July was a month full of adventures and it turns out that August is doing a pretty good job of keeping up. The August adventures have been plentiful as we pack as much as we can into the last few weeks of summer. When I think of all we’ve accomplished and all that we still have planned, I’m amazed at what we’ve been able to do this summer. Our weekly explorations give us something new to look forward to and we’ve discovered some awesome new locations in the beautiful PNW.
So many big moments happened this week and they all fell back to back. Thursday was the “big” day at swimming lesson. The last class of the two week session is always a fun day for the students. The kids are allowed to swim for fun and jump off the diving board – even Graham’s beginner class. Graham informed us his plan was not to jump off of the diving board, but when the moment came he diverted from the plan. He donned his life jacket and took the plunge. By the look on his face, I don’t think he loved the experience. I’m so proud of him for being brave. I didn’t expect him to jump. Owen surprised us by jumping off the diving board with no life jacket. It turns out that Owen has officially learned to swim over the last two weeks. The kid is a fish and will swim laps just for fun these days. The big moment of the night came at the very end when they handed out the report cards. Both boys were thrilled to find out that they passed their levels! They were so excited about swimming lessons that they asked to do another two week session. I don’t love having a daily commitment, but it’s hard not to capitalize on their momentum. We opted for another evening session that will allow us to have playdates and daytime adventures. Swimming lessons won’t interfere with any plans we have for the end of summer.
On Friday, our family took off early to head to North Cascades National Park. It was on our summer bucket list to visit all of Washington’s national parks. Jeremy and I have been to the east side of NCNP, but the boys hadn’t been to the park. We love the NP junior ranger program and this park gave the boys another chance to earn junior ranger badges. The bummer about our trip was that smoke moved into the PNW the day of our adventure. The views were hazy, the air quality was unhealthy, and it was hot. I would love to return when I can see the towering mountains clearly. Ross Lake and Diablo Lake were beautiful even through the haze. We took the Ladder Creek Falls Trail and found some natural AC blowing off the creek. We also discovered a Seattle City Lights steam train at Newhalem (which our train lovers climbed all over). Our time in NCNP was brief due to the weather conditions, but still worthwhile and we would definitely go back. The day ended for us in Burlington where we got a hotel room. NCNP is bit far away for a day trip and we didn’t want to make it a super long and late drive home. The kids swam in the hotel pool for an hour and we saw many families come and go. Our little fish just kept swimming. The hotel pool might have the highlight for the kids.
Because we were staying so far north, we decided to have another big adventure on Saturday before heading home. We took the ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We love exploring new places. Owen is actively keeping track of how many Washington State counties he has visited and he can now add San Juan County to the list. We didn’t see any orcas on our ferry rides which was my not-so-secret hope for this adventure. We did see a harbor seal and Jeremy saw a porpoise. The ferry ride itself was the highlight and the novelty of the day. Our time in Friday Harbor was a bit of a misadventure. We didn’t do much research before going so we wondered aimlessly around town. Around 11:00am we put our name in at a restaurant that looked popular and then Jeremy went online to research. It looked like a super promising lunch spot (like featured on Food Network good). After an hour of waiting outside for a table, we took our name off the list. We only had a few hours on the island and we didn’t want to spend them waiting to eat. This led us to the market across the street for apples and goldfish crackers. The lunch of champions! We wondered through gift shops, played at a small park, grabbed goodies at a bakery, and spent plenty of time by the water. Our ferry back to the mainland was over an hour late, so we might have had time to eat at the popular lunch spot. Oh well. Despite the hiccups, it was still a fun day.
We made it to church this morning a little tired and smidge cranky. Owen and I were leaning towards staying home, but Graham really wanted to go. He knew there would be foam gliders in the activity bags are hand out during service. He also knew that Pastor Josh was going to do the classic Diet Coke and Mentos experiment. Jeremy also hides a gnome each week that you get points for finding in the Summer Family Scavenger Hunt. It turns out that gnome is keeping our summer attendance in check. Last week I almost didn’t go because of the weather, this week because of exhaustion… and yet the gnome must be found and documented so off we went. I’m thankful for a quiet afternoon to rest today. We did a Walmart pick-up order and I’m working through mounds of laundry, but still it’s been a chill day. We have more fun in store for the coming week – starting with another round of swimming lessons tomorrow! Like I said, we gotta pack in all the summer fun we can into the next few weeks. You never know where we’ll end up next!