Good-bye, ramps to nowhere; Seattle, July 2014

On a warm July evening, Pat and I rented a canoe at the U of W Boathouse. The outing strengthened our interest in getting sea kayaks again. A canoe is top-heavy and hard to steer, and the wind pushes it around. But paddling one is still worth doing.

15 ducksWe paddled south across the Ship Canal into the lagoons at the north end of the Arboretum.  (Click on any picture to enlarge it.)  Here a mostly-disused network of freeway ramps sprawls across the wetlands. Its removal is scheduled to begin this summer as part of a bridge replacement project. So we thought this might be our last chance to appreciate the ramps. We’ve strolled and paddled under these ramps many times and grumbled about the concrete intrusion into the placid waters. But the stately pillars and curves and their reflections make the place unique. It’s also a monument to civic activism; in the 1960s the community opposed the construction of a freeway that was to begin here and managed to block it. An artist commemorated the event by wrapping some pillars in mirror-like metal. It’s been proposed that a pair of pillars be preserved. I think it would look nice, but I read that the idea was disapproved by whoever is in authority.

"Commemorative" pillars wrapped in mirror foil.

“Commemorative” pillars wrapped in mirror foil.

While I concentrated on the ramps, Pat concentrated on the lily-pad blossoms and wildlife. She pointed out a beaver house, two herons and a turtle. And of course there were lots of ducks. We saw a new mother duck sleeping on a log with tiny ducklings nestled around her. Another shepherded a fleet of ducklings to the edge of a field of lily-pads; the ducklings were so small and light that they would walk on the lily-pad leaves. Yet another led her two older ducklings toward our canoe, teaching them to beg.

We circled a little cattail island where a heron guardedly observed us. We entered a narrow channel through overhanging trees full of bird-calls (and a few monkey-calls which we supplied) to the cattail marsh at the west end of the Highway 520 bridge. 12 reflections

On our way back, we got out at a footpath landing on Foster Island. We had a snack, sitting on the landing with our feet in the boat, watching traffic glide past on nearby ramps.




99 map

The Arboretum lagoons are near the east end of the Ship Canal, underneath Highway 520. The U of W Boathouse is directly north of them, on the north side of the canal.

More pictures …


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