Normally at this time of year I’d be plotting the final details of a mid-winter international trip (we’ve done India, Egypt/Jordan, Spain/Portugal, etc), but because of the pandemic all of our getaways (which we are still so privileged to have) have been close to home.
Since my birthday is this month, I planned a mid-week stay at Iron Springs Resort . Located on the western side of the Olympic Peninsula near Ocean Shores and an hour from the rain forest near Lake Quinault, it was a perfect escape even in the crazy wind and rain.
We found some slightly more sheltered hikes, snuggled on the couch with a movie and some molten chocolate lava cakes and lucked out with sun breaks on our last morning so we could enjoy the beach for a bit.
Note: as always, this blog reflects my personal risk assessment for myself and my family in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Your own evaluation of risk may differ from mine. We review our local government’s guidance and wear our masks indoors and/or when we can’t reliably create 6 feet of distance between folks and hope that you will, too.
As you’ll notice below, my bucket list for this year is mainly – get outside, do it a lot and make it through the year.
In normal years, I plan for all kinds of scheduled activities (museums, concerts, plays, etc), bucket lists and pumpkin patch visits via spreadsheets like the former accounting/finance nerd that I am. With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting what we can do, I’m still determined to enjoy the beautiful fall season that the Pacific Northwest offers.
Here’s what’s on my list for this fall:
Seattle Art Museum
This museum holds a special place in my heart for the art it’s allowed me to share with Julia (I’ve talked about visiting with kids here). Pre-pandemic, this was our go-to girls’ day. We would visit the museum’s special exhibits for an hour or two, then have lunch together and head home. They’ve just re-opened and my in-laws have agreed to babysit James so Julia and I can have some much needed girl time together. I’m looking forward to seeing the Carpe Fin exhibit that blend Native and Japanese styles done by a Haida artist.
Woodland Park Zoo
I adore our local zoo (see a previous post about it here), and it’s especially wonderful in the fall. The wide variety of trees and plants means there are often colorful leaf-peeping opportunities in a space that’s close to home. While most of the indoor spaces are closed due to the pandemic, it’s still a nice place to visit on a rainy day because the tree cover provides shelter from much of the rain. Timed tickets, extra cleanings and face covering requirements also make the zoo feel safe in these uncertain times.
Did you see Jiaying Grygiel’s experience at Remlinger Farms on ParentMap’s website? She and her family really enjoyed the farm with the pandemic-driven adjustments and I’m really looking forward to going back. Julia was able to ride the roller coaster last summer and has been asking about it ever since! Right now they’re only open on weekends, but I also want to check back on their self-guided tours that are described on the website. It seems like the type of activity for which I could also tote James along.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day Commemoration
I’ve reflected recently on where my conversations with my kids have lacked discussion of the tribes whose ancestral lands we’re occupying. I want to change that by taking time to learn about them year-round, but also by using a special day to commemorate their many contributions to our national prosperity. However, I’m also cognizant of the fact that Native folks are part of the at-risk population we want to protect, so I want to avoid specifically going to reservations right now. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is on October 12th this year and here are a few ways I think we’ll observe it:
A mini road-trip – the Visit Seattle website has a Native American Cultural Heritage Guide with a map of heritage sites, many of which are open-air (such as the Salish Welcome statue near the Ballard Locks). I’d love to do a little trip around our area to stop and see some of these hidden treasures.
Take a hike – the Washington Trails Association has a post called “8 Trails that Tell a Native American Story” and there are a couple of shorter ones that I can use to talk about Native culture, such as the Traditional Knowledge Trail in Snoqualmie.
Read a book – we have really loved When We Were Alone(short picture book) and Sweetest Kulu(board book) lately. I would love to find more specifically Pacific Northwest-leaning children’s books about Native culture, but have more research to do there.
With outside time becoming increasingly important in our lives, I’ve invested more in outdoor gear this year (like a rain suit for James and finally purchasing rain pants for myself). I want to make sure that typical misty and rainy Seattle-area weather doesn’t keep us from escaping the house regularly.
We also love Franklin Falls (in the fall, there are often interesting mushrooms to peek at from the trail) and while Gold Creek Pond is a trail we usually hit in the winter to play in the snow, I’m looking forward to trying it this fall.
Apple Picking – ParentMap recently re-published a list of apple picking spots. Jones Creek Farms looks like a wonderful family farm that I’m looking forward to trying. We actually have a small apple tree that our home’s previous owner planted, but there’s something about a trip to a farm that makes picking apples extra fun. Staying home more often has pushed me to take on more cooking projects, so perhaps I’ll use our pickings to make applesauce in addition to our usual baked apples for snacks.
Pumpkin Patches – Have I mentioned that I’m a nerd with a pumpkin patch spreadsheet? Normally, I try to optimize going to patches with lots of activities (bounce houses, apple cannons, cow trains, etc). This year feels so different, however, and I want to visit some of the spots that are quieter and more focused on actually growing food. Favorite farms from prior years have included Oxbow and Jubilee (both in Carnation). I also love that these farms have stands where you can purchase other fresh vegetables, so it doubles as a grocery run.
We cancelled our planned trip to Kalaloch Lodge and Salt Creek Recreation Area due to the unhealthy smoky skies in Seattle. I’m disappointed in missing a trip I’d been looking forward to for months, but also am glad that our family is safe and that firefighters and organizations along the West Coast are working hard to make sure other families stay safe, too.
We still have some trips to look forward to, however.
Winthrop, WA – this is one of the first trips I’ve booked because I saw it on Instagram and it looked beautiful. Peter is on call for work and appreciates extra quiet and time to work, so I’m taking the kids on a solo trip to a cabin where we can hike, see the Western-themed town and its boardwalks, and enjoy some time together. If the trip goes well, I have another stay booked to include Peter in November when there more likely be snow and we can enjoy a hot tub with a river view. Yes, please!
Olympic Peninsula – every fall, we try to book a cabin at Dosewallips State Park (read more about our previous experiences here). The park, which is on the eastern side of the peninsula, has beautiful fall colors, spawning salmon, herds of elk and a lovely shoreline. This year, we’re also tacking on a few nights in Long Beach at the Boardwalk Cottages. I’m hoping to rent e-bikes, visit a cranberry bog (pandemic-permitting) and fly kites.
Leavenworth – I’ve been eyeing a fall escape to the Sleeping Lady Resort for a long time, but never managed to make reservations in time until this year. Leavenworth is just outside the circle of day-trip drive time for us, so I’m looking forward to spending some time in this area that is on many fall getaway lists.
With all the crises affecting our country right now, one of the fall traditions I’m most looking forward to is voting. Here are some key pieces of information to know:
Mail-in voting: We are fortunate to live in Washington, which operates 100% through mail-in voting so it feels safe and very easy to do. You can look up mail-in voting information here.
Early voting: I also plan to vote early in this election to try to avoid overburdening the USPS. Early voting in Washington starts October 16th, but it differs by state. The National Conference of State Legislatures has a chart available here.
Reading about voting: your local newspaper likely has endorsements for particular candidates, so if it’s a source you respect, that would be a good place to start (here’s an example from the Seattle Times for the 2020 Primary). If you want to help kids learn about voting, we love the book Vote For Our Future, which shows how kids can get involved even though they can’t vote for a few more years. I love Charnaie’s Instagram post (Here Wee Read) featuring books about voting, as well as her advice to talk to kids about issues, not politics.
Encouraging others to vote: If your state offers easy access to voting, that’s great! However, many people are underrepresented in our voting population because of historical obstacles (hello, systemic racism). A friend recommended Vote Forward as a way to write letters reaching out to people in more contested elections who might not otherwise vote. I asked Julia to help me put stamps on my letters, so it also turned into a nice activity for the two of us.
What’s on your fall bucket list for 2020? Have you adapted favorite traditions to fit in with our strange current times?