**I started writing this post before the birth of my daughter, Naomi Rose and finished after her entrance into the world.
Instead of hanging around the house and waiting for the birth of our first daughter and potentially going a little stir crazy, a plan was hatched by my wife (Michelle) and I. What if we went to all the parks in Seattle and explored? Think about it: no cost except for the gas to get there (and perhaps picnic food as well), opportunity to be outdoors in stunning June weather, and allows for us to be tourists in our own city. Away we went.
Carkeek Park- June 6
Carkeek Park is a place I have visited multiple times before and is one of my favorite parks in Seattle. The park is tucked away, west of the Greenwood neighborhood in north Seattle. The road down to the park is narrow and lined with old trees which in many spots form a canopy over the road. The park is named for Morgan J. Carkeek, an English contractor who came to Seattle in 1875.
Our favorite take-out Thai food in hand from the good people at Namfon Thai in Northgate, we curved around the rural feeling streets into the park. For being a park in North Seattle and not far from major roads, Carkeek’s backwoodsy feel can easily lull one into thinking they are out in the country.
Attendance at the park on this Friday evening was fairly sparse and so we were able to find a picnic table facing the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountain Range just in time for the sunset. This may have been one of the best sunsets I have ever seen. There were some clouds in the sky and as the sun descended into the horizon, orange-ish/ red glows were reflecting off the sky and the water. Majestic, transcendent- a moment that reminded me of glory and in this case, the Creator’s glory. I guess one can say this was an apt metaphor for a closing chapter on my life. Sure, why not.
From our picnic table, we wandered over to the boxy, chain-link bridge that is elevated over the train tracks and went down the steep stairs to the small beach. Darkness started to invade the space ever so slowly as the sun made its final drop.
At that moment, we heard the train.
We raced back up the stairs to the chain-link bridge so we could be standing on the bridge when the train rushed past underneath us. There seemed to be only a few feet of clearance. When the train started passing beneath us, I thought of those old TV shows and movies where train bandits would be chased on top of the train cars (while the train was running) by the “good guys”. I recognized this would be as close as I would ever be to running across train cars while a train was operating. It was quite a rush, standing there as the train passed underneath.
This is a small and simple park. The place offers the best view of Seattle from Queen Anne hill. The purpose of the park is articulately stated on a plaque: “Kerry Park given to the City in 1927 by Mr. and Mrs. Albert Sperry Kerry, Sr., so that all who stop here may enjoy this view.”
One can see the maze of concrete and glass of the City of Seattle’s skyscrapers extending into the sky. The Space Needle, at Seattle Center, is front and center. Through the buildings, one can see a little bit of the sports stadiums Century-Link Field (home of the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks) and Safeco Field (home of the not-so champion Seattle Mariners). Today, a hazy Mount Rainier was making an appearance from the far south. The view of Elliott Bay, the peninsula of West Seattle including the long strip of Alki Beach was pretty cool.
We didn’t stay long. Just had enough time to take in the scenery. I mostly felt bad for Michelle because we parked at the street below the park (below Highland Dr.) on Queen Anne and had a walk up a fair number of stairs. Steep. I wasn’t a good husband for parking down there.
Tucked away on the east side of Capital Hill, Volunteer Park features expansive green lawns, a water reservoir, an Asian-art museum and also a conservatory. There is also a tower on the grounds, an old tower, that people can climb the rather steep stairs to obtain 360 views of Lake Washington and the city of Seattle.
We didn’t end up going to the conservatory or the museum but ended up climbing up the old tower- my first time. There I learned about the Olmstead brothers who had a career on helping cities plan park designs and the like. They helped map out Volunteer Park from 1904-1909.
The best thing about Volunteer was bringing a blanket and resting on one of the lawns. Quite a few people and Frisbees were out. Nearly a perfect day as Michelle and I awaited the arrival of our first child (daughter).