It has recently occurred to me that in less than two weeks, we will be going on vacation. The first ever family vacation. We will be leaving on Saturday, the 26th of July, and won't be coming home until Sunday, August 2nd. I keep thinking of things I need to make sure I remember to take, and I make a mental note, and yesterday I actually thought it might be a good idea to, know, write them down. So what do I have on my list? Diapers and sunscreen. As if I am going to get halfway to Washington and realize I forgot to pack diapers. Yeah.
We are all getting really, really excited, though, and the planning has provided a necessary and welcome distraction. We are stopping halfway both coming and going (did you all know that Owen gets carsick? Ugh.), so that we don't have a miserable toddler the whole time. That way, we can stop whenever we need or want to, and not worry so much about time. We are staying the night in Baker, Oregon, where we are planning on taking a ride on a restored steam engine. The train takes you up to one of the many ghost towns, and we will have about 45 minutes in which to wander around and look at things before heading back down. None of the kids have ever been on a train, and riding one has been something they have all expressed and interest in at one time or another, so I am excited to be able to give them the opportunity. In fact, this is the real reason why we are stopping in Baker; there is the train ride, of course, and a really neat restaurant called Sumpter Junction that has electric trains running throughout the entire building. It is going to be so much fun. The hotel has an outdoor pool, too, which will be a nice way for the kids to unload some of that pent up energy.
I don't know where else we might stop on Sunday, but we are going to visit Snoqualmie Falls, which is only about, oh, and hour or so from our final destination. I haven't been there before, despite having lived in that area all through high school and beyond, so I am particularly excited about that. There are some hiking trails (again, getting rid of some energy!), and a viewing platform, and of course the inevitable Gift Shop. From there, we will head to C. and D's house. I am a little nervous about that; I know that they WANT us there, and are looking forward to it immensely, but I am not sure how prepared they are to have five people-four of whom are children-descend upon their household. I sure hope they are not expecting quiet during the five days we are there, ha ha.
We are also going to do a ton of great thing while we are there; again, can you say Cheesy Tourist? The Aquarium, the Pacific Science Center, a boat tour of the harbor, the Space Needle, the Pikes Place Market...all of that stuff that I have always loved even long after I moved there. And this is part of it; this is what I want to show my kids, that this place is part of me. I want to show them where I used to live, go to school, point out the different places and things I fell in love with while I was there. I want to be able to give them a glimpse of who I was before I was a wife and a mom. There is one place right in downtown Kent I want to take them, a little oasis of sorts right in the middle of town, with a path and a pond full of huge goldfish, where I used to go sit and journal, or read, or just sit; where my friend Angie and I would go late at night full of bad Denny's coffee, feeling like we knew so much about everything. I am not egotistical enough to think that any of it will be a huge deal to the kids, but it seems important to give them a bit of my history.
I just keep thinking that in a very few short years, both Hannah and Eli will be gone. Hannah will be a Sophomore, Eli a Freshman, and I want to be able to do more of these kinds of things while I can. We have always been good about doing things like going fishing and swimming and camping, I have tried really hard to give them good experiences and fun memories, but never a vacation. And very soon they aren't going to WANT to spend ten days with the whole family; very soon, too soon, they will be off living their own lives and working and starting to pull away from me. I know I am lucky that they haven't much yet, but the time will come. I feel like I need to take every opportunity that presents itself to create good memories for the kids, for myself, and this is one huge opportunity.
That said, I am also going to put duct tape on the list. I mean, four kids in a car? Four kids that can't get through an entire hour without fighting? Surely under the circumstances that wouldn't be considered abuse, just self-preservation.