When you get a call from your child’s daycare at ten in the morning, it’s rarely going to be a good thing. It was the last Friday before Fall Break, and we had a 7:15am flight to Seattle booked for the following day. Our 2-year-old’s daycare teacher was calling to inform us that a child from her class had been sent home for Hand Foot Mouth Disease and, unfortunately, she was already developing a fever. Did we want to pick her up early?
Plan a trip with kids and there are a thousand different ways of how things can go wrong. It’s the number one thing I’ve learned about life with our daughter – that even if you’ve strategically prepared to minimize all potential catastrophes, you’ll still run into roadblocks you couldn’t prevent. In the case of travel, it’s delayed or cancelled flights, inclement weather, or, as tends to be the trend in our family, unfortunately-timed illness. (We had a nasty experience with an ear infection and projectile vomit during a trip for a family wedding last year.) Naturally, it was under these unforeseen circumstances that we began our Fall Break trip to Seattle.
We were prepared for the 5-hour flight, thanks to $30 spent on random travel toys from Amazon, strategically revealed as necessitated, and we made it across the country without incident. One step outside of the airport and my first breath of Seattle fresh air was like a huge sigh of relief. Summer had lingered long past its welcome in Nashville, and the week prior saw highs still in the mid-90s. Finally, here was FALL – and clouds and rain! This was a fantastic start to the trip.
I did a fair amount of research as to where to stay in Seattle, and we opted for a great Airbnb in Wallingford, a residential neighborhood just north of Lake Union. Shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and markets lined the thoroughfare of N 45th St, but just off the main drag it was quiet and tree-lined. On our first afternoon, we strolled to the nearby Meridian Playground, but unaccustomed to the quickly dropping temperatures, we high-tailed it to dinner as the sun set and had a phenomenal meal of sushi and ramen at Mejari Sushi Fusion.
The day of travel had been surprisingly painless, and now I know it was only false sense of security. What followed on Saturday night may have actually been my worst night’s sleep since bébé was born. Our apartment had a large living room and separate bedroom, with a pack-and-play set up for her – a sleeping arrangement we have used many, many times throughout her life. On this particular night, though, nothing would follow its “usual” pattern. After a brief hour of sleep, she woke up screaming and refused to go back down. Nothing could calm her except being held – it was like she was a newborn again. The symptoms of the HFM Disease reared their ugly head as the disjointed sleep she did get was interrupted by itching and scratching. It’s all a haze now, but I do recall, after hours of fitful blocks of slumber, a late morning mega nap that allowed us all to function.
Late Sunday morning, we finally made it up and out (after Colin brought in breakfast burritos like a true hero). At this stage in the HFMD game, the blisters were beginning to appear (literally overnight), but spirits were much higher than the night before. We had positive vibes and high hopes for the day, so we headed downtown to “see Seattle.” We parked at the Pike Place garage (downtown parking is surprisingly reasonable, at least compared to Nashville) and began our wanders there. The Market itself is just as one would expect – loads of people, piles of produce, beautiful flower bouquets. It’s full of color and activity, and I only wish I could’ve aimlessly wandered, stopping as something caught my eye. But with a toddler, the experience is more like herding cats, and my curiosities had to be ignored.
As with every city I visit, I sought out a high-point to get the nice views, and instead of the steep-priced Space Needle, we opted for Smith Tower, Seattle’s oldest skyscraper. This turned out to be anything but your run-of-the-mill observation deck. There’s a museum leading up to the top that shares the building’s history as the tallest building on the west coast from its completion in 1914 until the Space Needle was built in 1962. The exhibit walks visitors through a bunch of characters that occupied the building during its early history – dirty cops and rum-runners, radio stars and high-profile lawyers. It was perfect for adults and toddlers, because it was full of old artifacts but still very hands-on. Bébé played with a typewriter, opened endless drawers on antique furniture, and finagled with the cables on an old telephone switchboard. Once you head up the historic elevated (just recently automated in 2017 but still staffed with an attendant), the top floor is home to a well-styled cocktail bar as well as a wrap-around observation deck for a full view of the city. It was an unnaturally clear and sunny day, so we had a fantastic view!
The day felt made for exploration, and, with the gorgeous weather, we continued on for another great view of the city from Kerry Park over in the Queen Anne neighborhood. It’s only a small neighborhood park that was probably once hidden below-the-radar. Now, in our age of information, it has naturally become a must-see stop for of its gorgeous views of downtown with Mt. Rainier in the background. (If you’ve seen 10 Things I Hate About You as many times as I have, you may recognize this view.) Our sightseeing continued closer to home as we stopped for a pint at Fremont Brewing Company and a look at the Fremont Troll. We never actually made it for the pint, but the troll is a fun use of a space that would otherwise be vacant and most likely derelict.
Night two, I’m happy to report, was much easier than the first. We ordered Thai for takeout and had a restful night’s sleep, despite making room for a third in the big bed once again.