Sunday, July 24, 2011


We had our traditional (but increasingly late and infrequent) waffle breakfast with D and then Michele and I loaded up our bikes and headed north to Anacortes. D was perfectly content not coming with us. We found tacos at a truck on Commercial Avenue and took them over to Seafarer's Park, where we arrived just as the Salish Canoe Journey was pulling in.

We didn't plan this - but couldn't have timed it better even if we had! The paddlers were coming over from the Lopez Island today, some of them having worked their way down from Vancouver Island over the past days and weeks. They converge on Swinomish tomorrow.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Harbor Island

Thursday's brief field trip to Jack Block Park inspired me to come back on a weekend with more time and a boat. Of course, the sunshine and the unpleasant prospect of having to deal with the moss on the roof were also inspiration to get out.

I launched at Seacrest Park, in the midst of a crowd of hundreds of bicyclists/kayakers racing in the "Oyster Urban Adventure Race" and dozens of scuba divers.

Harbor Island and the lower Duwamish River can be a little intimidating from water level. The cranes are tall and the container ships are huge. But it's a neat landscape and one that being in a small boat helps you appreciate. You just have to pay attention.

I watched the low-level West Seattle Bridge open - from underneath - it's a cool modernist variation on a swing bridge. It's the one they built to replace the one the ship crashed into in the 1980s.

Outside the protected channels of the Duwamish the water was choppy from today's north breeze, so I didn't try to take the camera out in front of Todd Shipyard where that big military radar dome is in for repairs (photo in previous post, if not this one). Apparently it normally sits somewhere in the Aleutians, watching for stray aircraft and missiles from Asia. There were a couple security boats keeping an eye on me - I hope they kept the safeties on.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Elliott Bay

There were two stops on this afternoon's field trip. The first was at Seahurst Park in Burien, where we talked to the group about Puget Sound beaches and recent restoration work. The second stop was Jack Block Park on the Elliott Bay waterfront, where these pictures were taken.

When I left for Seahurst at lunchtime it was raining and I brought all my rain gear. And then the afternoon kept getting nicer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Woodland Park

July broke through briefly today, long enough to brighten up what we had expected to be a soggy zoo concert. It turned out to be a perfect evening for it - better than drizzle and much better than the sticky, scorching weather the East Coast is suffering through.

This is the second time we've seen the Indigo Girls here, and although I love the casual venue (and the fact that it is in the neighborhood), I still liked them best when we first saw them at the Concert on the Pier many years ago.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Kubota Gardens

It's been a pretty bleak July weekend with gray skies and drizzle, so it was no surprise that it was quiet and uncrowded at Kubota Gardens this afternoon. One wedding party was there for pictures - probably not the weather they had hoped for when they came up with the idea last winter.

Kubota is one of those special Seattle places that probably goes unnoticed by most residents, yet it is several acres of wonderfully conceived and tended Japanese-style gardens, with plants of all scales, secretive paths, ponds and waterfalls, and arched bridges and stepping stones. The gray day and the damp foliage makes one pay attention to the contrasting textures, the subtle variety of greens, and the design of the landscape.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Otter Falls

For decades, I begin every summer hoping to get back to the mountains more. But somehow life intervenes and I'm lucky to go hiking once all summer. But this year, either through more effort or more amenable circumstances, I've already headed out several times. Today (yesterday, technically) I drove to North Bend, on up the Middle Fork Valley, and parked at the Taylor River trailhead. The hike into Otter Fall is a little over four miles of easy trail.

I think the last time I drove up this way, the Taylor River road was still open (mid-1980s?) and I drove along what is now trail. Otter Falls is a spectacular high water slide -- a snow-fed stream cascading down many hundreds of feet of granite slab.

The early morning start paid off again. I saw almost no one on the way up and had perfect blue skies. By the time I left the falls, high clouds had rolled in (not a threat, just makes for poorer photos) and the crowds were arriving. I must have passed fifty people on the way out. I was home by early afternoon.

It might have been much later had my car been 4 inches wider. I was barely able to squeeze out between two cars that had parked in such a way as to trap the dozen or so cars nearest the gate. You wonder what these jerks were thinking - then you realize they weren't. I called the Ranger's office once I was back in cell phone range and they said they'd send someone up.


Wow! A perfect day for July 4th - something we get all too rarely here in Seattle. D headed up last night to spend the 4th with some friends at Birch Bay, so I suppose this is the first 4th we've spent without him.

We went over to L&A's for dinner, and then L and the boys joined us for the walk down Wallingford Avenue to watch the show.

Golden Gardens

I spent the weekend with a very sore hip (stretched, aged, injured?) and decided that despite the temptation of the weather to do something more ambitious, I should take it easy. So I grabbed an early morning latte and headed to the nearest beach - which means Golden Gardens.

It was quiet, but with folks beginning to set up for July 4th picnics. Some were clearly on assignment to hold down tables or spots on the beach for larger groups that would presumably arrive later in the day.


Last Saturday was too nice to pass up and by the time I got the kayak off the car, Michele and I were talking about a bike ride. We loaded the bikes onto the car (today would have made a good promotion for Yakima car racks) and headed for the Duwamish River. We started at North Winds Weir (Cecil Moses Park) and rode the path south along the river (upstream), eventually ending up at South Center (a million people at the mall, but only two who who arrived on their bikes).

We found cold snacks and drinks, bathrooms, and even the Apple Store, where we investigated provisions for D's upcoming four-year expedition to the upper midwest.

Not for the first time today, I found myself following waterways beneath interstate highways (I-90 and I-405 by kayak earlier this morning, I-5 in Allentown and I-405 in Tukwila by bike this afternoon).

One of the pictures shows the mouth of what remains of the Black River. It's hard to imagine that a century ago (more or less), the entire Cedar River watershed, including Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish, drained into the Green (thus Duwamish) River at this point. That means the ancestors of the fish that now swim through the Ballard Locks. I guess that also includes the rain that once fell on our small lot in Wallingford.