Our days living in Chicago included a lot of bridge raising experiences. The bascule bridges along the Chicago River were a constant source of interest to me and, despite seeing them raise regularly during the spring and fall boat runs, I never got bored of it. There are a bunch of bascule bridges in the Seattle area too. One of the older ones is the bridge across the Montlake Cut near the University of Washington.
I took a bike ride that cross Lake Washington on the 520 bridge and that then turned up to the university and across the Cut. Just as I started across the bridge, the warning tones started. I was already heading across so didn’t stop but, once on the other side, I did pause to watch the bridge open. It took me right back to my Chicago days. I didn’t wait for it to lower again because I wanted to keep going on my ride but a fun thing to see again. I imagine the traffic backups make the bridge openings a little less popular with motorists and I suspect I would have been a bit miffed if I had been a few seconds later! I hope they turn the power off for the wires!
The cherry blossoms were the reason for us visiting the campus of the University of Washington as I covered in a previous post. Since we were there and it was a lovely day, we also figured a bit more of the campus was worth a look. We strolled around for a while and checked out the different styles of building that make up the university.
There is a wide variety of building types. The oldest buildings are generally pretty nice looking. Some of the most recent ones are also architecturally interesting. There was some Art Deco to see and then there is a bleaker phase. UW is a bit like other campuses I have seen. There is a phase of concrete and plain brick. This style was very much of its time but sadly, I don’t find it has stood the test of time too well. The concrete particularly is harsh with the style having been to avoid making any effort to finish the surface. They just poured at different times and the joins are left to see. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time but I don’t care for it. I’m sure in architecture classes they still discuss its merits but it’s not for me.
The races at the rowing meet I covered in this post tend to overlap from what we saw. The length of the course and the time to complete it is such that the next race was started before the last was finished. Consequently, there is not a way for the crews to return up the cut as the next boats are heading towards them. Apparently, they all wait in the next bay. Then, when it is clear, they all row back up together. The cut was full of crews rowing back to take their boats out of the water. It made for an impressive sight!
A short walk from the campus of UW takes you down to Montlake Cut. This is the home of the university rowing team. Having read The Boys in the Boat, we had read a lot about this location. The Shell House from the book is still there and is in great shape. George Pocock is no longer building his shells there, but it obviously has a place in UW rowing lore and it looked interesting on a sunny weekend day. It looked even better from one side but the giant cherry picker in front of it kind of ruined the chance of a photo from that direction.
The technology of rowing boats has always been prized. In George Pocock’s day, the crafting of high performance shells made his work in demand from university crews across the US. George may be long gone but the company that bears his name continues. They no longer are along the Cut but now operate out of Everett in a building with a slightly less scenic location.
Wood has been replaced with composites and these shells are light, stiff and very impressive. A few of the shells were laid up in the parking lot waiting to be loaded on trailers while others were already strapped in. The crews’ shoes are attached in place along with seats. They don’t look like the most comfortable of vessels but they do look like they are well designed to go fast and to transfer the power of the rowers directly to the water.
It was purely by coincidence that we happened to be at UW when a rowing meet was taking place. We had read much about UW rowing in The Boys in the Boat (well worth a read if you have the opportunity) and were planning on walking down to the Cut to see the Shell House but there were plenty of boats and crews in the parking lot when we came through. We actually got there almost at the end of the meet. I guess they row early to get the calmest conditions?
A few final races came through as we walked along the cut. The crews were working hard but still had some way to go when they came past us. By that distance, the strongest crews were showing themselves clearly. We watched them disappear up the cut and towards the finish line. As the last race past by, you could see the course boats start to disperse so we knew it was done. What we didn’t know was that we would get a nice finale. That will be another post.
Spring is springing in the northwest and that means lots of trees in blossom. The University of Washington campus has cherry trees in the Quad that were gift from the Mayor of Tokyo in the early 20th century. When they come in to bloom, it is a popular attraction. We went a little early in the day but the place was already heaving with people. I had gone with the thought of taking the tripod and getting multiple shots to blend in post and average out the individuals to hopefully result in a cleaner shot.
I quickly realized that this was not going to be possible. There are so many people there in so many places that having any time with a clean background is unlikely. I had shots a few shots but decided this was going to be futile. You need to have enough time with clear space for each element of the shot and that was not going to happen.
Instead, I focused on a) enjoying the scene and b) getting a few different shots to either isolate the blossoms and trees to to show just how crowded it was. The number of people there was interesting in itself. Most were there to enjoy the trees but there were some who were using it is a backdrop for their own pictures. People in flowing gowns were being photographed and we came across a ballet dancer who was having her picture taken while adopting various poses that I don’t think I could achieve.
It was both fun to see the trees, enjoyable to see people enjoying the trees and frustrating to see how many individuals couldn’t help themselves but grab the trees. Plenty of signs asked people not to climb on trees and grab branches but a few were always doing so. I guess some people are just dopes.