Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Aparkolypse: Haines Wharf Park

One of the newest places on our tour, Haines Wharf Park has the most interesting integrated play feature of all the parks we've been to. Long a place where motorists could pull over and check out the Puget Sound (and the not-as-scenic remnants of Haines Wharf), the city of Edmonds decided to carve a park into the hillside. At last, the well-to-do residents of the neighborhood have a slightly closer place to rest on their power walks and take their grandchildren for a few minutes.

History (since that's what you care about in reading a blog about parks with playgrounds)

As a bird-shattacked display at the bottom of the park informs us, the Haines family operated the wharf from 1939 to the 1970s, a vibrant part of the Meadowdale neighborhood fishing industry. The City of Edmonds also debated whether they were going to name the park after longtime community activist Del Caryl, who served as librarian for Edmonds Community College for 27 years and wrote a "delightfully unscholarly" history of Meadowdale in a book called Angels to the Rear: An Informal Portrait of Early Meadowdale. Team Haines won the park naming debate, but the council decided to honor Caryl with a plaque. All of this is in accordance with the city's park naming policy since we were cool enough to look that up.


We had driven by this place many times taking the "scenic way" to Granny and Grandpa's place and given little consideration to stopping here, which is probably fairly descriptive of most people in the area. Just few parking spots are carved out in the side of 75th Pl W, so it's really intended for foot traffic from the neighborhood. Scattered throughout the park are several benches. A couple of picnic tables are located on a platform just beneath the viewing scope. Down the stairs you'll find a water fountain and portable toilets.

If you can identify the vegetation growing in the hillside, please let us know.


We'll start with the underwhelming: the climbing toys are weird and Erector Set-esque, favored by municipalities trying to look cool (and failing). Perhaps you'll wonder with us why there are three large flat rocks with flag pole holders sticking out of them. There isn't much to the grassy area, but again, this is a small park where there could easily be nothing.

Our kids like the three kinds of swings (baby, toddler, and standard), but was really cool was the slide. The Living Landscape Architecture blog did its own review of the park, informing us that the slide is 21' long. The boulders are shaped into stairs going to the top, proving a natural look to one of the coolest-looking features of any of the parks we visited.


Haines Wharf Park is really a tiny neighborhood spot close to a lot of bigger, more various-use facilities (Lynndale Park, Meadowdale Beach Park, Seaview Park, and Sierra Park are all within single-digit minutes, not to mention the various Meadowdale schools and their amenities). It's a pleasant little distraction tucked away along the shore, worth a visit if you happen to be around or you're writing a blog about all of the parks with playgrounds in the area.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Aparkolypse 2015: Ravenna Park

We feel claustrophobic and overrated by just writing about another place in the City of Seattle, but duty compels us to continue on in coverage of our park tour. Just north of University of Washington campus is Ravenna Park, another delightful oasis in Seattle's hellscape. Ravenna Park hits all of our most important checklist items for a good park: aesthetic quality, attractive and useful playground, multiple options for play, and non-Saw bathrooms.


The park's official website offers a full geological/topographical memoir of the region, including the cheerful tidbit, "If Ravenna seems a leafy paradise now, it is only a weed patch compared with the magnificent forest it once was. Even after the original logging craze had leveled most of the virgin timber in the Seattle area, Ravenna had been saved as a haven for fir and cedar giants." We also learn of the European origins of the neighborhood's name: "W. W. Beck, the realtor who bought the land in 1887, was ecstatic when wandering among these trees. He named the place 'Ravenna' after an Italian seacoast town that was famous for its pine trees, where poets, warriors, and statesmen once strolled in a state of euphoria similar to his own."


Ravenna Park is a place you can either make a quick trip to or spend a big chunk of the day with your group. A fact that will surprise those familiar with Seattle: the actual parking area is difficult to find and has terrible accommodations. Carpooling is strongly recommended as is anticipating that you'll park somewhere else, which you'll have to be cautious of since Seattle loves its permit parking in residential areas. Decent bathrooms and a stylish drinking fountain are right by the playground.

Wading Pool

At our visit, the wading pool wasn't available and hasn't been for a while due to budget considerations. So if you see it open, enjoy and get back to us how it went. The rules on its website make half-hearted attempts at whimsy.

Hiking Trails

Fairly tame trails 4.5 miles in length curl throughout the park (and neighboring Cowen Park), which you can navigate via this map. The part we walked was quite pretty and mostly very gentle, though there are some more challenging options available.

Picnic Area

Ravenna Park has has a reservable picnic shelter (see pics here) and has scattered picnic tables throughout the property, even in the outfield of the baseball field (see the next section).

Sport Fields

Tennis courts and a baseball/softball field are available for reservation. They're about the quality one would expect from a public city facility, but they're there if you need them.

Play Area

Our personal favorite: a giant sand pit that we didn't plan for! Our kids forsook the cool play area and spent their time filthying themselves up. Swings? Slides? Bridge? Nah - we can play with toddler toys in the sand, Dad. Sadly we were unprepared for the chess/checker board too.

The playground is cool and there is a wide open space right nearby, plenty of room to run and play with balls. But why do any of those fun things when you can fill your shoes with sand and gripe about it for the next few weeks?


Our sarcastic take on the play area aside, Ravenna Park is great. We very much enjoyed our hike and the play area. If you have the misfortune of being or (gasp) living in Seattle, we recommend you come by and enjoy.