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ferryman.ca
The state of Washington is a magnificent big lump of mountains, desert and Pacific coastline. We went there to see the volcanoesMount Saint Helens blew the year after I moved to Canada and this region had been on our wish-list for a long time before I and my geologist wife finally made the trip. The practical way to get there was by flying into SeaTacSeattle-Tacoma Airportso we started our trip in Seattle, home of so many iconic brandsAmazon, Starbucks, Microsoft and Boeing all make their legal or spiritual home in the Seattle area.
On our first day we walked to the Space Needle, Seattle’s landmark tower. It was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and has survived a few earthquakes. At that time it was notably high, but has since been out-done by many towers and buildings. The ticket seemed expensive and the wait line somewhat crowded, but it was well worth heading to the top.
From there we could see Seattle’s classic downtown and urban sprawl on one side and the vast expanse of Puget Sound on the other, with the snow-capped mountains of the Olympic Peninsular forming the skyline to the west. We were blessed with nice weather that day; without that I imagine the tower visit would have been a waste of time and money. I’m sure we should have also seen at least Mount Rainier to the south-east, but it was hazy in that direction.
The tower was also an excellent place to start some ferry-spotting, with a constant passage of boats to and from the Seattle Ferry Terminal on the downtown waterfront. We continued our day by walking down to the waterfront, and then following beside the Alaskan Way, starting at Pier 70 and working our way down to the ferry terminal at Pier 50. Until 2019 an elevated freeway ran along the waterfront here, but that has been replaced by a tunnel, and fortunately so as the this is now a pleasant and popular place for strolling. When we were there, in spring of 2023, the transformation was still ongoing with major construction projects on and beside the Alaskan Way. The ferry terminal was also in a major state of reconstructiona definite case of “it will be great when it’s finished”.
With a lot of Seattle’s suburbia the other side of Puget Sound, the waterfront is a perfect place to watch ferries, from the behemoths of the Washington State Ferries (WSF), to the much smaller Kitsap Fast Ferries run by Kitsap Transit, to the occasional water taxi. With 20 ferry terminals and 21 car ferries the WSF operation is second in size of vehicular ferries only to its norther neighbour, BC Ferries.
Our casual wandering back to our hotel in Belltown took us past the original Starbucks location beside Pike Place Market, with a queue about 50 m long outside of people waiting to get in. We just kept walkingthere is no shortage of places to get coffee in Seattle.


INFO

Location
Operator
Washington State Ferries
Website
When I visited
June 2023

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