November and December in Washington were pretty dry. For a state known for damp winters, we were rather lacking in rain. January and February decided to make up for that and we had days of rain and not just showers but really heavy rainfall. Local rivers are in flood all over the region. Snoqualmie Falls were on TV as the flow over the falls was raging. We have seen a variety of flow levels in our different visits based on river levels and the power generation requirements. This looked more than we had seen before and a visit seemed worthwhile.
We weren’t the only ones with this idea. Plenty of people were there and, talking to others after our visit, they all seemed to have visited too. The full width of the falls was covered and the roar of the crashing water was impressive. What was also dramatic was the impact on the viewing areas. The spray from the falls was being driven up the side of the rocks by the wind and so, while the surrounding area was dry, in the immediate vicinity of the falls, it was raining pretty heavily. One guy I talked to had his camera stop working it got so wet.
This made getting photos quite tricky. While the cameras I had were up to the task, keeping the front of the lens dry was a difficult task. The sun angle also meant any water on the lens was more conspicuous than normal. At first I tried to keep it clear but I soon gave up and just went with whatever I could get. We then went to the river in order to walk up towards the bottom of the falls. However, this had been closed off, presumably because of the river levels, so I couldn’t get the other shots I was hoping for.
The number of train routes in Tokyo is substantial and the lines run through many of the neighborhoods. Having been there for a long time, the towns have grown up around them. Roads cross them on back streets and there are footpaths that cross the tracks too. As I walked up to Shinjuku, I cross the tracks at one of these crossings.
Making the crossing was not a problem but you did need to pay attention. The track was double and the trains came every couple of minutes. When the alert sounded, a sign accompanied it with an arrow showing the direction the train was going. This was very helpful in ensuring you didn’t think the train had gone and you could start to cross only to find a train coming the other way. I actually had to wait for three trains as, by the time the second train had passed, a third was coming from the original direction. They really do come that often. Looking up to the station, I could see a train in the platform with another one slowing as it approached the station. Trains really are the dominant form of transportation in Tokyo from what I saw.
Just north of the center of Seattle is Ballard. Aside from being an interesting area with shops, bars and restaurants, it is also home to a set of locks that connect the salt waters of Puget Sound with Lake Union and Lake Washington’s fresh waters. The locks are the busiest in the US with a steady stream of traffic. On the weekend, this is heavily dominated by pleasure craft but commercial vessels are also a big feature. Indeed, while we were there, we found out that there is a hierarchy of which types of vessel get to go through first, even if some of the owners of the small pleasure craft were not up to speed on the rules!
The locks are named after the man who was instrumental in the early phases of their construction. Aside from leading a big construction project, he also was quite visionary in other areas but that will be the topic of another post soon. There are actually two locks. One is a small lock that suits pleasure craft or small commercial vessels. The other is far broader and longer and can be operated with a middle set of gates if less vessels are coming through. It can also take a lot of smaller boats wedged together like a giant game of Tetris when demand is high such as is the case on warm holiday weekends.
The locks are open to the public along with a small botanic garden. You can cross over the top of the gates (although these are rather narrow and can get congested when people decide to stop and hang around rather than keep moving). There is plenty of space along the sides of the locks to watch the boats as they come in and as they rapidly rise or fall when the water levels are adjusted. We obviously weren’t the only ones to find it a relaxing spot to hang out for a while.
This post is a question for whoever might be able to help me out. I was walking along Alameda Creek and I saw various sets of these devices along the levee banks at different locations. I was curious as to what they could be. They looked like they would float so I wondered whether they are designed to start at the bottom of the track and then float up as the water levels rises. Perhaps this then reports back to some control location so everyone knows the level of the creek? However, that is just a guess. Does anyone know the real story?