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Posts Tagged ‘Washington State’

Standing on water, watching the Pink Super Moon rise, a guy jamming on a Flutophone while sky watchers flit around in their bank robber chic attire… yes, it was an epic night. More soon.

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Today the middle section of the last Kirkland Parkplace building had fallen in by way of behemoth hydraulics. An excavator scraped the innards onto the ground and then into giant trucks which hauled them away to lands unknown.


©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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Did you see it? The crescent moon was flanked by Jupiter and Mars this morning before dawn with Saturn off to the left. The moon was so large and buttery and the planets so bright that it was surreal. It seemed like an epic scene out of a science fiction movie set in another galaxy, like I was speeding towards someone else’s sky.

Only after I arrived at my destination was I able to try to take photos. By then some of the colors had faded and I could not see Saturn. But seeing Jove and angry red Mars was more than enough.

A lot is going on in the predawn sky. As you climb out of your dream life and disentangle yourself from the sheets, be sure to look outside and up to catch the latest the heavens have to offer. Space.com has the day by day rundown for this month.

With wonderful wisdom the Lord God on high
Has contriv’d the two lights which exist in the sky;
The sun’s hot as fire, and its ray bright as gold,
But the moon’s ever pale, and by nature is cold.

The sun, which resembles a huge world of fire,
Would burn up full quickly creation entire
Save the moon with its temp’rament cool did assuage
Of its brighter companion the fury and rage.

George Borrow, Wild Wales

©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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Earlier this week I drove down to photograph the latest developments in the West Sammamish River Bridge project. I shared pictures of the three bridges there in The Final Countdown, two of which will soon be lost to time.

Almost all of the trees on the west side of the bridges have been removed to make room for a crane. It is painfully obvious what a necessary screen they were as the road now has a plain view of messy industrial sites beyond.

On the south side of the bridges is the local boat launch on the west and Rhododendron Park to the east. As I glanced to the east, I was elated to see a big tree on the edge of the park full of cormorants.

There were cormorants everywhere. You can usually find a couple paddling down the slough here, but 1… 2… 3… They were almost impossible to count as these trees (plural) seemed to be a beachfront disco/single mingle spot for the local population. Other two-legged species gathered around the trees to photograph the gathering.

I counted 57 cormorants perched in these trees at one point, but some kept rushing off as others arrived. I chuckled inside because 57 cormorants sounds like a vintage car… a ’57 Cormorant. Try it on an unsuspecting teen and see if they respond, “yeah, yeah, that was a great car.”

These appear to be double-crested cormorants. The ones with lighter feathers may be juveniles. Not being a cormorant expert, The Cornell Lab’s page on cormorants sheds a little light on this.

Once again being sans tripod, I struggled to find stability during these zoomed in shots. This one turned out a bit out of focus, so I played with it to highlight the striking emerald color of these birds’ eyes.

My Nordic ancestors thought of cormorants much as we think of angels now. Cormorants were believed to bring warnings from the Folk of the Forest and therefore functioned as protectors.

Do you believe in angels? I do. Thursday night some friends prayed for my safety. Friday morning I had a narrow escape from a sudden danger. I’m certain that some invisible friends helped guide me through.

These birds weigh about three to five pounds each, so these branches must be sturdy enough to host such a party. I noticed that none of them landed on the trees and touched each other. They liked being close, but didn’t seem to interact much. Perhaps they too are practicing social distancing.

Here come more! Those of us near the base of the trees were amazed.

If you are familiar with Packard automobiles, they had a distinctive hood ornament often referred to as the “swan.” But it’s said to actually be a cormorant.

These birds of a feather didn’t make a lot of noise. This video of their call demonstrates why stumbling upon a group of these at night can be unnerving. Years ago I was ambling along a different spot on the slough in the dark and froze when I heard what sounded like 35 hoarse cats hacking up hairballs. I had no idea what was “hargh”ing at me just offshore that night.

According to Wikipedia, Phalacrocoracidae is a family of about 40 species of aquatic, fish-eating birds. We call them cormorants, but some in Britain call them shags. Curious about the etymology of this word, I learned that this French-sounding term, cormorant, is Middle English, comes from the French cormoran, which before that came from medieval Latin’s corvus marinus, or sea raven.

Keep your eye on the bird second from the right. He or she cracked me up. I think they were really enjoying the sun.

And back and to the right…

A little forward, to the left now… It was like bird yoga. You’ve probably noticed the dangerous snarl of fishing line on the top branch. People do fish at this spot. Personally I wish we’d just leave the fish to the birds in such places, especially with the bridge project starting as it’s disrupting their habitat.

That’s about a four-foot wingspan on the left.

This appears to be the wing drying behavior that double-crested cormorants do when they land. Not all cormorants do this, curiously. The sun was very warm in this spot on an otherwise chilly day. This wing drying is also associated with the Christian symbol of the cross, which may explain why the cormorant occurs on certain European crests.

Here you can see their magnificent black webbed feet. Since they are primarily designed for life in the water and swim with their feet, their legs sit towards the back of the body so they’re not the most graceful walkers. In the water, they are fish killing machines, a fact that has caused humans to mistreat them in some cultures. A cord was tied around their neck so they couldn’t swallow fish, then men would use them to hunt fish and take their catch from them.

Interestingly, this type of cormorant will nest in trees or on the ground depending on the habitat.

As graceful as these birds are in the sky and water, there is still something vaguely pterodactyl about them to me. Perhaps it’s because they are among the so-called earlier birds. They seem to be a survivor from a distant past.

When Dylan Thomas proclaimed his love for his wife in a letter, he said, “I will come back alive & as deep in love with you as a cormorant dives, as an anemone grows, as Neptune breathes, as the sea is deep.” As this bridge project continues, I hope the locals like these big black diving birds survive unscathed.


©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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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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The Hobart, Washington yellow submarine on 276th Avenue SE

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Rainier Viking Festival 2018 31

Raaaaaaa… nier…… Viking Festival (for those who remember the old Rainier Beer commercials). This past weekend the rollicking good Northwest Viking Festival was held in the town of Rainier, Washington… past Yelm… not quite to Tenino.

I believe this was the first annual Viking festival in Wilkowski Park. Admission was free but event organizers encouraged attendees to bring donations for the local food banks.

On a windy Sunday my horde and I did go. Upon arrival we found the Evil Frog Totem (or at least we called it that). I suppose it could have been an ancient billboard for a Norse chiropractor as well.

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From the main road it looked like there were just a few vendors and a limp bouncy castle (it was inflated later), but amongst the trees were a delightful assortment of vendors and activities.

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There were also tents showcasing how our Viking brethren would have lived before we invented IKEA and Marimekko.

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What really stood out to me at vendor stalls was the beautiful leather work. I ooed and awed, then a costumed kid walked by yelling, “it’s time to skin the beaver!!” “Was that a game?” I thought. One of my companions replied, “No, look, it’s a dead beaver.” And there the poor beaver was, sprawled on a table, dead as a doornail. Couldn’t do it. Had to move on.

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More pieces of beautifully crafted dead animal. I do wear leather; I guess the ancestral genes that influence us to make our own leather escaped me.

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And then, the village blacksmith. His work was fascinating to watch. I don’t know how he could stand the heat though. It was hot where we were standing outside the corral. I had to check to be sure I still had eyebrows.

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That’s the sound of a man… working on the chain… maAil… Actually, he was making a stabber of some kind. Whether a rapier or marshmallow stick, I don’t know.

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Strolling along, I was greeted by Mr. Cute, a very kind dog whose breed or actual name I don’t remember. His owner said he was so calm because he’d been coming to such events his whole life.

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Why yes they do.

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Marvelous swords and a wiggy hammer. It reminds me of the nursery rhyme in which “they all lived together in a little crooked house.”

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This gorgeous horse is Night. He is 27 years young and his person says he’s the mascot for the local senior center.

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As I petted Night, this nearby well-coiffed horse said, “Pay attention to me!”

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Excitement was brewing around the Ozark Trail (chair).

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Here is definitive proof that Vikings engage in commerce with Romans. Also note the 750W massage throne.

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Dear Santa: I want one of these for work.

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Oops he did it again.

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Tools of the trade. When I remarked that I’d like to crawl into this bed in this airy tent and take a nap, its owner said he discourages unauthorized bed use by setting sharp things on it.

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The Chicken Man himself hauls a load of fluid-infused projectiles towards the trebuchets.

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Catapults? Trebuchets? I’m not entirely sure. But my closest companion and I discussed all the ridiculous things we could use one for. It became readily apparent that we probably shouldn’t have one.

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Here was a stone carver from Seattle. I suggested to my group that we could go into business making grave markers and that went over like a lead zeppelin.

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A shopping cart with watermelons? Next to a catapult? Yes please.

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The Earl and Lady of Kattegat finally occupied their perches to observe the festivities.

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Young volunteers were fitted with shields and weapons downrange of the catapults. The one on the left couldn’t have too many shields. Shield wall!!

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Note the arrival of the black balloons. They turned out to be more durable than the multicolored water bombs.

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3, 2, 1, launch!

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The daring crowd of defenders grew.

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From my perspective I couldn’t figure out what type of fur this was. It seemed to be a whole animal with very short appendages. I said, “oh no, he killed a giant platypus!” It turned out to be elk, which was more apparent from the front view. This photo presented a paradox; ancient garb versus modern technology.

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Whoo hoo!

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We learned that most of the fighting had taken place on Saturday. Here two kids got medieval in the round.

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This was a great family activity. Some Viking festivals are overtly pagan to the point of being a religious event; that wasn’t our experience. People were friendly, with a local realtor and her precious deaf dog handing out free water at the entrance. They actually talk to strangers in Rainier. I’m more used to Greater Seattle culture in which people don’t say excuse me or use their turn signals and where many people show great discomfort if a stranger speaks to them.

In the restroom a little girl was screaming at her mother that she didn’t want to go to the bathroom. I told her I’d have been spanked if I talked to my mother like that. She did get a swat on her backside. I rarely see parents take control like that in my own biome. Instead they yell at the kids to comply but don’t back up their words, so the kids persist. Score more points for Rainier.

We did have a jaw-droppingly rude experience on the way out. A vendor had the biggest birdcage I’d ever seen for sale. I’d joked that you could put people inside it and then realized that wasn’t funny. But it was great for birds. A family member offered the vendor $20 and he said, “sold!”

Next thing I knew, a short, stout woman in a bright pink shirt was preparing to take away the birdcage. Confused, I asked the vendor, “what just happened?” After he’d told my relative “sold!”, the newcomer had said she’d pay $40 for it. The vendor grinned as he talked about the $40. I was aghast, especially since we were celebrating a birthday. It had happened so quickly that I don’t think I’d heard the woman barge in.

I stood on the sidelines while the woman took the top off the cage and found someone to help her move it. She did not apologize or bat an eyelash. The vendor didn’t either. I should have had the presence of mind to chip in my own $20 and buy it out from under the rude woman, but decided a vendor like that probably doesn’t deserve our business anyway. He probably wasn’t from Rainier.

Overall this was a fun day. I wish we could have left the festival on a more positive note but that was not the festival’s fault. This event will likely grow and I hope more interactive activities occur on both days, not primarily on Saturday. By next year I hope to have my “Straight Outta Asgard” t-shirt or a faux beaver ensemble complete with tooled leather accessories that I didn’t witness being made.

Thank you, Rainier, for using this great event for fun, charity, and education!

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When the age of the Vikings came to a close, they must have sensed it. Probably, they gathered together one evening, slapped each other on the back and said, “Hey, good job.” –Jack Handey

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©2018 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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