I didn’t plan any formal vacations for this summer. After the exhaustion that was our 2015 trip to Victoria, I thought a gap year between vacations was in order. I didn’t rule out another Canadian excursion, because I wasn’t sure if the begging to go back to Canada would ever stop (it subsided), but I was hoping to put our energy into house projects instead. Fast forward to the middle of July, when the Pacific Northwest has gotten a sum total of 3 days of summer, and I threw my hands up in disgust. If summer wasn’t coming, then we’d have to do something to make it feel like summer… And what, I ask you, feels more like summer than a road trip? So Sunday morning we embarked on a nearly 3 hour drive to Leavenworth, WA, a cute little tourist trap in the north Cascades decorated to look like an Alpine Bavarian village.
By chance or circumstance or happenstance, our last minute plans were crashed by a last minute friend, making the trip that much more summery. We caravanned our two Subarus up and into the mountains, flanked left and right by other Subarus.
When we arrived in the small town, we had to find parking, which was not easy to do. We lucked into an open parallel street spot, and my husband’s exact words were, “I’m glad you’re driving because I could not do this.” My husband and I are two very different people with very different skill sets, but the one thing that I can do that he can’t that surprises me the most is parallel park. I will say that I’m never happy about parallel parking, and it always makes me nervous, especially when there are cars in the street behind me, as there were Sunday. But, aided by the fact that the truck that exited the spot was the size of a tank, I quickly executed the most beautiful parallel parking job that surely has ever been seen. We didn’t even have to walk to the curb! I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture.
After a lengthy wait time on lunch and a few stops in shops along the main road, it was somehow time to go. We were trying to make our way to mini golf for the kids, but our propensity for shopping multiplied by the quantity of shops equaled a day. Or at least the part of the day that is available in the middle of two three-hour drives. Still, the day fit the summer bill. There was driving. There was a cooler. I went somewhere I’d never been before, and I got to spend time with family and friends.
On the way home, Sonja fell asleep in the car early on, but then startled awake about 20 minutes later saying she needed to go potty. She’s really good at holding it for a four-year-old, but we were in the middle of nowhere and I could hear the urgency in her request. So we made our first ever pit stop along the side of the road. I ran her down a small but steep hill into the grass and let her do her business. When we got back to the car, Shaun said, “next time, just open both car doors and let her go in between.” I, having never to my recollection had to stop and pee on the side of the road, had no idea there was a protocol. So not only was the stop educational for me, but Sonja says that, “peeing in the grass” was her favorite part of the trip. Who needs German town when you can urinate on the side of a mountain highway?
For the record, she says her other favorite parts were riding in the stroller (her friend’s, because we gave up on trying to get her into the stroller years ago), and buying a stuffed animal at one of the toy stores (the propensity for shopping lives on.) She also said, in the unique hyperbolic way she has, that it was the best day ever and she was so glad we took our vacation in Leavenworth.
When we were almost home, we stopped at Taco Time for dinner. Before entering the restaurant, Shaun and I both paused. He said he wasn’t sure it was a good idea, and I agreed. The last time we ended a vacation at a Taco Time (albeit a really bad one in Oregon), Shaun was laid off from his job and we had a terrible drive followed by several terrible months. Of course, this was Sunday night and such news was surely not coming right then, so we bravely and without prejudice ate our tacos and mexi-fries. And I’m happy to note that on Monday morning he got a promotion, and my class, which had been teetering on the brink of cancellation due to low enrollment, was picked up. So it turned out to be the perfect way to end the vacation.
There are still no plans for any formal vacations this year, but I think it would be nice, possibly even preferable, to do another day trip or two before fall sets in. The sheer amount of planning I do for, let’s say a two-night stay in Victoria, and the ensuing disappointment when said plans are not fully realized, is enough stress for an entire summer. This trip required virtually no planning, was unencumbered by preconceived notions of how it should go, and was still fun. Yes indeed, let’s do that several more times and call it a perfect summer.
Friends. These two were so well-behaved for such a long and tiring day that was not geared towards children.