A ferry ride through mountains.

What to do with an impromptu seven days in Seattle. A lot of walking is the answer to that. I’m a rubbish tourist, and hate going anywhere with large crowds of people (which can pretty much shot any ideas of ideas of visiting ‘main attractions’ in the foot), but I do love wondering around a strange city, discovering all the little things that make it tick in my own time and own way. This does mean I probably miss some of the amazing historical features and iconic views, as they surely wouldn’t have the crowds for no reason, but I enjoy getting lost, stumbling upon tiny little cafes and parks that are well off the beaten track, well aware that I’ll never be back there even if I wanted to be, because most of the time I have no idea where I am. 

I walked around Seattle for several days, with no particular intent or purpose, just enjoying the freedom to wander. Also, it was hard to make a more substantial plan when I thought I was waiting to go to San Diego at a few hours notice. One of the highlights of these few days however, was a ferry ride to Bremerton and back. Departing from the Seattle waterfront, this ride takes about an hour, and winds its way through the channels and inlets that make up the unique landscape and setting that is Seattle. As much as anything else it was just nice to be back out on the water in, as having spent a week working on boats, I was feeling withdrawal symptoms from not actually getting to go sailing.

I always find the first 5 minutes on a ferry amusing. I’ll make my way out to the forward 1st deck, and regardless of the fact it’s glorious sunshine, put my fleece and jacket on. Everyone else comes out, as it’s the best view, enjoying the warmth of being outside in the sun, wearing only shorts and t-shirts. The ferry sets off, and quickly gets up to 15kts. Within 2 minutes, I’ve got the deck to myself, as it’s bloody cold at 15kts, regardless of the sunshine. The advantages of understanding apparent wind…

Seattle has one hell of a view. Ringed by mountain ranges and national parks, to look out over the epitome of a modern, 21st century city to see a landscape that has been there so long before we were is quite spectacular, and I’m yet to visit a place that does it quite as well as Seattle.

As the docks slide into the distance, framing Mount Rainer behind them, the ranges and hills of the Western shores come into focus, with the Olympic mountains in the distance beyond.

I’m half enjoying the view, and half trying to decide whether to keep the camera in monochrome or colour mode, settling on neither in particular, and going with whatever feels right at that particular moment. A few smaller sailing yachts were out, looking very at home on calm waters, but a fresh enough breeze to make a good sail. After about half way, the view to Mt Rainer is clear of all civilisation, and it’s as if the city of Seattle was never there. Amazing what a few miles of water can do to the perspective on a view.

Once off at Bremerton I was off for a walk along the waterfront and into town. As it was mid-week the place was pretty deserted, and I can only assume that many of its residents work in Seattle during the day, only to return at night, and spend their weekends in the wonderful surroundings it affords. A very nice bench by the water provided a good spot to read my book for an hour or two, until the next ferry back arrived.

The ride back was timed perfectly with an impending sunset. I’d love to say I timed it that way, but I wasn’t looking at the clock, and can’t claim any such credit.

The Olympics were silhouetted behind us, and Seattle emerging in front. Once again, the front deck was cleared in minutes once the ferry got up to speed, and I got the view all to myself.

I always think that the period before sunset creates a great light for taking photos. Everything is still bright enough to be clear without having to compromise much on shutter speed and f/stop, but I like the warmth brought to the images and the way the colour temperature changes.

Of my two weeks in Seattle, I think that little ferry ride was one of my favourite few hours (at least sober). Seattle is best appreciated in its full glory from the water, and a $10 trip to Bremerton and back was a perfect way to do that.

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