Settled in Seattle

Finally getting grounded somewhere


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Sunset over Elliot Bay as seen from our apartment.

The Experience

We completed our move to Seattle and I got to spend exactly 48 hours in my new apartment before I had to go on travel for 3 solid weeks. Two of the three weeks were in NY and the final week was in Munich, Germany. I came home to tons of actions and boxes that needed to be unpacked, items with "some assembly required" and pictures to hang on the walls. Kathleen and I decided that we should spread the unpacking actions over the 3 day Labor Day weekend and multiplex actions with some trips around town. To make that easier, we bought a pair of generic mixed-use bikes. Now that biking has become fully yuppified, nothing is cheap. Even a "standard" bike is $250 with tricked out ones going for north of $3K. We settled for something on the very low end and the result worked fine. Our first local trip was to the Ballard Locks.

The view of Elliot Bay from our patio on the 11th floor. There is always ship traffic in the bay. Here, several ships are anchored awaiting offloading at the marine terminal to the north of us. The Olypmic Mountains are in the far distance (some with snow) and Bainbridge Island is just past the tankers.

As sunset approached, we were treated to wonderful colors in the western sky. In the distance are the Olympic Mountains on the other side of Puget Sound.

A view of the downstream part of Lake Union from the Ballard Bridge. The only access to the ocean is through the Ballard Locks (aka Chittenden Locks for the name of the Corps of Engineers manager who built it).

The Ballard Locks are critical to shipping movement in the Seattle area to and from Lake Union. And, the locks have become a tourist attraction. Tons of folks were watching the activities at the locks. There were many of boats awaiting lockage.

A view to the west from the locks. Note the railroad bridge that is currently open to allow passage of a ship.

Notice the packing of the small boats in the lock. Most of the vessels there were private pleasure craft.

An obsolete manual actuator for the lock gates. Big timbers were inserted into the holes and a team of men then turn the windlass.

The lock gates are closing. Once the gates are closed, you can walk over the gangway.

Looking to the west from the center of the large lock. Note that the railroad bridge is now closed.

As we crossed, I took this photo looking to the east. Note the boils in the water coming from the filling of the lock using water from Lake Washington.

There are 2 sets of locks here. The small set is on the right; note the narrower width of the lock.

The structure at the right is a dam that is built to hold back the waters of Lake Union. To the far right is the fish ladder and fish viewing area.


Looking from the center area to the north there is a large maintenance crane used for the lock gates. The locks are pumped dry once a year for maintenance. Sometimes, the gates themselves have to be removed for service and the crane is the only thing strong enough to lift them.

The boats are still in the locks awaiting equalization of the water levels so the upstream gates can be opened and the passage to Lake Union can be completed.

A view of the large lock after all the boats have departed. Once the upstream gate is closed, the water will be drained and the downstream gate will be opened.

Once we finished at Chittenden Locks, we had to take the bikes back to Belltown (the area of Seattle next to Elliot Bay). The trip was neither long nor hard, but still challenging given that it has been over a year since I have ridden.

This was a fantastic day. The weather was excellent and the only challenge was the potential of sunburn. It is nice that Seattle is a bike-friendly town as it make getting around much easier.

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