Thursday, May 12, 2011

After our pizza dinner at Delancy, we took a walk around the Ballard Locks.  We entered through a lovely botanical garden, where all the flowers were blooming.

I was trying to show the glow given by the setting sun, but somehow, it is never as magical once captured by the camera's lens.

The Locks connect the saltwater Puget Sound with the freshwater of the Ship Canal and from there Lake Washington. Above is one of the large chambers that fills with boats and water, raising or lowering, depending on which direction you are going.  When we first got out of the car, my nose started twitching, sniffing deeply as I tried to pull in the smell of salt water. I miss that smell. It isn't as if I smelled it every day when I lived in the Northwest, since Bellevue is pretty far from the saltwater of the region, but the smell reminds me of ferry rides, and trips to the beach, and a sense of freedom that comes from standing on the edge of a continent, with nothing to see but the ocean. There is no saltwater in Arkansas, and I sometimes think I can feel the weight of being so landlocked.

One of the interesting features of the Locks is the fish ladder, built when the Locks and Dam blocked the natural pathway for salmon spawning. The salmon of the Northwest are anadromous, meaning they live in saltwater for most of their lives, but return to freshwater to spawn (and then die, but that is another story). So, they had to come up with a way to get the fish from the saltwater to the freshwater.

Yes, it actually is like a set of stairs. I don't have pictures from inside the viewing room of the fish ladder, because it is just too dark, and besides, it wasn't the right time of year for fish.

This is the dam that prevents the lakes from spilling out into the Sound, and keeps the Sound from saltifying the lakes. The white tubes are where the smelt (baby fish) go shooting back into the Sound. Kind of like a neat water slide.

As we left, we noticed this Canada Goose sitting on a nest, in the middle of the garden. I hope she was left undisturbed.

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