Alki Point Beach in West Seattle

Alki Point Beach in West Seattle

Is Alki Beach In Seattle?

It almost seems that Alki Beach is a separate entity from the city of Seattle. Located in West Seattle, it most definitely is a highly popular “go to” spot for  great entertainment, people watching, and salty water.

On those beautiful sunny days and warm weather, you’ll want to head over to the 2.5 mile long sandy beach at Alki Point.  Joggers, rollerbladers, volleyball games, beachcombers, sunbathers, bicyclists and families with their children will be out in droves.

With so many activities going on, you’ll be hard pressed as to which one to choose first!

What To Expect

Plenty of parking makes it so pleasant as you arrive.

Want to picnic?  Tables are a-plenty.  Take note of the bathhouse, the art studio, bathrooms and more.  All located at the south end of the beach.  That would be the official “Alki Point” part of the beach.

Ready for a swim?  Remember that Puget (pew-jet) Sound waters  never do get real warm.  About 46-56 F year round.  However, on those warm August days, you’ll find the water is perfect.

Plenty of "people watching" going on.

Plenty of “people watching” makes Alki enjoyable

At the other extreme end of the beach, the North end, you’ll find a bulkhead protecting the beach.  Take note of the cottages that dot the area.  Looking over the Puget Sound waters, you’ll be pleased with the year round snow capped  Olympic Mountains.

Since so much of Seattle is water oriented, keep a sharp eye out for the ferries, sailboats, barges, steamers, and all the other flotilla that you’ll enjoy watching.

Be sure too, to watch out for those SeaFair Pirates that show up from time to time!

SeaFair Pirates invade Alki

SeaFair Pirates invade Alki…you may be taken captive!.

A local Seattlelite taken "Captive?"

A local Seattleite taken “Captive?”   Hmmmm?

Luna Park is one of those areas that you’ll find of interest.  But unless you know a bit about it’s history, it may be something you’ll pass on.

Luna Park and Coney Island 

The years of 1907 to 1913 were glory years for the park.  Lighting up the night skies on the northern tip of West Seattle as you gazed across Elliot Bay.   Those quiet summer nights would also bring to your ears the screams and happy laughter of excited folks enjoying the park.

Luna Park, for it’s time, rivaled the  Disney parks of today.  They were far more than just the week-end carnivals that pop up across the country.  With permanent fixtures to enjoy for decades to come, Luna Park rivaled New York’s Coney Island, but located in the West.

Luna Park early 1900's

Luna Park early 1900’s

Luna Park 1910

Luna Park 1910

With the Figure 8 roller coaster, Merry go round, Chute the chutes, Water slide, Cave of mystery, Canal of Venice, Human ostrich, Joy wheel, Electrobator and many other park-like rides were at your fingertips all night long.   A fun place for folks of all ages to enjoy.

Demise of The Park

Because of political unrest and the communities struggle for morality, the park eventually was shut down.  1913 was the year it closed its doors.  Torn down or sold, the music, happy laughter, screams of joy…ended.

However the Natatorium (salty swims) remained for a couple more decades until an arsonist decided to torch it.  Going up in flames truly ended all the glory days of Luna Park.

The park in flames

The park in flames

If you happen to be at Elliott Bay when the tides fall to their lowest point (which happens about every 10 years) you’ll see the old rows of pilings and other burned and charred timbers that once supported Luna Park.

Similar to the old movie entitled Brigadoon, Luna Park will once more, be covered over by the waves of Elliott Bay for another 10 years or so.

Alki Park Rivals Seattle’s Green Lake

If you enjoy getting outside and enjoying the rare sunny days in the Northwest, then Alki is where you want to be.  On the other hand, Greenlake is also a great place to see and get involved with others in outdoor activities.

Watch for the Sand Model girls on the Point

Watch for the Sand Model girls on the Point

Whether it be watching or joining in, both parks are easy to locate and great place (and unusually safe to be in) to enjoy the great city of Seattle.

Have you enjoyed Alki?  Leave your comments below and share with friends.

Written by :  Tom McDaniel

Images: coastalseattle,alkinews,wikipedia,seattlepi,mynorthwest,pauldorpat,wikimedia,historylink,tunersandmodels

Rainbow Bridge at La Conner Washington

Rainbow Bridge at La Conner Washington

La Conner Washington (a.k.a. LaConner) really has the best of both worlds going for it.  You have the friendly folks in the town areas, plus the outdoor recreation of the Pacific Northwest.  Especially the fishing  (smelt), hiking and crabbing throughout the year.

Located just north of Seattle and it’s famous waterfront and floating bridges, La Conner too, has a very rich history.

My first experience with La Conner was with some close friends.  We went smelt  dipping and then later on, crabbing.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve done smelt dipping in the Cowlitz river on many, many occasions.  But to dip (with a net) smelt in La Conner was just a bit different.

No river with smelt running near by.  That was a real challenge.  However, the most enjoyable part about La Conner was the crabbing in the sound about 10 miles north near Anacortes.  That was a real treat.

Skagit     (pronounced as : ska-jit)

The influence of the Hudson’s Bay Company was always present in the Pacific Northwest for many years.  In 1824,  John Work traveled through the area and came across a number of Indian  tribes (a.k.a. Native Americans).

Being ignorant of the fact that there were at least, eleven separate tribal groups, he lumped them all together and called them Skagit Indians from the word Scaadchet.

The local villages of Swinomish (later renamed La Conner) was one of the very first permanent settlements of the mainland located north of Seattle.  With a whopping population of 28 people, it had become a “city” in it’s own rights.

The Swinomish Trading Post

Michael Sullivan along with good friend Sam Calhoun began an aggressive  diking program to allow the current marshy flats nearby to become usable agricultural lands.

Then in about 1867, Alonzo Lowe created the Swinomish Trading Post located on the western side of the Swinomish Channel.  His venture was short lived though.  Not being able to make a profit, he closed up the trading post after some fourteen months.

Moving the trading post to the opposite side (eastern) of the channel proved to be an excellent decision by it’s new owner Thomas Hayes.  Recognized also as a Post Office, it naturally drew people in from the surrounding areas.

What’s In A Name?

In 1969, John Conner and wife Louisa Ann, chose to purchase the flourishing trading post/post office from Hayes.   The Conner’s added a General Store in addition to the trading post/post office.  It was quickly becoming the central point of the community.

With so much going for the Conner family, John chose to rename the post office and subsequently, the town also.

Using the initials of his wife’s name (Louisa Ann) LA along with his last name, the township of              La Conner (also LaConner) came into existence.

Steamboat Hamlet

With the sale of the Trading post, Conner now focused his attention on building the township.  He did so by promoting it as a steamboat hamlet and a center for transportation, commerce, fishing, government and agriculture.

La Conner became the main port between Seattle and Bellingham.

With more diking and draining of wetlands and river deltas, gathering more usable land was becoming more and more of a challenge.  Diking was done by hand.  Using shovels and wheelbarrows, the locals brought the dike to a height of between 3 to 7 feet.

This gave them much needed space.  Some 25,000 acres of usable space now gave way to the hay, grain and huge truck farming industry.

A relaxing meal on the water

A relaxing meal at the waters edge

La Conner Today

Locals were disappointed in the early 1900’s that the much anticipated railroad line would come through La Conner was put to rest when it by passed the city.  Yet the population continued to grow.

Though La Conner was pretty much destined to remain a “steamboat community”, locals did all they could to promote tourist attractions.

Then in the late 1930’s artists and book writers took note of the beautiful surroundings and peaceful, friendly folks living in La Conner.

Tulip fields near La Conner

Tulip fields near La Conner

Many of these professionals began to migrate to the La Conner area.

Fish Town,  which eventually resulted into the La Conner Museum of N.W. Art, came about as a direct result of talented individuals proclaiming the La Conner area as one of the best to be experienced.

Since most of the town of La Conner still has it’s original buildings intact, you’ll enjoy your surroundings as you walk through it’s streets.  It almost like a walk back through time.

Why not come and pay us a visit?  We’ll be glad to have you.

Comments?  Be sure and leave them below & share this site.

Written by:  Tom McDaniel

Images by:markhittheroad,lovelaconner,visitskagitvalley

Seattle Ferry Boats, an Adventure in Themselves.

Cascade Mountains in background of Seattle Ferry Boats

Olympic Mountains in background of modern day Seattle Ferry Boats

It’ been said, “Once a sailor, always a sailor.”  But you say, “I’m not a sailor!”  Well, the next best thing to it is to catch a ride on one of the Seattle Ferry Boasts.

It’s a blast!  Ever seen the newer movie version of  Titanic?  Remember the scene when Kate Winslet goes to the front of the bow and stands on the rails?

The ocean air blowing in her face and the wide open ocean before her?  Well, it’s not quite like that, but very, very close.

Rather than bore you with all sorts of statistics about the ferry boats and how they work, I’ll just give you a brief history of them, in capsule form.

Officially known now as: Washington State Ferries, or WSF. It boasts  the largest ferry system in the U.S.  It not only serves eight counties, but also all of British Columbia, Canada.

The 22 vessels carry more than 10 million vehicles and some 22 million passengers each year.  Why not be a walk-on passenger and see what it’s all about?

The “Mosquito Fleet”

It’s unofficial history began way back in the very early 1900’s with a small group of privately owned steamers that would carry people to their destination.  This group of steamer’s were know as the “Mosquito Fleet.”

mosquito fleet

A typical “Mosquito Fleet” steamer. circa 1900

It was not until after WW II and the problems with striking union worker’s, that the state finally realized that this ferry system was a lifeline for many communities and that some type of regular commute must be put in order for this continuingly growing demand for ferry services across Puget Sound (pew jet).

Finally, in 1951, WSF came into existence.  However, it did not take very long for the state to realize that their ferry boats were too small for the demand!

After the small owner operated transportation services were done away with, a  much larger class of boat was built.  It was known as The Evergreen State-class vessel.

Quickly, it too, was deemed to be too small.  Then the Super-ferry class vessels came into existence, then the Jumbo-class and finally in about 1999, the Jumbo Mark II-class ferries were built.

How long until they are outdated?  Only time will tell.  But why is it that they can not keep up with the demand?

 It’s a long story but it has to do with: when people from around the U.S. come to visit Seattle, they stay!

The "Fleet" lined up in circa 1909

The “Fleet” lined up in circa 1909

Cast Off !

OK, enough of that.  Let’s get to the ride with the Seattle Ferry Boats.  If you’ve not been on a ferry, I would suggest going as a walk on.

Not only is it less expensive, but if you take your vehicle, you must off-board it when you land, then when you want to board again, you will be waiting in the (usually) very long lines along with other cars, to drive aboard.

It’s much simpler to just walk on board as a passenger.  Also, there are many places locally, once you get to your destination,  that you can either grab a taxi, or rent a vehicle or motorcycle to go sightseeing.  Keep that in mind when you board.

You have pretty much free reign of the ferry, all except where the cars are loaded.  No one is allowed there until it’s time to unload.

You can go out on deck, up to as near the bow as allowed,  over to the rails, up to the top deck, the middle deck or even the lowest passenger deck.  Whichever you choose, you will love the view.

Speaking about the beautiful view, be sure and take lots of pictures as mementos of your visit here.

Seattle Ferry Boats as seen today.

Seattle Ferry Boats as seen today.

There Be Whales In Them Thar Waters, Captain !

Off in the distance, you’ll see the Olympic Mountains, usually snow capped year round.   And, if you  are in the right place at the right time, you can see a pod of Orcas (killer whales) working their way through Puget (pew jet) Sound on their way up to Alaska to get to their hunting grounds for the Alaskan Salmon.

sea orca ferry

A pod of Orca’s seen from Seattle Ferry Boats.

On the other hand, locally,  you can see harbor seals playing througout the Sound, usually year round.  But remember, though the seals “look” friendly, stay back from them when on land.  Remember, these are wild animals, and as always, wild animals do bite.

Pest ?

The local fishermen view the harbor seals as a “pest” as they invade the fishing areas when fishing season comes around.  I can recall when the authorities were notified by the professional fishermen that the seals were eating up their livelihood.  All types of noise makers were used to scare them off.  Nope, nothing seemed to work.  The seals just ignored the sounds.  Many wanted to just shoot them.  Sorry, but that is NOT going to happen!  So what was the solution?  Leave them alone.  Simple.

Cute Little Harbor Seal :)

Cute Little Harbor Seal 🙂


So Long To An Old Friend

There are many ferry’s to choose from now, however, my favorite was the former, Princess Marguerite.  The Princess was designed for comfort for it’s passengers.  However, she is long gone, since 1997,  within the breaking up shipyards of  Alang, India.  🙁

Beautiful Princess Marguerite. Photo: Will Borden

Beautiful Princess Marguerite. Photo: Will Borden

On a lighter note, be sure and check the time schedules of the ferry’s.  Work traffic would not be a good time to board.  Wait till a weekend or during the middle of the day.  Much more enjoyable and fewer people to deal with.  Which ever way you choose to go,  the Seattle Ferry Boats will give you a trip you will always remember.

If you enjoyed this brief mental “picture”, be sure and share  🙂