Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day at the Beach

Temperatures are climbing in the NW, so we traveled to Alki Beach to enjoy the breeze and sand. This beach is part of Seattle's extensive Parks and Recreation system, identified as the West Seattle area. With over 135 acres, you will find a huge expanse of sand, real sand - not pebbles - and plenty of room to bike, walk, roller skate or use anything with wheels that is not motorized on the wide walkway. While the ocean water looks appealing, the average temperature ranges from 49-59 degrees even on the hottest days. No one stays in it for very long!

In November of 1851 it was cold and stormy, according to the records, and the first white settlers landed on this beach. Chief Seattle (Learn more about this remarkable man by clicking on the link.) was there with his tribe to welcome them, helping them to quickly build a cabin for protection against the coming winter weather. (I will restrain myself from making comments about what happens when you welcome strangers onto your land.)

Across the water from downtown Seattle, this destination beach is part of the mouth of the Duwamish River, derived from the word "duwampsh" which means "many colored" in the Chinook language. Myth or fact: this was a name under consideration for the city which is known today after Chief Seattle.

The popularity of this area grew. More and more people came and played games on the sand, and by 1902 the city saw the merits of having an electric streetcar line to bring people from downtown. Around this time a fellow named Charles Looff decided to build an amusement park which was opened in 1907. It was located at Duwamish Head, where a few pilings remain to show that it ever existed. Called "Luna Park" after the one at Coney Island, NY, it had several - heated! - saltwater pools, a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, restaurant, a carousel and a chute that carried people in small boats into a 'tub' of water.

It had at least two decades of activity, but shortly after the Crash of 1929, there was a fire that razed the Park in 1931. Coincidence? In any event, the City of Seattle acquired the site in 1945 and by 1954 had it filled in to what is seen today.
We had an early supper at Duke's, a place that was started by one of Jey-hu's friends although no longer owned by him. The food was delicious. I had their famous langostino chowder with a wild greens salad and one half of a fish taco. It was enough to completely fill me up so I didn't have room for their equally famous desserts - chocolate chip cookie with just a morsel of vanilla ice cream or marionberry pie or a volcano of chocolate cake with cream inside covered with caramel... yikes. I've probably gained three pounds just re-thinking these sweet treats!

We almost waddled out of there, though Jey-hu wanted to stay and watch the Seahawks play Tennessee. If we hadn't moved, I am sure I would have succumbed to at least one of the devilish desserts. We walked awhile, then sat on a bench to watch the sun set. I noticed a rainbow of people in various activities (like eating ice cream - right), and heard a wide range of languages - English, French, Turkish, Russian, and Spanish with accents of people from either Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Mexico.

The sunset was lovely... if not particularly spectacular. I forgot to mention that we spent the earlier part of the afternoon at the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field near Sea-Tac International Airport. That would take up a full blog by itself. I will do that next.

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