Answers to important questions nobody has asked me yet:
Q: For all the important talking points that the new Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” gives families, is there one that’s easy to overlook?
A: At the recommendation of my brother, I recently binge watched the new Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.”
“It should be required viewing for teens,” he told me. I’d amend that to “required viewing for parents, especially those with kids who watched the show.”
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The series tells a story about a high school girl (Katherine Langford) who commits suicide and leaves behind seven audio tapes explaining why. Bullying, sexual abuse, stalking, poor decision-making, athlete-hero worship, depression and other prevalent topics are explored. It’s a perfect device for starting a conversation with the kids about these subjects, suicide and the importance of remembering we don’t necessarily know or understand the circumstances of others.
But, as I watched, I couldn’t help but notice another topic that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) spends much of the series pedaling the streets while listening to the tapes on what appear to be noise-cancelling headphones. He also goes rock climbing in sneakers, but we’re going to ignore that for now.
It’s a topic that’s not nearly as intriguing as the others, but it is important to address. Biking with headphones is dangerous, illegal and — disturbingly — commonplace. Unobstructed hearing could be the difference between life and death for a cyclist.
So, as my son and I sat at the kitchen table recently finishing up a discussion about the heavy subjects, I threw in a quick postscript. “And, by the way, it’s never OK to wear your headphones while riding your bike.”
I was pleased with his reply.
“I know,” he said. “And did you notice (the Jensen character) wasn’t even wearing helmet most of the time? I’d never do that.”
Q: Canada turns 150 this year, what’s a good way to celebrate?
A: I recently spent a morning hiking in Gowlland Tod Provincial Park on the south end of Vancouver Island. Hiking over the moss-covered rocks more than 1,100 feet above the Finlayson Arm, the view was breathtaking even on an overcast day.
At some points, if I was correctly matching the view to my map, we could see 10 regional and provincial parks. Green swaths of protected land. In a place like this, you can’t help but be impressed.
British Columbia is home to 640 provincial and seven national parks.
Gowlland Tod sits next to a famous neighbor, Butchart Gardens, and protects one of the few remaining natural areas in the Greater Victoria area. The park is home to more than 150 species of plants and animals, including the endangered red-legged frog.
The park can draw a crowd in the summer, we were told, because it is so easily accessed, but we only saw one other person (a trail runner) during two hours on the Ridgetop Trail. For us, it seemed to be the perfect place to enjoy the solitude and appreciate the natural beauty of our neighbors to the north.
Q: What’s a good place to get a taste of bikes and brews in Olympia?
A: Olympia has a rich beer history that is the focus of a new bicycle tour.
Robin Knutson of South Sound Adventures, the company leading the tours, says the rides are suitable for everybody 12 years old and older, and cyclists of all skill levels. Of course, only cyclists 21 and older will be able to sample the brews.
The three-hour tour follows an 11-mile route starting and finishing at the Tumwater Historical Park next to the old Olympia Brewery. After a quick safety tutorial, the riding begins with visits to Fish Tale Brewery, the Capitol Campus, the Oly Taproom and Three Magnets Brewing Company.
“It’s a great way for the local breweries to showcase new beers and upcoming events,” Knutson said via email.
At each of the three brewery stops, riders get an approximately 10-ounce beer or cider. Water and soft drinks are available for younger riders or those who don’t want adult beverages. Tour guides explain the local history of beer along the way.
The tours, which start at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. daily through September, cost $30. Bikes and helmets are available for rent for $10.
“We are so excited to get out and showcase Olympia's emerging local beer scene,” Knutson said.
For information, see southsoundadventures.com.