People and Places

Washington — a genuinely scary place

Posted on May 30, 2012

While my job includes travel to some wonderful places – Korea, Malaysia, the North California coast in the past months – it has been a year and half since we took a vacation with just the four of us, Pat, our girls Emma and Hannah, and me.  That last trip was a mid-winter jaunt through Central Europe and while we often go far afield on our family vacations, we are today off to Washington state.

What are we thinking?  I’ve been watching The Killing, was a fan of Twin Peaks, and I understand the Twilight series is filmed in the Olympic Peninsula.  Serial killers, weird dwarfs and giants, werewolves and vampires.  What’s with Washington?  Too much rain inducing psychopathic and supernatural aberrations?  Despite our better judgment, we are on a JetBlue Airbus 320 for the non-stop from Boston to Seattle (which has no wifi, but boasts DirectTV in flight, reminding one that daytime television is incredibly inane).

I’m willing to visit a place that requires me to use both locks on the hotel room door for the opportunity to just be together.  Emma has been living in deteriorating Syria with power outages, food shortages, and increasing chaos and violence.  Hannah has been working hard to finish up strong at Brown, from where she graduated last weekend.  Parental brag alert: Hannah graduated at the top of her class, received honors for her research project, was named to Phi Beta Kappa (our country’s oldest honor society) and Sigma XI (the science honor society), and won the Neuroscience Department’s McDonough Prize for success in the classroom and lab and promise as a young researcher in the field.   She is really smart, but a lot of her success comes from an incredible work ethic.  She looks tired, ready for sleep and fresh air.  We all do.

So we are taking our favorite kind of vacation as we quickly leave Seattle for the Olympic Peninsula National Park and the San Juan Islands: one full of walks in the countryside, riding bikes, shopping local farmers markets, reading books, playing board games, and eating.  Mostly, it is just about turning off our various devices, putting away the iPhone, and talking and sitting and being quiet together.  I will write my campus blog because writing remains for me a way to process what we are seeing and doing and travel writing is a delight for me, not a chore.  Should we all disappear — and it could happen here, trust me — the police will have a record of where we last visited.  So the blog is doubly helpful.

Everyone who has heard about this planned trip “oohs” and “aahs” over Washington.  From those who have visited there, we’ve heard about Seattle’s stunning setting (mountains/hills and water always creates great cities; think San Francisco, Istanbul, Rio, and Hong Kong), Pike’s Market, Victorian pubs (and the original skid row), and the Music Experience museum.  We’ve heard about the Olympic Peninsula and its rainforests and spectacular beaches (Ruby Beach is on many people’s top ten scenic places list – -try Googling its images).  We’ve heard about the San Juan Islands, with their charming ferries and kayaking and orcas (we are arriving during their return).  Sure, it all sounds great…….but I’m uneasy and need to be persuaded.

Washington, show us what you got.  I’m open, but just so you know, there will be garlic hanging from our door knob and I’ll be sleeping with one eye open. 

PS: We arrived and just as I was posting this blog post this is the headline that shot across my screen: Suspected gunman who killed 3, wounded 2 in Seattle shoots himself.  See….

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