Jul 122011

“Did you bike here? Do you want to bring your bikes inside?” Now that’s something you don’t hear every day from a shop owner!

What an auspicious start to Saturday’s Bikespedition to Carnegie Square: the collection of distinctive local shops clustered around the corner of First and Cedar on the west end of downtown Spokane. Fans of historic architecture get some visual treats at this corner too.

We made an outstanding choice for our first outing in both date and destination. The weather Saturday dawned bright and beautiful. Belles and Baskets founder Betsy Lawrence and I set forth to explore several shops and check out the treats and bike parking.

Our first stop would have been French Quarter Gourmet Shoppe, but despite the hours posted on the door they weren’t open. Call ahead to make sure they’re open if you want some of the handmade chocolates, wine selection, unusual soda flavors (cucumber, anyone?), greeting cards (some shaped like shoes!), and gourmet snacks visible through the window.

Bike sculpture at the corner of First and Cedar on the west end of downtown Spokane
If you're standing here, you'll find bike racks both left and right along Cedar and on First.

A large bike rack awaited us on Cedar between Andy’s and Carousel Vintage and another invites you to stop in at Two Wheel Transit; just look for the bike sculpture on the southwest corner of First and Cedar and you’ll find racks nearby.

Irimi Art, Antiques & Fiber co-owner Dale Forbes gave us that bike-friendly greeting. Her partner Rick Graff builds bike projects in the basement so they’re hip to the biking public.

Their shop offers a fascinating and eclectic mix of handmade arts—from yarn fibers and beautiful clothing to fine paintings, pottery, rugs, lamps, and furniture—coupled with antiques. Dale taught us a bit about the various fibers and treatments, and we ran our hands through the silky-soft hair from the pygora goats they raise.

Barb Chamberlain trying on a handmade sweater at Irinia Art, Antiques and Fiber, Carnegie Square, Spokane
I resisted the urge to buy this handmade sweater at Irimi. It may still be waiting for you, but if not you'll find other wonderful things!

My finds here: After resisting (just barely) a beautiful sweater coat, I picked up a special gift for a friend’s baby shower that I can’t describe in detail for obvious reasons. I also found reusable produce bags; I’ve been on the lookout for those for a while to cut down on the plastic so that was a happy discovery.

Carousel Vintage Clothing right next door is already a favorite. Every single time I wear a particular vintage dress I got there I get compliments; we found a prom dress here for daughter Laura; and on this day I found a princess-pink sundress dress I had to get for her. (Total Great Mom points when I brought that home.)

Owner Jenny Stabile has a great selection of vintage and repurposed vintage, and lots of the dresses are short and/or flippy enough to bike in. (A too-straight skirt makes the leg-over maneuver a challenge.) Be sure to come in for vintage clothes, shoes, handbags, jewelry, and formals, with men’s clothes as well as women’s.

You’ll find more vintage and consignment clothing of any age at Fringe & Fray just across Cedar. We spotted a maroon paisley skort—shades of the 1980s, perhaps?—on the rack. They offer shoes, jewelry, bags, and scarves too.

Carousel Vintage Clothing: Cute vintage dress you could wear to ride a bike and look pretty too.
At Carousel Vintage Clothing, a cute vintage dress you could totally wear biking.

By now it was treat time, so Rocket Bakery it was. The deli case offers a nice assortment of fresh salads; they have the made-from-scratch scones, bagels, quiche, and giant cookies you’ll find at all their locations; and at the back you can pick up a bottle of wine from a selection that covers the wall. The Rocket is Spokane’s local coffee chain, established in 1992. Wi-fi available and plenty of bike parking if you shackle to the fence around the outdoor seating, or do what we did and leave your bikes in the rack by Carousel while you wander around.

Right next door there’s more wine available at Whitestone Winery, one of Spokane’s many great local wineries and tasting rooms. Time your visit for Thursday through Saturday noon-6pm and First Fridays to get a taste or a bottle.

We had to stop in at Two Wheel Transit, of course, to say hi and pick up a copy of Bicycling Times magazine. Owners Geoff Forshag and Bruce Abbott offer bike fitting and a line-up of bikes from Trek and Fisher; Betsy loves the Trek FX she outfitted with fenders, rack, and lights to serve as her commuter.

Belles and Baskets founder Betsy Lawrence, left, and Barb Chamberlain pick up a copy of Bicycling Times at Two Wheel Transit.
Getting our bike on at Two Wheel Transit in our Nuu-Muus and Ruu-Muus!

Two more shops that fit into the home décor category round out the possibilities: Spokane Tile and Design (I redid my bathroom in my mind in about 60 seconds of peeking through the window) and Lee Custom Frame Shop and Gallery, featuring the art of Carl Funseth and Renee Rigsby.

If you head out later in the afternoon you’ll run up against closing time at some of the shops but you can grab a stool at the cool stainless steel counter of neighborhood hangout Andy’s bar, open 4pm-2am.

From First and Cedar it’s but a short jaunt a couple of blocks east on First to Tangerine Boutique (“the ultimate closet,” and yes it is), where we succumbed to the sales rack and the beautiful jewelry. Look for clothing, jewelry, handbags, consignment clothes, and a few greeting cards (if you love the snarky housewife works of Anne Taintor, look for her cards here). Many of the styles they offer would work great for bike riding.

If you didn’t get a bite to eat at Rocket Bakery, next door to Tangerine you can get some incredibly awesome vegan tomato soup and other yummies at Scratch (yes, their food is made from scratch) or an adult beverage at their sister establishment Rain

Tangerine Boutique sign on West First marks the spot for "the ultimate closet," while The Sweetie waits patiently with my Donkey Boxx and Po Campo Logan Tote ready to haul home the finds from Bikespedition #1.

The only downer in the Tangerine/Scratch/Rain block is the lack of bike parking. We hitched to parking meters, which don’t offer real protection since someone tall could lift bike, lock, and all right off the top, and kept an eye on the bikes.

From here you can easily head on into the Sodo (South of Downtown) area on Second Ave. (under construction right now, but persist, walk your bike through the worst of it, and take them your business!), the downtown core, or West Main. All future destinations for a Bikespedition! (vote on the poll)

All in all, a wonderful day. And it was a good thing I had my Donkey Boxx and Po Campo Logan Tote with me to haul home the beautiful and useful things I found along the way. Notice how ‘spedition and “spending” both involve the letters -spe? This blog post is officially my most expensive to date–and worth every penny.

Spread the Word. This Was Fun!

More on Bikespeditions

Getting There: Some Basic Route Advice

This is by no means a comprehensive bike route map, just a few suggested streets. Carnegie Square is easy to find.

From the South Hill (west end): North down High Drive/Cedar (bike lane). Where the arterial curves left stay on Cedar; it’s a quieter street and the cross streets have to stop.

At 5th the street curves right/east and drops down to merge with 4th. Watch for traffic that has recently left the freeway and is heading to downtown, but on this particular Saturday there wasn’t a car in sight midday. Move quickly to the left lane; you’re turning in half a block.

Turn left/north on Jefferson (new bike lanes). Pass through stop lights at 3rd, 2nd, and 1st. Turn left/west on Sprague to Cedar.

South Hill (east end): Come north down Southeast Blvd (bike lane) to 2nd. It has a beautiful new surface thanks to a 2010-2011 street bond project. (Your alternative westbound is Sprague, which does not have a beautiful new surface. Wear your Pedal Panties if you choose this route; you’ll want the extra shock absorption.)

You’ll pass through a couple of busy intersections; the drivers have 4 lanes and should have no problem moving around you if need be.

If you’re comfortable staying on 2nd to Cedar, just do that. Otherwise you can turn right/north at Division or at Howard (bike lane there) to Riverside, then left/west on Riverside.

From downtown: Riverside has two lanes each direction, making it easy for a driver to move around you if need be, and west of Lincoln has a bike lane for a bit through a pretty stretch with a central median and street trees. When it curves around to a stop sign, that’s Cedar; turn left, go one block south, and you’re there. Your return could be along West First or back down to Riverside.

From the north: I recommend Wall, Post, and Howard (that one doesn’t go through all the way north, however)–all decent streets for bike access. (Maple Street is downright hostile. Monroe works fine if you’re comfortable in traffic; drivers have two lanes and can move around you.)  Northsiders, add additional route suggestions in comments.

Come through Riverfront Park, if you like, and turn right/west on Spokane Falls Boulevard. It curves westward and through a funky intersection at Monroe; bear right and you’re now on Riverside. See above.

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Reader Comments

  1. I say this with love: that garment is AWFUL. As someone who cares deeply about you, both inside and out, I IMPLORE you to put that horrid sweater coat out of your mind. Just the phrase “sweater coat” is bad enough in and of itself, but the vision of you wearing one, Mom.. no. Just…no. It’s so, so bad.


    Your Firstborn 🙂

  2. Lucas, thanks for the northsider route tip! No one knows the streets better than the folks who ride them every day–there’s often a “secret” bike route.

  3. If you are coming from the far north (Whitworth area and Mead) you can take Standard/Addison, which has a bike lane running from Francis to Euclid. Just get on Colton by Wal-Mart, which becomes Standard when you cross Magnesium. There is a pretty steep hill up to Lincoln, but it is mostly flat or slightly downhill until Euclid. At Euclid you will need to ride down the hill. I use Dakota because you can stay on it across Foothills. Then you head through the neighborhoods south of Foothills to GU, where you can catch the Centennial Trail the rest of the way downtown.

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