We had a really nice time in Seattle this weekend although the border crossing was horrendous. I got to the sign that shows wait times and it said both Peace Arch and Pacific Truck Crossing were a 90 minute wait. I chose Peace Arch (somewhat more direct) and it was two and a half hours!
We would sit for several minutes at a time and then move ahead a few car lengths. Sit and move. Sit and move. I turned off the engine every time we stopped and just started up when the guy 2 or 3 cars ahead actually moved. It was a warm day so we had the 2 front windows down and the back side vents open but it's hard to get good air flow through a van when you're stopped.
Luckily the 2 younger ones slept for at least an hour and a half of the border wait and there wasn't much in the way of fussing or whining. Getting through the border was quick once we got to the front of the line even though I was driving my kids' car and had my child and 2 grandkids with me.
We headed right in to Blaine and filled up on gas (just under $100 to fill the tank) and got some crackers and drinks. The rest of the trip was a breeze, except for the part where Boo Boo (the 17 month old) barfed just outside of Bellingham. Luckily it was one of the few areas with a really wide shoulder area, so I pulled off, cleaned her up with baby wipes and got back on the road. She fell asleep again shortly afterwards and was fine for the rest of the trip.
It was fun staying at my friend's house. All but one of her kids was home from school, etc. so it was a really good visit. I got to see her eldest daughter and son-in-law and their baby, who is at the point of wanting to stand and bouncing because he wants to walk (a large part of the motivation for the trip). And my friend's youngest is a girl just over a year older than my Dear Child, so all 4 little girls had a riot together. The 3 bigger ones spent an inordinate amount of time on the trampoline (a fully enclosed one with about 6 foot high screening). They jumped and did drop sits and also just laid around on it talking and playing. The baby kept wanting to try it for the first day but every time she got on she remembered that she couldn't keep her balance with the others on it and wanted right back off. Then she'd go cruise around the house.
Shabbat was great. Good food, good company. We all went to shul in the morning and Boo Boo walked all the way (6 blocks, a couple of them long and hilly)! I was a little worried she'd stage a sit down and strand me somewhere in the middle but we made it there with absolutely no problem. (We don't carry on the Sabbath in an area that doesn't have a special type of enclosure called an eruv, including not carrying babies or pushing strollers. It can mean a long trip if a child gets partway and doesn't want to continue. Some parts of Seattle have an eruv but not where we were, although it's in the works.) She and her sister, along with my DC went to a special children's program and had a good time. Then they came upstairs to the women's section just in time to hear the 10 Commandments during the Torah reading.
There was a great lunch downstairs and they all ate plenty. Boo Boo did really well on the way home too, although the last block uphill was tough and she was putting her arms up to be picked up. She made it though, and we were clapping and cheering for her as she climbed the steps to the house! What a big girl! It was a hot afternoon and she and I (and another friend of mine) all sacked out on the huge sectional at one point for a couple of hours.
Sunday was a big fun outing to Pacific Science Center with my friend, her 2 youngest, the 3 little girls and my Eldest Daughter (who was in Seattle at a trade show but got the morning off). We spent a long time enjoying all the hands on activities. The oddest and freakiest thing we did was pet a giant cockroach as long as the Science Center employee's hand! It was totally tame, just sitting there for people to see and touch. I can tell you, if I saw him in my kitchen I sure wouldn't be petting him, but I'd probably need a hammer or something like that to take him out! If I tried to step on him, he'd probably carry me off!
We had the best time in the butterfly house. It's absolutely beautiful and my friend took some great pictures of the various butterflies. (If she can email me some of the photos I'll edit this to add them.) It has double entry and exit doors, manned by staff, and you have to twirl around and check yourself in a mirror just to make sure none of the butterflies escape. The gift shop was also popular with DC and my older granddaughter getting stuffed butterfly keychains to remember the butterfly house. The baby got a placemat and a screaming monkey toy that had us in hysterics. My girlfriend also bought a screaming monkey for her house!
Afterwards we went for lunch at one of Seattle's two kosher Chinese food places. You order stuff like sweet and sour chicken, but it's really all tofu based. There's no meat, but it tastes totally real. Then we had to drop Eldest Daughter back at the Convention Center and headed back to the house. I had read Nickel and Dimed over Shabbos and wanted to do a review while I could still refer back to the book. Then it was time to pack up and head home. We didn't leave until after rush hour because the drive from Seattle to Everett can be brutal then. This time the trip back took 3 hours, including about 20 minutes at the Truck Crossing. Again, no problem crossing, especially since we'd been down 2 days and only came back with $20 worth of stuff from the Science Center and a few (very cool) dresses my friend's daughter had outgrown.
I spent about $100 on gas, $25 on miscellaneous food (including a 1/2 gallon of milk for the baby), $10 for parking at the Science Center and $54 for lunch out for 3 adults and kids ages 12, 6, 5, 3 and 17 mos. Eldest Daughter paid the admission to the Science Center and for the stuff from the gift shop. So, the trip cost roughly $200, most of which went on the credit card because I'll both get paid and get all the government money I'm expecting on Wednesday. But we had tons of fun, got to see lots of friends and had a chance to do something with Eldest Daughter while she was away! Oh yes, and there's still 1/2 a tank of gas in the van, about a 1/4 tank more than I started with. Was it worth it? Absolutely!