Tag Archives: Ballard Locks

Chloë Sees the Lions

Ballard Lions Club.

For most of February, the wintry weather, along with  Heather’s busy work schedule, has kept our afternoon walks close to home. We went to Carkeek Park a couple of times, and once in a while to Magnolia Village or the library, the grocery store , the Mount Rainier viewpoint on Magnolia Boulevard, or the maybe the Ballard Locks. That’s about it. So I was surprised on a sunny Sunday afternoon when we got in Heather’s car, drove to the locks, parked and started walking from the parking lot, along the canal and right across to Ballard over the spillway and the locks.

Retreating from the lions’ den.

I’ve been across those narrow walkways of the locks before, and in the past the crowded aisles made me nervous. In winter, however, crossing the locks wasn’t congested, and I hustled across without incident. We marched right through the botanical garden on the Ballard side and onto the Burke-Gilman Trail, where we had to dodge runners and cyclists for about 20 minutes. I figured we were headed further north to the Shilshole Bay Marina or even Golden Gardens Park, places we’ve walked before. But this time we turned off the sidewalk into the parking lot of the popular seafood restaurant Ray’s Boathouse, which seemed to be closed at the time. We walked all the way out onto the adjoining wharf, where we were finally able to see the perpetrators of the incessant honking that we hear every afternoon of late when we walk in Discovery Park, just across the canal in Magnolia. Ten or more sea lions were unleashing a constant symphony, singly and in groups of twos and threes, never stopping and louder than a visiting Schatzi when the mail carrier delivers to our house.

This article and video from the Seattle Times gives you all you need to know about these California sea lions. This particular herd of the migrating species showed up at the mouth of the canal in December, and they were still hanging out and barking loudly as the calendar turned to March. Apparently they like this pier just fine. For most Magnolians living south of Discovery Park, hearing those husky honks every afternoon provides an amusing diversion. For people who live or work near the canal, however, its their personal March Madness. We can sympathize.

Nervous at the locks.

While it was nice to walk someplace different for a change, while walking back south toward the locks I realized that I still had to traverse the canal again to get back to the car. Things went smoothly on the return trip until Heather decided to stop between the locks to watch a couple of pleasure boats locking through. This imprisoned me to linger on the narrow walkway between the two locks, which left me much too much time to discover water rushing below and on both sides of me. Although this made me queasy, I was trapped on this thin island until the lock filled, allowing the boats to progress to Puget Sound level and the bar across the walkway to lift. When that finally happened, I trotted over the closed lock and the noisy spillway to the Magnolia side in record time. I had enough excitement for one afternoon.

Chloë Nixes the Locks

Herons roost above Ship Canal.

Last week Heather and Mike made me walk all the way down to the Ship Canal and back. The walk was OK, although I would have preferred a walk with less walking and more ball-throwing. It was the destination that I could do without.

My first objection would be the birds. The great blue herons have moved their local rookery from Kiwanis Ravine across the railroad tracks to an alder grove right next to the Ship Canal walkway. In early spring, lots of birds nest and hunt there. So graceful in the air, when roosting in the trees these heron are obnoxiously noisy and poop like crazy, making the wet walkway a slimy white mess. A lime-green rental bicycle left next to the canal looked like a ghost. Mike wanted to take a picture but didn’t want to stop to do it. Just walking through it so low to the ground made me feel creepy. From now on I’m going to call it the Shit Canal.

Digging in at the Locks

And that wasn’t the worst of this walk. After we passed the pooping birds, Heather tried to drag me closer and closer to the locks and their spillway, where water was gushing through, loudly and forcefully, a mini Niagara. I could feel the mist on my nose. I dug in. No way I was going to walk over the locks into Ballard, as I had reluctantly done many times over with just token protest. This time, there was too much rushing water.  Finally Heather relented, and I steered us uphill, away from the canal and across the footbridge over the railroad tracks.

Maybe Mike and Heather better rethink any planned summer boat rides. I don’t go near the water.

Ship Canal looking west from Locks.


Chloë Begins a New Year

Elk Jerky

Elk Jerky

I am looking forward to a big year in 2015. My nose is already perking up with the possibilities. See, when Mike reordered my monthly flea-worm medication (a little pill that tastes like liver!)he needed to buy something else to push the cost high enough to get free shipping. Mike can’t resist a bargain, so he searched the site quickly and ordered me some elk jerky. Well, I haven’t exactly gotten any elk jerky yet. But I know it’s in the hall closet because I can smell it—the sweet smell of success, as far as I’m concerned.

Chloë and Bingo

Chloë and Bingo

Although the disappearing Great Dane Titan has not resurfaced, I have recently renewed acquaintances with Bingo, who lives in the park’s Officers Row, and Molly, a curly black cockapoo who I knew when we were puppies around the same age. We hadn’t seen each other in years, and I was excited to see her…for about 15 seconds. The thrill was gone. I was a bit more interested in Bingo, who held my interest for a minute or two. Bingo wanted to play, but frankly, I’d rather fetch my ball with Mike. No offense or anything. I like Bingo, I’ll give him a wag, but I’d rather play by myself and be with my pack.

Chloë with Charlie and Elise at the Locks

Chloë with Charlie and Elise at the Locks

Heather has determined that I consider my pal Charlie to be a member of my pack, because he lived with us for a while last fall. I recall it was only a couple of days, but maybe it was longer; remember, I only live in the moment, so it’s hard for me to keep track of time. Heather says this level of bonding with Charlie explains why I go so wild when he comes over to see me, whine every time he leaves the room, and jump up on the furniture to sit in his lap. In reality, it’s just that I know Charlie will give me treats and rub my head and ears to my heart’s content.

Charlie’s daughter Elise visited him last week and came over for a visit. She goes to school in Atlanta, Ga., and I had never met her before, but I knew she must be OK even before she arrived because she is a subscriber to this my blog, and all my subscribers are extraordinary people. So I took her and Charlie on a long walk through the park and the cemetery and all the way to the Ballard Locks, where we watched boats locking through and crossed over into the botanical garden on the Ballard side. Elise seemed to enjoy it, even though it was pretty chilly. I didn’t get to stay with her very long, but I definitely liked Elise, because I could tell she is a genuine dog person. Besides, I know that Charlie loves her, and since Charlie’s an official member of my pack, so we’re almost sisters.

I hope Elise comes back again in the summer when the weather’s a little better, and I can take her to some of the really neat places I know out on the OP.

Chloë Greets Visitors from the East

Chloë with John and Peggy

Chloë with John and Peggy

I made some new pals last weekend, John and Peggy from Massachusetts, friends of Mike’s from long ago in Syracuse, when the all worked together. Mike actually worked? Who knew?

As soon as we picked them up at the airport I could tell they were dog people. My delicate nose detected they have a golden retriever whom they referred to often, and always in gushing terms. The way they spoke about Jake, however, I was glad they left him home. Jake is big and rambunctious, exactly the kind of dog I instinctively stay away from. Besides, with no Jake to vie for attention,  John and Peggy were all mine.

Although I got moved out of the front seat, being in the back seat of the car was OK this time, because I got to sit with Peggy and put my head in her lap while we were driving. We bonded.

Relaxing with Leoppy

Relaxing with Leoppy

They were cool to hang around with, too. They walked all around the city with me, even down to the Ballard Locks and back on a windy, rainy day when the spray was thick. Even though they didn’t have the right kind of shoes, they hung in there, even on the uphill part. Compared to their Northeast winter, I guess, this wet weekend was like being on the Riviera. We Seattlites, on the other hand, are getting real tired of it.

Despite the rain, I gave John and Peggy a few short flashes of my speed and agility in chasing Visi-Ball and Wiffie, and they appeared suitably impressed with my prowess. I’m going to put them down for a visit on my first East Coast tour, whenever that may be. Hopefully Jake will have calmed down a bit by then.