Sea/Sun/Sky-attle

Still discombobulated from the previous week’s flurry of activity, we flew back to the Pacific Northwest eager to join our friends in Seattle.  Twice before we had made plans to spend time with them at their gorgeous house on Lake Washington, and both plans had been thwarted at the last minute by illness.  Fortunately no wayward bugs this time around, and we lumbered our beastly rig up into their golf course neighborhood on a stunning Friday afternoon.  The only uncertainty that remained at this point was whether we would actually be able to maneuver into their driveway.  My friend had made rough measurements which indicated that we’d make it, but you never know about the angles, the slope, or the vertical obstacles, all of which had bitten us in the past.  His measurements were good though, and I squeaked Davista down and into place in front of their garage.  Let the recreation begin!

Here’s the setting.  Imagine waking up to this view every morning.  “But wait, isn’t it always raining in Seattle?” you say.  Yes, absolutely.  Especially in the summer.  Every day.  Whatever you do, don’t move there. 

Our arrival was a bit late in the day for watersports, but we knew there was plenty of that on tap for the weekend, so dug into the first of several tasty outdoors meals instead while the kids got reacquainted.  Their two sons are the same age as Keeper and Firebolt.  In fact, we took a trip to Tuscany with them back when Keeper and their oldest were just over two months old (they were born two weeks apart).

Summer days are long, but summer days in Washington are even longer, and the wine and conversation stretched well into the evening as the sun didn’t set until well after 9PM.

The following day was Seafair day, Seafair being an annual August festival that centers on Lake Washington and peaks with boat races and an airshow.  It’s quite the floating party, with the best airshow viewing location by far being Lake Washington’s center, where a giant, morphing raft of loosely connected boats bob and drift and their occupants jump in and out of the water.  Water fights tend to spring up frequently as well, and our kids spent some time building up their arsenal. 

First, though, some pre-airshow tubing.  The girls were less interested in getting bounced around on the water, so we took the boys out early.  Probably safe to say they enjoyed themselves.  “Flossing” is even trickier when you’re doing it on a speeding tube, “dabbing” less so.

After returning to the dock and packing up our gear we headed to Seafair central, where a couple more families (friends of our friends) were already anchored and in full celebration mode.  After a few unsuccessful attempts to set our own anchor in the deep water, we tied up to their boat instead, unrolled the floating “party island” and got busy enjoying the day.

Quick Seattle geography digression.  Everyone knows that Seattle is on the water, but some likely don’t appreciate the full diversity of its waterfronts and waterways. 

Essentially it sits on a strip of land between Puget Sound and Lake Washington.  Puget Sound is a large inlet of the Pacific Ocean carved out by glaciers, which left it with countless islands, canals, and passageways.  On the western side of Puget Sound lie several islands and the Kitsap Peninsula, and beyond that, the Olympic Peninsula, with its year-round snow-capped peaks.  To the east, the equally jagged and glacier-dotted Cascades run the length of the state from north to south.  When you see the area from the air, it essentially looks like a maze of waterways sandwiched between the two snowy mountain ranges.  It’s easy to think that they’re all saltwater since they’re all connected.  But Lake Washington is entirely freshwater, fed by the Cascades’ snowmelt.  Lake Washington feeds into Lake Union, which is right in the center of Seattle, and then to the Sound via a series of locks which bring the water down to sea level, as well as regulating the level of the lakes. 

Here’s the point of all that, or at least a point – the perception of Seattle is that the water is too cold to swim in, and that’s true of the Sound.  The lakes, however, are pristine, fresh, and warm up nicely in the summer.  Perfect for swimming and playing.  Best of all worlds.

This being the third time we had seen a Blue Angel show, the novelty had largely worn off, and it was tough to get the kids too enthused about it.  But the water fights and general good cheer more than overcame any airshow ambivalence they were fostering. 

It was more or less a perfect day, capped off by another lakeside dinner and some sunset waterplay. 

Though we opted to depart Sunday afternoon due to our friends having commitments the following morning, we managed to get another tubing run in that morning, with my getting talked into joining my friend and his younger son on the tube.  My initial hesitation sprung from my not finding tubing especially exciting, but evidently that is entirely driver-dependent, as I would soon discover.  We got flipped around like rag dolls back there.  I didn’t know my face could do that.

The ride culminated in this spectacular spill.  Evidently I was in the “lucky” seat.

No one hurt, but we did decide to cut our losses while we were still laughing and get back into the boat.

I think my favorite part of a weekend that was one long highlight was watching the kids play together.  It’s been awhile, but I know that I’ve mentioned one of my overarching concerns about this trip was the lack of “play with other kids” time that we’ve been able to provide for ours.  Their kids are not only close in age to ours, but also close in temperament.  I have the feeling that if they lived near to each other they would become lifelong friends.

That would seem to lead to an argument for considering Seattle, more specifically their area of Seattle (which is actually Kenmore) as an ultimate destination.  Schools are good, we know we love Seattle, there’s an airport nearby and good recreation around…. But of course it’s never that simple.  Seattle of late has gone through a real estate boom that is comparable to the one in California’s Bay Area.  Houses get snapped off the market within days, at prices higher than the asking price.  Which means that we can’t afford it. 

This is not to say that we would live in Seattle if it weren’t for the cost.  We’ve considered it during our brainstorming sessions several times, and it always comes in high on our list.  But the final analysis we’re drawn to smaller towns – traffic drives Tacco batty, and to an extent I agree.  We both want fewer people around.

It’s not ruled out of course… nothing is really.  But we left in a melancholy mood after enjoying ourselves so thoroughly.  The kids connected deeply within 2 days, and we’re pulling them back onto the road and pushing their rediscovered friends back to “hey let’s play Fortnite together sometime” status.  

We did have a little fun with photography before departing.  There are a couple classic pictures of the two oldest kids (and some of the adults) from our Tuscany trip 12 years ago, so we decided to re-create them.  Did a decent job, too, though we couldn’t quite get them into Baby Bjorns.

Ultimately, yet another highlight, leaving us with much more to reflect upon as we head north back to Anacortes, where it all began.

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