Captain wifey and I have been really excited to check out the newly relocated MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry) here in Seattle. The new location is perfect - nestled in the South Lake Union neighborhood, right next to the Center for Wooden Boats, there's restaurants, it's close to the Space Needle and the Seattle Center, there is free parking around the corner, it's on the lake, and the museum is about stuff we're interested in - boats, the Northwest, & Northwest history.
Also, before I got into teaching (my current day job) I worked a little in the museum world. After spending hours on the museum floor and interacting with guests it was easy to see both what works, and the many challenges local museums face. From that experience I can say that the new MOHAI was carefully thought out by people who know museums - it shows.
Another cool thing about the location of the museum is its access to Lake Union from Lake Union Park. There are boat tie-ups everywhere - you could actually sail up, tie-up, go to the museum, eat lunch, and sail off into the sunset (that may be wishful thinking, the actual tie-up rules are a little confusing, read more here & I'd call ahead). It is also right across the water from the new-ish kayak put-in (pictured below). We've set off from here in the past.
It seems there's always something going on around the outside of the museum - from FarmBoat drop-offs, to toy sailing races, to the carving of a traditional Native American canoe (check out the plans for a new Northwest Native Canoe Center at Lake Union Park!).
Once you head into the museum you'll be in a giant great room. This building used to be a Naval Reserve Armory back in the day. The museum has a open layout in the middle with exhibits on multiple floors in the rooms along all sides of the building.
One of the highlights of the great room is John Grade's massive wooden sculpture "Wawona". It was made from old planks salvaged from the hull of a ship (named Wawona). It actually extends below the floor into the lake and above the ceiling/on the roof…it's amazing.
There's lots of hands on stuff (a.k.a. great for kids). Touch screens galore, a periscope on the top floor with views of lake and city, railroads to pound on, things to turn, pull, push, & move. Make sure to try the educational old-school slot machine!
The exhibits are nicely organized, not too cramped (with artifacts), and there is a nice flow. Lots of cool stuff. Definitely worth the visit!
~Paul & Amber ETC
P.S. The food at the cafe is good and reasonably priced - you could museum it up, have lunch, then go back for more...
In my old age (hey! I'm not that old) and my long Northwest paddling career (OK, only like 3 years), I've gotten pretty official about my kayak put-ins. The days of quietly inflating my kayak in a dark corner, waiting for some dock staff to turn their shoulders, and then lunging toward the water to launch before I get caught are just about over.
So, we've been working our way down the Lake Washington Ship Canal (Seattle, WA), checking out launch sites (see here, and here!). This one is just northeast-ish of Gas Works Park, next-door to the Puget Sound Yacht Club on Lake Union.
From here, you've got free street parking, great water views of Seattle, and you're close to Gas Works Park, beautiful houseboats in Portage Bay, and if you make a half-day out of it - the Arboretum and the University of Washington are around the corner towards Lake Washington.
Any negatives? Well, this area of Lake Union can get a little busy with boats of all kinds. Our favorite situation during this trip was a huge power yacht with the captain and crew all working to crane up their giant dinghy, all while leaving the boat in forward. As they scratched their heads in the back of the boat they didn't realize they were slowly moving forward toward the bank. They almost hit a kayaker and ran into a University of Washington research vessel before the captain realized it and hit the reverse...v-rooooom!
This busy area leads toward the 'Montlake Cut', the skinny waterway that connects the Seattle lakes. It can be a little choppy depending on boat traffic (a.k.a. SUP's beware!). It's worth it to make it to Seattle's Arboretum - stay close to the edge and you'll do fine.
Speaking of boat traffic, the Seattle Ducks (Land/aquatic tourist vehicles full of tourists with quackers) enter the lake from the Sunnyside boat ramp. They're not that bad wake-wise, and if you spend some time getting ready on the dock you'll get to vote along with the tourists - "Should I enter the lake fast or slow?" Then, 5 minutes later the next duck-boat will arrive..."Should I enter the lake fast or slow?"
Don't have a kayak? Aqua Verde and the UW are close to this area as well, both rent out various boats...Enjoy more pics at the bottom of this post!
~Paul, Amber, Vic ETC
A couple months ago while taking a friend's new kayak for a test-spin, we paddled upon Schooner Zodiac. She was at port near Seattle's Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union. I've seen her around the Puget Sound in the past - she is gorgeous.
It was also my first time trying out the new-ish kayak put-in on the southwest side of the Lake. There was parking nearby (and a Starbucks:). It sure beats the rogue kayak put-ins that I was used to on this side of Lake Union - "stop that man with the inflatable kayak!". While I don't recommend this part of the lake for rookies, it's fun in a planes landing close-powerboats-tallships-craziness kinda way. It has great water views of downtown.
~Paul & Vic ETC
Seattle has had 3 freakishly sunny April weekends in a row and word on the street is that next weekend could complete the month with dry weather! There really isn't a better place to soak up some of this normally-rainy-city-sun than Lake Union. It lies right smack in the middle of Seattle, right next to downtown. When it gets sunny and 'warm' it fills with sea planes, sailboats, powerboats, kayakers, stand-up paddle boarders, and Seattle's iconic house-boats (okay, so the house-boats don't come out only in the sun...they're pretty much always there).
I usually like to stay away from Lake Union and favor nearby Lake Washington due to less boat traffic and more woodsy places to paddle but, in my effort to cover all of the Northwest's waterways, decided to join the crowds and give it a go.
My friend and I launched from the 14th ave boat ramp in Ballard. It's near the Ballard bridge on the Ballard side, near Trader Joe's and the Ballard Greenlake (the empty lot across from T-Js...that I may paddle one of these days:)
The start of this paddle takes you through the Lake Washington Ship Canal and provides plenty of Instagram-fodder with barges and tons of metal-ish stuff.
As you head East you'll go under the Fremont and Aurora (it's really called the George Washington Memorial Bridge) bridges, by Gasworks park (to the North) and the City (to the South).
After about 45 mins to an hour & 1/2 (depending on your kayak/wind/how many pictures you take/sun-bathing) you'll arrive at Ivar's Salmon House. It's on the Northside of the lake just before the I-5 and University bridges. We were lucky that the patio was open this early in the season (they said they opened it last minute due to the nice weather). We grabbed a drink, took a break, and eventually took off back to 14th ave.
Total time on the water for us: 3 hours-ish
Free parking and lots of spots at 14th ave: yep
Tides?: nope, it's a lake.
Salty?: nope, it's a lake. Food at Ivar's is salty.
Choppy? not too bad.
Sunny on this trip for you next weekend?: ? ;)
~Paul, Vic -ETC
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