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Posts Tagged ‘Alki’

Safe indeed by land to journey,
But the way is rough and trying,
Long the road and full of turnings;
Lovely is the ship on ocean,
Beautiful to ride the billows,
Journey easy o’er the waters,
Sailing in a trusty vessel;
Should the West-wind cross our pathway,
Will the South-wind drive us northward…

The Kalevala, Rune XXXIX

If you are a regular here then you may recall last October’s post, The Second Most Photographed Object in the World. In that post I showed parts of what’s left of the ferry Kalakala, which in its heyday was the second most photographed object in the world behind the Eiffel Tower. It sat unwanted for years until it was carved up, its choice pieces now weathering on the shoulder of the Cross Kirkland Corridor and next to Salty’s at Alki Beach.

Exiting the West Seattle Bridge at Harbor Avenue, I remembered the giddiness of decades past when friends and I would cruise this strip, feeling so adult in our newly acquired vehicles. I had a sharp reality check as I passed derelict RV after derelict RV along the roadside.

Arriving at Salty’s, where scuba divers were simultaneously suiting up and stripping next to their vehicles, I realized how long it had been since I’d actually stopped here.

As on the Cross Kirkland Corridor north of 7th Avenue, you have the distinct impression that you’ve stumbled upon the remains of a first generation mother ship. This part of the Kalakala occupies the northwest corner of the Salty’s parking lot.

This part of the wheelhouse faces east towards downtown Seattle and Harbor Island. At first glance it looks like you might be able to put a quarter in it and go for a quick cruise. But it, too, is rusting away, perched on terra firma instead of plowing through the Sound.

I’m not sure what is in the foreground. If my source is correct, the owners of Salty’s had to move some of their “urban reef,” pieces of the old Spokane Street Bridge, to accommodate the Kalakala when it moved there in 2015.

Inside of the wheelhouse, you feel as if you’re gazing out of an oversized Corinthian battle helmet made for Henry J. Waternoose III (Monsters, Inc.).

The views from here are entrancing. This is certainly a spot where shadowy superheroes come to brood over the Emerald City at night, capes flapping in the brackish breeze.

The voluminous clouds on this Sunday afternoon reminded me just how small this big city is in the grand scheme of things.

And yet the city just keeps going up, up, up…

Hmm. This does look like a defeated tripod from War of the Worlds, still ready to fire upon humanity…

Das Kurbelwelle. A relative just made a beautiful table using a crankshaft as the base. This crankshaft would be more appropriate for a table for Paul Bunyan. It’s massive.

It may look like Medusa saw her own reflection and shattered, but I think this is probably more of the old bridge.

This does quite good on its own as a modern art statement.

Those clouds…

Das Ruder. This rudder steered a dead weight of about 750 tons.

This shot reminds me of a tugboat. Or like the Kalakala is looking east, telepathically reaching out to its other half that is languishing on the side of a trail 15 miles away.

Thankfully you can turn the camera so it still seems like the Space Needle dominates the Seattle skyline.

Another view from the helmet…

Oddly, I didn’t find any signs telling people what these relics are. At this point a couple was standing in here with me and I explained the Kalakala’s story. I thought the owner was going to do more with these, but five years on, here they remain.

Three cormorants, three towers… every time I see the towers on Queen Anne I’m reminded that my dad would climb them to do maintenance.

The patina in here, where it hasn’t been vandalized, is gorgeous.

Unk, standing at a porthole, wept quietly. He was weeping for love, for family, for friendship, for truth, for civilization. The things he wept for were all abstractions, since his memory could furnish few faces or artifacts with which his imagination might fashion a passion play.

Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

Thank you to the Seattle history titan who reminded me of the whereabouts of the Kalakala’s other half. For a treasure trove of Kalakala facts and photos by the real experts, click here.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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