all feeling cold, by this time, and still you can see people in tee shirts and shorts. Later on, we would be seeing people even wearing less. That is tolerable when you are running, but standing and waiting for over an hour dressed like that in the cold is tough to take. (In 2004 I loaned my shirt to Jamie for a while because the poor girl was getting goose bumps on her goose bumps. J)

See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil. (Have no fun. J) When you have to stand around for over an hour in a group, you just have to monkey around a bit. The bus ride was over now, and we had walked over to our starting position. Behind the lovely "monkeys" you can see the crowd patiently awaiting the starting gun. Just to the right of the tree behind Dotti, looking like it was resting on the corner of a window, is a beach ball—a traditional Bloomsday amusement device, though we were hundreds of miles from the nearest beach. Normally, you can see a number of these bouncing plastic spheres in the air at any given time before the race starts.

Me and my lovely nieces. Claudette on the left, Misty below, and Jamie on the right—Jim and Tammy's daughters—are treasures that Dotti and I are very lucky to have in our lives. They are really great girls, and we love them all dearly! I was raised as an only child. I had several cousins who were the closest things to siblings for me. They were all boys except for the oldest, and she was 3 years older than me. I have 2 sons of my own, and I love them dearly. I have no complaints there! But these girls, besides being wonderful people, and fun to have around on their own, also fill a place in my heart that is unique. A daughter is something that is very special, and these three are wonderful daughters that Jim and Tammy have allowed Dotti and I to share in our family. Life is good, very good!

As you can probably tell, Dotti had just said, "Don't you dare smile!" I naturally "minded" like I always do, but Jim and Tammy were trying hard to comply. Jim and Tammy are two of the finest people I have ever known, and Dotti and I are really glad that they introduced us to the Bloomsday Race.

Daddy and his girls. I have always loved to watch Jim and his daughters interact. They are a very loving family and they are there for each other. After seeing how little that is true in many other families it is really refreshing to see it here. Naturally, having the girls around all of the time can have its moments, but I can see in Jim's face how much he loves his girls, and they feel the same way about him.

The dancing girls have arrived. J Tammy is one of the most dedicated mothers I have ever known. From before Dotti and I met Jim and Tammy back in 1978, until this very day, Tammy has been raising children in her house. Day in and day out, she has been there for her children, including her sister's daughter. Now little Hunter is part of her daily life as well. Tammy is an awesome lady! These girls (and even LeRoy calls her Mom #2) are lucky, very lucky to have Tammy as their mother, and they know it.

There it was right overhead: this big chunk of reflective glass running into the building we were standing beside. Not only that, but the building was built before they decided that walls were all supposed to be undecorated slabs of glass and metal. The decorative surfaces stretching up into the sky, and being reflected by the walkway enclosure was too much for me. I had to snap the picture.

Jamie, Claudette, and Misty's hand. J It was funny when Jim told us afterwards that he overheard a bystander who didn't realize that these two were sisters and thought that they were acting inappropriately in public by displaying their "alternate lifestyle."

The most wonderful girl in the world. I am sure you knew that already, but just in case you didn't recognize her right away. J Aside from being drop-dead gorgeous, Dotti is always fun to be around, and she brings out the joy in others. In the background, Jim has spotted something going on at ground level. I wonder what it was? The guy behind him thinks there is something good to eat in that store.

My handsome son LeRoy talking with our lovely niece Claudette. Every time they get together she tells him about the time she locked him inside a drawer in a dresser when they were both toddlers. He dares her to try it now, but she is too smart for that. They have known each other for as long as they can remember, and they are family.

Just like Puddleglum's friends told him, (The Silver Chair in The Chronicles of Narnia) I kept telling Jim that he needed to get more serious, this jocularity would come to no good end. But he just couldn't contain himself. J

Our handsome son LeRoy appeared to be enjoying himself at this point of the festivities. LeRoy had a different colored "bib" than the rest of us. When Dotti signed him up, she put in his projected racing time at 1:15, which was 20 minutes faster than my fastest time on the course. For herself and for me, she put in our time for 2:15. (As it turned out, that one was pretty close to right. J Dotti and I finished in 2:20, and LeRoy finished with Jim and Tammy at 2:11.)

That little typo was no big deal. Even though your bib color assigned you a particular group to be racing with, this year the times were all tracked electronically and where you started really didn't matter. There was something funny about the color assignments anyway this year, because, other than LeRoy's time, we all put in the same projected time to complete the race, and still we ended up with some additional variations in bib colors.

Behind LeRoy the crowd is patiently waiting for the start of the race. Even farther back the 16 floors of the US Bank Building are not all visible, and it is hard to tell that it stands 217 feet tall. You can see however, that they liked to decorate their constructions far more than today back in 1910 when it was finished. That building was 67 years old when LeRoy was born, and now it is 96. We are all getting older.

Looking forwards towards the starting line. The crowd is densely packed, and looking at how the people are dressed, you can tell there was quite a chill in the air. Considering that a 7.46 mile race was before them, there were still a lot of coats, sweatshirts and rain parkas visible.

Looking into the trees, we could see that the tradition of throwing your windbreaker or sweatshirt into the branches before the start of the race was still going on, but at a decreased rate from normal. We also saw some people snagging the discarded garments for their own use because of the cold!

The port-a-potties on the left got a real workout before the race started because no one wanted to have to stop along the way to use them. The lines for the race course facilities are always backed up, and it takes a long time to use them. Naturally all of that time goes against your clock.

The light at Stevens Street eerily cycled through green, orange, and red, with no significance whatsoever. Off in the distance, the Howard street signal was doing the same. The clouds showed no signs of clearing and race time was approaching.

Looking behind us towards Washington Street, the crowd is just as tightly jammed together. Several beach balls are visible, with the closest being at the lower left of the picture. People are ready to get started. (And that enclosed walkway above the crowd was looking mighty tempting to get in out of that cold.)

The clock on the right says 9:30, and the race was beginning. More garments are in the trees and we have begun to move!

The clouds were looking threatening, but the helicopter was on duty and monitoring the event. We were very happy to be able to start moving our muscles, so we could start to warm up.

This must be the financial district, because we are approaching Wall Street. J The trees here are really loaded down with sweats. On the left you can see some scaffolding with huge speakers on it. They were playing some motivational music and talking to the crowd, giving encouragement, and instructions. ("You are moving to the front of the group, so when you hear the starting gun, you must get into a jog as quickly as possible to clear the way.") Yeah right. We weren't planning to do any jogging this time around. We just wanted to finish the race.

The official starting line is finally clearly visible where the aqua and purple balloons surround a huge Bloomsday sign, stretched across Riverside Avenue. We are moving, but we haven't "started."

Now we are on our way. The first bit of the race is headed downhill, but we get to pay for that later. You can see a few more garments showing up on the bushes here, as people are finally starting to get some circulation back into their cold limbs. Even so, you still see plenty of jackets and sweat shirts being worn by the crowd.

The lady on the right appears to have a birthday cake on her head, although the orange "candle" might work well with an aquarium setting. J People like to come out with costumes and novelty hats etc. for the race, and it definitely adds to the enjoyment of the event.

Misty enjoying the Bloomsday race. She did really well at the start of the race in keeping up with us. Right from the start Jim, Tammy, Claudette, Jamie, Misty, and Sami started to pull away from Dotti, LeRoy and me. (LeRoy walked about half of the race with Dotti and me, and then sped up to finish the race with Jim and Tammy.) They finished about 9 or 10 minutes before we did, all except Sami, who took off at the end and finished ahead of us all.

Misty stayed with the front pack for a while and then dropped back with us. Finally she slowed down a bit and continued on at her own pace. She finished though!

It doesn't get any better than this. Here I was walking with the love of my life, my son, and 44,000 of our "closest friends." J The land surrounding Spokane is beautiful. The rolling hills, covered in green, are very appealing to the eye.

We saw a number of performers along the way. This singer had a couple of her devoted friends holding up a sign so those passing by would know who was doing the singing. The singer had on gloves and you can tell the girl on the right is feeling the cold. (I would have loved to have had this weather in 2004 when I was going for time. This weather was perfect for doing intense exercise.)

This is Hangman Creek (also commonly called Latah Creek) and after descending from 1900 feet above sea level down to about 1775 feet on the 5.3% slope of its valley wall on one side, it was time to ascend on the other. We were approaching the 2 mile mark, and getting ready to leave Riverside Avenue for good. So far it had all been downhill. But all of that was about to change. For the next 2.5 miles we would be reclaiming most of the lost elevation, all the way to around 1880 feet or so.

A bit of history:

The official name of the Creek is Hangman, not Latah. The Indian word "latah" meant "fish" and, as with most Pacific Northwest creeks and rivers, there are plenty of the slippery little guys in this creek. The name "Hangman" is earned rightly enough. During the hostilities between the white man and the Indian, a group of Palouse Indians attacked a group of American soldiers and inflicted heavy casualties. The soldiers took a very dim view of this, in light of the fact that they felt they had done nothing to provoked it. Colonel Edward Steptoe, who commanded the attacked regiment, rounded up the Indian perpetrators and hanged 27 of them, earning himself the nickname "hangman." Later his nickname was attached to this creek. The county tried to have the name changed in 1997 to Latah, but the US Board of Geographic Names would have none of it. So, Hangman Creek it remains (despite what the official Bloomsday Route Map calls itJ).

The News media are all over the Bloomsday Race each year. This is a KREM Channel 2 van, with a robotic camera on top, watching the racer go by. Who ever was operating the camera had to be warmer than we were at this time. The people you see lined up in the background are not waiting to shake the news reporter's hand. The "Honey Buckets" always have a long line anywhere along the Bloomsday Race course.

I don't remember what the song was that these two were playing, but I do remember that it was one of the more pleasant offerings by any of the musicians performing along the route. You could tell that they were in a world all their own as they played along, while thousands moved by. It was nice that they had the foresight to put up a little tarp over their heads, because it rained just enough to be troublesome for musicians and their instruments.

We are moving up Government Way here, on the front end of a two stage climb. This first one went up about 75 feet, and then the course dropped down around 20 feet, before beginning the second stage of the climb, which took us up about 50 feet.

Even after walking almost 2 miles, and having begun the first serious ascent, you can see very few people in short sleeve. There aren't even very many people in shorts. It was a cold day.

The official Mile 2 marker. This year things were moved a bit. The starting line was shoved forward about a half mile from last year. That made each of the mile markers appear a half mile later in the course than it had in 2004 and 2005.

They have the port-a-potties out again, and we are making a sharp turn up ahead. You can see the "chip" ankle bracelet on the exposed ankles of some of the participants. That is what kept track of our time as we raced. I was impressed with how well the system worked. It was right on with my stop watch.

Every so often, Dotti would take off on a quick jog, to break free of a clump of people blocking our way, and to land us into a relatively clear zone. We had just gone through one of those maneuvers, and I snapped a picture with the camera facing to the rear. There was LeRoy right behind us. (He didn't join in the jogs, because he could catch up quickly by just walking, and he could still retain his cool image. J) We didn't get a chance to look backwards as LeRoy very often, and later on he moved forward to walk with his "second set of parents" to finish the race well before we did.

They call this Cemetery Hill for obvious reasons. The grounds are well kept up and thought it is a somber stretch of the route, it is a pleasant setting.

Climbing the last bit of Fort George Wright Drive before taking the final pre-Doomsday Hill drop into the Spokane River valley. We have 4 miles behind us, but the most interesting part of the race lies just ahead.

Here we are just about at the bottom of Doomsday. We just have to cross the Spokane River, on the T. J. Meenach Bridge, and we will engage the hill. LeRoy was still with us here, but he was soon to head off in search of Jim and Tammy.

Dotti had long ago removed my flannel shirt that she had been using for some extra warmth, and I had put it on under my coat, because I was still feeling cold. It was about here, that I finally warmed up enough to take the flannel shirt back off and rely only on my raincoat. There is a guy just ahead of us in a gray tee-shirt who is showing some sweat, so things are starting to warm up. However, the air temperature really wasn't much different than it was at the start of the race. And many people who are taking a more leisurely pace are still in long sleeves.

Crossing the Spokane River on the T. J. Meenach Bridge. The water that we see below us is headed for our place. It will flow down the Spokane River until it reaches the confluence with the Columbia River. Then it will flow to the Grand Coulee Dam, through its generators, and then south through central Washington, all the way to the Tri-Cities area, where it takes a sharp right and cuts through the Cascade Mountains in the Columbia River Gorge. Hopefully it will wave as it passes us in Vancouver.

Off in the background you can see those who were ahead of us and already locked in combat with Doomsday.

Continuing across the T. J. Meenach Bridge, the added lanes of traffic allow for the crowd to spread out and it appears less jammed right here. A sharp right turn ahead will take us onto North Pettet Drive.

It is nice that there is no vehicle traffic today. We are on Meenach Drive, which runs across the bridge and then up the hill straight in front of where we are walking. Pettett Drive runs up the Doomsday Hill, and like a freeway cloverleaf, there is on off ramp leading to it. Moving underneath us, under the bridge, and continuing, by following the Spokane River upstream, which is in the opposite direction than we are looking in this photo, is West Downriver Park Drive, leading to a geological feature called the Pitcher and Bowl, a rock formation that is quite striking, which Jim and Tammy took us up to see on an earlier visit. This part of the country is spectacular for natural wonders.

With all of these roads, capable of handling quite a large flow of traffic, it was really nice having them all to ourselves (well sort ofJ).

There always has to be one, and the individual in this picture has found that walking on the road surface is entirely too limiting. Even walking on the sidewalk on the other side of the concrete barrier is far to mundane. He has chosen to walk the path less traveled along the top of the concrete barrier. I guess this would be "extreme strolling."

Clearly the barrier walking fad has already caught on, as we have another participant who will not be outdone.

Looking up the hill, we were thinking about what lay ahead. Dotti and I had done very little exercising over the past few months and this was going to be a bit of a challenge for us. LeRoy on the other hand was getting ready to kick it up a notch and catch up with Jim and Tammy, Claudette and Jamie. (Sami was already off ahead of the pack.)

Meenach Drive continues on up the hill, but we follow the signs to Riverside State Park. The pickup trucks in the background are in support of a band playing on, encouraging the racers to make it to the finish.

Doom, doom, doom, Doomsday! Here it is: 0.72 miles long, 145 feet high, with a rise of 6.5% for most of it, and 3.8% overall.

Last year the Mile 5 marker was located on the right side of the road, but situated at a distance somewhere between the two light poles on the left side of this picture. This time, it is way up near the top of the hill. That made it seem longer still.

It was just a bit before we hit the T. J. Meenach Bridge that my hips started to hurt. Going up the Doomsday Hill, the pain was very unpleasant, and all the rest of the race my hips were aching. We still had close to 3 miles to go at this point, and they were 3 long miles for me. Dotti wasn't feeling really well either. I told her repeatedly, "This is the last time I do this race without being in shape for it!"

There it is! Mile 5 has been completed. Only 2.46 miles to go, and still the hill has not yet been conquered entirely.

With the beautiful Spokane River making up such a dominate portion of this picture, why is it that all I can see is the path that we just walked? J It is a lot better looking back at from the top, and that is the truth.

The Vulture has been there to greet me all 3 times so far at the top of the Doomsday Hill, and on a hot day, he really seems to be at the right place. Today, not so much so, but still, it wouldn't be right without him. The first time I saw him I was sweating profusely and struggling up the hill, and he was standing there bouncing his wings and looking menacing. This time he is posing for pictures, because he knows the heat won't be getting anyone.

The good Samaritans, standing there handing out water. On a hot day, that literally can save lives. On this day it was still appreciated. I think it is great that people volunteer to come out and do this. There wouldn't be a race if people didn't support it with their efforts. Thank you volunteers!

We were limping along, heading due south, but on level ground now, and that was a relief. But we still had a mile and half to go. We were walking on Lindeke Street here, and the next intersection is with Gardner Street. The girl on the left side of the road was giving her encouragement by slapping hands that anyone wish to extend to her.

Okay, its official, we have completed 6 miles and only 1.46 miles to go.

I once again turned my camera around backwards and snapped a picture. (I wasn't about to stop and turn around myself, because I was afraid that I wouldn't start going again.) You can see that the path is still crowded. On the right is a lady who is wearing a 2004 Bloomsday shirt. That was the same as the last shirt that Dotti and I earned together. It was nice having Dotti walking with me this time!

The ladies in the foreground appear to have their stride working well. In the background we see that the young guys are in under the tent, and out of the rain, but the older guy is outside playing his electric guitar, and getting wet. Things that make you say, "Hmmm."

Last time I passed their booth, they were taking a coffee break. This is the first time I got to see them perform, lending their encouragement for the final stretch.

Look familiar? We are putting one foot ahead of the other at this time. Our joints are hurting and we are getting tired. "Are we there yet?"

Now there's a pretty site! This was the last mile marker, and the next thing we would be looking for was the finish line. The route ran down Broadway, which we were on, down to Monroe Street. I heard someone behind me say that the place we turned was up at the building with the green on top of it at the end of this road. My heart sank when I heard that. My hips were hurting so bad that I didn't know if I could make it that far. Fortunately he was wrong. We didn't have to go that far, and I did make it.

Here it is, Monroe Street, the last turn. See how far away that building with the green on top still is? It is still several blocks away.

This is it, the final stretch of road. The finished line was located right on this end of the Monroe bridge. We just had to make to the bridge and we would be done, and serendipity, it was all downhill!

A local COUNTRY radio station had set up shop at the finish line, and there was a DJ talking to us as we approached (the end was getting really close now), rooting us on, and telling us what the clock said our time was. (The time on the clock actually had very little to do with our actual race time. It had been started with the starting gun for the first group, and it was already up to over 3 hours by the time we crossed the line, even though it had only taken us 2 hours and 20 minutes to walk the entire course.)

I just had to catch a picture of that big inflated CAT 94 FM character.

This is what we came for. The finish line marked by the two scissor lifts, with the official clock hung on ropes tied between them. Ahead was the bridge, and our finisher shirts. To the left behind the purple sponsor banner was the DJ who was operating his mike full speed.

Speaking of the DJ's location, here it is. And there on the banner are listed the companies that helped to make this race work. Bravo to them!

It is close enough to touch now. The pull is irresistible. What pain? Let's go!

Notice that the clock has a dead element in it on the hour number. I bet they have it fixed by next year. J

The downside of having a chip bracelet, that you have to return, that is attached to your ankle (and they warned us that it would not work if you had on your body anywhere above 10-12 inches from the ground), is that you have to stop, bend over, remove the bracelet, and then drop it in the receptacle. In the meantime, you have thousands of people racing for the finish line behind you. This could be a potential problem. However, they did well dealing with it. The entire bridge was available for dropping the bracelets off, with many drop off stations, just like this one, all along it. People could drop off their chips without holding up the participants who were still racing.

Got Chip? They tried to be creative with their signs to get your attention and remind you to drop your chip off. (Your official time was on it, so you wouldn't get recorded if you didn't drop it off.)

We are near the other end of the bridge here, and we see that the line ahead takes a sharp turn to the left. The open space between the people was about to disappear as we pressed in to get our tee-shirts.

One more quick look back across the bridge to show the crowd. Did I mention "open space between the people" before? It is hard to see it in this shot.

The crunch is on. People are backed up and waiting to get their shirts. This space is so small you can't even see the tables ahead of us. We dropped into conversation as we waited. What color will the shirts be this year? What sizes did we request? How are you feeling?

A couple of minutes have gone by and we are a little closer but we still can't see the tables, even though they are not that far in front of us. Sardines kept coming to mind, I'm not sure why, because I don't even like them.

We just did 7.46 miles and Dotti is still smiling! That's my girl. J

Here I am going against the One Way sign. "But I'm going with the flow of traffic officer."

I aimed the camera backward at a tired looking group of racers. They may not be smiling much, but I know they are happy it is over.

Some of the signs indicating tee-shirt sizes are finally visible. Fortunately they avoided a mad scramble with people shuffling to get into the right line by having all sizes available at all the tables. You just had to go along far enough until you reached your size and then take your shirt from there.

Out of the madhouse finally. I had to snap a picture of the cable cars that go out over the Spokane River to view the falls, as a calm and peaceful transition shot. These cars were active that day. Someday, Dotti and I will have to take a ride in one of those. I am sure that it would be fun and it would provide a great view for us.

There go three of the cars right now. It looks a bit like a chair lift for a ski slope, but it is fully enclosed and goes over a beautiful location. It has to be great!

The clock on the tower says 12:28, showing that 3 hours have now passed since we started moving towards the starting line. It seemed like it had been a lot longer that that.

We are right down on the water of the river here, and things are really jumping in the Riverfront Park on the right side of the picture. Even the sea gulls are enjoying themselves.

Okay, I don't care too much for the color orange, and I am not really fond of the shirt color that they chose this year, but that's okay, I love my shirt anyway!

The food booths were straight ahead of us, and we were definitely going to have to stop. Although it was too cold to just mill about slowly like we have done in the past.

Dotti and Jamie were treading on ground that Jim and I had already tread. The port-a-potties were still very busy after the race.

My sweet lady! I can't think of anything more beautiful than one of Dotti's smiles. I think she had a very good time this Bloomsday. Do you think it shows?

There were real bathrooms available as well, but they probably would have been overwhelmed without the other options being available, and most people probably didn't even notice that they were there. I snapped this picture only after it was academic knowledge for me.

Very high volume was used to drive those speakers. The band was playing the old Johnny Cash song: Folsom Prison Blues. I am surprised my camera lens wasn't shaking with the unbelievably loud sound.

They decorated these less than anatomically precise sculptures, that were created to commemorate the Bloomsday Race, appropriately enough, with some of the old Bloomsday Finisher shirts. (The tables where we picked up our tee-shirts were located off to the left of this picture.)

LeRoy and Jim standing watch for when Misty would arrive.

This fountain, located in the Riverfront Park, is a real eye-catcher. Notice how each separate stream of water is joined by all of the others to form a Christmas Tree like shape in the middle.

Here is the base of the "Christmas Tree," as it splashes to earth and then is whisk away by a drain. The larger streams of water are interesting, but they don't catch the eye like the fountain above does.

Here is our lovely niece Claudette, another proud finisher of Bloomsday 2006!

Behind her is the food. J In the Melon Madness shack we picked up our chocolate covered strawberries. Yes they were good this time around too…very good!

This is the faster contingent of racing team this year, and all proudly wearing their well-earned Bloomsday Finisher tee-shirts.

We had gone though a bit to get here. First off, we were too late to catch the express bus back to the Mall where our car was parked. So, we had to go to the main station. Misty was our trusty guide, because she knows everything about the Spokane bus system. She knew where the main station was, and exactly when the next bus was due to arrive.

Once we got there, there was a wait of about 20 minutes or so for a bus to arrive. Sadly, it wasn't any significant amount warmer than it had been before the race. Once again we were chilled to the bone. (Dotti and I took 2 or 3 days before we actually felt fully warm again.)

It was good to finally get on the bus and get out of the cold weather outside.

Jamie is lost in thought. LeRoy just remembered that he had left his teapot on back at his apartment in Olympia, and, though appearing placid on the outside, Sami is doing her victory dance on the inside for being the fastest of our group. Way to go Sami!

Misty: part time guide, and Bloomsday Finisher!

Isn't that a great picture? Grumpy and Hunter, one asleep, and the other tired enough to be. (Wake up Jim! Don't drop my grandson. J)

Uncle Al and Brady. Brady just fell asleep in my arms while his momma Claudette ate. Jim and Tammy have a very full life, and Dotti and I are so lucky to be able to share in that!

I can't tell you what Claudette just said to LeRoy, but it must have been good.

It's been a long day, but a happy one.

Dotti, you can be my racing partner anytime you want!