What makes your “happy place”? I suspect it’s different for everybody. It’s where I go to relax and unwind with no distractions or interruptions so I can get all the warm fuzzies I haven’t had time to embrace during the busy parts of my day. Some have happy places in their heads. My happy place is far away from demanding people, lane changes, and schedules. It’s where birds chirp, coffee is at arm’s-reach and (hopefully) has a dog or two within my periphery. It’s idyllic. Akin to planetary alignment, all things must come together in perfect synchronicity to make my happy place.
Since moving into our Squak Mountain townhome, my happy place has been on our main deck – in the cushiest of chairs – with a fresh mountain breeze and thoughts of nothing but which bird is chirping the loudest and what kind of owl might be hooting. But in the 22 months I’ve been here, my happy place hasn’t been just right. It’s been a place where happiness has been interrupted – again and again – by an annoyance in the distance. A ka-thunking from a highway a mile away every time a vehicle drove over a particularly annoying utility vault in the roadway. The noise echoed through the valley. It was present in my happy place, as well as when I walked the pups on Squak Mountain’s trails. I heard it at night through my open windows. Hundreds of households undoubtedly heard the sound, but (like me initially) didn’t know where it was coming from or what to do about it. The solution didn’t come quickly.
The investigation of my happy place’s interruptor took months. 19 to be specific. 19 months of emails back and forth from government entities to the highway department to local public works folks. The man was getting between me and my happy place. Fortunately for me, the man was also helpful and accommodating. They jumped through my demanding hoops – tightening bolts that had loosened until the ka-thump was more of a muted thunk. Months passed but the sound returned like a bad dream. It came louder and angrier. The ka-thunk was essentially flipping me and my happy place off in the loudest most annoying way possible.
I plead to the man again. I asked them to imagine having a teenager next door learning to play drums – but who played night and day – sometimes with a minute or two break, and sometime an hour. I asked them to visualize not knowing when the teen would bash on his drums again, but knowing he would … and that his skill would never advance and that he’d never stop playing.
They listened! While sitting my my happy place last night I noticed something different. I waited and listened, then waited more. The sound was gone. My happy place was happier! As I write this morning I’ve heard osprey screaming to their mates, chipmunks and jays warning of intruders, and the snapping of branches on the floor of the greenbelt as deer meander on the trail beneath my happy place. All is well. 🙂
The nitty-gritty of all this involved a PSE underground utility vault with steel covers. The vault had originally be located on the non-traveled shoulder of Highway 900 (the Issaquah-Renton Road). Years ago, the roadway was widened – thus the vault had moved into the travelled part of the highway. Their repair wasn’t simple. It involved permitting and moving electrical components and eventually replacing the ka-thunking lid with a massive manhole cover. I’m thankful my parents raised me to be persistent. Neighbors had mentioned the noise and that didn’t know what to do or where to turn. I’m a seeker of information – and now a happy once in that my personal happy place is just as I want it.