Friday, May 11, 2012

Tidepools, Bridges and Locks

Seattle is a city where we could have easily spent a lot more time than we had, and it's definitely worth a second blog post. There is so much to see and do- and much of it is free or cheap which is exactly the way we like to roll whenever possible. (parking was an exception- it's quite pricey.) We decided to spend our last day checking out things just outside the city itself.

I'm a tropics kind of gal, and it was way too chilly for me to head out on any boats, which would be fun in some other, warmer season. Still, there was plenty of other fun to be had near the water.

Tidepooling was high on the list for us. (Girl Child has a strong interest in Marine Biology, and the rest of us just love the ocean and it's critters.)

We found an isolated beach with the tide about halfway down, and bundled up to see what we could see. The fact that it was painfully cold may have cut our explorations a little short, but we were able to see many sea stars, some anemones, and lots of crabs and birds.

My friend's children were much hardier when it comes to cold than mine and were able to romp barefoot and in shorts. My brood was bundled and shivering the whole time, but we were glad we made the stop nevertheless. When the fog rolled out, we could practically see to Canada.

The next stop was going to be Ballard Locks, which were kind of like a mini Panama Canal- a series of waterways to help boats navigate from the Puget Sound into Lake Washington.

On the way, we passed over a cool old drawbridge just in time to watch it raise up and let a boat under. Traffic stopped for dozens of cars and we watched a lone boat pass under, but the sun was momentarily shining and no one seemed to mind the pause in their day. My kids thought it was cool and we speculated on how the bridge operates. Several people seem to be working full time operating the bridge as well, so I'm sure it has a higher boat traffic at other times, or it would be a pretty inefficient operation. In any case, it was something we don't see every day so we enjoyed it.

The locks had a bunch of beautiful sculptures, and we arrived at the perfect time to see them do their thing and raise the water level to let a couple of boats through. You could cross a walking bridge to a visitors center in a beautiful botanical garden with flowers blooming everywhere.

This place had some special significance as far as Army Corps of Engineers Projects and also had a car drive into it at one time. We actually read all sorts of interesting tidbits about the history of the place, how it was built and the geology of the area, but I was so captivated by the gorgeous colors of flowers and contrasts of clouds in the sky and the public art that I remember that more than anything else. I suppose that's just how my brain works.

Fortunately, there will be no test for any of us, and I'm willing to accept that we all learned whatever we needed to about it.

From there, we said goodbye to our friends the fabulous hosts and hit the road south towards California. The kids loved the city of Seattle, and so did I. From what my friend says, the homeschooling scene is happening, and by the classes and activities her kids told me about, it sounded like a fabulous community to me.

Girl Child especially was glad to be near the Pacific and to see all the wonderful public art, and Boy Child was impressed with the numerous skateboard parks we came across. I hope we can visit again someday, and explore the Puget Sound and the many islands that fill it (hopefully on warmer days.) For this trip, it was as far as we could go, and we'd have plenty more to see on the way home.