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Greenway Days are here again

By Ruth Longoria

If it's been a few years since you hit the not-so-dusty Interstate 90 trail to discover the beauty and greenery of the Northwest, this weekend's Greenway Days From Mountains to Sound might be the recreational adventure to get your feet, eyes and mind moving.

Seventy events are planned from Seattle to the tiny town of Thorp, including activities here on Mercer Island. The three-day event -- from Friday to Sunday -- promises art, history, music and adventure.

In addition to a 52-mile event-wide scavenger hunt, Bellevue's Overlake Hospital is sponsoring smaller clue-finding adventures along trails of Tiger Mountain, Twin Falls and near Snoqualmie Point.

And for the more technologically savvy -- or those who would like to be -- Puget Sound Energy is sponsoring a Geocashing event where competing teams can borrow a global positioning system (GPS) device, pocket personal computer and digital camera to search wooded areas for cashes (either slips of paper with clues or trinkets). Prizes for the events range from Sonicare toothbrushes to Mariners tickets, bicycles, Snoqualmie skiing season passes, dinner for two at the Roanoke Inn, and an Argosy Cruise for four.

But the biggest treasure of the weekend is available to all participants, said event coordinator Cynthia Welti of Bellevue.

``What we are hoping is that people will get out in the greenway and find out what a treasure it is,'' Welti said of the thousands of acres of public land along I-90, which are available for hiking, sightseeing and other outdoor recreational activities.

``There are some really beautiful streams with greenery and waterfalls cascading down. The general public doesn't always know what a beautiful experience is just steps off the interstate,'' she said.

The Greenway Days festival is in its second year and is sponsored by the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, a non-profit group that has worked for 13 years to preserve 125,000 acres of public land along I-90. About a dozen cities along the route will offer festival activities, including a bike ride in Fall City, pony rides and pioneer activities at Meadowbrook Farm, a free day-long concert with food booths and kite-flying activities Sunday in Issaquah.

And, if you really don't want to leave the Island this weekend, you can still enjoy some of the fun through a Walk Across the Island from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Luther Burbank Park or the Best of Greenway Art Show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Lid's outdoor sculpture garden.

The art show is sponsored by the Northwest Crafts Alliance, which also produces other Puget Sound ``Best of the Northwest'' events. There will be many kinds of artwork at the event, such as sculpture, glass, textiles and fabric, said Jesse Miller, project manager for Northwest Crafts Alliance. About 40 artist and artisan members of the alliance will offer some of the functional objects that make Northwest artistry unique, he said.

``It's exciting to see some of the useful pieces of art created in the Northwest,'' Miller said. ``That's what makes us so different from other parts of the country. Our artwork is unique to the region and isn't just a painting you put on the wall.''

Sidebar: Greenway Days

What: Events including art, music and adventure to celebrate the ``Mountains to Sound'' trail from the Cascades to the Puget Sound.

When: Friday, June 10 to Sunday, June 12

Where: A dozen cities and towns along the I-90 corridor. Mercer Island events include a walk from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday at Luther Burbank Park and an art show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the I-90 sculpture garden on Saturday and Sunday.

Greenway Days Guides -- which include events, locations, and passports for the scavenger hunt and Green Treasures Trek -- are available in today's (June 8) Seattle Times or at Washington Mutual banks.

Volunteers (high school age and older) are needed for the Island's Gateway information booth to work two or three hour shifts during the weekend. Volunteers will stamp passports for the contests and hand out information.

To volunteer, or for more information, call the Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Department at 236-3545.

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