adam and i paddle around south lake union on monday morning

Adam and I took a boat out for a couple hours this morning and explored the south end of Lake Union. Don’t be fooled by the picture of the bridge tender sign, it’s actually something I took last night while we were waiting for the Montlake Bridge to go down. But I paired these two pictures because in my mind I liked how they’re such different parts of Seattle’s nautical gestalt: One is a bridge that mainly goes up and down to let pleasure boats pass through as they make their way to or from Lake Washington. The other was taken by a dry dock in Lake Union, a temporary home to hulking steel ships surrounded by sparks and paint vapors.

Now the picture below is actually from south Lake Union (it’s the dry dock on the south east side of the lake). The pilothouse of the ship with the black hull is boarded shut, I have a feeling it has been sitting there for awhile.

We were only on the lake for a couple hours, but we bobbed around in place a lot admiring this and that. I let Adam get out of the boat twice: Once at South Lake Union Park, and again at a public dock by one of the restaurants east of MOHAI. We watched someone do the dishes in her green barge houseboat. She pushed her window out, I think to get our attention because she smiled at us. We waited for a float plane to taxi back to its dock. By Lake Union Dry Dock, we listened to someone play a song on what I can only describe as a steam pipe organ on the top deck of a sternwheeler. We were on the other side of a couple rusty freighters while we listened in and for awhile I was charmed by the idea of a blue collar musical savant on break fooling around. Some of the charm wore off when we rounded Tremont and discovered the sternwheeler tourist boat getting warmed up and waitstaff moving this way and that way in preparation for it’s first cruise of the day, but it was still fun listening to the songs as we approached.

Past Lake Union Dry Dock, I decided we’d head back to Julie’s Landing. It was the first time I’ve ever crossed the lake at it’s widest point. It helped that it was a Monday in the morning, but I still kept an eagle eye out for float plane landings and distracted boaters. We got to the middle of the lake when it dawned on me: We had more personal physical space at that moment than anyone else in the entire city. There was literally no one within thousands of cubic feet on any side of us, nothing but the occasional projectile-Canadian Goose flapping wildly low and fast over the lake….and a cool breeze. I was filled with a rush of peace and satisfaction. Once I get my own boat (next week!!!!) I’m sure my opinion of paddling in the city will change a little as I gradually explore quieter places. But I don’t think it will change that much: There’s a lot of room on the water, I love being surrounded by the city but having it at a long arm’s length.

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