Topic: Lake Washington
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July 22, 2011 at 6:00 PM
Sketched July 13, 12:04 p.m.
Little kids maneuvered flat-bottom sailboats on the calm waters of Lake Washington where adults will be powering thundering hydros in just two weeks.
The scene I stumbled upon at Sayres Pits was low key, but just as mesmerizing as the high-octane Seafair hydroplane race and air show that will attract thousands upon thousands to these same shores.
I sketched the brave group of “Sunshine Sailors” as they were taking a break from gusts of wind that had sent their sails spinning and their little hearts racing. “I almost capsized!” exclaimed 9-year-old Tannus.
The sailing camp is one of many youth programs offered by the Mount Baker Rowing and Sailing Center every summer. The center closes its doors the first week of August to let the hydros take over the pits. “That’s when we get to go on vacation,” said recreation specialist Peggy Tosdal.
The coffee shop at this four-stop intersection at South Genesee Street and 50th Avenue South, not far from Sayres Pits, couldn’t have a better name: Both Ways Cafe. I really enjoyed a quick brunch here two years ago with my friend Bill when I came to sketch the hydros.
June 24, 2011 at 6:33 PM
Sketched June 22 at Kenmore Air Harbor
I watch seaplanes take off and land on Lake Union all the time, but this week I stumbled upon dozens parked among cars at Kenmore Air Harbor.
Activity at the seaplane hub on the north shore of Lake Washington is starting to pick up for the summer, said Kenmore Air chairman Gregg Munro, whose father started the business in 1946.
The airline, known for its service to the San Juan Islands and British Columbia, is the largest seaplane operator in the U.S. It also attracts licensed pilots from around the country seeking their seaplane certification. I found Adam Goff, who was about to take a training flight to Lake Sammamish, studying in the parking lot as forklifts took aircraft to and from the water. He had flown up from San Diego to take the six-hour instruction course.
Flying a plane isn’t on my bucket list, but I could spend hours at the benches and tables on the harbor soaking up this scene.
Here are more sketches from my visit to Kenmore Air Harbor:
Adam Goff, 18, plans to spend the summer flying floatplanes in Canada with his dad, who also got his seaplane rating at Kenmore Air. The rating, Goff explained, is a special permit pilots need to operate floatplanes. It proves that you know how to land and take off from water, he said. I sketched Goff in front of a Beaver seaplane, which he referred to as the SUV of floatplanes. It can carry up to six passengers.
Goff wasn’t the only aspiring floatplane pilot I met at Kenmore Air Harbor. Steve Harvey, visiting from Vancouver BC, said he will be coming back to get his seaplane rating. “The whole concept of landing on water is amazing,” he told me as we watched Beavers take off and land. The Beaver, he explained, is especially designed to take off and land in very tight spaces. “It’s a workhorse.”
Harvey was also impressed with the friendliness of the staff at the harbor, and with the number of seaplanes. “I don’t think there are many places in the world where you can see so many floatplanes,” he said.
Kenmore Air personnel service the floatplanes as soon as they land, then a forklift takes the aircraft from the docks to the parking lot. The lot is also used by about 35 private floatplane owners. Ty Edwards, Kenmore Air director of customer service, said the owners call them when they are ready to fly and airline personnel put their aircraft on the water for them.
Coming up: Once a month, I explore Seattle-area communities following readers’ recommendations. Where should I go? Send me your suggestions via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!
June 17, 2011 at 6:36 PM
Sketched June 14, 11:12 a.m.
I long for summer to start every time I see the lifeguard chairs and diving boards at our city beaches. They bring to mind warm sunny scenes that can be painted with colors other than Payne’s gray.
But, after five years of living here, I know to wait well past “June-uary” 21 — the official start of the season — to put away the raincoat and reach for the sunscreen.
Senior lifeguard trainer Alvin Barnes, 30, said the lingering June gloom is disappointing for the nearly 90 lifeguards who will staff nine city beaches beginning June 25, but it gives them more time to train before better weather draws bigger crowds. Part of their job is to swim 500 yards every day.
Barnes, a certified Seattle lifeguard since age 16, has a hard time recommending a favorite beach. He said Madison is good for the high diving board, Pritchard for the nice showers, West Green Lake because it’s close to shops, and Madrona, where I sketched, for the family atmosphere. “Just try them all and don’t forget to say hi to the lifeguard.”
Sketched June 15, 1:44 p.m.
Info on beaches and free swimming lessons: seattle.gov/Parks/beaches.asp.
One day I may be able to sketch every single beach in Seattle, as Barnes suggested, but this week I only got to visit one more: Mount Baker Beach. I chose to sketch the view looking towards the south — you can see the tip of Seward Park in the background. Looking northeast from where I was, I could see the I-90 floating bridge, but I tried not to move too much because I sat on a piece of driftwood that kept sinking further and further into the sand. Luckily, I don’t spend more than 45 minutes on a sketch or I may have ended up stuck in the sand and swallowed by the tide.
Mount Baker Beach doesn’t have permanent swift rafts like Madrona but there is Y-shaped pier that takes you more than 100 feet into the lake.
Sketched June 14, 1:44 p.m.
Coming up: My once-a-month exploration of Seattle-area communities following your recommendations is coming up. Where should I go? Send me your suggestions via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!
May 26, 2011 at 3:14 PM
Sketched May 23, 4:24 p.m. [Click to view larger] [Sketch location on my Sketcher Google Map]
My once-a-month exploration of different communities in the Seattle area took me to Finn Hill this week (See previous dispatches from White Center, Beacon Hill and Shoreline). This quiet and largely residential neighborhood on the northeast side of Lake Washington will officially become part of Kirkland on June 1st.
Even though I found a few pockets of new development here and there –like the one pictured in my sketch–, nature seems to be winning the battle with urbanization here.
Lou Berner, a local biologist and board member of the Denny Creek Neighborhood Alliance, said the area including St. Edward State Park, O.O. Denny Park, Big Finn Hill Park and the Juanita Woodlands is the greenest space on Lake Washington.
I’ll be showing you more of that green in the nexts posts. Stay tuned!
February 4, 2011 at 7:06 PM
Sketched Feb. 1
Nearly 200,000 people commute on the Highway 520 bridge every day, but in four years of living here I’ve only taken this route a few times. I’m still in awe of the bridge’s engineering and its unique location.
On a clear day this week, the view of Mount Rainier, Mount Baker and the Olympic Mountains from the bridge’s tower was breathtaking. Still, bridge technician Bruce Watkins said it’s easy to get used to it. He’s also used to seeing waves crash over the road and drivers run out of gas.
As a member of the bridge’s maintenance crew, Watkins also gets a view of the bridge from the inside. A boat ride to one of the 4,725-ton floating pontoons helped me understand how the bridge floats and stays straight. The “ah-ha” moment was seeing one of the steel cables that anchor the bridge to the bottom of the lake.
The 47-year old bridge will soon have tolls that will help pay for a replacement slated to open by the end of 2014. The new bridge will not have a tower, but I look forward to sketching the view from its pedestrian lane.
Here are more sketches from my visit:
On this sketch you can see some of the mechanisms that open the bridge. The spans only open for big boats or barges that can’t clear the highrises on the ends, or during storms with sustained winds of more than 50 mph. The last time that happened was in December of 2006. Bridge maintenance technician Paul King referred to the elevated walkway across the traffic lanes as the “guillotine.”
The bridge’s maintenance crew uses this boat to access the 33 pontoons that keep the highway afloat. The entire lenght of the floating section of the bridge is 1.42 miles, which makes it the longest floating bridge in the world.
Bridge technician Paul King invited me to tag along with the crew for a routine check of the pontoons. When water leaks into their hollow chambers it has to be pumped out. Each pontoon is 360 by 60 feet and there are different rooms inside connected by water-tight doors. The depth of the Lake at the center span of the bridge is about 200 feet.
The columns supporting the east side high rise of the bridge rest directly onto the last of 33 pontoons covering the length of the bridge. One of them is pontoon Z, where I followed technician Mark Epstein down a hatch to see one of the anchor cables that helps keep the bridge straight. Their length ranges from 200 to 600 feet.
Coming up on TV:
“Forbidden Access”: Travel Channel tours SR 520 floating bridge
This bridge can tweet:
Anonymous impersonator posts bridge updates on Twitter and Facebook.
Sketch-worthy Seattle. Where should I take my sketchpad next? Do you know of a good sketch story waiting to be drawn? I’d love to learn about it. You can send me your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Facebook or Twitter.
February 1, 2011 at 5:17 PM
Sketched Jan. 25, 11:26 a.m.
Anytime I drive through the old Highway 520 bridge the experience sticks with me for the rest of the day. The thought of travelling over giant hollow concrete pontoons floating on Lake Washington defies any logic for someone with little understanding of physics like me.
The bridge is not part of my commute so I’ve never sat idle waiting for the traffic to move. But I don’t think I would mind it too much. With such spectacular views, I would probably pull out my pocket sketchbook and do some quick drawings before someone behind me starts honking the horn.
Last week I walked around the area north of Madison Park searching for a good vantage point to sketch. I found it at the Edgewater Apartments complex, where more than a dozen two-story brick buildings are neatly laid out around ample lawns with views of the water.
January 28, 2011 at 8:57 PM
Sketched Jan. 25, 12:29 p.m.
I’ve seen people combing beaches with metal detectors, but never in the water — let alone in January.
Fit with waders and using equipment worth more than $1,200, Stan Schumacher and his friend Martin Peterson were focused on their search when I spotted them in Lake Washington just off Madison Park this week.
Among Schumacher’s finds that day: a rusty magnifying glass, a 1912 penny and about three pounds of rebar and junk he was taking takes home to recycle. Not much for two-and-a-half hours of work, said Schumacher, who still considers the hobby a good way to exercise and clean up the beach.
Schumacher, a metal-detecting enthusiast for 40 years, belongs to the Pilchuck and Pacific Northwest Treasure Hunting club, which has more than 50 members and is one of several clubs in the region. The club keeps a “hunt calendar” and members like to take their metal detectors to places like Alki Beach and Luna Park. Luna Park is where Schumacher found his most valuable treasure to date 15 years ago: a 1901 $5 U.S. gold coin.
December 31, 2010 at 5:46 PM
Sketched Dec. 28, 10:32 a.m. [See uncropped version.]
More than a thousand people are expected to welcome the New Year at noon Saturday with a polar bear plunge at Matthews Beach Park in Seattle. Who is crazy enough to submerge themselves in frigid Lake Washington waters?
Meet Lilette Player and Janet Wilson. The event — now the biggest organized New Year’s plunge in the city — was their idea.
Player used to meet other plungers at Clarke Park Beach on Mercer Island, where she grew up, but she got tired of the drive and wanted to stay closer to her North Seattle home.
To find more people to jump with her, she went to the Meadowbrook Pool office and asked if a polar bear plunge at Matthews Beach Park could be listed as part of the pool’s activities. Wilson, the aquatic coordinator, loved the idea and ran with it. She secured a permit from the city and even brought lifeguards, said Player, who baked polar-bear-shaped cookies and designed “badges of courage” for everyone who got in up to their necks.
Eight years later, the crowd has grown from 300 to more than 1,000 — “Last year we did 1,100 badges and ran out,” said Wilson.
There are a lot of people in Seattle secretly wanting to jump in the lake on January 1st, said Player. “It’s fun to do something you didn’t think you could do … You feel fantastic after you’ve done it.”
I admire Player and Wilson’s courage, but I think it may take me another year or two to try out for my badge. For now, I feel good enough entering 2011 with this sketch.
Happy New Year!
Info and photos at theofficialunofficialpolarbearplunge.blogspot.com.
Sketch-worthy Seattle. Where should I take my sketchpad in 2011? Do you know of a good sketch story waiting to be drawn? I’d love to learn about it. You can send me your suggestions to email@example.com or via Facebook or Twitter.
August 1, 2009 at 9:20 PM
1:44 p.m. [View larger]
Seafair’s ultimate weekend kicked off today with a combination of elements I haven’t seen anywhere else: air, earth, water and the firepower of hydroplanes speeding over a lake and jets doing acrobatics in the sky.
11:09 a.m. [View larger]
The shores along Lake Washington Boulevard quickly filled up with hundreds of people who came to watch the spectacle. In the middle of all the tents, water coolers and folding chairs, I stumbled upon Chris Haigh, 53, of Lake City, who was panning the scene with his binoculars. The “Oh boy! Oberto” hydroplane had just done a loop around the course at 153 miles per hour, he explained. Haigh had arrived at 6:15 in the morning and was planning to spend the night at a friend’s house nearby to be here again early today. “I’ve been coming for 35 years in a row,” he said. “It’s my sport. It’s something I love.”
I’m not surprised. Oh boy! What an amazing show!
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