Two factors have lead me to get creative around “vacation” days. One is that we live in Seattle and have some of the most beautiful, fun, and unique places to explore within minutes (certainly less than an hour drive) of our home. The other factor is that we live pretty low on the economic gradient within our community. In other words, I rarely have extra spending money for travel or vacations afar.
Both of those factors have given us some amazing vacation days and weekend days. One of our favorites, that the kids still talk about, was the day we hopped on one of the ferry boats that zigzag across the Salish Sea between
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A 15 minute drive, a 20 minute walk along the waterfront, a thirty minute ferry boat ride, an empty field to run and amazing chairs to climb on, a coffee shop (COFFEE!!!) that coincidentally made hot chocolate, too, a ferry boat ride back, and more beach time as we walked back to the car. Those are the basics. The reality was FUN!
We were in no hurry to catch a particular ferry run (they depart every 30 minutes), so time on the beach gave the kids time to explore and climb on driftwood and chase the relatively small Salish Sea waves.
The ferry ride over was a hoot. There was no rain, but the wind was high, especially as the ferry picked up speed. And the kids LOVED it. The laughter was contagious as the kids would run outside to the bow of the boat and spin, turn their faces into the wind, then their backs, try to jump up and see if the wind would pick them up, then dash back inside to the cabin to warm up a bit. I matched up a Big to a Little as they kept running in all directions and I couldn’t keep track of everyone at once.
As the ferry pulled into the dock on the peninsula, my two boys who are into vehicles of any kind (one loves and explores the mechanics of how things work, the other just loves anything that moves) were watching the docking process intensely while the older girls got the Littles organized with coats and backpacks.
I had no plans once we got off the ferry. I knew there would be some kind of small snack involved (we had brought sandwiches along for lunch), but other than that, just a chance to walk and run. We found the small waterfront park with a grassy field to run, a small stage for pretend, and some giant chairs.
As I sat and watched, the kids had their imaginations running rampant. My favorite activity was when they all (Bigs AND Littles) started pretending that they were dolls that someone giant, who was the size of the chairs, was playing with. They would pretend to be doll friends and walk around stiffly like pretend dolls, then climb up on a chair and get “dropped” off the edge to tumble willy, nilly across the grass. They’d used pretend, high pitched, voices to tell pretend adventure stories that they’d act out. It was just like when the Littles play with their dolls, except THEY were the dolls. I was enthralled with the imagination of it all.
After an hour or so, we watched another ferry pull in and we went to find coffee and hot chocolate, then rode back across the sound. The kids were pretty worn out by then, so the ride back was a bit less of a free-for-all and they sat quietly with their hot chocolate and counted seagulls out the window. We took another 30 minutes to meander back to the car (realistically a 5 minute walk at most) as they all found sticks and made designs in the sand of the beach.
Guess who fell asleep on the 15 minute ride home? EVERY SINGLE KID. There were some crankies as I had to wake everyone up when we got home, so we anchored our day stretched out in the living room with a movie and popcorn.
At one point, as Eleanor had a Little snuggled up in her lap with a bowl of popcorn, she looked over at me and said, “We made a good day.” That has now become a phrase we cherish. “Shall we “Make a Good Day” today?”