The above title is an admittedly lame play on “Sleepless In Seattle,” but I’m going to go with it anyway. We trekked a total of 10 miles today in one of our typical self-imposed forced marches on holiday. Thankfully we can still do it, the weather was splendid, and we enjoyed some good scenery. Plus we checked a couple more craft brew stops off the list. It was a pretty full day.
We began at Volunteer Park, which is a block away from the inn where we are staying in the Capitol Hill district, the Schafer-Baillie Mansion. The park is an Olmstead Brothers design that features a water tower encased in brick, with two circular interior staircases that take you to an observation deck. The views of the city are great, and unlike the Space Needle, free. The photo at the top is a sculpture called Black Sun by the Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi. Given how it frames the Space Needle I’m certain countless people have snapped a similar picture. There is also a small conservatory on the manicured grounds, which featured dahlias in bloom this time of year. The entrance fee to the conservatory is only $4, but we skipped it due to time constraints.
Next up we called an Uber to go visit the Henry M. Chittenden/Ballard Locks. The locks and dam make it possible for boats to pass from Lake Washington out to Puget Sound. There is also a fish ladder that allow salmon to move back and forth between the fresh water of the lake to the salt water of the sound and ocean during spawning season. If you are lucky with the timing you could see the migration, but nature didn’t cooperate for us. A guide told us that the Chinook migration largely wrapped up a week ago. Officials aided by two area Native American tribes count the fish migrating, and the numbers are way down. By treaty these tribes have fishing rights near the locks. We did see one salmon become lunch for a sea lion that was lurking by the opening of the fish ladder, but that was it. It was amazing how fast both creatures could swim, both hunter and prey. We also watched the locks open for some boats passing by.
Next we strolled into Ballard itself, which used to be a separate fishing village but now is an extended neighborhood of Seattle. It was Sunday so there was a regular weekly farmers market. It was nice, but like all such markets anywhere. The area itself was choc-a-bloc with funky bars and restaurants, but using recommendations from a local, we were on a mission to find some local brewpubs. So we walked out of the funky zone into an old warehouse industrial area, wondering what we were doing. But it turned out great. Both Stoup and Rueben’s brews were fun, as were the food truck tacos we ate for lunch.
Our last stop was Discovery Park near Ballard. It’s home to a series of hiking and bike trails, including one that connects down to a beach and lighthouse. It wasn’t an especially strenuous walk but there was some climbing from the beach back to the park trails. And instead of taking the same route back to the welcome center we opted to try to complete the “loop” trail, but at some point ended up on a bike path. It probably lengthened the walk back but it wasn’t a hard walk. The park is worth checking out. We wrapped up with a dinner near our inn, but we were definitely tired at the end of the day.