A little birdie reminded me that it’d been nearly nine months since she last saw family and since Mother’s Day is fast approaching and Mom hasn’t been feeling 100% lately, I felt the pull to drop in on them for an impromptu brief visit. You’d think it’d be easier to pull off, but they’re currently on the move up the northwest coast so I couldn’t be as sly as I wanted to be, so I called Kenny the week before to confirm their ETA into Seattle and coordinate my arrival. I found a really economical fare, but it required significant layovers in Denver and midnight arrival and departure. I’m really thankful for the flexibility my job provides as I was able to work as I traveled while spending lots of quality time with Mom and Kenny.
I arrived a little after 12am Wednesday to smiling faces and a quick commute to the KOA situated just a few miles from SEATAC. We planned an early start to the day, with a couple of conference calls as my first order of business, which allowed the old people to catch some extra ZZZs. Time zones allowed me to wrap up work by 9am local time and we set off to make our way downtown using mass transit. We opted to park at a nearby Link station to avoid city parking, but found that the early bird gets the commuter parking space. Much to Kenny’s chagrin we ended up heading downtown via Jeep (I as the chauffeur) and parked in a garage in the International/Chinatown District and taking the Link from there.
Even with the delayed start, we made the most of Wednesday covering a lot of downtown ground by Link, monorail and foot (uphill, both ways!). The Space Needle was our first stop after lunch and while the views were nice, construction limited some views – once it’s complete it should be awesome. Honestly… even with construction complete it still won’t hold a candle to its companion attraction – Chihuly Gardens. I’ve always been a fan of his work and exhibits so I was excited, but I think that Mom and Kenny were surprised at how impressive the artwork and exhibit was. It was definitely a highlight of the day and the trip. We wrapped up the day with a quick Amazon Go experience (walk in, grab your items, walk out and your receipt arrives via app a little later), a visit to Pike Place Market, including a view of the famous fish throwing, and happy hour dinner at Ivar’s.
Thursday we set out to be one of the early birds at the Link station and were successful. We headed downtown once again with clear purpose… coffee. Specifically, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I do appreciate the aromas and they are huge fans of Starbucks so it made sense in theory. In reality it was quite a trek (again – uphill, both ways) from the station, especially after all our trekking the day before, but it turned out to be worth the effort. Artisan food and coffee, ‘brewery’ atmosphere and craftsman/industrial décor made for a great experience. We filled up on food and drink, ready to tackle another day in the city with Pioneer Square and the Underground Tour our focus.
I’m not usually a fan of guided tours, but the Underground Tour exceeded my expectations and I would highly recommend it. In addition to the underground experience, the tour guide likely made the experience most enjoyable with her witty and humorous delivery of the history of Seattle including quips like ‘raisins in the oatmeal’ and ‘house of wandering affections’.
Our early start to the day allowed us to depart the city after the tour and head to the wineries in Woodinville. Several years ago I visited Chateau Ste. Michelle and wanted the old people to experience it and they willingly obliged. We enjoyed a casual lunch (with wine), a tour (with wine) and browsed their shop and grounds (with wine). We then hopped across the street to Columbia Winery hoping for a similar experience. Kenny did a tasting and reported the Chateau had set the bar too high and Columbia couldn’t meet it so we started the trek back home. Now is a good time to mention Seattle area traffic… less than ideal. That said, traffic that day did lead to something positive – a delicious meal of Mexican fare… I don’t remember where it was but I think the name was El Toredo.
Friday was another early start day… first with a couple of conference calls, then hitting the road to Mount Rainier. We arrived at Longmire around 11am and decided to grab lunch and browse the general store and museum before making the ascent to Paradise. The views along Paradise Road were impressive and we made several stops to enjoy them, including those at Paradise Inn where I was able to nab one of my favorite pics of the day. I’m not sure, though, whether the best part of the day was the views of the mountain or of Kenny gripping the grab handles as I was driving.
After a long day of driving, we retired to the RV for a nice steak dinner with wine (Chateau Ste. Michelle) and some relaxation before heading to the airport for my departure. The old people are great hosts!
All in all, it was a great week and I’m thankful for it. Thankful to Andy for supporting the last-minute decision, thankful Logan and Jordan are so self-sufficient when Mom travels, thankful for terrific hospitality and the fun we had, but mostly thankful for the example the old people are setting – living life to the fullest after working so hard for all those years. I often tease that they’re risk-averse but the reality is that they are true adventurers and many people their age wouldn’t think of doing the things they do. They are living their dream and loving what they do… truly something to aspire to. And while we miss them being in our daily lives, it’s a little easier knowing they are having the time of their lives.
So I’m back in St. Louis, and today Mom and Kenny are on the move again… to Lynden, Washington where they’ll do some exploring for a week and a half before heading off on an Alaskan cruise and land tour. I’m wishing them safe travels and good health until we see them in early October!