Walking under the bridges along the Riverwalk in Chicago provides a very different perspective that that which you get from above. Some of the bridges have solid deck and others have gridded metal decks which allow light through (and anything else someone might drop). The lattice structures under the deck are ornate yet grubby. They are obscured from most views and get covered in the grime that washes down from above. I am not making this sound very appealing but I find them very cool to look at. The noise of the traffic above is there but slightly isolated which adds to the atmosphere for me. They do put a curved stainless-steel cover over the walkway itself so you are not vulnerable to anything from above ending up on your head which is something I am grateful for.
When we were getting ready to leave Chicago, the city was in the process of extending the river walk. This had originally gone along the river up to Michigan Avenue. The first phase extended the walk to State Street and this was in place by the time we left. The plan was to take it all the way to the branching of the river. A few years have now passed and the plan is now a reality. To get from my hotel to my meetings took me along the river so I checked the walk out.
This proved to be a bit more tricky than I expected as it had snowed the night before and the surface alternated between clear, crunchy with frozen snow and slick with ice. Just what you want when walking close to a river! On the way back, things were warmer and a lot more relaxing. It is too early in the year for all of the businesses to be in place but you can see what will be there. One wine bar was open though with clear plastic igloos to give you some privacy and, more importantly, warmth.
You can now walk from the lake all the way to Lake Street. This is a great improvement and is a lot nicer than walking along Wacker and having to cross the streets at each bridge. Now I just need to find a reason to be back during the summer so I can hang out down there when it is warm!
Wolf Point sits at the place in the Chicago River where it splits into the north and south branches. When I lived in Chicago, it was a park. It sat in front of the a building with a Holiday Inn and the Sun Times located within. It had a great view along the river in all directions. That view was obviously too valuable. The park is gone a some towers are now going up. One was already there when I visited and work is underway on the others. I’m afraid this is a shame to have lost a nice location. Also, if you were in the building across the river that had a view along the main branch, I imagine you are not too pleased to have lost your view and instead be looking at another tower!
Our trip across Stevens Pass ended just short of Leavenworth. We took a run along the river through Tumwater Canyon. Here the river sits in the bottom of the valley and the road runs alongside it. Plenty of nice views of the river as it winds its way downhill, some of which you can only see as you drive along the road because there is no space to stop. Other locations, though, do provide an area to allow you to pull off and wander around. Given how pretty it is, you are not alone in these places!
The river widens out in places and then narrows in to some rapids in others. On a sunny day with the fall foliage around, standing by the water and watching the swirling and tumbling flows is really relaxing. The noise of the water can drown out the traffic passing not far away and you can be quite mesmerized. If you don’t mind the close proximity to the traffic, you can also explore a little in each direction away from the parking and get some great new views of the river. You are either walking alongside the road or outside the barriers and close to the edge of the river so paying attention is a must!
One downside to the popularity of the place is that it is a bit tricky to avoid having lots of people in your shots. You can move away a little and have them out of sight. Alternatively, a little careful selection of your angles and shooting location and they can either be cropped out or cunningly concealed behind some other part of the scenery.
I took a wrong turning as we went over Stevens Pass and, instead of going where I had intended, we took a back road which was probably once the main road across the mountains. It twisted through the woods, never getting too far from the current highway, but being far more enclosed and far narrower. Fortunately, not much traffic was coming the other way, so it was easy enough to navigate. We crossed a small bridge which was over some falls. I can’t be sure but, judging by the map, the water seemed to be called Martin Creek so maybe the falls are of the same name?
I mentioned the bridge in Index in a previous post and I thought it deserved its own post. The bridge is relatively new having been built in the late 1990s. The road to the town in on one side of the river and the town is on the other so the bridge is pretty important! There is a rail bridge too, but the road is the way for most people since the trains don’t stop anymore.
It is an arch structure. The roadbed is suspended from the arch by a selection of cables. These come down in pairs from the arch and into the bed of the bridge. The structure is steel and, whether it was assembled on site or elsewhere, you can clearly see how the sections were assembled with the bolts through plates at each of the joints.
The arch shape is attractive and the symmetry of the bridge when viewed from the end is also very nice. Because the area is not too busy, they have not cluttered things up with too much fencing to segregate the pedestrians from the traffic so the whole thing has a simple look to it. A nice job by some engineers!
Otters are known as being playful. However, having watched a bunch of them at Woodland Park Zoo, I have to think that they are on some serious drugs. The speed with which they flew around the enclosure, wrestled with each other, lay in the water getting blasted by the water jets and generally acted like hooligans, you would think this was a vast waste of precious energy for a creature in the wild. I think they must metabolize something in their food to create something like cocaine or speed. What other reason could there be?
Walking across the bridge from the overflow parking to the top of Snoqualmie Falls, I looked down the river to the top of the falls just beyond the barriers to stop errant boaters getting too close. I also noticed something in the water below us. For a while I was trying to work out what it was. Then, courtesy of polarizing glasses, I could see through the reflections and make out the shape of some structure.
It looks to me like this was a previous bridge. It sits just below the current bridge alignment and looks like it would have been the right size and shape to be a bridge span. I wonder whether it collapsed or whether, when the replacement bridge was being built, it was simpler to dump the old span into the river than to take it away. There could be another explanation of course and maybe it isn’t even part of a bridge. However, it clearly is something man-made sitting on the bed of the river.
Our exploration of our new territory included a trip up into the foothills to see Snoqualmie Falls. The town of Snoqualmie is quite a way from the top of the pass but it is still a nice increase in elevation from the more populated areas to the west. The views are very nice from up there. The water running off the mountains has already formed a pretty decent sized river by this time.
Because of the time of year, I was not expecting a very heavy flow over the Falls. They provide a guide to when the flow is strong and when it is light and we were not visiting at a time of year when it is expected to cover much of the lip of the Falls. However, some heavy rain in the preceding week had obviously resulted in some run off and things were actually looking pretty forceful.
We had lunch in the hotel overlooking the Falls and got a window seat that provided a great view. Then we walked around the ridge to see the Falls from different angles before taking the trail down to the river level. Things look very different when you are level with the base of the Falls and they feel far more powerful. It was a warm day and the climb back up to the top made me feel rather toasty. It was certainly worth it though.
Having watched a guy walking across a narrow railroad bridge over the Alameda Creek in Fremont as you can read about here, a train was now coming across the bridge. The train was a Capital Corridor service heading to San Jose. I am currently working on a project to acquire new locomotives for Caltrans that will see service on the Capital Corridor and will replace borrowed Amtrak locomotives. This train was being hauled by one of these Amtrak locomotives. All being well, this will soon no longer be a regular sight.