I was walking along the shore and saw a log that had clearly been in the water and then out of it for a long time. All sorts of things had happened to the wood. Some of it looked like it had worn away while other marks suggested that creatures had been chewing their way through. Some wildlife was still clearly living on the surface and in the nooks and crannies. It was such an unusual looking log I just couldn’t avoid taking some pictures.
The terrain around Seattle is pretty undulating which is not ideal for railroads. Consequently, a good amount of the track is along the shoreline where you can be guaranteed to be flat (provided you do a little work). Mukilteo is part of the BNSF line and it runs between the houses on the hill and the water’s edge including the new ferry terminal. There is a station there too for the commuter trains Sound Transit runs.
The majority of the traffic is freight traffic. Double stack containers or oil tank cars are a regular feature. I was there to look at the ferry traffic and the wildlife but, if a train is coming, I am not going to ignore it. One came through while I was in the station while another came through a little later when I was up at the grade crossing. For people living the US, long freight trains are not that unusual. For friends and family in the UK, the length of a US freight train can be quite a surprise. The leading locos can have disappeared off into the distance but the rear of the train hasn’t even come in to sight. A curving coastline like that along Puget Sound means it is easy to be unable to see each end.
Corvette’s latest model is a big change from their previous designs and got a lot of attention. While walking along the shore, I saw this example waiting to catch the ferry. I had the big lens on at the time which was way more than I needed. At least a bunch of shots can be stitched together to make a pano. When I got up on the walkway, it was easier to get a simple shot down on it. It’s a nice looking car.
With the new terminal open and operational at Mukilteo, the construction crews have turned their attention to the demolition of the old terminal facilities. The redevelopment of the waterfront includes returning this old space for new usage. The old terminal building was not a particularly impressive structure but now it looks very sad as everything is taken down.
Across the road, the old lanes for holding the cars prior to boarding are still visible but some of the area has already been cut through by the new access road construction for the terminal. One side of the old lot was briefly the home for one of the toll booths which looked rather feeble on its own. Next time I was there, it was gone.
The old span that connected to the berth has been lifted out. It was sitting on a barge on my last visit. A large floating crane had been brought in for the large lifts where a smaller crane had previously been in use. The structures were in the process of being removed. The concrete top to one side had been removed and the posts showed the damage from the cuts. The other side had a crew preparing the lifting lines to take that side off too.
The new ferry terminal at Mukilteo is located on the site of what was once an Air Force fuel tank farm. There is not much left to give that role away anymore but the shape of the tanks is still visible on the ground. One of them still seems to have some of the old tank material left over too. Not sure what the story is with cleaning up the site and removing the material but it isn’t cordoned off so I guess it has been decontaminated.
We were walking along the shore in Mukilteo on a sunny Saturday afternoon when I looked up and saw something large on the approach to Paine Field. At first I assumed it was one of the scheduled E175s but, as I pulled the camera up to my eye, I realized it was a 777. As it got closer, it was apparent that it was a China Airlines Cargo freighter on test – the first time I have seen one. The midwinter light made for a nice shot.
It’s not unusual to see seals along the shoreline at Mukilteo. The creation of the new ferry terminal seems to have provided them something new to explore. It also provides an elevated location from which to see them which is great since photographing seals when you are close to water level makes for difficult conditions and less than inspiring photos.
I don’t know how much the base of the ferry terminal provides for good food supply for the seals but they seemed to be hanging around for a while. Maybe it was curiosity or maybe the food was good. I was just glad to see them!
The shallow waters near the new ferry terminal at Mukilteo seemed to be a popular spot for the local cormorants to hunt. For a while, there was one cormorant almost directly below me that seemed to be having a pretty successful time fishing. A couple of times I saw it pop up and swallow something large so I spent a bit of time tracking it waiting for it to return again. Sure enough, it popped to the surface holding a rather large looking fish.
I am not a fish expert so I don’t know what it was. I just know it was still struggling to get away and, given the size, I was curious as to whether the bird would be able to eat it. I clearly underestimated its capabilities as a couple of quick adjustments and the whole thing went down in one go. I waited for it to dive again but, having had a few decent sized snacks, it was clearly letting its lunch go down. It was a while before it dived again. Just before it did, a bloom in the water led me to believe that it was making space for its next course.
Washington State Ferries have opened their first new terminal in 40 years. Calling it a new terminal is a bit deceptive – it is a replacement for an existing terminal – but it is definitely a new place for the ferries to come in. It is the new Mukilteo terminal and it is located about a third of a mile from the previous terminal. That one was right at the end of Mukilteo Speedway next to the lighthouse. The new location is east along the shore near the old Air Force tank farm location.
The construction has been underway for a while and the switch over happened on December 29, 2020. The ferries didn’t run for much of that day as they moved some key equipment across from the old location. Additionally, the crews took the opportunity to get practice with berthing in the new facility. The transition was done ahead of the holiday to make sure that the surge in traffic over New Year wasn’t affected.
I took a walk along the shore on two days later to see what it all looked like. The weather was hardly delightful but it was December in the Pacific Northwest so no great shock there. Additionally, not everything was complete. The main facilities are open but they have yet to install the passenger footbridge. That will go in around February/March time. For now, passenger walk across the road access (not while cars are there, of course!).
That also means some of the construction equipment is still in place. A large floating crane is still there and will be, I assume, until the footbridge is completed. They are also tidying up some of the other elements but they should be done pretty soon.
There is a new toll plaza on the entrance to the holding lots. I didn’t go up to take a look at that but I did get some photos from a distance. The demand for service was really high on this day with everyone heading home for their New Year celebrations. Despite the large holding lanes, it was full and traffic was waiting beyond the plaza and up the hill.
The main building is a really elegant structure. Lots of wood construction and styled on a native long house, it contains an information center, a ticket office and some other facilities. There is lots of native art decorating it both inside and out including a cool boat hanging from the roof. The building is elevated over the road access. The ramp for loading comes straight in to the shore and leads directly under the building. It means you have a nice elevated view of the boats as the come and go.
There is a waterfront trail that runs from up near the lighthouse to a park further to the east so you can walk along the shore to see the facilities and watch the boats. Near the terminal, there are many information boards giving some history of the region and these are quite educational. On a sunnier day, I can imagine there will be plenty of people enjoying this part of the shoreline and checking out the ferry traffic.
Christmas Eve and I was down by the water in Mukilteo. My timing couldn’t have been better. I made a discovery that will come as a surprise to many of you. You may have thought that Santa rode in a sleigh on Christmas Eve (at night too), flying through the air pulled by his reindeer. I have news for you all. That isn’t true! Everyone has been lying to you all these years. How do I know? Because I saw Santa.
Turns out Santa’s preferred mode of transport is a paddle board. The reindeer do pull him along on his board but they do so from a small boat and they might look a bit like people wearing reindeer antlers. Santa did spend a bit of time getting ready. I’m sure it wasn’t because he was putting on appropriate clothing for being out on the water in December. He just wanted to make sure he looked the part. A mask was also in order so he might have trimmed the beard.
He got on to the board prior to the reindeer being ready. A bit of paddling around until it was time to hook the tow line on from the boat the reindeer were using. With everyone aboard, they headed out in to the water and started motoring around near the lighthouse. The ferries were crossing in the background but Santa was not going to tangle with them. I had to head off after they made a couple of passes along the waterfront but I assume they were off around the world to start delivering presents.