What I Did on My Summer Vacation

My parents spent the last week visiting Paul and I. It was a vacation for everyone – them to a cooler climate, Paul and I from work. August is a great time to visit Washington. The weather’s warm and the sun is shining, we get a break from our trademark rain and everyone can get outside.

I picked Mom and Dad up from the airport on a sunny Saturday afternoon. We drove north, passing through Seattle and ending up in Everett for a lunch of fish and chips at Ivar’s (side note, Ivar’s has the most fabulous fish and chips that I believe exist in the entire world. Delicious!). Then we made our way back to my house so they could unpack. Paul got home from work and grilled hamburgers for everyone, which we ate along with chips and watermelon slices in the backyard. As the sun set, Paul built a fire in our fire pit and we roasted marshmallows for s’mores.

Sunday we decided to spend downtown in Seattle. Our first stop was Agua Verde Paddle Club for a light Mexican lunch. Paul and I like Agua Verde both for its food and the kayak rentals offered there. After lunch we went over to the Ballard locks (officially known as the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks). The locks were built as a way to link Puget Sound with Lake Washington. Boats from the lake enter into the locks and are lowered as much as twenty-six feet to be even with the Sound, and boats from the sound rise up to the lake. The grounds are beautiful, too. Leading up to the locks is the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden, which was beautiful with all the blooming flowers as we walked through. 

After the locks we went up to Kerry Park, which looks back on Seattle and also gives a great view of the ferry boats leaving and coming into Seattle from Bainbridge Island and Bremerton. We sat awhile in the late afternoon sun, then decided it was time to pick up things for dinner and head home. We stopped first at Pinkabella Cupcakes at the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood to pick up some cupcakes for our dessert, then went on to Central Market in Mill Creek for steaks. Paul makes the best espresso-rubbed filets that I’ve ever eaten, and they’re a huge treat for us. He made them for my parents last year when they visited and my mom confided that she had wished for steaks again. Back at home, Paul prepared the dinners, along with mojitos to drink. The meal was the perfect end to a wonderful day.

On Monday, we all piled into Paul’s Chrysler Aspen (it’s huge!) for a trip around the Olympic Peninsula. We took the ferry boat from Edmonds to Kingston, then had lunch at a very crowded Subway in Port Angeles and drove over to Lake Crescent for a hike to Marymere Falls. The hike back to the falls is beautiful. The trail is shaded by the tall trees all around it and the ground is covered with gigantic ferns and other plants growing free. We came to a clearing where a stream ran by, and Mom, Dad, and Paul gathered stones to skip rocks along the stream. 

                                                 Mom, Dad, and I at the stream

We continued on up to the falls, and it was beautiful! We stood for a long time, admiring the water cascading down, feeling the spray on our faces. 

We got back to the car and continued on our drive around the peninsula. We went through the Twilight-made-famous Forks, WA (none of us had read the books, so we weren’t all that excited) and then stumbled upon Ruby Beach. The name sounded familiar and I was pretty sure I’d been there before. As we walked down the cliff to the sand we confirmed it: Paul and I had been to Ruby Beach back in 2009, when we came to the peninsula on vacation. Back then it had been gray out, threatening rain, but this time it was sunny, clear, and beautiful. We walked across the sand, admiring the beach. Paul snapped photos as we went along. 

Ruby Beach was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Already I can’t wait to go back. 

Tuesday, everyone was a little tired from our adventures on the peninsula, so we packed a picnic lunch and drove to Lake Padden near Bellingham. It’s a great place to relax with a book, take a walk (we walked around the entire lake), or swim. The weather was fantastic again, sunny and warm. We set out chairs and towels on the grassy shore, under a tree for shade, and read into the afternoon. After our walk, we decided ice cream sounded good, so we gathered our things and drove into town for some Dairy Queen. 

We were so close to the Canadian border, Paul and I couldn’t resist driving up to the Peace Arch to show my parents the pretty gardens around the border crossing. We wandered around, Dad snapping photos of the Peace Arch and Mom pointing out to me the names of the different flowers. I’ve been to Canada, but I’d never actually taken that much time to explore the park. Now I realize how beautiful it is. 

On Wednesday, we saw history.

I’d gotten tickets for us to
go to the Mariners game with my cousins, so that my dad could see some of his extended family. I adore my cousins, and we all love baseball, so it was a perfect activity to share. Paul and I like to park at Pacific Place and walk to the stadium, which worked out great this time because we got into Seattle early and walked with Mom and Dad down to Pike Place Market. The market is famous for its fish throwers, and it also has great fresh locally grown produce and other things. I love wandering through the market and discovering all the different things at each stall. Paul bought a bag of freshly made mini donuts, still warm. We ate those along with fresh fruit as we looked out over the water. 

From the market we walked through the city to Safeco Field, where we met up with my cousins. We found our seats, got our hot dogs and sodas, and relaxed for a game in the afternoon sun. Since it was a Wednesday, the seats around us stayed fairly empty for the whole game, and it was warm with just enough breeze to keep us from getting too hot. 

Anyone who follows baseball knows the rest: Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez pitched the first perfect game in Mariners history, the 23rd perfect game in baseball history. And we were there. We got to see it. Around the eighth inning, the energy in the stands hit an all-time high in my experience. Everyone was on their feet, clapping, cheering. And when the final pitch was thrown, the final out was called, there was an eruption of cheers and excited noise. I was grinning from ear to ear. Getting to witness the moment, surrounded by people I loved, was beyond anything I’d expected for the day.

Thursday promised to be the hottest day of the year on record in the Seattle area…well, until Friday, that is. Paul had to go back to work, so Mom, Dad, and I headed down to have lunch and get away from the heat at the Kirkland waterfront. We discovered this great place called George’s, that I will definitely be back to. Our food was delicious and the portions were more than generous. We ate and then sat on a bench looking out over Lake Washington until it got too hot to be in the sun, then we headed back to the car. I stopped at Lighthouse Park, which is in Mukilteo by the ferry terminal. We stood by the seawall for awhile, watching the ferry boats load and unload (and enjoying the sight of a seal frolicking in the waters!) and then Mom found us a bench in the shade. It was too perfect. We sat there, nice and cool, occasionally seeing the seal, watching some divers get suited up, and laughing at a couple that kept trying to get their reluctant dog into the water.

Friday was just as hot as promised, so we decided it was a good day to do some shopping. We had lunch at Bellevue Square and browsed the stores, then made our way back north to Marysville. We cooled off further with Blizzards from Dairy Queen, then ventured over to Tulalip Casino. We are used to the casinos in Vegas, so Tulalip was a bit smoky for us, but we stuck around to play for awhile. Dad gave me a twenty-dollar bill to play with, and I had pretty good luck on a penny machine and cashed out at fifty dollars. I gave Dad back his twenty, put five more dollars into the slot machine (which I promptly lost) and kept the remaining twenty-five. After gambling, we went home to clean up and get ready for dinner at Anthony’s. As soon as Paul got home from work, we were off. Anthony’s is my favorite seafood restaurant in the Northwest and probably my favorite restaurant in the Northwest of any kind. It was peach season at Anthony’s. I got a peach Cosmo and a peach salad to start, Mom and Dad sipped peach iced tea, and Paul had a peachy drop (like a lemon drop, only with peaches). For dinner we had halibut, which was perfection. Even though everyone was full, we ordered and managed to eat our entire desserts (key lime pie for Mom and me, Bailey’s chocolate mousse for Dad, and peach ice cream for Paul). We went home and I’m not sure if I slept or lapsed into a food coma.

Saturday came all too soon and it was time for Mom and Dad to go home. We all went to Starbucks, where we sipped coffee and talked until Paul had to leave for work. Then Mom, Dad, and I loaded up and drove to Tacoma for one last visit with my cousins, as well as my aunt. We all met at BJ’s Brewery for lunch and catching up, then we headed to the airport. I dropped off Mom and Dad, and after many hugs, thank-yous, and love-yous, I pulled into traffic and made my way north.

I got to revisit the airport much sooner than I anticipated: when I was just about into Seattle, I noticed Dad’s sunglasses sitting in my cupholder. Luckily I was able to reach him by cell as I got turned around, and I swung back into the airport so he wouldn’t have to leave without his glasses. We hugged again, and this time I merged into traffic and drove home.

I had a fantastic week with my parents and I love it when they come to visit me. They treated Paul and I to many meals, snacks, and activities, and I really appreciate that. We had a week full of fun and I have tons of great memories now. I love living in the Northwest, and I like showing my parents some of what makes this place so special to me.

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