A DAD'S JOURNAL
Week 7- October 10 Week: A Peek at the Pacific Northwest
We remained in the Seattle area for the first couple of days this week parked at the home of the Meek kids’ Grandpa Sonny and Grandma Leah. Brenda has enjoyed chats with Leah and I have especially appreciated learning more about driving big diesel vehicles from Sonny. Much of his career has been spent hauling oversize loads (of machinery, lumber, etc.) through the mountains of Washington. Their hospitality has been so gracious.
We have enjoyed going to different size churches on Sundays. This Sunday we went to a medium large evangelical church with the Meek kids’ other grandma, Grandma Molly. We especially enjoyed the theme of living a changed life as believers. We heard again the sad statistic that believers’ lives in the US don’t really look any different than the general public with respect to worldly priorities, divorce, etc. We pray that we do indeed look different as a family…
After church, we jumped in the van to catch a ferry from Anacortes to San Juan Island in Puget Sound. On an adventure like this there are times that are kind of magical. This was one. The ferry trip through the islands was beautiful. Nate and Dad especially enjoyed exploring the huge auto/passenger ferry as it chugged through the sound.
When we got to Friday harbor, we met a local couple who maintain an outdoor aquarium of local sea life at the marina there. (He is a retired biologist who used to work in Alaska.) We would have never stopped to look down into the water at the marina if we hadn’t bumped into them. It turned out to be a highlight as we saw diverse plant and animal life. We even found a friendly sea lion the locals call Popeye that hangs out in the harbor as he came up to us several times and hammed it up for us. We took an evening return ferry in the dark that gave a whole different perspective on travel through the islands. I will forever remember snuggling together as a family in the warm comfortable passenger area listening to the hum of the ferry that evening.
Monday, I flew back from Seattle to Minneapolis to be part of a special GMI technical community award ceremony! The flight took me over a majority of the states through which we have traveled to this point. The topographical review from the air was a treat.
Flying into the MSP airport and going to the rental car counter instead of the parking garage was very strange. I have not been away from Minneapolis area this long in my 21 years here. It was great to stay with my brother’s family, check on the house, and do some errands before the midday Tuesday program. I enjoyed seeing many GMI friends during the afternoon before I flew back to Seattle. I once again can’t say enough how thankful I am for the people and my career at such a great company.
The flights also afforded me some alone time to read. I made great progress on a book called “Raising a Modern Day Knight.” Our culture has really muddied what it means to be a true man, and how difficult this makes it for boys as they mature. As men, we need to teach our boys what it means to be a man, teach a code of conduct (which he parallels to the good aspects of a knight’s training) and develop ceremonies to mark stages of maturity as they are achieved. I am excited to incorporate some of these concepts and ideas to be more intentional in this aspect of training Nate!
Wednesday we pulled up stakes and headed to the Olympic peninsula in far NW Washington. We drove around the sound from Seattle through Tacoma to the peninsula. The roads got slower and more winding as we got to the Olympic National Park area, especially around pristine mountain Lake Crescent, a highlight for Brenda.
We stayed in a well-kept park in Forks where only a couple of other sites were occupied. It served well as a central point to visit different areas of ONP in the afternoons after school. We are now so far northwest that our satellite internet system is out of range, a painful thing especially for me.
In the Yellowstone area, we had wanted to check out some hot springs, but ran out of time. We were excited to find Sol Duc Springs in Olympic National Park. The springs have been the main attraction of various resorts over the decades. Everyone enjoyed soaking in the different temperature pools which ranged from 95 to 105 F, but the sulfurous smell wasn’t especially enjoyed by the children!
Other Olympic peninsula attractions included a visit to a lumbering museum and the rainforest part of the park. As we talked about the rainforest, the kids were thinking of jungles and exotic animals rather than the massive Sitka spruce trees, curtains of moss, and greenery that we would experience in the Olympic rainforest.
A highlight for all of us in Olympic National Park was our time at the rainforest visitor center doing the Junior Ranger program there. We met our favorite ranger so far, Jon Preston. Years ago he worked in Hollywood as a pipefitter on movie sets like “Die Hard” and at homes of Hollywood folk, but you could tell he was following his real love of the outdoors and being with people.
We have photos of Jon right down on the floor with the kids working on their assignment. The kids loved his humor and the special attention. To their delight, he gave an impromptu lesson on the banana slug, a rainforest creature of both fascination and disgust to them . He even pulled out one of the foremost slug expert’s PhD thesis on the habits of banana slugs. Amazingly, some guy spent years branding slugs and following them around. The very best slug made 15 meters in a day, but usually in a circuitous route that made little actual progress… He later got out a parabolic microphone and took us outside to listen to critters way up in the trees. The National Park Service has some great employees, and we have been so impressed with the treasure we have in our National Parks!
EXTRA! EXTRA! THE KIRKWOODS MAKE IT TO THE PACIFIC!
After our rainforest slugfest we headed out to the Pacific for the first time. Over a month and a half after departing on our adventure we made it to our first coast! The mist and fog was perfect for our first view of the Washington coast. On Saturday, as we headed out of the Olympic peninsula with Harvey, we made a stop at another beach, Ruby Beach. This time the sun came out for a while, and we enjoyed a walk along the beach. The kids got to learn about tides first hand as we could literally see the tide coming in and isolating an outcropping we had explored! After the winding and hilly roads of the peninsula, it was good to get back to I-5 as we headed to our next campground, in Kelso, right near the Washington and Oregon border.