We decided to embark on a mini-adventure this past weekend. The inspiration came from our tickets to the Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn show in Bremerton, and rather than squeeze 3 hours of driving and a concert into one night, we packed up the kids and made a quick vacation out of it. Luckily both the weather and kids cooperated and we had a short and sweet trip.
The ferry system in the Puget Sound region is pretty top-notch. Aside for some long lines on busy days, it’s an efficient system that is almost always on time. We hopped a boat after the big one got out of school and made it across the Sound in an hour. The kids got to run around and have some snacks, and we saw some beautiful scenery along the way. The nice thing about Bremerton is that the core of the city is right off of the ferry terminal, so we were at our hotel in minutes, just in time for dinner. We sampled food from both The Curry and El Balcon, and everything was delicious. The kids enjoyed a movie and Joe and I saw an incredible show at the Admiral Theatre.
The next morning we walked around the city and read about Bremerton’s rich Naval history. Just about everywhere we looked, we found some sort of water feature on display. Seriously, there were fountains everywhere. The best by far were at the Harborside Fountain Park. Five nautical themed fountains surrounded by shallow pools with choreographed eruptions of water from the top of them. The park itself had beautiful gardens and fun rock sculptures to play on, we ended up spending the whole morning having fun there!
We wrapped up our time on the Kitsap Peninsula with a visit to one of our favorite summer hangouts, the Kitsap Live Steamers. These are model trains on steroids, run by volunteers every other Saturday. The rides are free and they are supported by donations from the public. The track runs through the forest and is actually quite nice, even though I sometimes feel kind of silly when I realize that I am an adult riding on a giant toy train. But kids absolutely love it, and there is always a line of excited tots waiting to jump aboard. Adjacent to the depot is a large field and playground, plus several trails through the forest. Great for a picnic and an afternoon of train rides, hiking, and climbing!
Spring has officially sprung, and that means that an explosion of color is upon us courtesy of Mother Nature. As a reward for the months of bleary, foggy weather, the pacific northwest comes alive with all kinds of gorgeous foliage when the sun returns each Spring. My favorite, you ask? That would have to be the tulips. And no place around here does tulips like the Skagit Valley.
About an hour or two north of Seattle, the Skagit Valley region celebrates their abundant tulip crops with a month-long festival each April. On a nice day, traffic can get kind of nutty, and it becomes a slow-moving parade past the many colorful fields. You can stop and walk through the rows of flowers and enjoy some great photo-ops. Just remember your boots, it gets muddy! Most of the fields are free of charge, but some farms have more elaborate displays and charge an entrance fee.
One favorite that we visit each year is Tulip Town. They have some indoor activities and a tractor ride through the fields, which even the little one sat still for. The nice thing about this field is that it’s kind of a one-stop-shop for the tulip festival. This is nice when your kids have an attention span that is over in the blink of an eye. You can see a bunch of displays, grab a gift, order tulip bulbs, fly a kite, run through fields, get your face painted, and eat ice cream. The kids were enjoying it so much, Joe and I even had a few minutes to chat and take a quick picture.
For city-folk like us, the tulip festival is a great day-trip that we look forward to each year. There are a few breweries nearby as well, and we grabbed lunch at the La Conner Brewing Company. I’m not sure I would go back as it was kind of expensive, but it did the trick and filled everyone up before heading out to the fields.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival. Luckily, the bulbs I purchased and planted last year are once again blooming nicely in my yard. It’s a lovely reminder of a fun time with my family, and encourages all of us to take a moment to stop and smell the tulips.
Clearly there has been some absenteeism here. I apologize for that, I promise it won’t happen again! I won’t bore you with the details, but the combination of our au pair’s arrival (more on that another time), our entire house contracting the hand, foot, and mouth virus, and my going back to school/work has been a tad time consuming.
Since schools around here seem to close every six weeks or so for some type of “break”, the big one is home for a while and enjoying every second of it. I wanted to take advantage of both kids being home on a sunny day, so I packed a picnic and carted the boys to Cascade Playground in the booming South Lake Union neighborhood. I was lucky to find parking in a 2-hr spot across from the park, but most of the spaces nearby are 10-hr spots that are full all day.
Despite being much colder than I anticipated, the park was a blast! We were greeted with a blueprint for the hot lava survival game. This was awesome for two reasons: 1) The big one and his friend talked for years about having a band called Hot Lava. 2) It kept the kids moving and happy without me having to think up a game.
Because it was so frigid there were no other kids to play with, which was just as well because the little one has developed a knack for effectively being the slowest slider at any given playground. This usually pisses off the other kids waiting to hurtle themselves down the slide at 1,000 mph so they try to push past him and toddler fists fly, because NO ONE gets past the little one when he is challenging gravity.
Because every younger sibling has to do exactly what their older sibling is doing the little one naturally wanted to dig in the sandbox. But because he has wee little arms and wee little legs he can never quite reach. Luckily the planners here incorporated an accessible digger that even the little one could use.
Cascade Playground…age appropriate play equipment, a community garden, bathrooms, a large playfield, so many places to eat nearby, and games about hot lava. It’s enough to make anyone smile!