When I set goals for myself in writing, I love reflecting to see whether I met them, missed them, or altered them. So how did our Fall Bucket List go?
This was the last on my list, but the most important to me. I’ve voted in every election for a long time now, but we also live in the bluest part of a blue state in a blue region, so it wasn’t surprising that Washington went for Biden/Harris. This year, for the first time, I also wrote letters to potential voters and stifled my hatred of the telephone to phone bank in swing states to get out the vote. This felt like the right year to “get political” and I’m so grateful for our new President- and Vice-President-elect.
In the brief time the Seattle Art Museum and Burke Museum were re-opened, we managed to attend each one time. I’m actually quite sad that the museums had to shut down in the latest round of restrictions in Washington. I understand how private indoor gatherings (especially large ones!) are problematic, but our experience with these two museums was that precautions were instituted and observed by everyone (limited capacity, mask wearing, disinfecting, etc) and the huge, well-ventilated spaces felt comfortable. I’m looking forward to return when we safely can.
We’ve also been back to the Woodland Park Zoo a few times and Julia and I went to Remlinger Farms together as a Mommy-Daughter date. Our Remlinger visit was scheduled on a sunny day, but Julia had a slight fever a few days before and I rescheduled while we could wait for symptoms to subside and a COVID test (no virus for anyone in the family). So it ended up being a day with thunderstorms in the forecast during their fall festival, but we lucked out with barely a few drops of rain and had a great time!
The zoo felt extra comfortable and I love that it’s still open even with the latest round of restrictions since it’s an outdoor activity that already had limited capacity.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day
We didn’t do a specific activity on the day itself, but we did add other opportunities to learn about Native culture. In Winthrop, we loved the Sa Teekh Wa trail and Homestream Park (more about this trip below). The Burke Museum also had some beautifully refreshed exhibits about Indigenous Peoples from our area, including sections about food sovereignty that I found interesting. I think the most important lesson from these outing for all of us (myself included) is how they showed that Native culture is still rich and ongoing. Many signs speak only in the past tense and it’s important to observe current practices and traditions as well.
In addition to Sweetest Kulu, we’ve added some beautiful board books from Native Northwest to our collection. I particularly liked these because they showcase the culture of Tribal Nations from the Pacific Northwest, which helps connect us to the people who continue to steward our local area.
We’ve done a fair amount of hiking this fall, even though many of our hikes have been on the shorter side. Julia pushes really hard against the idea of a hike on some days, which makes it challenging to get everyone out the door, but once we’re out on the trail she seems content to go along. James is mostly just along for the ride at this stage, and I don’t hate it!
Some of our favorite hikes have been:
- Twin Falls – Julia asked to go back down the long flight of stairs to the waterfall viewpoint because the falls are so powerfully loud and spectacular.
- Blue Lake – at 4.4 miles roundtrip, this is the longest hike Julia has done (James rode in a backpack carrier) and I was so proud of her. We also got to walk through larches as they were turning golden, which honestly felt magical.
- Lake Wilderness Arboretum – this was a new one today and I loved it! We had to drive about 40 minutes to Maple Valley, but the Arboretum teamed up with the Maple Valley library to build a story walk. It features a new picture book each month with blown-up copies of the pages in plexiglass-front signs so you can follow along with the story as you run the trail. The story walk doesn’t have signage directing you from the parking lot, so walk behind the greenhouse area towards the main wide trail and you’ll see the signs on your left.
This was a fun one! We ended up going to pumpkin patches at Stocker Farms and Jubilee Farm, as well as Remlinger. A new experience for 2020 was the Oxbow Family Farm Adventure. We loved having a private tour (pricey, but more like a donation to a worthy organization) and visiting early in the fall season gave us the opportunity to learn about and taste lots of fruits and vegetables.
We also tried our hands at veggie and apple picking by visiting Bailey Farm and Jones Creek Farms. In true COVID-era fashion, I turned these outings into much more of a project than I had intended. Overeager helping hands resulted in tons of pickling cucumbers, so we had refrigerator pickles to bring along on a camping trip (delicious!).
Our visit to Jones Creek was a on a freezing, rainy day and the drive was quite long, but the apple sauce we made with our haul and the excellent garlic made it worth it. Anything for the experience! Next fall I’ll time the trip to coincide with an early fall getaway into the North Cascades so we’re less likely to end up with freezing fingers.
Unsurprisingly, the getaways were my favorite part of the fall season. In years past, we balanced an international trip with less expensive local camping at favorite spots, so we haven’t really explored much of the 3-4 hour driving radius spots in Washington and this was our year.
On a personal note, while my background is in accounting and finance, I’ve always enjoyed trip planning and writing. As we got closer to James’ first birthday this year, I started to think about what my next step would be and hoped it would allow me to branch out into a non-profit role or something travel-related. The pandemic brushed that all to the wayside, but I still felt like I needed something that I did just for myself, so I started drafting an article or two. At first it was just a couple of opinion pieces for the Red Tricycle Spoke Network (like the benefits of outdoor time for parents and my experience as a homeschooled kid). Then I pitched a couple of activity pieces to local parenting magazines and am now hoping to make it into a small side project that will allow me to share experiences with other families looking to get out and about.
I’ve written about most of our recent getaways, including our Winthrop stay (ParentMap; November print edition), a road trip to the Hood Canal and Long Beach Peninsula (Seattle’s Child) and our stay at the Sleeping Lady in Leavenworth (Seattle’s Child).
What was your favorite fall activity this year?