Time: 10 AM
Weather: Cloudy, Drizzly, mid 50s
Locations: Ravenna Park, East; Ravenna Park, Mid-Park; Cowen Park
Location: Ravenna Park, East
We arrived at the park on its East end at about 10am. From the parking lot we could see a woman (mid-30s white) with a small child playing in a large sand pit. To the left of them was a free standing brick building with a small metal sign that said ‘Women’. As we came closer we notice also a brass (?) water fountain with two tiers (presumably catering to both adults and children). Just beyond the water fountains, to the left against the wall of the building was a man with several bags seated near a white painted sign that read ‘Men’. He was swaying back and forth.
We entered the women’s restroom and noticed immediately that there were no tampon dispensers or waste receptacles to be found. As I pulled back, I also took note of the grimy subway tiles that covered the walls and the non-mirror above the sink. There was a hand dryer, but no soap pumps. It seemed clear to me from the state of the tiles that not much attention was spent on maintaining the facilities.
No one entered the restroom while we were inside.
We drove up to the east end of Ravenna, after getting re-routed by Google Maps at least once. We parked on the side of the playground, where the ground was sandy/gravel-y. We got out and walked toward the bathroom. The women’s sign above the door was faded. There were a couple adult women there with children- one closer to us with a child and another pushing a kid on the swings. There was a man sitting on the bench in between the men’s and women’s bathrooms, in a bright blue rain jacket with some stuff next to him on the bench, rocking back and forth. I don’t think he was with any children, and by the nature of his rocking and the way he was staring at me, I assumed he was homeless. I drank from the water fountain as to appear to have a purpose for going out there. The water fountain worked.
Inside the bathroom, there were no dispensers or trashcans (outside or in the stalls) (OC: After I looked it up, and nothing is required in an outside bathroom that has to do with feminine hygiene. There have to be electric dryers though. At zoos, they have to have disposal trashcans in the stalls.) There was a trashcan outside the restroom though. Inside, there was a blurry mirror.
Location: Mid-Park, Ravenna Bridge
There weren’t dedicated parking spots (from what we could tell) around the second Ravenna bathroom spot. Instead, we parked on the nearest neighborhood street next to what appeared to be a running and walking trail recessed below street level through the park. There was a crew of Seattle Public Utitlity workers nearby mowing the lawn and picking up debris. They didn’t seem to acknowledge us when we walked by. I told Kiley that I was glad that the parks in Seattle are so scenic because I didn’t feel as conspicuous walking around with my medium to large camera (Canon Rebel).
We first crossed a pedestrian bridge to the other side of the dipped trail, but turned around when we realized we were haeded away from where the restroom was marked to be. We crossed again to the other side and took a gravel trail that led to the recessed trail area. The trail was very wooded and looked more like a national/state reserve than a neighborhood park. After looking at the map, we realized again that we were headed in the wrong direction. Instead of continue down to see whether the trail would led to the bottom, we opted to go back up part of the way and take a second choice in an earlier fork. This was a much steeper path and quickly led to a multi-tiered area under the bridge we’d crossed before. There we found a rolled up sleeping bag and several other bags of what appeared to be mostly clothes. One bag was resting from a very high ledge just under the bridge. It was unclear how someone might have put it there or how they might get it down.
At this point, I opted to take photos of the surroundings and Kiley slide down the steep tiers to look at the trail level. She climbed back up a few minutes and told me she couldn’t find the restroom. She speculated that it might be elsewhere on the trail, but didn’t see any indication of where that might be. As she was telling me this, I noticed a middle-aged white man walking by with large two dogs on leashes. A few moments later, another man ran by (perhaps latino, early 30s) on the trail. We made our way back up the trail to where we’d parked. Along the way, near the bridge, we say a late 20s white couple walking with backpacking gear on. I also took note of a woman (late-30s white) with three children (12/13, 5/6, >1) crossing the street to the bridge. I guessed the children might be home schooled since they were all out in the middle of a school day.
We drove to the next place on the map, which was a little disorienting because it seemed like we had to drive the wrong way down a one way street. There were a couple of construction workers. We were in a location where there was a bridge (Ravenna bridge, I think) and we could look down and see lots of beautiful forrest. I thought there was definitely not a bathroom here. We walked across the bridge, realized that we had gotten too far past the point on the map, and went back. At this point, it felt like we were on a hunt, confusedly searching for this bathroom.
We decided to try to go down to the valley of the park to see if there was the public stall that the restroom map referred to. It was beautiful with wild flowers. As we were walking, I noticed on my Maps app, that our location was getting farther from where the bathroom map said the stall was. So we turned back to see if we could go down another path. We saw a towel on the path.
We went down a different path, but it wasn’t actually a designated trail. There was a staircase made from the hill and trees and we walked down, beneath the bridge. Under the bridge was stuff (a sleeping bag, I think and a bag.. some other things. Sarah took pictures)— first on a larger ledge that was the same level as us, and then another thing on a higher ledge that looked difficult to reach.
I joked that we could yell down to a person walking by with dogs to ask if he saw any bathrooms. Since we still couldn’t see any possible restrooms, I climbed down the big “staircase” under the bridge (which was tiered cement and dirt) and got to the higher trail. There were people running and walking dogs on the lower trail. I still couldn’t see anything. I guessed that maybe on the lower trail that was thicker where the people were running, there might be a restroom along it, but we didn’t have time to keep looking and I was alone down there. So I climbed back up to the top to, so we could go to another restroom.
Location: Cowen Park
On the way over, Kiley thought we might be going to a bathroom she’d been to before. She said it was near a baseball field and that she’d gone while running once. She remembered it being dirty, but also feeling desperate. As we made our way there though, she said this wasn’t the spot she remembered. We parked right next to a park welcome sign on a nearby street (free street parking, no lot from what we saw). You could see the restroom from the street and as we walked closer it was clear it was in disrepair. There were parts of the exterior wall that were boarded up and mirrored panels that featured scratched graffiti.
We walked to the side of the freestanding building to find bars on the door of the women’s restroom. When we peeked inside we could see a sign read, “Closed for the winter season.” There were sinks and a a baby changing table parallel to the door. To the right, were a couple of bathroom stalls. I could tell through the bars whether there were trash receptacles in the stalls or next to the sink (it didn’t seem like it), but there were a number of trash cans outside of the building.
We walked around the building to the ‘Men’ side and the layout seemed to mirror the women’s restroom (bars, closed sign, baby changing table). We walked up a flight of stairs and checked out a portable toilet at the top level near the street. Kiley looked inside first and said that it was ‘disgusting’ with feces in the urinal. I also looked inside and took photos for documentation. It was indeed quite dirty with trash covering the floor and feces in the urinal and on the toilet paper holder. I closed the door a we took note of the large amount of trash cans around. It seemed odd to me that there would be so many trash cans and so few other facilities. I wondered who emptied the trash cans into a dumper (where was the dumpster).
We drove to Cowen Park, but there wasn’t any parking lot there. We parked on the side of the road, and as we were walking, I thought/said, “I KNOW THERE’S ANOTHER BATHROOM” because once I went on a run when I was staying with Trevor (it must have been July 2013 when Sarah and I were looking for a place to live) around Ravenna and I had to go to the bathroom really badly on my run, and I found a restroom. I think it was next to a baseball field and it was definitely not the one that we saw at Cowen Park. It’s possible that it’s closer to Trevor’s apartment, on the East end.
We walked up to the playground area and there was a blonde women with a small child with curly blonde hair, being very cute. The bathroom looked pretty run-down— painted white but with black on it and the windows all fogged up or something. There were a lot of trashcans (2 trashcans and a recycling bin on one side of the playground and bathroom; 1 next to the playground on the other side and next to the bathroom on the other side). There was a water fountain near the women’s restroom but it didn’t work. The bathrooms were locked but you could still see inside. It looked like the restroom at Cal Anderson, with the baby changing table, no mirrors. There was a sign that the restrooms were closed. I walked up the stairs to a large overlooking area where I saw there was a Honey Bucket. There was a lock on the door but it didn’t lock it shut because it wasn’t hooped around both of the rings. I opened the door, and it was disgusting inside. No toilet paper, toilet seat was up, there was cardboard on the ground, and there was an empty toilet paper roll with feces on it in the urinal. Sarah came up and I held the door open while she took pictures. We noticed that there were two more trashcans on the overlook area.