Saturday, August 17, 2013

dupont, washington

I've spent the last week in a small town next door to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, otherwise known as JBLM, by the name of Dupont. With the majority of each day spent on the base, I've had little time to myself other than to drive back and forth to the base, walk around DuPont a bit after work, eat a bit of supper, and then work in my room until I go to sleep. Then I wake up the next day and do it again. And there's the issue of adjusting to the time zone difference between Orlando and Dupont...

I've got two more weeks of this until I fly back to Orlando on the 31st.

This is not to say the work or the town is unpleasant. It's just I'm very busy. You always have hopes that when you travel you'll have time to do some of the touristy activities, but being rather south and east of Tacoma and Seattle, that won't happen, especially if you're trying to use the horribly congested I-5 that links all these places. And so I walk around in the afternoon with my E-M5, just walking for the enjoyment of walking, and taking the occasional snap.

The nice feature about Dupont is its emphasis on walking as the major form of transportation within the town instead of the automobile. There's plenty of cars around, but there's plenty of sidewalks as well. The combined sidewalk area in the section near my hotel equals that of the road that runs between them.

I know of no other town, either in Florida or any other part of the country I've traveled in, in which the walking spaces are as ample as they are in DuPont. It's an urban design that has always been spoken of over the decades, but has never been acted upon. The closest communities in central Florida that I can think of with this kind of urban design is Lake Baldwin in Orlando and certain parts of Celebration near Disney. Otherwise it's every person for themselves everywhere else. In most communities a very narrow sidewalk is considered a luxury, if you have sidewalks at all..

In spite of the width of the sidewalks, the businesses along the street have further setbacks, some of which are places to sit and eat if you're a restaurant.

This are plenty of green spaces throughout the town, such as this park. There are smaller parks scattered about as well, many of them devoted to small playgrounds for children.

And there are little touches, such as explicit signs that tell you which street crossing a button is devoted to. It's something of a guessing game in Orlando, especially across the larger roads, such as the intersection of University and Rouse near the University of Central Florida.

When the concrete gives out, there walking paths more than wide enough for bicycles, paths that are small roads in their own right, but limited to foot and bike traffic. These roads combine with other sidewalks such that I found I could walk throughout DuPont.

What's missing in Dupont? Golf courses. I hate golf. And the heat and humidity. I've been getting regular reports of Orlando's afternoon storms and morning humidity that you can cut with a knife. The weather has been so cool and pleasant in Dupont that I've had the window to my room open the entire time I've been here. I've not had air conditioning on once. Of course being on the third floor helps; I don't think someone is going to scale the side of the building to come in through my open window.

And there's something about the light in Dupont. Maybe it's because it's further north as well as far to the west. But the quality of light is different here than in Orlando. I can't say exactly why, but I like Dupont's light better than Orlando's, at least in August.

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