on warm days at alki beach in which Malthusian Overcrowded Beach Theory regains an air of brine-tinged credibility

For a couple years I’ve wanted to share at least a handful of images from a favorite series I have featuring Alki Beach but a good opening has never really presented itself. We spent the entire afternoon at Alki this past Sunday with the boys, I was still feeling a little hangdog after a mild virus earlier in the week so the idea of relaxing on the beach with my fanny pack parked in a comfortable chair held more appeal than usual. Alki is the kind of place for me that’s about far more than just sand, waves and people-watching. The Olympic Mountain range frames the western skyline together with marine traffic in and out of Elliott Bay and my mind tends to wander to places that seem even farther away at boatspeed.

Sunday was beautiful in a blue sky kind-of-way whereas the image below was taken during an Autumn storm in November, we’d come this winter day specifically to watch the wind on Elliott Bay. The conditions weren’t as frothy and wild as I’d hoped for, it looked tantalizingly Armageddon-like on the horizon but we merely ended up in a garden variety heavy downpour. This was a half second exposure (six stop ND filter) while bent over with Oliver Fern in the backpack carrier. I could hear him gasping for breaths between gusts and waves so I kept asking him if he was okay and he’d giggle so I carried on. I’ll switch to a few color images on these in follow-up posts, but I want to tack up just one more black and white! So you can get your bearings, that’s the grain tower in front of Queen Anne Hill on the center horizon and the Space Needle is barely visible off to the right. The dark horizon on the left isn’t misuse of a grad filter- that’s when a cell of super-dark, storm-blue clouds was scudding over the Sound into Elliott Bay. On Sunday, Alki Beach was a complete zoo as usual but we staked our claim to a patch of sand tic-tac-toed by driftwood and I just couldn’t help myself- the boys and I enthusiastically dug a beach bungalow (complete with tunnel under one of the logs). I have a compulsion to nest when I’m on the beach. Kelp for curtains, a few washed-up soda cans for decoration, etc.. At any rate, once the boys settled in they were on complete happiness auto-pilot for the next four hours and we relaxed and watched the comedic horror show that is Seattle on the beach in the summertime. Our entertainment dollar was stretched to the outer limits by an extended family which arrived next door partway in the afternoon, it took them a full forty-five minutes to set up the Taj Mahal of sun tents and the various male householders spent the hour after that picking up their women and children overhead and carrying them (sometimes good screaming, sometimes bad screaming) into the water. I felt awful for the largest and most heavily tattooed of the men, he turned back in defeat only knee-deep in the gunky Sound surf after his piggy-back riding alpha-woman strangled him to the point of near-asphyxiation (anyone who tries to carry another person into Elliott Bay against their will has that coming). I was relieved when I watched them snuggling tenderly on a driftwood log a little later, there can be no doubt he learned a lesson that day that won’t require re-teaching anytime soon.

We shared real estate with a beautiful beach bunny in a bikini who turned herself a precision-like 90 degrees every quarter of the hour for several hours, so the raucous Taj Mahal sun tent family was offset to a minor degree. The tide seeped up the beach all afternoon- the air conditioning got better and better. The boys’ mom walked down the beach to get chocolate milkshakes for them. Approximately at his usual witching hour, Oliver cuddled with me in the beach chair and we observed a variety of container ships and three or four floating cities (cruise ships) depart Elliott Bay and I was reminded of how crowded Seattle seems these days. We moseyed home feeling baked (in the non-sunburned way) and happy from a productive afternoon of doing nothing at all but just being together.

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