Eating clam chowder at one of Seattle’s best spots near Pike’s Place. We didn’t know that — and we were eating early so there was no crowd. It was only after I sat down with my chowder that I realized there was suddenly a line snaking out the door. Also near Pike’s Place: fresh donuts, hot off the grill. An octopus sitting in ice at a fish store. Beautiful heirloom tomatoes. Mmm….
Going to the top of the Space Needle. Yes, it was rainy, but the kids still thought it was cool. Of course, they also thought the elevators in the Embassy Suites later on were pretty cool, too. You’d think my 6-year-old didn’t spend the first 4 years of his life living in a Manhattan high-rise riding elevators multiple times per day.
Getting to meet blogger Anandi (House of Peanut), and her adorable children, in person during a trip to Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. We saw lions prowling around their exhibit, and got to see an elephant getting a bath.
Going on a boat ride with some friends around Mercer Island. The owner of the boat let my two boys “drive” for a minute, at which point he picked up the speed and my toddler started howling. Much concern. Was the wind bothering her? The cold? Nope — she saw her brothers taking the wheel and she wanted a turn, too. So the captain gamely sat there with a 20-month-old on his lap as she steered us up toward the freeway bridge.
Spending the solstice somewhere where it was light from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Finishing the Seattle Rock n Roll half-marathon. My time wasn’t great (2:22 — I’d done 2:19 in Philly 7 months before) but at least it was sunny, clear, and 70 degrees. It was perfect running weather. We could see Mt. Rainier better than we could later on when we were on the slope! I ran the first 10 miles with my husband before he decided to speed up for the finish. Our nanny (she came along — a highlight in its own right!) was standing with our children about a quarter mile from the finish line. It was so motivational coming up that last hill to hear the kids shouting “Mommy!” Of course, they weren’t so clear on the concept of competing against your own times. My 3-year-old asked before the race if we were going to win.
Staying in a friend’s beautiful beach house on Bainbridge Island with views of Seattle and the mountains. We did long walks ambling along the beach (when it appeared — dramatic tides!) looking at crabs and clam shells. We also went canoeing with the older kids.
I spent a lovely few morning hours before people woke up (multiple days) working on my novel. The good thing about traveling westward is that the time change makes me a real morning person. It’s amazing what you can get done before breakfast. Someone should write a book about that 🙂
At the Bainbridge Art Museum, my 6-year-old got to quiz children’s book illustrator Barbara Helen Berger about how she made her pictures. The answer — which involves water color and colored pencil — sounds like it might be doable as a home project for us.
On the Olympic Peninsula, we hiked in the Hoh Rain Forest. The kids did very well on two short hikes (0.8 miles and 1.2 miles) and the Sitka spruces and dangling mosses were utterly fantastical. We got a photo of all of us trying to put our arms around a giant spruce. We also found out why many giant spruces appear to have gaping holes at the bottom with their roots branching out. They start growing on fallen trees (“nurse logs”), sending their roots down around the old trunk. Eventually the old tree rots away, leaving that space.
I got a kick out of all the Twilight related signs and stores in Forks, Washington, which is an old logging town turned into a teen vampire destination. It was fascinating to see how a book series (well, and the movies) can draw visitors to a region. That’s a new source of cash in an area that’s continuing the old battle over logging vs. preservation. We saw lots of signs saying “Working forests = Working families.” And some pretty ugly clear cut tracts.
We had lunch sitting in a restaurant on the Pacific Ocean off Highway 101: clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. Unfortunately, the beach was too cold and rainy to stay on long, but the view was powerful: cliffs, and huge logs from fallen trees washed out toward the sea.
Lake Quinault Lodge has a very well-heated indoor pool. This was nice when it rained a lot. The kids were good troopers when we got caught in a downpour during a hike in the Quinault Rain Forest.
We stayed at Paradise Inn in Mt. Rainier National Park, which was up high enough that there was still snow everywhere. My kids found it incredible to be able to walk on snow on June 26 and June 27. I spent some time early one morning snuggling with my two little boys in a cozy bed, looking out at the snow. That was strange past the summer solstice, but very special to experience. We talked to some of the hikers who were headed up to the summit of Mt. Rainier, and studied their crampons and other gear.
Embassy Suites have pools, two room suites with fold-out beds, included breakfast, and free drinks during happy hour with — key for the kids — popcorn and other snacks. My kids were honestly just as happy staying in the hotel near the airport as they were seeing the mountains, coastline, and temperate rainforest. At least they were well-rested and fed before what turned into a very, very long flight home. But I’ll try not to have that be my take-away from vacation!
Photo: Snow outside the window, on the morning of June 27 at Paradise Inn, Mt. Rainier National Park