Wednesday on the Water

It is going to be a great night down on the Ruston Way waterfront. The temperature is perfect, sun is out, sailboats should be everywhere.. Wednesday on the Water is just one of many reasons why summers in Tacoma are as good as anywhere. Kayaks, rafts, paddle boards and power boats are all great fun out on Commencement Bay.

For those of you who may be new to kayaking or looking to learn more about kayaks, please hit up Backpacker’s Supply on July 12th. They are running a free kayak demo (Paddlesports Demo Days at Owen Beach/Point Defiance). Take advantage of this rare opportunity to try several different boats! There is no better way to find the best boat for you than to compare different ones back to back on the same day. Free.

Happy paddling.

Ruston Way waterfront development

The Ruston Way waterfront will see limited development in the years to come. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the only major, public exception involves the parcel just southeast of Harbor Lights. In other words, the only decent “beach” along the entire stretch may be marked for death. With a mile of area to choose from, developers have set their sites on the best place for sunbathing, kayaking, beach combing, skipping rocks, walking dogs, etc. There is easy access to this beach from the sidewalk, complete with steps down, and even ample, free parking across the street. These jerks can drop a building somewhere else along this stretch. I say put your concrete and steel northwest of the restaurants, between Duke’s Chowder and Point Ruston. Anywhere but next to Harbor Lights..

Free, dumb, fair

No matter which side you’re on, I bet you’ll agree with me on this one. Fire & brimstone, sodomy, lesbopervs and their roles within the church do not paint a picture I want screamed in my face at the Freedom Fair. Did anyone else see the freak with the huge and inappropriate-for-children sign and the money toilet on his back? This guy was really pushing the limits of freedom of speech as I understand it.

Other than these isolated over-zealots spewing their cacophony, I was impressed with the “mellow” factor surrounding the Freedom Fair today (We were there 3 – 5pm). Cool crafts, clothing and culinary chaos reigned supreme down Ruston Way this afternoon, over a backdrop of live bands and performers. Tacoma showed a more attractive, diverse side of herself today in comparison with last weekend at Point Defiance. The Taste of Tacoma is really no such thing. There is actually a deficiency of true local Tacoma restaurants at the Taste; isn’t that what it’s supposed to be about?

The powers that be might want to take a close look at the way these events are marketed. FM radio stations and an isolated print ad in a newspaper aren’t gonna cut it. I find that event marketers in this town are narrow in their pursuits. Anybody else find that the Taste of Tacoma sneaks up on them every year?

Need more kayaks

Sailboats on Commencement Bay
Sailboats on Commencement Bay
The turnout was like the weather – less than ideal by most peoples’ judgment. To that, I say “BAH!” There was plenty going on from my perspective and if you didn’t make it out, bummer for you. If you live in Washington and can’t appreciate the weather last night, then please move to Florida NOW. Seriously, go on. The sailboats were out in force, nearly running us over on their way to the Tacoma-side buoys. I liked seeing the action up close as they switched their sail configurations to head back across Commencement Bay towards Browns Point and Northeast Tacoma where they began. Although there were sufficient winds for the sails, the water was the calmest I’d encountered in Commencement Bay. It was an eerie calm. In fact, you could’ve tried your hand waterskiing out there if you wanted. As the sailboats rounded the buoy and turned back, I saw a big seal pop up out of nowhere. It’s head was the same size as my dog’s. It bobbed around for a minute or so and then disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. Apparently, seals can hold their breath really well and they definitely do NOT come when you call em. I tried everything – whistles, kisses, all the usual dog-luring noises – no luck. While the seal chose to ignore me, the biggest barnacles I’ve ever seen had no choice but to entertain me.
Pilings on Commencement Bay
Pilings on Commencement Bay

The pilings that comprise all the deserted old docks along Ruston Way currently house barnacles the size of small eggs. Their beaks are the same size of those on small birds. When you touch a piling with a kayak paddle, they all recoil into their shells. Not only do they move a lot, but they make noise too. These giant barnacles live far down on the pilings, so they’re only exposed on low-tide. I tried to take several pictures of a single barnacle, but you can’t really utilize the camera zoom in a kayak. The constant movement resulted in me deleting 95% of my pics. Photography from a kayak is definitely a specialized skill, involving luck as much as anything. For a similar experience, take your camera and have someone give you a piggy back ride – try to take some closeup photos while riding piggy back and you’ll get the idea of what it’s like. I’m just glad I wasn’t dealing with real film, or last night would’ve been really expensive. So, in closing, Tacoma, I will definitely plan on seeing more of you next week. Things like this need time to build steam, I understand. Many are afraid of inclement weather, I understand. Those of you who were on the fence last night – you know who you are – you will eventually do the right thing and join us. Official turnout calculated by me: 25 sailboats, 2 kayaks, and a dozen walkers. Not bad for a gloomy night, but Tacoma can definitely do better.

Hey Tacoma: Kayaks vs. Wednesdays

THE TIME IS NOW. The weather couldn’t be better! Well.. sure it could. But that’s not the point here. Wednesday nights finally have something besides LOST associated with them. It is time for Tacoma residents to get out and do something on Wednesday nights. Especially those of you (like me) who have spent far too much time at home lately – this is your big chance! Get out, walk, run, paddle, sail, row, swim, skate, bike.. there must be something on that list that you do on occasion. Tacoma’s Ruston Way waterfront will be our destination this evening (as well as most Wednesdays in the near future). Hopefully the sailboats will be out in force so those of you that can’t quite make it onto the water will have something more interesting to watch than a few of us kayaks. Weeknights are much less hectic than the weekends on Ruston Way. Most of Tacoma waits for the weekend show-n-tell to head down, so parking and traffic will both be a breeze. Good luck. Safe travels. I’ll see ya if I see ya.