Travel truly is one of life’s splendors. If we all sat in our homes watching television and pondering the meaning of life, we would never have the opportunity to open ourselves to the world. For me, travel has been a welcome release from my typically mundane and horribly normal life. Though I cannot tell you of some epic journey around the world that some others my age have been fortunate enough to experience, I can tell you about a life-changing trip my grandparents and I took in the summer of 2006 that is a bit closer to home and my heart.
To escape the hazy and humid Indiana summer, my grandma threw out the suggestion of visiting some family members in the state of Washington. At age 14, I was aware of Washington’s location, but not much else. I did not even know I had family outside of my home state of Michigan, let alone Washington. It turns out that my great-uncle Jim Stover (who sadly passed away in 2008) moved himself, wife, and six kids out to Washington to help construct a dam at Mount Baker in the late 1960’s. Equipped with this new knowledge, my excitement brimmed; late July could not come soon enough.
My grandparents had accumulated a copious amount of Frequent Flyer miles over the years, so I was able to fly for only two dollars. The eight-hour nonstop flight from Cincinnati to Seattle was rather grueling, but my grandparents and my iPod kept me company. We arrived at Sea-Tac Airport at one o’clock A.M., so we grabbed a hotel and continued our journey in the morning. The next day, we rented a car and drove from north from Seattle. Our eventual destination was a cousin’s house in Mount Vernon (which is about an hour and a half away from Seattle), but we made a side trip to Rosario Beach, a beautiful park on Puget Sound. After spending some time there, we made our way over to Mount Vernon.
During our time in Mount Vernon, my Washington cousins took my grandparents and I to some truly spectacular places. We took a trip to La Conner, a delightful pirate-themed town on the Sound. In La Conner, we visited antique shops and had the chance to go on one of the ships used in Pirates of the Caribbean. We also went to a beach on the Sound and bought some fresh Dungeness crabs from a market to take home. This was my first experience with real crab, and I must say that the poor thing was barely identifiable after I attacked it with pliers in a futile attempt to open it. On our second-to-last day, we took a day trip over the Cascade Mountains to the western-style town of Winthrop, which is, in contrast with the coastal areas, desert-like. On the way back, we went to Mount Baker to see the dam that my great-uncle helped to build. From the top of the dam, we had an awesome view of Mount Baker and the Skagit River. At the end of the week, my grandparents and I went back to Seattle. We went to the famous Pike’s Place market and also mustered the courage to go up in the Space Needle.
My trip to Washington in the summer of 2006 was a life-changing experience for me. After meeting so many new family members I did not even know existed and seeing the beautiful sights, I feel that I left a part of my heart in Washington and hope to return and experience it all over again.
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