Fin Art & Kite Hill

My vote for best place to fly a kite in Seattle goes to Magnuson Park’s Kite Hill. My pal Sylvia and I took her dogs for a ramble there last week and explored a small part of this huge park as we watched kites swoop and dive through sunbeams overhead.

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Magnuson is Seattle’s second largest park; a sprawling, 350 acre urban delight along the northwestern shore of Lake Washington.

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As you ramble along leafy lanes, skirt glassy ponds, traverse lush wetlands and drift through wildflower meadows, it’s hard to believe that this land was once a tangle of concrete and tarmac brimming with runways and barracks. Up until the 1970s Sand Point peninsula was owned by the military and home to a huge naval airfield and military base, which at the height of WW2 covered 537 acres. Today, the northern tip of the peninsula houses NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the other 350 acres have been transformed into nature’s playground, bursting with wildflowers and teeming with wildlife. Kite Hill was constructed out of runway rubble, but to look at it today you’d never guess it.

Just past Kite Hill we found the Fin Project, a strikingly beautiful and moving artwork.

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Echoing the park’s naval past, the fins are diving plane fins from decommissioned US Navy attack submarines, but they are assembled to simulate the dorsal fins of a pod of Orca whales, or a school of salmon. The artwork’s tagline, “From Swords into Plowshares” is taken from the Old Testament – “and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” – and underscores the call for peace this installation conveys by recycling weapons into art.

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Doubling back along the shoreline, we found ourselves immersed in some of the park’s newer features; beautifully designed wetlands and shore ponds that provide a safe haven for all kinds of wildlife.

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We ate a picnic lunch and gazed at the mirror-like ponds until our reverie was interrupted by a rowdy group of ducklings out for a cruise with their parents, who churned the glassy waters into a frenzy of ripples.

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Further along we followed a trail through wildflower meadows…

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.. filled with covert birds hiding out amongst the blossoms…

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…before disappearing in a flutter of feathers.

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Our last stop was a hike up Kite Hill to watch the sun set. If I’d had a kite with me, I would have flown it.

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If you’re visiting Seattle, take a little break from city life and explore this fabulous park. Bring a picnic lunch. And a kite!

xxx Ailsa

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About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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22 Responses to Fin Art & Kite Hill

  1. Pat . says:

    Damn. I was at Sandpoint but I didn’t know about the park.
    I have a challenge for you on my blog: getting from A-Z with countries, towns, and cities, you have visited. I (almost) got everything except “X”. If anyone can, you can probably do X,Y, and Z!

  2. cyardin says:

    Looks like a great place Ailsa with beautiful sculpture and tranquil water features. Looks like you got some good light for your photos too.

    • ailsapm says:

      Hi Chris, all of these shots were evening shots so the light was nice and soft – Sylvia and I are disastrous about getting anywhere early, but we outdid ourselves that day. We were originally planning an early outing to the park – by the time we actually got there it was about 6pm. 🙂

  3. Loving the fin park sculpture.

  4. ledrakenoir says:

    So beautiful photos, excellent captured… 🙂

  5. Tish Farrell says:

    Love this. Your picnic outing really made me want to fly a kite too. The Fin Project is fantastic. It could have so many meanings. It made me think of a prehistoric avenue of standing stones as in Carnac, Brittany. Definitely a creation to think by.

    • ailsapm says:

      It actually did have an ancient monolithic feel to it as we walked through the lurching fins, Tish, you’re spot on in your observation. It really is the most appealing work on so many levels, I suspect it speaks to a great many people in very many ways! 🙂

  6. fgassette says:

    A very informative post on this wonderful place. Your beautiful photos gave vision to the experience. Love the fins and the tagline “From Swords into Plowshares”. We all long for peace in the world.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

  7. A big wild park like that, in a city – how fantastic! Seems you and the dogs had a terrific day. 🙂

  8. Kongo says:

    Great story and pictures.

  9. markd60 says:

    That’s my kind of place.

  10. Lucid Gypsy says:

    It’s absolutely gorgeous and what a great way to re-use a military base 🙂

  11. How wonderful that the military base was transformed into this beautiful park for people, plants, and wildlife! Great photos of a fun day.

  12. sarahep says:

    Nice, relaxing photos, just what I needed after a long day!

  13. Gunta says:

    I couldn’t think of a better use for an old military installation! How fantastic.

  14. These are fantastic! I love the road and the sky and the clouds and wow! All just fantastic!

  15. Ohh.. I love the fins. I really enjoyed reading this post.

  16. Sas says:

    I’m useless at flying kites, but the Fin Project looks great 🙂

  17. I’ve been WordPress incognito for much of the past three months and haven’t dropped by here in a good while. It’s good to be back. The park is beautiful, all the more so from its transformation. But your writing is the highlight, Ailsa. Wonderful commentary!

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