Vi-a-duct

a bridge composed of several small spans for crossing a valley, dry or wetland, or forming an overpass or flyover. (Wikipedia)

a long elevated roadway usually consisting of a series of short spans supported on arches, piers, or columns. (Merriam-Webster)

Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct certainly was that. Unlike its more picturesque cousins around the world, this viaduct was not built of stone and did not have attractive arches. It was not a thing of beauty.

The Viaduct along the Great Wheel, with a ferry and West Seattle in the background

It was purely functional. Built of concrete and steel in 1953, it had two levels, one going north, and one going south. It stretched about two miles along the waterfront, affording very pleasant views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

The long gray line – the Viaduct bisecting downtown and the waterfront.

That’s the thing that will be most missed by drivers. The views.

Looking north
View at Pike Place Market

The elevated roadway reached the end of its useful life, helped along by the Nisqually earthquake in 2001, which damaged the viaduct. Ever since then, the roadway was closed for a couple days every six months for safety inspections. It was slowly sinking, but every inspection gave the A-OK for it to continue to be used.

 

However, the debate about how to replace it spanned more than a decade. The final determination was that a tunnel would be built and the viaduct would come down.

After years of drilling the tunnel, the day of reckoning has finally come, a little behind the original schedule. The viaduct has been closed forever, and it’s three weeks till the new tunnel opens.

The paint fairy came once.

What are commuters and drivers to do? Take public transit and have a lot of patience!

 

Happily, I no longer have to commute. But two days into the new age, I ventured downtown by bus to have a look and take some pictures. What I found was a scene of tranquility. If it could only last.

It’s my domain now.

Read into it

I was at a local library branch today for an art show reception. I am proud to have three photos on display, next to some really amazing art.

I saw this scene and loved the juxtaposition.

Art vs. headlines

 

Now, here are the three photos I submitted. I did abstracts this year.

Placement in the library:

I’m sad that the first one had terrible glare on it and was pretty hard to view. In some cases, my photos seem overshadowed by huge paintings! Next year my prints will be larger and in frames.

Actual photos

Here you can view the actual images. Enjoy!

Trapped Moon
Morning Vision
I Dream of Trees

 

 

Arctic Sunrise – A Greenpeace Ship with a Brutal Past

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise came to Seattle recently for a visit. The ship was touring the Salish Sea and working with the Puyallup Nation to raise awareness about a liquefied natural gas facility being built in Tacoma, the ancestral lands of the Puyallup. The LNG plant and the Trans Mountain Pipeline threaten the health of the Salish Sea, the waters that surround Tacoma, Seattle, and up into Canada.

A crew member tells us about all the controls

Arctic Sunrise is one of three Greenpeace ships that ply the waters worldwide; the other two are the Rainbow Warrior and Esperanza.

Overlooking the Lake Union area in Seattle, where the ship was moored.

While they take actions to protect our marine ecosystems, they also visit ports to meet local people, learn about their environmental issues and educate people about actions they can take to make their communities healthier and more sustainable.

Three years earlier, I had a memorable experience visiting the flagship of Greenpeace, the Rainbow Warrior, when it stopped in Seattle. So, I was excited to learn that the Arctic Sunrise was coming!

An ironic tale told by a crew member: the ship was once a whaling boat! It became available for sale, and Greenpeace eyed it for a new fleet addition. The seller refused to sell it to a group that fights whaling. Greenpeace set up a third party to buy the boat, and the deed was accomplished! Hurrah!

Specs of the boat

The ship is an icebreaker, has a “rounded keelless hull” (for those of you who like tech specs), and can land a helicopter.

From the Greenpeace website:

In 1997, The Arctic Sunrise became the first ship to circumnavigate James Ross Island in the Antarctic, a previously impossible journey until a 200m thick ice shelf connecting the island to the Antarctic continent collapsed. This was just one of the many signs of climate change which the Arctic Sunrise has helped document.

In 1999, a Japanese whaling ship rammed the Arctic Sunrise while Greenpeace was peacefully protesting its illegal whaling around Antarctica. Fortunately, no crew members were injured.

We learned about threats to the Salish Sea from oil refineries and pipelines along the coast.

Aside from their own research, Greenpeace sometimes assists scientists with accessing remote areas.

In 2009, the ship supported a researcher from Cambridge University who was documenting changes in Arctic ice volumes and thickness, as part of climate change studies.

We went below for a short video and saw some crew areas.

Bicycles are the preferred mode of transport when they are in a port.

Greenpeace is known for hanging large banners at protests and confronting illegal whaling, but the staff is also respected for conducting serious scientific research. I volunteered in the Washington, DC, office many years ago, and I know how dedicated the staff is.

No large people need apply!

If you ever get a chance to visit a Greenpeace vessel, I highly recommend it!

Low-Low Tide

A couple weeks ago, we had some super low tides in Seattle. It’s always fun to go out and explore the exposed shoreline. This time, the vistas were amazing!

My photos were taken from the West Seattle neighborhood, which lies on a large peninsula across Elliott Bay from downtown. The tide was at -3.7.

Normally, this area is completely covered.
This little pier now allows a new view from below!

The normal view!

 

Usual view from the top of the pier.

 

Egg case of moon snail
Another egg case

Anemone
Jellyfish

A Visit to Suquamish

Suquamish is a village on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula. It is the home of the Suquamish people, Native Americans who are a part of the regional Salish nation. Water, salmon and boating are central to their way of life. This tribe also runs the Clearwater Casino Resort.

It’s the time of year for Pow Wows, and recently, the Suquamish hosted their Chief Seattle Days at the Port Madison Indian Reservation, on Agate Passage, the ancestral home on Puget Sound.

The festivities included a fun run, boat races, a delicious salmon dinner and, of course, dancing.

The dances kicked off with the grand entry, then introductions of veterans and seniors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Guests

A highlight was dances by visitors from Vancouver Island and Mexico.

 

 

 

 

The Canadians presented several animal dances, with drumming and singing, while the Mexican group presented traditional Aztec ceremonies, with elaborate, dazzling regalia.

 

 

 

I felt honored to witness all these ancient movements. I am happy that these cultures are being preserved and carried forward through the centuries.

The Pacific Northwest is blessed with rich indigenous cultures that have refused to die out and are continuing with renewed spirit and energy. It’s wonderful that they so generously share their traditions with the rest of us.

Chief Seattle

I was able to visit the grave of Chief Seattle, or Sealth in the native language, which is just up the road from the House of Awakened Culture, the site of the Pow Wow. The city was named for him.

The monument is accompanied by two painted wood panels depicting facets of the chief’s life. He lived from 1786-1866. The site has a circular concrete border, on which is engraved words in the Lushootseed language and also English. Many tributes are left at the base.