After three lovely relaxing weeks with Cath and family in the white, clipped, sedate suburbs of Carlsbad, California, the children and I followed Mark up to Seattle. We spent the first three nights in a motel (with a kitchen dating back to the 60s) in the heart of the university district. It was groovy man! Our first stop was a cafe called Sureshot, named after the vintage pinball machine in the back room. Thrashy music was playing, students were bent over books and laptops, original art was on the walls. Pity the coffee was no better than anywhere else in Seattle, the proud home of Starbucks.
Instead of checking out the funky shops, I got to spend time at the local playground and shop for “diapers” at the Safeway. Even in Seattle, mums get on with business. The kids did indulge me with a visit to the Burke Museum where we saw an excellent collection of, you guessed it, dinosaur fossils, amongst other things. But it was cool, they had a triceratops skeleton! I was impressed with how all the museums and galleries we visited catered for children in at least some ways. It made visits fun for all of us, especially if there was a nice cafe and shop for me at the end.
We were lucky to be looked after in Seattle by a couple of Mark’s colleagues and friends. They helped us plan our trip and suggested outings. We had a great visit to Woodland Zoo with Carl and his two kids. The zoo contrasted beautifully with the more arid feel of San Diego. They had a lovely green and wooded Northern Trail section featuring bears, eagles and otters with great opportunities to see the animals close up yet in natural-looking environments. (Check out the Bear Cam on the website.) Ben and Karen gave us pizza and picnics and introduced us to their dog, another big enthusiastic licker called (Wini)fred who bonded with Felix.
After a few days, we moved to our new home south of the city in Mount Baker. We were loath to leave the happening scene but it proved to be just perfect for a family holiday. We had the beautifully renovated bottom floor of a family house with a divine garden which had chickens, a fish pond, wild strawberries running rampant and masses of veges. Heaven. It was a 5 minute walk to a great playground (and the all important cafe) and ten minutes to a little swimming beach on Lake Washington. We hired a car for more flexibility but used the bus to get to town and the university now and then. Mark was working every day so I settled in to life as a suburban mom for a couple of weeks.
Making big touristy missions with the two kids was challenging but they were coped very well and I always packed plenty of snacks and didn’t plan for more than one thing each day. There weren’t any embarrassing public melt-downs, though Felix saved some big ones for bedtime. I think he found the travelling fun on a level but quite a strain. Alice coped fine with all the new beds and faces and maintained a sunny disposition throughout, though she pretty much stopped eating anything but yoghurt and icecream in the final week.
We made excursions to the Seattle Center, which houses many cultural attractions as well as the Space Needle, a fun fair and a super cool, enormous fountain which is designed to be played in. And we did! We also spent a lot of time visiting playgrounds and pretty natural spots, which weren’t hard to find in Seattle. Despite the reputation for rain, they love the outdoors and all the lakes and parks are just gorgeous for walking, biking and playing in. I was very taken with it all, the arty city and the green surrounds. What a combination! But I was reminded frequently that I was there in summer and it doesn’t have a rainy reputation for nothing!
On our final day we all went to the Seattle Art Museum, which had a great modern collection and a special exhibition by Andrew Wyeth, which I loved. He had a muse called Helga whose plaits he painted with incredible skill. He seemed to really like those plaits.
We dropped our car off the next day at the airport and got ready for another round of security (yes, tedious) as we headed for our last stop, Boston.