Bridge of Locks, University Place

IMG_1269A quick survey of my Facebook friends let me know that there are four Tacoma area bridges/overpasses that are being used as Bridge of Locks. On Sunday, which had glorious weather, I went to Bridge to the Beach that crosses the railroad tracks at Chambers Bay Regional Park in University Place. I hadn’t realized that I could drive down to the bottom of the park and I also didn’t know there was a bridge to the beach. What an amazing park it has turned into! There were families and couples with plenty of dogs. There were huge kites and picnics and music. Really it was splendid. I was there in August 2011 and it has significantly updated since then!

A short stroll took me to the modern bridge and at first I only saw a lock or two, but then there was a little cluster of them and at the end of the elevated pathway there were a number of them. Unlike many of the other Bridge of Locks, the arrangement of the Bridge to the Beach is such that each locks does not have its own little area, but instead can slide back and forth. This was a pretty exciting discovery for the four year old next to me!

Bridges of Locks are relatively new on a wide spread basis. The tradition is that those in love put their name on a lock then attach it to the bridge and throw the key away to symbolize their unfailing devotion.  This is a worldwide phenomena, as can be seen here.

The Bridges of Locks have not all be well received, with the weight of all those locks pulling down and damaging several structures. In University Place, there are no plans to remove the locks. Pierce County spokesman Hunter George said “We’re not encouraging it or discouraging it (the hanging of the locks). But we do think there are better ways. If people really want to demonstrate their commitment to each other, we’d love to see them get married at Chambers Bay. We have great rates. Or get a tattoo. Or both.”

Oh, and there is a picture of an osprey, just because they are such cool birds! Their wing span can be almost 6′ across, though I don’t know about the one on the nest.

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Tacoma Avenue South Bridge

IMG_1223It seems like every time my family takes the Tacoma Avenue South Bridge, we wait for a traffic light. And if dear husband is in the car he starts griping about the bridge and how he hates it. He is convinced that it will go down in an earthquake. It’s to the point where even if he isn’t in the car, dear daughter and I will look at each other and say “I hate this bridge!”, but then we laugh.

It turns out dear husband is right (I hate when that happens!). According to a 5/25/13 article in the News Tribune, the Tacoma Avenue South over the NPRR (Northern Pacific Railroad) and South Tacoma Way has a sufficiency rating of 7. A rating of 100 means an entirely sufficient bridge, so 7 is really bad. In fact there is only one bridge in Pierce County that is worse and it is the SR 167 over the Puyallup River with a rating of 2. The Tacoma Avenue Bridge has two lanes and was constructed in 1930. It has a daily of over 10,000 vehicles.

Chris Larson, the city of Tacoma’s engineering division manager for public works, said the Tacoma Avenue South bridge will be closed for about 15 months starting in October 2014. The project is expected to cost $11.5 million, of which $11.2 million will come from state and federal grants.

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Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/07/11/3284880/demolition-of-pacific-avenue-bridge.html#storylink=cpy

Stonehenge

IMG_2549Stonehenge had also been on my bucket list and I was so pleased to hear this world heritage site was part of this year’s tour. It was a little more of a production than I expected with the parking area being some distance from the site. But the folks that run it do provide transportation.

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument that originated between 2000 and 3000 BC and because of the age of the monument, there is a great deal of mystery. I did learn that:

  • It is a burial site
  • The Druids would hold ceremonies here
  • For the most part, the public is no longer aloud to walk up to the stones
  • That over the years the stones have been straightened when in danger of falling over
  • The visitor’s center opened in December 2013 and I could have happily spent more time there
  • According to some myths, the stone were healing rocks

Here is a short BBC video on this history of Stonehenge and here is the official visitors webpage.

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Normandy, France

14506191527_7833a0a1f0_kPer Wikipedia….During the Second World War, the D Day landings on the Normandy beaches, under the code name Operation Overlord, started the lengthy Battle of Normandy and resulted in the Liberation of Paris and the restoration of the French Republic. These landings were a significant turning point in the war.

The 172 acre cemetery contains the remains of 9,387 American military dead, who were primarily killed during the invasion of Normandy. We paused to visit the grave of Theodor Roosevelt, Jr., the son of president Teddy Roosevelt. One of President’s other sons, Quenton, is also buried there. Quenton died during WWI and his remains were reburied next to his brother at Normandy.

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Fablab Studio, Tacoma

IMG_3381Back on the homefront….. dear husband and I finally checked out Fablab Studios today. It is so cool, kind of like magic making something from nothing. Located at 1938 Market Street, Fablab is “The high-tech prototyping center enabling public access to laser cutting, 3D printing, plasma cutting, CNC machines, welding and much more!“.

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Notre-Dame Cathedral

IMG_0120Notre-Dame Cathedral is so grandly huge, that I found it impossible to photograph without better equipment and more time. But the church was majestic and wonderful and I was honored to be able to visit it. Besides the obvious connection to the famous book and the Disney movie, I thought the most interesting tidbit was the true Wolves of Paris story about a pack of man-eating wolves that killed 40 people in Paris in 1450. The people of Paris lured the wolves to the front of Notre-Dame and killed them there.

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Disneyland, Paris

DISNEYDisneyland Paris is actually in the town of Marne-la-Vallée, about 20 miles east of Paris. It is Europe’s most visited attraction. Since I had never been to any of the Disney locations, I found this to be the best one ;)  The complex opened in 1992 to mixed success, though it seems to be just fine now. While there I rode Space Mountain (yes, I did!) and several other, calmer rides. We stuck around for the daily parade, but left well before the nighttime fireworks.

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Eiffel Tower

IMG_1959When I learned that I was going to Paris, I began to read up and the more I read about the Eiffel Tower the more intrigued I was. It was erected in 1889 as a focal point to the 1889 World’s Fair. At 1,063 feet in height, It is the tallest structure in Paris. It is the most visited, paid monument in the world.

I was inspired by the fact that in 1940 when Germany invaded France, the French people cut the lift cables (elevator cables) so that Germans could not the structure.

Other interesting facts include that there is an ice skating rink on the first platform each winter. And that the tower is repainted a different color every so often. It is currently bronze.

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Arc de Triomphe, Paris

ArcThe Arc de Triomphe, Paris at 162′ feet and 150′ wide is much larger than I expected. Constructed between 1806 and 1836 it is situated on the western end of the Champs-Elysees. Beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. Various victory parades have traveled through and later around the structure including the Germans in 1940 and the French and their allies in 1944/45. More information can be found here.

As much I was impressed with the Arc itself, I was equally impressed with the six lane traffic circle that surrounds it. There are no traffic lines and it was a thrill. Glad I wasn’t driving!

The Palace of Versailles, Paris

IMG_1937The Palace of Versailles is the most gloriously beautiful building that I have visited. This World Heritage site was a royal residence for Louis XIV to Louis XVI. The complex began in 1631 and by 1682 was essentially complete including the famous gardens. In 1789, the residing royalty was removed from the Palace by revolutionaries and since that time it has been used for government and been available for visitors. In June 1919, the Treaty of Versailles, ending the First World War, was signed here.

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