My mother always wanted to travel when she retired, but by the time she was financially able to leave her job, her disabilities prevented independent travel. She still drives all over the city of Seattle, chauffeuring friends and acquaintances who are unable to drive. She has excellent internal navigation skills (no GPS needed!) and has probably driven every street and alleyway in the city. She knows all the shortcuts and all the back streets, and given Seattle's hilly topography, there are lots of circuitous connections only she and a handful of locals seem to know.
My mom lives for daytrips with me at the wheel and her navigating and directing the itinerary. One trip she'd planned for this summer had us driving north of Seattle, taking a ferry to Whidbey Island, driving the length of the island and crossing a bridge over a deep gorge at the top end (see photo above) back to the mainland, and meandering back toward Seattle through the fertile Skagit Valley (famous for tulips and field crops).
Come along with us for the day!
Almost 20 years ago I brought my stepdaughter and my cousin's daughters here to play. The play equipment was rebuilt a few years ago (wood doesn't last long in our damp climate), and thankfully the replacement structure is just as amazing as the original.
We had a picnic lunch and the girls returned to the playground for another half hour while Grammy remained at the picnic table enjoying the fresh air. Above you can see Little K waving to Grammy from the play structure.
Checking in on Grammy I see that she has created a new food combination: chocolate brownie sandwiched between corn tortilla chips. The combo of gooey sweet and crunchy salty was delicious, I must admit.
Leaving the playground we drove north to the Keystone ferry landing on the West side of the island. We didn't take the ferry you see headed to Pt. Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula, but just wanted to give the girls a little "beach time."
Puget Sound (the body of water that connects us to the Pacific Ocean) was socked in with fog, and it was fun to watch the ferries magically appear and disappear. They blew their fog horns repeatedly and we could hear their engines long before we could see them.
Next on Grammy's agenda was finding the saltwater swimming lagoon and wading pool at Windjammer park in the town of Oak Harbor. On her lap Grammy had a sheaf of newspaper clippings spanning several years, and this park had been written up several years ago as a fun place to visit in the summer. Grammy keeps multiple files of "fun things to do with the grandkids," and is always excited when we actually get around to visiting the places she's read about and been eager to visit. Unfortunately when we arrived at the park we found the water areas closed due to budget cuts. This sometimes happens when Grammy directs us to places of interest from her "file" of newspaper clippings. The businesses have folded, the exhibits long gone, or the parks closed. When she mentioned the next fun item on the agenda, I whipped out my iPad and double checked that it was still in operation.
The next stop was a farm store with hedge and rope mazes. According to my iPad they stopped selling tickets in 25 minutes, closed an hour after that, and we were 30 minutes away by car. We decided to "go for it" and we arrived just in time.
I adore hedge mazes, and this was a beautiful one. If you look closely in the photo above you can see Grammy in her red shirt sitting at a picnic table, watching for us to appear on the platform in the middle of the maze. I was first to arrive.
Before getting in the car to leave (we were the last ones to go) the girls ran through the rope maze. In the distance a summer storm was brewing, and lightning strikes flashed in the mountains.
On our way back to the city we stopped at the Old Spaghetti Factory in a northern suburb. It is a favorite inexpensive dinner place that we often go to when we are out with Grammy. The meals are so large that there are ample leftovers which we can enjoy for lunch the next day. Dinner for 4 = about $50.00.
As we headed home a lovely sunset capped off our day. We treasure our adventures with Grammy, and know that she enjoys them, too.