Written by btwood2 on 10 Jul, 2004
Neal told me he thought the lake looked deceptively near, because they’d had to drive a while to get there the day they found the apartment. The day after we’d arrived, the clouded but balmy weather had put me in the mood for a…Read More
Neal told me he thought the lake looked deceptively near, because they’d had to drive a while to get there the day they found the apartment. The day after we’d arrived, the clouded but balmy weather had put me in the mood for a walk, and I wanted to see a little more of this community in which my daughter was going to be living.
Lake Washington, 20 miles long and the largest lake in western Washington, was formed at the end of the ice age 14,000 years ago. Mercer Island sits in its center, while its western waters lap Seattle shores. Not that many years ago, before the 1900’s, Hachua’bsh "lake people" lived on the shores of the body of water they called Ha’cuy’lake. Although the lake provided sustenance in the form of fish, waterfowl, and other wildlife, it was both respected and feared. Legends told of the dangers, such as mysterious creatures that inhabited the lake, and subterranean channels that could suck swimmers down into them. A legend recalled a time long ago when the lake was composed of salt water. One theory holds it used to be an arm of Puget Sound. Frequent dramatic climactic, tectonic and volcanic events near this geologically volatile region made Lake Washington far from placid.
In 1916, the completion of a canal built to connect Lake Washington with Puget Sound created further disastrous consequences for the ecology of the lake, lowering its level by 9 feet, wiping out most of the Kokanee salmon spawning beds on the near shores, destroying the Black River lake outlet, and killing the wapato plants harvested by the Hachua’bsh. These tuberous plants that grow on shorelines and marshy areas are also known as "duck potatoes" and "arrowheads", due to the shape of their leaves. Their tubers were an important food source for the indigenous lake peoples, as well as for beavers, muskrats, and waterfowl.
Even before the building of the canal, disaster was brewing in Lake Washington, in the form of raw sewage, which was being piped into the lake from the growing communities around it. The ecology of the lake was detrimentally affected, reducing water oxygen supply, and increasing levels of phosphorus and nitrogen from the sewage, which caused algal overgrowth and killed fish and other aquatic plants. By 1922, the population around the lake was around 50,000. The lake was also the source of many of these peoples’ drinking water, causing outbreaks of typhoid. It was not until 1958 that the sewage was diverted from Lake Washington into Puget Sound. Fortunately, algal blooms were reduced, and the lake was brought back to a more natural and healthful balance.
Three floating bridges span the lake, two of them connecting Mercer Island with the mainland and Bailey Peninsula. In the late 1980’s, the active Seattle Fault was discovered running just south of the I-90 floating bridge connecting Seattle with Bellevue. But it was a fierce storm rather than an earthquake that sunk this bridge in 1990. It was quickly rebuilt. Earthquakes more than 1000 years ago caused entire forests to slide upright into Lake Washington. These were discovered after the lowering of the lake level that occurred in 1916 by the building of the aforementioned Lake Washington ship canal.
It only took me about 15 minutes of leisurely downhill walking, snapping pictures while strolling along, to get to the lakeside along Washington Lake Boulevard. Once lakeside, I encountered mostly joggers, runners, dog-walkers, and a couple of people fishing from a pier at a cute little park. Surprisingly, the fishing in this urban lake surrounded by cities is reportedly excellent, especially for cutthroat trout, believed to be native to the lake, and rainbow trout, which are planted in the lake each spring, and sockeye salmon. Walking back uphill, crossing guards, school busses, and children from every direction were converging for the start of a school day at the elementary school. I wondered, was it summer school or year-round? Last, I walked through the two neighborhood shopping centers on either side of 68th. Grocery stores, bank, restaurants, a yoga place, liquor store, some specialty stores, a gas station across the street – everything close and convenient. There was even a 24 Hour Fitness gym about a 5 minute drive uptown. I picked up a Seattle Weekly at one of the stores to read on my plane ride, only a few hours away, feeling satisfied that Saskia and Neal had found a nice place to call home in the Pacific Northwest.
We set our cellphone alarms to get up at 4:30 AM on the morning of the big move. A quarter after 6, we were pulling out, truck in the lead, car following. Now a word about Nutmeg Cat, the darling of Saski’s and…Read More
We set our cellphone alarms to get up at 4:30 AM on the morning of the big move. A quarter after 6, we were pulling out, truck in the lead, car following. Now a word about Nutmeg Cat, the darling of Saski’s and Neal’s household: nothing was spared to create an ideal traveling space in the back of the car. The back seat was folded down and covered up with Nutmeg’s favorite blanket. Food and water bowls were placed on the floor, and covered kitty litter hut towards the back. Nutmeg’s only car trips had been for visits to the vet, so she cautiously chose to hide in the small dark space between the back and front seats almost the entire first long day of traveling.
After a stop in Campbell to pick up some items at a friend’s house, we drove through and out of the Bay Area meeting surprisingly light rush hour traffic. In no time at all, it seemed, we were heading north on I-5 towards Redding. At intervals, we made stops for potty breaks, switching drivers, gas, and food. Other than the truck driving somewhat shakily (maybe in need of alignment?), and pulling off in Ashland, Oregon to switch drivers, only to exit where there was no onramp, causing us to make a scenic loop of that town just to get back on, things moved along pretty smoothly.
By evening, we pulled into Eugene under a refreshing cloud cover. We overnighted in one room at Comfort Inn Suites, a good deal at $80, with two queens, a sofa-bed, dining table, refrigerator, microwave, high-speed internet data port, couch, chair, TV, and bath-shower. They are pet-friendly, but the trade-off is people with pets get put in smoking rooms only. But we opened the window which provided us with fresh air and a nice view over an open, green field. The real treat came the following morning; at their breakfast buffet, which is included in the price of the room, we got to make our own waffles!
We bid Eugene goodbye the next morning, not quite as early as the day before. Nutmeg found a more comfortable position sitting on laps in the front seats. Avoiding Portland rush hour traffic, we crossed the mighty Columbia into Washington state before noon. Continuing north on I-5, we stopped at the best rest stop EVER. We were used to seeing the "Rest Stop Closed" signs in budget beleaguered Oregon, so when we saw the "Free Coffee served" sign at Toutle River Safety Rest Area, we eagerly turned off. We found immaculate modern bathrooms in a beautifully landscaped and well-maintained rest area that made us want to linger just a little longer. By lunch time we’d hit greater Seattle, and only made one wrong turn which landed us in Redmond instead of Kirkland. There we were right smack dab in the middle of Microsoft. A trusty FedEx guy with a thick book of maps set us back on the right route, and soon Lake Washington was in view below and we were in Kirkland.
My heart sank as we walked through the door into my daughter’s and future son-in-law’s rented quadriplex. "We didn’t get quite as much packing done as we intended" seemed an understatement. Boxes everywhere, packed and empty, furniture and wall-hangings still intact, in what…Read More
My heart sank as we walked through the door into my daughter’s and future son-in-law’s rented quadriplex. "We didn’t get quite as much packing done as we intended" seemed an understatement. Boxes everywhere, packed and empty, furniture and wall-hangings still intact, in what had been Saskia’s and Neal’s home for the last 4 years. The older quadriplex is tucked into a tiny dead-end street just west of Capitola Mall, not far from the Pacific Ocean. Downstairs are living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and utility porch. Up in the attic accessible by pull-down ladder is my favorite room: large sunroom encompassing the entire floor space of the unit, with an openable skylight on one side, and small window on the other end. They’d used this space as their office, guestroom, and for storage. As they came to realize, this last usage may not have been such a good idea. Even after donating much of what was up there, there was still lots left.
Santa Cruz, California holds a big piece of my heart. It’s the city where I came of age in the early ‘70s. At that time, of course, it was much smaller and less sophisticated. Good times were beach bonfires on the isolated stretches of beach north of town, or hanging out at the Catalyst on Pacific Ave. before it became "Pacific Garden Mall", listening to Oganookie, a local band, sing "Crawdad Hole" while playing cribbage and drinking beer. Or visiting friends’ houses where many people lived together and parties "just happened". I shared the old Miranda homestead on 310 ½ Broadway with 2 good friends. We had our own bedrooms and paid $30 each a month rent. The modest little wood frame structure was back from the street behind 310, in which more friends lived. A robust vine grew into our kitchen through an open window one day and proceeded to entwine itself all around our kitchen in the months that followed. Next door to us lived neighbor Jake. Jake, in his 80’s then, a transplant from Fresno who had never quite gotten over the switch from horses to cars, taught us how to garden and invited us to dinner, one at a time. Our garden took off like life in the fast lane, growing everything, all the time. But I digress. The two little historic homes were torn down years ago, replaced with an ugly modern two-story apartment building and very little dirt for gardening. Nowadays I try to avoid Broadway altogether.
It’s amazing what four people with a mission can accomplish in limited time. In two evenings and one day, the quadriplex unit slowly but surely was emptied of its contents. Neal’s mom and I first concentrated on the kitchen, and that more or less remained our focal point throughout the boxing and cleaning, although we made forays into the other areas where Saskia and Neal were working. Late afternoon of the second day, after some doubtful moments "Can we really get all this into this little (16 feet) truck?", it was time to clean. Their vacuum cleaner is one of those new see-through kinds and did a marvelous job on the carpets. The inside of the quadriplex sparkled and the truck was tightly loaded. Just a few blankets and pillows left for us to curl up and sleep in. Time to go out and celebrate at Dharma’s, the quintessential Santa Cruz restaurant (although physically in Capitola), serving big plates of wonderously healthy vegetarian food.
My daughter and future son-in-law did some pretty intensive searching in the greater Seattle area once they made up their minds to re-settle there. They didn’t really want to live right in Seattle, so looked around in the surrounding cities. Bellevue was quite…Read More
My daughter and future son-in-law did some pretty intensive searching in the greater Seattle area once they made up their minds to re-settle there. They didn’t really want to live right in Seattle, so looked around in the surrounding cities. Bellevue was quite nice, but the apartments there were too expensive. They liked Olympia too, but it was way too far from Seattle. Other cities didn’t meet the criteria they were looking for, until they got to Kirkland, set on and above the shores of Lake Washington, with Seattle 11 miles away over a floating bridge. They liked its nearness to the water and cute shops, reminding them a little of Carmel, California.
After viewing several apartments there, they chose one near the lake, with a partial view from their balcony. The apartment, clean and new-looking, had some enticing luxury features besides the balcony/patio: washer and dryer inside the unit, dishwasher, lots of storage closets, large walk-in master closet, fireplace, and a most interesting configuration of bathrooms. Listed as "one and a half" bathrooms, it’s actually more like three, all adjoining one another. Connected to the master bedroom, one walks into a very large make-up area complete with sinks, drawers, and cupboards. From this, one enters another room with bath/shower combination and toilet. Keep walking and you’ll find yourself in yet another bathroom with toilet, sink, mirror, and counter with cupboards underneath. This third room also accesses the hallway. I call it the "bathroom loop". All this for less $’s than they had been paying for their more modest Santa Cruz quadriplex unit.
My last morning there, I took a walk down to the lake, and passed many more apartments, condos, and townhouses than single family dwellings. According to the City of Kirkland Community Profile, published January 2003, just over half of the total housing in Kirkland is "multi-family units", with a density of 3-17 units per acre. Although in 2001, the average rental rates in Kirkland were higher than those in adjacent Bellevue and Redmond, Saskia and Neal found the opposite to be true in 2004.