When all of the festive holiday hoopla dies down...and everyone returns to the predictable rhythm of their school/work routines (regardless of the amount of reluctant foot-dragging or whining involved--nope, I'm NOT talking about the kids)...and the actual shivery portion of the Winter settles over us...it can only mean one thing: time to plan Team WestEnders' Summer...Whatever!
This year I thought we at least had already established a starting point for research purposes. (Ha! Silly, silly me...) It was, after all, our "Domestic Excursion" turn in the rotation, following last July's Costa Rican adventure. And right there, on my handy-dandy Places to Go List, (because yes, of COURSE I have one of these...doesn't everyone?) written neatly in bold black ink for everyone to see, it clearly said "2016: Alaskan Cruise". Simple, yeah? Hooowwwever...when I presented this confidently to the Breakfast Table Crew one morning, it did NOT meet with the overwhelming enthusiasm I expected. Long story short, the biggest objection was posed by Husband, who suddenly, out-of-the-blue, voiced the opinion that he'd be perfectly willing to do this....just as long as we wait for his mother to be able to come with us. (Ohhh-kaaaay...note to self: postponed...indefinitely.)
Moving right along, the next option for inside-the-U.S. was an obvious choice--the Grand Canyon. BUT...Husband (again with the monkey wrench...I swear I'm gonna have to start over-ruling him, or we'll never go anywhere...) insists that when we visit, we must hike all the way down to the Colorado River, and stay overnight before trekking back up to the rim. Well, ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you that there is precisely ONE lodge on the canyon floor...and they take reservations...and fill them up...13-months in advance. So while I dutifully (hopelessly) submitted the online form requesting a room, the message I got back was basically, "What, are you kidding with this? Nice try, lady...contact us again in June...for next year." Soooo....stamp a big, fat "no way in Hades" on Plan B.
They say "3rd time's the charm", right? But hold on...I didn't actually have another alternative on the tip of my tongue, ready to throw out there to the wolves--um "family". Thus we did what all great thinkers do in this situation....we brainstormed. Well, mostly the boys chewed their food and did their best to appear engaged, while Husband and I attempted to come up with a trip that we could actually make happen, you know, THIS Summer. Finally--and I couldn't honestly tell you where it came from, so let's call it Divine Inspiration and leave it at that--Seattle popped into my head.
I mean, it has cool stuff we've all already heard of, like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. The area's supposed to be gorgeous, with evergreen and redwood forests, and Puget Sound, and whatnot. (So you can commune with the trees...AND take a whale-watching boat tour...sweet!) Not too far away, there's an awesome hiking opportunity in the form of Mt. Rainier. And as if that weren't enough, they have a baseball stadium that we're NEVER going to get to, unless we actually visit the city. Really, once we started talking about it, everybody jumped on board pretty quickly. But what absolutely sealed the deal for us, personally, is that when I checked the Mariners' schedule, they're at home on the weekend closest to July 4th...and they're playing...the Orioles. Oh. My. Gosh. Is that a sign, or WHAT?
So I used my time wisely over the extended MLK Jr. weekend, and booked our flights...hotel...and rental car. (Brushing hands together briskly in a satisfied manner...) Now that the major logistics are squared away, for the rest of the frigid season (such as it is, in NC anyway) we can do some more investigation into the "fun details" and figure out exactly how we'd like to spend our days exploring. Incidentally, this should be ridiculously easy, since every time I mention our new vacation scheme to someone, they've A) Been there; B) Loved it and C) Have multiple suggestions for things we should see and do. (Thanks, very helpful Peanut Gallery!) So...yaaayyy! Only 5-ish months to go....