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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

IMG_2553

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.

Mary Poppins14721591903_62e2ce75b7_k(1)IMG_2211 IMG_2234 IMG_2196

Saint Martin’s Prairie & the Abby Cemetery

13813889994_65fe2fd1ec_bSaint Martin’s College and Abbey in Lacey has been around since the 1890s. It’s small cemetery is located in a rich stand of woods behind the Monastery and is for members of the abbey, thus the vast majority of the uniformed headstones read Father. The metal gates have two welcoming angels and there is a low stone fence.

The nearby College Regional Storm Facility is like a small, tranquil park with a gravel trail that leads around the full storm water ponds. There were plenty of birds and insects, as well as college students playing Frisbee and riding a bike.



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Kelsey Creek Farm, Bellevue

13340504343_aa9c5da73e_bI’ve been wanting to visit Kelsey Creek Farms Park at 13204 SE 8th in Bellevue for a while, so on Saturday after dropping off dear daughter for her ride back to college I stopped by. There was a birthday party going on and plenty of children in the under five crowd. The 150 acre original site had been a forest and was developed as the Twin Valley Dairy Farm in the 1920s. Despite pressure from real estate developers, in the 1960s 80 acres of the property was sold to the City of Bellevue for use as a park. It receives over 200,000 visits a year. ThePark’s website is here.

The log cabin is the Frasier House, built in 1888 and moved to Kelsey Creek Farms Park in 1974.  It was built by two Norwegian woodsmen and lived in for a short time. Mostly it was used as storage. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dalco Passage

12280410435_512a2bf47b_c(1)While others were watching the Superbowl, I went out to give my new camera a spin. It was kind of eerie being out with almost everyone watching the game. Though there were plenty of police and taxis.  I wandered through Five Mile Drive in Pt. Defiance and took a shot of Dalco Passage, thinking that I would find a fascinating history of Dalco, but no such luck. All I can find is that Dalco Passage is a tidal strait in the Puget Sound, located between the southern end of Vashon Island and Tacoma. Below are a couple of more shots including the sweet beggar of a raccoon (which I didn’t feed). And go Seahawks!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Garfield Nature Trail

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Garfield Nature Trail at 620 Rogers Street NW, Olympia is like a little haven of wilderness right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. It isn’t a typical park with picnic areas and playground equipment. Instead it is a trail through a ravine between Rogers Street NW and West Bay Drive NW. I hiked from Rogers to West Bay and back again. The path has several sets of stairs and boardwalks and I wish I had worn my sneakers because is places it was damp and a tad slippery. The trail was busy with young people, families and folks walking dogs.

City Haven Peace Park

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There is a small, private park named City Haven Peace Park located next to the Quaker Meetinghouse/Hillside Community Church at 2508 39th Street South. This space has an abundance of birds, squirrels and an occasional raccoon. There are also several inuksuk, which are rock formations roughly shaped like humans.

Hing Hay Park, Seattle

11765614935_c04a82fe90_bHing Hay Park at 423 Maynard Ave S. is a vital part of Seattle’s International District. The name translates to “Park for Pleasurable Gatherings”. The pagoda, or Grand Pavilion, was constructed in Taipei, Taiwan in 1974. The mural facing the park shows an elaborate dragon. When I visited there was a group of men playing chess on the over-sized chess board and others were playing ping pong.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.