Ballard Locks and salmon ladder near Seattle

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are enjoying the superb weather of summertime Seattle. We’ve encountered some interesting folk, including a triffid (read my previous post), Sal the Salmon (photos below), and a metaphysical mastermind (coming up in my next post).

Yesterday we trickled along to the Ballard Locks, north west of Seattle. The locks are also known as the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, named after the engineer who led the first phase of construction starting in 1911.

The book I’m in

Never Go Back, by Robert Goddard. Two hapless RAF veterans find themselves mixed up in murder and mayhem, tied up in a nice bit of historical cold war skulduggery.

The photos

Me with Sal the Sockeye Salmon, at the fish ladder built alongside the Ballard Locks. Sal and his mates are taking it easy in the deep waters before tackling the next jump up the fish ladder:

The fish ladder is built so that you can see it from above and also go underground to view the fish through glass windows in the walls. The Sockeye Salmon are making their run at the moment, but in lower numbers than past years.

The Ballard Locks are part of a series of constructions built in the early 1900s to make a navigable pathway from Lake Washington to Puget Sound. Once the various construction projects were finished, ships could carry cargo such as log, wood, and fish from the lake to the coast and in reverse.

The locks make it possible for boats to move up and down the Lake Washington Ship Canal, travelling inland from the coast or vice versa, even though there’s a big difference in the level of the water in Lake Washington (which is more than 6 metres above sea level) and in Puget Sound (which is at sea level).

Here are a sailing boat and a dinghy entering the locks from the direction of Puget Sound, wanting to jump vertically upwards by a few metres into the canal. There’s a dog accompanying the sailor on the yacht:

The yachtsman secures his boat in the lock:

The lock gates close behind the boats:

The lock operators watch from the side:

The filling-valves open below the water level, letting in the water from Salmon Bay. The water rises in the lock, lifting the boats with it, until eventually the water level is the same on both sides of the top gate, and the boats can move into the lake:

This lock is the larger of the two Ballard Locks. Things can get quite busy. In fact, the Ballard Locks are the busiest locks in the US:

A dam wall with a spillway holds back the waters of Salmon Bay from plunging down into Puget Sound. This picture shows the spillway, viewed from the Commodore Park side of the canal, which is on the side opposite the locks:

This video is taken from the walkway above the spillway, looking down at the patterns on the moving water, then raising the camera to look out towards Puget Sound.

This is the view from the spillway, looking west towards Puget Sound:

On the Commodore Park side of the canal is the fish ladder, winding up the bank from sea level at the bottom to the lake level at the top of the ladder. In all, there are 21 steps in the ladder:

This is the dam wall seen from the Salmon Bay side, with part of the fish ladder in the foreground:

Here’s another picture of the salmon under the water, on their way up the ladder from the ocean to the lakes:

That’s all for today, folks.

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Triffids have landed in Seattle

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Alarm! This worm was wandering along a quiet Seattle road when I encountered a triffid. Fortunately for me, the creature was firmly rooted in the ground, gathering sustenance no doubt for its next foray into the world of us earthlings.

The photos

Approach with caution! A triffid rooted on a suburban Settle street:

The thing dwarfed the TC, but nevertheless, as is her wont, she insisted that I approach it for the obligatory portrait.

Me in a hazardous closeup with a triffid:

That’s all for today, folks.

Published in: on 16 July 2018 at 12:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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High in the Rockies

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC, and the “TC once removed”, are in Boulder, Colorado. Yesterday we took a day trip into the Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s an easy drive from Boulder. Once in the national park, we wound upwards along Trail Ridge Road, passing the highest point at over 12,000 feet (3,700 metres), then descending slightly to the Alpine Visitor’s Center.

Word of the day

Lustrum is the word of the day. It means a five-year period. The term originates in ancient Rome from the name of the closing ceremony after each census of the Roman people, which took place every five years.

The book I’m in

Lustrum, by Robert Harris. I’m embedded in book two of the Cicero trilogy. Roman intrigue is a cutthroat affair.

Travel tip

Take lots of water with you, and moisturise copiously. In summer the air is hot and dry. This worm’s skin felt like paper each time I stepped outside.

Recommended restaurant

The Kitchen in Boulder has good food, graciously served, in an attractive and restful environment.

The photos

Me and a few alpine aspens and pines, on the way to the Alpine Visitor’s Center in Rocky Mountain National Park:

Yes, that’s snow. In summer. (The TC would have inserted double exclamation points at the end of the last two sentences. I refrain, but you, dear reader, may imagine them there if that brings the scene alive for you.)

Here’s another shot of the same scene, this time not graced with my noble form, but with the background in focus:

At close on 12,000 feet (3,600 metres), the Alpine Visitor’s Center on Trail Ridge Road is the highest of all visitors centres in the US national parks system. This shot shows the range of snow-capped peaks visible when you stand with the visitors’ centre behind you, looking to the left:

Beware the effects of the high altitude. (The previous sentence provides another opportunity for an exclamation mark, if the whim takes you.) The TC and the “TC once removed” were both affected by dizziness and fatigue.

This photo shows the view from the same spot, looking towards the right:

That’s all for today, folks.

Space/time glitch on Seattle skyline

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

The picture below shows the Seattle skyline, as seen from the top of Smith Tower. The TC, bless her cotton socks, says that the light-coloured angular shape on the left half of the image looks to her like a glitch in the space time continuum. We more sober souls know it’s more likely to be yet another a skyscraper plated in reflective glass.

Word of the day

Glitch is the word of the day. This worm is surprised to learn that it’s a relatively new term, originating among space scientists in the 1960s. The word glitch first meant a sudden surge in current, which often was the cause of a malfunction. Later the word’s meaning broadened to mean a short-lived fault that’s difficult to track down.

The book I’m in

The Hunter’s Oath, by Jason Dean. Yes, I’m still stuck in the same book as I was in the previous two posts. It’s a good read, featuring action hero James Bishop. The hero is a little like Jack Reacher, only meaner.

That’s all for today, folks.

Published in: on 30 March 2018 at 5:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Distinctive motorcycle repair shop in Seattle

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

This atmospheric motorcycle repair shop is on Aurora Ave N in Fremont, Seattle:

Click on the picture to zoom in, and take a look all the bikes and flags behind the windows.

The business is Vallantine Motor Works. This worm likes the combination of gothic styling and beautiful machines. It quite makes me want to wander in and see what’s going on.

The book I’m in

The Hunter’s Oath, by Jason Dean. A good, fast read with action hero James Bishop. The hero is a little like Jack Reacher, only meaner.

That’s all for today, folks.

Mt Rainier view from Fremont

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

The TC, bless her cotton socks, has visited Seattle a few times, but without seeing the renowned Mt Rainier. Friends and colleagues assured her it was a spectacular sight, but often hidden by cloud.

On this visit, suddenly, there it was. As if someone had dropped a great big mountain out of the sky.

Here’s Mt Rainier, seen from the bridge on Aurora Ave N in Fremont, Seattle:

The Fremont Troll lurks under the same bridge. I posted a couple of pictures of the troll and the underneath of the bridge.

Mt Rainer lies 87 kilometres south east of Seattle. It’s an active volcano. Although it’s currently dormant, it’s considered one of the 16 most dangerous in the world because of the large amount of damage an eruption would cause to living creatures and property.

Word of the day

On-premise is the word of the day, used in phrases like “on-premise software/services,” to compare such services with those in the cloud. “On-premise” is a malapropism for “on-premises”. The question is whether the malapropism is now in sufficient common use for us to start using it without feeling uncomfortable. The TC, bless her cotton socks, still feels uncomfortable with such use of “on premise” or “on-premise”.

Here’s what the TC says:

I first read the term “on-premise software” about 5 years ago. I was completely flummoxed. “What? Is this software that’s offered under the assumption I’ve accepted some premise or other? Where’s that premise written?” Now, 5 years is a long time in the tech world, but perhaps not outside our industry. As a tech writer, I want to avoid giving people that unpleasant brain-bump of “that breaks my language parser”. What’s the harm in getting it right, and saying “on premises”? I guess someone else’s answer may be: the docs sound old and fuddy-duddy.

The book I’m in

The Hunter’s Oath, by Jason Dean. A good, fast read with action hero James Bishop. The hero is a little like Jack Reacher, only meaner.

That’s all for today, folks.

Imposing and peaceful Tintern Abbey, Wales

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC travelled from Bristol to the Wye Valley in Wales to see Tintern Abbey, on the recommendation of a coffee vendor we met at the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

My impressions? The mix of fallen and still-standing walls is strangely effective in conveying the grandeur and peace of the place.

Word of the day

Abbey is the word of the day. The word stems from the same root as the Aramaic אבא (‘abbā), the Hindi abbā, and the Arabic ab, all of which mean “father”. An abbey is where the abbot lives, the abbot being the head of a group of monks. ABBA is also the name of a rather well known Swedish pop group. The group’s name is formed from the first letters of the singers’ names.

Travel tip

Pay heed to coffee vendors and other wise folks.

The book I’m in

Alaskan Fire, by Sara King. A good read, although slightly less sophisticated than this author’s other works.

The photos

Me taking in the sights from a window at Tintern Abbey:

The Welsh name for the abbey is Abaty Tyndyrn. The tourist brochure says Tintern Abbey is Wales’s best-preserved abbey. In Welsh, that’s “Yr Abaty sydd yn y cyflwr gorau yng Nghymru”:

Play this video to hear the sounds of Tintern Abbey:

The first buildings that formed the abbey were built in 1130s. Most of the original structure has disappeared, and what we see now was built in the 400-year period leading up to 1536. Then King Henry VIII passed a number of laws that put a stop to monasteries and the monastic life in England, Ireland, and Wales. The abbey fell to ruin:

Flowers and poetry grow from its walls:

Symmetry and sky greet you as you enter:

The pantry has an imposing ceiling:

Do not climb on the walls, written in English and Welsh:

This worm has noticed that the plumbing is often a high point in ruins. The abbey is no exception – the drainage system is lauded in the tourist information:

Me and Peg checked out the bathing facilities:

The view of the hills probably hasn’t changed much in the 850+ years since the abbey was built:

Farewell gracious abbey:

That’s all for today, folks.

Clifton Suspension Bridge thrice crossed

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC crossed the Clifton Suspension Bridge in three ways yesterday. We strolled across it, drove over it, and drove under it. The bridge spans the River Avon near Bristol, UK, and offers heart-stopping views of the city and the river.

My impressions? An impressive work of engineering, surrounded by beauty.

Word of the day

Suspense is the word of the day. Dangling from a suspension bridge makes for a suspenseful day’s work.

Travel tip

If you’re driving, stop the car well short of the bridge and stroll down for a leisurely look.

Recommended coffee cart

A friendly, knowledgeable person offered us a cup of Union Direct Trade coffee and a chat at the Bristol end of the bridge. He’s fun to talk to, and the coffee is good.

The book I’m in

The Visitor, by Lee Child. I’m still munching my way through the same book as in my previous few posts. A good Lee Child is a good place to be.

The photos

Me snuggling up to one of the 3,500 load-bearing bolts that hold the Clifton Suspension Bridge together:

This worm does not envy these workers dangling from a maintenance cage under the bridge, more than 245 feet above the river:

On one side of the bridge is a view of the River Avon with the city of Bristol in the distance:

On the other side of the bridge, the river stretches out its muddy banks:

A sobering sign hints of people less happy than we:

Crossing the bridge:

Flowers of the Bristol onion decorate the bridge’s sides:

The Clifton Suspension Bridge spand 702 feet and weighs 1,500 tonnes. The chains that support the bridge stretch 20 miles underground. Here’s a parting shot from the road below the bridge:

That’s all for today, folks.

In search of the Grim Reaper

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC found ourselves in Bristol and went in search of the Grim Reaper by Banksy. This is the tale of our quest from the Thekla to Spike Island in search of the artwork.

My impressions? A vibrant, thoughtful area of Bristol.

Word of the day

Graffito is the word of the day. It’s the little-known singular form of graffiti, and comes from the Italian word graffiato, meaning scratched. In the most common usage, graffiti are words, signs, drawings, or paintings that someone has put on a wall without permission. In art history, graffiti are works of art produced by scratching the surface. Another meaning of graffito is a deliberate mark or sign, such as a mason’s mark.

Travel tip

A good quest is a fine excuse to explore your surrounds.

The book I’m in

The Visitor, by Lee Child. I’m still munching my way through the same book as in my previous two posts. A good Lee Child is a good place to be.

The photos

Me at the Thekla. I’d heard Banksy’s Grim Reaper was on the Thekla, so that’s where I started my quest:

At the start of the quest I didn’t know what a “Thekla” was. Then I found the boat. Next, look for the painting. I examined the river walls, the sides of the boat, the nearby buildings. No Grim Reaper.

However, I did come across this striking picture on a window near Welsh Back:

Here’s a closer look. This worm thinks it’s an impressive work of art:

Still, not a Banksy. A quick internet search yielded the vital clue. Banksy’s Grim Reaper had indeed originally been painted on the Thekla in 2003, but it was moved to the M Shed, a nearby museum, in 2015. The water and weather had damaged the work of art, and the owners were afraid it would disappear entirely. They cut out the piece of the boat that contained the Grim Reaper, and presented it to the M Shed as a long-term loan.

So, off to the M Shed we go. First, a pretty view across the River Avon:

The TC found this no-nonsense sign post amusing, particularly as the bridge does indeed present itself as a “weak bridge”:

Wend your way past the evidence of a good night out:

And there’s the M Shed:

Inside, the Grim Reaper at last:

This worm does find it a little ironic that a stencilled graffito, surely expected to be temporary, should be behind glass and locked doors. On the other hand, I’m very glad that I managed to see this work, and that other people will be able to find it too.

That’s all for today, folks.

Telephone booth at Ashampstead full of books

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC were wending our way through the avenues of southern England when we came across a phone booth full of books.

My impressions? A stamp of approval from this bookworm.

Word of the day

Telephone is the word of  the day. This worm wonders how long that word will last. We often use other words in its place, including mobile, and cell phone, or even just cell. The word telephone comes from two roots, tele- meaning far, and phone meaning sound. Nowadays we have a various devices that can transmit voices and sound, using diverse technologies. Mobiles are ubiquitous, and do more than transmitting and receiving sound.

A bonus word of the day: lichen. When I was a much younger worm, I pronounced that word with a short “i” and a soft “ch”, to rhyme with “kitchen”. My teacher corrected me, saying I should use a long “i” and a hard”ch”, as in “liken”. Now I learn that the first is the British pronunciation, the second the American.

Travel tip

Don’t let a good phone booth go to waste. Nor a good book, for that matter.

The book I’m in

The Visitor, by Lee Child. The story follows on directly from Tripwire and features the same hero, Jack Reacher. The TC is on holiday and happened to have both books in her bag. I wiggled easily from the one to the other, and am experiencing that rare pleasure of reading two sequential books in sequence.

The photos

Me at the telephone booth on Holly Lane near Flowers Piece in Ashampstead, west of London:

Liken me to a bit of lichen:

A front view of the booth of books. Careful observers may spot the TC taking the photograph, mirrored in the glass:

This short video gives you a feel for the surrounds: the business of vehicles passing by, interspersed with restful intervals of birdsong:

That’s all for today, folks.