Tag Archives: lake union

Checking Out Seattle from the Air When Coming Home

A previous post included some aerial photos that I got when coming back into Seattle courtesy of an Alaska Airlines 737.  They were of some of the islands in Puget Sound.  As we got back to the city, we turned back towards the approach with a nice view of the locks at Ballard and the waterways into Lake Union.  A close-up view of the north end of Lake Union with Gasworks Park in the foreground and the university campus in the background came next and then a view of the south side of the city and off towards the east side of Lake Washington before we were back on the ground.

Boats That Other People Buy

While boating across Lake Union, we saw a few of the sort of boats that you buy when you have amassed a decent amount of cash.  Some of them looked quite elegant while others had a more aggressive look to them – perhaps the style is indicative of the owner?  With the IT business being so large in the region, I suspect a lot of the boats are connected with people from that industry.  I doubt I shall be buying something like this any time soon.

Commercial Vessels on Lake Union

Lake Union is a real mix of boat types.  We were crossing it on a pontoon rental that my friend Torger had access to.  We got to see a lot of different stuff out there.  There is plenty of cash in Seattle so there were a lot of the large boats that are owned by those with a touch more cash than me.  However, while the leisure market is a big deal these days, Seattle is still a commercial port.  Fishing boats abound in Salmon Bay and out towards Lake Union.  There are dry docks for the work that big vessels need including floating dry docks.

Towing operations are aplenty.  Tugs to pull barges up the coast to Alaska are there as are tugs for more local duties.  Fishing vessels also mean fish processing vessels.  These boats take the catch from the smaller boats and process and freeze it for transport back to the distribution facilities ashore.  These fishing vessels look pretty substantial when you see them alongside in Seattle.  However, I imagine when you are out in the Bearing Straits, they suddenly seem a lot smaller as the big swells of the northern Pacific are heading in their direction.  Not a job for the faint of heart.

Hot Tub on the Lake

Renting a boat seems like a fun thing to do.  Having a hot tub is something people like a lot too.  I had never contemplated the idea of renting a hot tub boat, though.  Apparently this is a thing in Seattle.  We passed these people in their hot tub.  It sat very low to the water and I assume that waves lapping over the side is not going to result in them sinking but it still seemed like a very odd idea.  They seemed to be having fun, though.

Lake Union Seaplane Base is Busy – But Not With Us!

We flew across Lake Union on our way back to Kenmore so went over the top of Kenmore Air’s base there.  It turned out to be a busy time for the base.  There were a bunch of planes on the water heading in and out of the base with others tied up awaiting their next flight.  Having watched ops at the base on a number of occasions, the view from above provided a very different perspective to what I have seen before.  At some point I hope to fly in there to experience it for myself.

Lake Union Departures

The floatplane activity on Lake Union is fun to check out, not just for an aviation geek like me, but for plenty of visitors to the city too.  I have previously gone down to the lakeshore to check them out but, one evening, while driving into the city to drop a friend off, I was coming down the road on the hill overlooking the lake when a plane took off giving an interesting alternative perspective on its departure.  I figured this needed to be explored further.

The question was where to go.  The road I had been on was not one on which stopping was practical.  Parallel roads exist but there are buildings along most of them so the view is obscured.  However, I did find a location that had a clear view of most of the lake (aside from one building that was right in the touchdown zone!  I wasn’t around for much of the traffic but I did get to see a few arrivals and departures.  Looking down on the flights and having some scenery behind them including the cityscape rather than the sky is a nice change.  I may have to try this out again at a busier time.

Shipyards on the Lake

The houseboats aren’t the only thing along the shore of Lake Union.  It is still definitely a working waterway and this is reflected by the yards along the edge of the lake servicing the boats.  Floating dry docks and regular moorings are filled with boats of all sorts.  Some look like they are retired from their original role while others seem to be in for maintenance before heading back into use.  I’m not sure how busy the yards are compared to their peak and whether the neighbors are trying to ease them out but they do seem to be needed based on the number of them and the number of boats!

Houseboats on Lake Union

Seattle is certainly a hilly city.  This does mean you can find yourself in locations with a pretty cool view of other parts of the city including the lakes.  I was up above Lake Union and got a great view of some of the lakeside features on the opposite shore.  Houseboats are arrayed along the shoreline and, unlike some houseboats I remember from my childhood, these look rather nice.  They are still a compact space but they look in good shape and they clearly have quite a nice view out of the front door.   I wonder what they are like to live in.  Do they get very damp or are they not a problem to control I wonder?  Anyone know anybody who lives in one?

Floatplanes Coming at You

Standing in Gas Works Park, you have a view straight down Lake Union.  At the other end of Lake Union is one of the bases for Kenmore Air.  They operate floatplanes from there on a regular series of services as well as some sightseeing trips.  We got there just as a bunch of planes took off in close succession and I was a bit annoyed to miss out the chance to get some shots of them.  However, they are a busy company so we knew we would get some more flight before too long.

They start their takeoff run at the other end of the lake so they get airborne long before they reached us.  With so much clutter in the background and a lot of ambient noise, you didn’t always immediately pick out that a departure was coming your way.  Once they got airborne and a lot closer, they were easier to identify.  They would turn before they reached us and head off en route.  I could probably have spent a lot of time there watching the flights but Nancy is not quite so keen so we lingered a short while and then moved on.

The Navy Had Good Architects

At the bottom end of Lake Union is the Museum of History and Industry.  It is located in a building that used to be a Navy facility.  I think the Navy had a building spree in a short time as a lot of their building have a similar architectural style.  The buildings on Treasure Island in San Francisco that I covered previously here seem to have some similar styles.

The museum looks to have some interesting exhibits but, we were there on a sunny day and enjoying the outside.  I shall return to check things out on a more rainy day.  Do they have those here?