Friday, May 15, 2009

An Adventure --Part I

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day. So we loaded Diva Dog into the car and headed out in quest of an adventure. We ended up at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks--better known as the Ballard Locks.  It's always great fun watching as sailboats, pleasure boats both large and small, commercial ships and the impressive NOAA research vessels move through the locks. The locks help boats move up from the Puget Sound as they enter the Ship Canal or down from the freshwater lakes as they head out to the Sound and the ocean beyond. It's mesmerizing to watch as the boats get directed into a spot in the locks, the gates close and the locks either fill up or empty out. But this time there was something passing through the locks that I'd never seen before.

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A huge gravel barge.

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The Island Breeze tug and barge filled up the larger of the two locks all by itself.

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As the barge headed out into the Ship Canal, we saw this familiar feathered friend cruising by.

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After the Island Breeze headed into the ship canal, we headed over to the spillway dam. The spillway has six gates that either hold or release water as needed to keep the level of the freshwater lakes at 20-22 feet above sea level.

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The funny looking tube is called a smolt flume and it helps the smolt, juvenile fish, as they leave their freshwater birthplace and head out into the big blue ocean. Apparently the water current is so strong, it pushes the young fish through the flume tail first.

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At the far end of the spillway, and right above the fish ladder, is a very fun sculpture, Salmon Waves.

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Wing Nut went down into the observation platform of the fish ladder but there wasn't much happening. May is the tail end of the Steelhead migration. The fish action will pick up in June with the Sockeye (Red). In July the Chinook (King) will follow. And the Coho (Silver) follow in August.

After checking for squirrels along the southern shore of the locks, we crossed back over the spillway and the locks to visit the Carl P. English, Jr. Botanical Garden located along the northern shore. That'll be Part II of this adventure.

10 comments:

Aerie-el said...

Great photos! You've convinced me that we need to check out those Ballard Locks. I love the Salmon Waves sculpture.

Magic Cochin said...

Love the sculptures!

What a fun adventure.

Celia

our friend Ben said...

A great time was had by all! And yes, those Salmon Waves are too cool! Can't wait for the next installment.

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

I love going to the locks. We try to go at least once a year. I'm looking forward to seeing how the gardens looked.

Karen said...

We love the HMC Locks! Hm, maybe a trip across town in the near future is in order. Wonder if the gravel barge was headed to Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel? Always wondered where all that stuff came from... their cool orange, white and green cement mixers are so distinctive. Can't wait to see Part II, those gardens are so lovely especially when the fuschias are in bloom!

Curmudgeon said...

Hi Aerie-el! The locks are lots of fun. Check out their website for a list of summer events--concerts, fuchsia show, car show--all free. And seeing the salmon move through the fish ladder is quite something.

Hi Celia! I love this sculpture because it invites people to interact with it--walk around it, look though it, tough it--and it's great fun to photograph.

Hey OFB! We kept our eyes open for pirates. But we didn't see any.

Hi Catherine! The rhodies were gorgeous.

Hey Karen! Their summer events schedule lists the Greater Seattle Fuchsia Show for Sat/Sun July 25 & 26th.

Tatyana said...

It sounds like a nice place to take my boys to. Educative. Thank you!

A Cuban In London said...

Fab commentary and fantastic photos.

Greetings from London.

tel said...

How'd your strawberry do? I hope it survived the transplant shock. All of its siblings are flowering now and making fruit. Reconstructing strawberry migration patterns I think it's a Puget Reliance, but I'm not entirely sure.

Curmudgeon said...

Hi Tatyana. It is a very fun place and lots to learn. Watching the fish as they navigate the fish ladder is spectacular.

Thanks for stopping by Cuban. One of the things I love so much about Seattle is being surrounded by water and ships. I am a child of the islands, even if I was very young when I left.

Hey tel! Your strawberry is flowering! I am so excited. It looks quite healthy and happy in it's new home.