Whidbey Island and Fort Casey

Tucked away in the Puget Sound, north of Seattle. Whidbey Island is (in my opinion) a heavenly place with a landscape full of lushes green grass, trees and beaches. Oh and there’s a Fort too!

Mukilteo, WA view from the ferry

Boarding a ferry from Mukilteo, WA, it was a short ride across the Puget Sound to the Island. As we drove off the ferry onto the island it was green hills as far as the eye could see. Our first destination was south to see Fort Casey and the famous lighthouse.

Mukilteo to Whidbey Island Ferry

As we drove towards the Fort we were surrounded by endless forests. Squinting our eyes, tucked away hidden behind the trees we could see beautiful houses. These awe inspiring sights caused my mind to wander towards questions of how lovely it must be to live here.

Arriving at the Fort, we realized there was a second ferry to and from Port Townsend, WA. Personally this gave me a sense of safety knowing there is more ways than one to get off the island if needed. Wanting to stretch our legs, we decided to park along the side of the road and hike up the hill to the main entrance of the Fort.

The hike was a wise decision, as we stopped along the way to play in the old bunkers left behind when the Fort was an active military base. After playing in the bunkers we then headed towards the water where the batteries with 3 inch mounted guns (inactive of course) were on display to explore. Our kids enjoyed climbing about the guns and exploring the batteries.

Finally, after exploring the military side of the Fort, we headed to my favorite spot the beach. Walking along the beach we were able to enjoy all the sights, sounds, and wild life the beach had to offer. Some of these sights and sounds included a tug boat, a ferry and two whale sightings by my husband and I. Unfortunately the kids missed the whales as they were enthralled with getting there feet wet.

The beach at Fort Casey State Park

After the beach we went to the lighthouse and took a quick tour of the facility. It was the perfect tour for little kids as it was short and sweet with enough information to keep the kids attention. Once the tour was done it was time to head back to the car to finish our scenic drive of the island.

Deciding to drive off the island instead of taking the ferry back we were able to spot various other beach and camping spots along the way. Including Deception Pass which we saw as we drove across the jaw-dropping high bridge. Our drive off took about 40 minutes longer, but was well worth it as we were able to see Whidbey Island, Fidalgo Island, and Skagit County.

As far as family destinations go, I rate Whidbey Island as one of my favorites. If your family enjoys the outdoors, beautiful landscapes and a fascinating history, Whidbey Island and its surrounding areas is a must visit.

Thank you for reading and happy travels!

A Fun and Relaxing Vacation

I’ll be honest, Everett, Washington was not a place I thought about when looking for a vacation spot. But my husband took the steering wheel on the planning and found this hidden gem. Tucked between the Puget Sound and the Cascade mountains just 30 minutes North of Seattle, Everett has everything you need for a fun relaxing family vacation.

Staying in the downtown Best Western hotel, we were close to everything. Including the very scenic waterfront, where we strolled along watching the boats and kayaks float the Puget Sound. The kids road their skate board and scooter while us old folks walked behind. The smell of the sea and sounds of the boats and seagulls surrounding us.

Everett, Washington Waterfront Marina
Seals waiting for some fish leftovers at the Everett waterfront.

Unlike most of our vacations, which are often filled with a full itinerary. We decided to take a different approach. Adding just a few hot spots to visit, like the Funko Headquarters and Whidbey Island (more on these two in future posts), we kept the itinerary fairly open. The results, a fun, educational, and relaxing trip in a hidden gem.

For more information on Everett, Washington or our vacation please like and comment.

Thank you for reading and Happy Travels!

A Virtual Trip?

Not comfortable traveling? No extra money to travel? Have a dire need to travel but can’t? Then check out this fun series from the New York Times called, The World Through a Lens that allows you to travel from the comfort of your home.

It may not be the same as a fun road trip with family and friends, but traveling virtually is better than not traveling at all. So put your feet up, have a glass of wine (if that’s your thing) and enjoy traveling from the comfort of your home.

Thanks for reading and happy travels!

We Made It Out Alive!

Fire, smoke, dust and the road!

We were on our way back home from a travel family vacation in the beautiful city of Everett, WA when we hit the wall. It was the wall of dust and smoke.

It was like being in the 2007 movie, “The Mist“. The sky disappeared and all you could see was a cloud of smoke with hardly any visibility. Unlike the movie, we had no worries of creatures about to attack, but instead were barraged with emergency alerts warning us of dust storms, wind storms, and fires nearby.

We were still over an hour from home after already being on the road for over 3 hours when traffic stopped. Bumper to bumper cars with cars stopped along the side of the road for fear from lack of visibility. On the opposite side of the road there were wrecks and cars down the center divide. We watched as ambulances and police came through to try and secure the area. It was a mad mess!

We were worried about being stuck on the road in the middle of the chaos.

Luckily, after a short 20 minutes, traffic on our road side began to move. With our hazards on and staying a two car distance from the lead car, we began to move at a steady pace and continued the pace back into the clear sky. Unfortunately the opposite side of the road was not as lucky. For miles, cars were still stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. And then we got the alert! The roads we were just on and the surrounding towns we had just passed were closing. We made it out of the madness, but many were stuck with no where to go!

Of course the madness didn’t end there, as we arrived home we were notified that the surrounding towns were being evacuated due to wild fires. Our neighborhood at the time of this writing is safe.

It’s a bitter sweet feeling knowing several, maybe even hundreds are stuck on the road or worse forced to leave their homes. While at the same time we made it back home safely and with only a few large tree branches down and with a few shingles from the roof of our shed flying off.

All of this madness is a good reminder that traveling is an adventure some good and some bad. The best thing you can do is try and always be prepared. While road tripping make sure your car is in working order, check and recheck the area you are visiting, always bring plenty of food and water, and most importantly prepare to be flexible.

The Travel Family sends all our love to those who are suffering right now.

Is 2020 over yet?

Thank you for reading and happy travels!

Planning a last minute trip

I hate last minute trip planning. I’m a planner who likes to have time to plan all the details of a trip and often will plan months in advance, especially over a holiday weekend. My husband on the other hand will wait until the last minute. This irks me like no other.

I’ll be honest, last minute trips were fun when it was just me and my friends or me and the husband. The excitement of waking up, throwing clothes in a bag and just going wherever the wind takes us was fun. But it’s different with kids and dogs. More stuff to pack, schedules to consider, stopping spots to include on the road, and where you stay matters. Traveling with kids and dogs takes planning.

Alas, Labor day weekend has came up (seeming out of nowhere) and my husband decided the Friday before, that we need to travel. Now, I’m all for taking a three day weekend to travel, but LAST MINUTE, AHH!

This is when I gave my husband the planning baton and said, “go for it, I don’t want to take that on”. Impressively he took on the planning and spent hours on the computer and phone looking up possible destinations, hotel rooms, and activities to do. Of course, the top destinations we would love to visit, like the coast or a National Park were either booked or way to expensive.

In my mind I thought this trip is not going to happen. But then my husband threw out an idea, “what about Everett, WA?” Not a normal destination I ever thought about, but I was willing to hear him out. And that is where his genius of last minute planning shined. He explained Everett is less than a 5 hour drive away, he found a Best Western hotel (our favorite hotel chain) for under $100.00 a night right in downtown Everett. Where there are all sorts of fun family friendly outdoor and indoor activities. The best part is his father was willing to dog sit for us so we don’t have to take the dogs. After hearing all that I was sold!

The Travel Family is headed to Everett, Washington!

More about our Everett trip in the next blog post!

Thank you for reading and happy travels!

Flying 2020 Pros and Cons

After our first flight this year, we took notes of what the Travel Family considered pros and cons of flying in 2020. Please note, this list is based on our flight from Spokane International Airport to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Our flight was on Alaska Airlines and was only an hour long flight one way. Below is our list:

Pros:

  • Less people
    • When we arrived at the Spokane International airport around 7 AM on a Friday there was hardly anyone there.
    • There was no line going through TSA!
  • Clean
    • Everything is so clean all the time.
  • Customer Service
    • Maybe it’s because airlines are in dyer need of customers, but the service was stellar.
    • TSA had smiles on their faces and were very polite.
  • More space on the plane
    • Due to social distancing requirements Alaska Airlines has decided to open seating up. Leaving middle seats open and only allowing single seats for non-family members.
  • Alaska Airlines communication
    • Alaska was very forthcoming in their new safety protocols and kept us well informed on what to expect while in the airport and on the plane.

CONS:

  • Wearing a mask the entire time
    • Breathing in a mask for long periods of time is uncomfortable and can be difficult.
  • Keeping physical distance in a small area
    • Staying six feet away on a small plane is nearly impossible
  • In-flight service
    • I’m a big fan of Alaska Airlines due to their customer service. Unfortunately due to new protocols the in-flight service seems to be fading away.
  • Others not following the new safety protocols.
    • People seem to have different ideas or opinions on how to follow the safety protocols.

Thank you for reading and happy travels!

Flying 2020

A few weeks ago the Travel Family took the leap and flew across the state of Washington. The initial thought of flying during a pandemic especially with young children was scary, but as I wrote in my previous post we did our due diligence to ensure we were ready and safe. So what was it like to fly in the year of 2020? The words, different and awkward come to mind.

It was masked covered faces as far as the eye can see, it was hand sanitizer and hand wipes everywhere. It was people awkwardly trying to keep their distance as best as they could and many moments spent washing hands. To be honest, at first we felt a little uneasy being in an airport with our children around strangers. But as we spent time in the airport and eventually on the plane the uneasiness began to fade away and a sense of a “new” normal came over us.

So what is this new normal for traveling? Well, I assume for everyone it is different, but for us the new normal is lots more planning ahead, wearing masks, carrying hand sanitizer, and washing our hands as much as possible. For us, this new normal really isn’t that bad. In fact as we were flying on the plane looking around at everyone with masks on, I wondered, why didn’t we wear masks on planes before?

Thinking about it, planes have always been like petry dishes. A bunch of people in a small area breathing in each others air. Wearing a mask on a plane, although can be uncomfortable for long periods of time, really makes perfect sense to me now. With this in mind, even if things go back to the way they were, I think my family and I will still maintain this “new” normal of traveling.

Thank you for reading and happy travels!

OUR BIGGEST TRIP YET!

Exciting news, we are less than a week away from taking our biggest trip of 2020! We are going west to visit family, hang out on the beach, and enjoy the beauty of the Olympic National Park. This trip is our yearly escape away and a chance to visit family we often only see once a year. Most times, we load up the car and drive the 400 miles or 7.5 hour road trip across the state of Washington. It’s a beautiful scenic drive of the entire landscape of Washington and we’ve done it often enough to know the best spots to stop and stretch our legs.

However, way back in December 2019 or as we now lovingly refer to it as pre-pandemic, I was scrolling through flight deals and came across an amazing deal from Spokane to Seattle that I just could not pass up. We purchased 4 round trip tickets on Alaska Airlines for under $400.00 and rented a car for $300.00. The idea of arriving at our final destination in 3 hours as opposed to over 8 hours with stops, was very enticing. Knowing what we know now we probably would have stuck to the road trip, but the flight and car our booked and we will be headed out soon.

Don’t get me wrong traveling on a plane right now does cause us to worry, but we have done our due diligence and have become very familiar with Alaska Airlines and the car rental’s cleaning policies. We know what to bring, what to do, and most importantly what not to do. We have gathered as much information as we can absorb including speaking with several friends who have already taken the leap and flown. Is it dangerous to travel via plane and rental car during these unprecedented times, undoubtedly. But we also believe that if we do our due diligence and follow all the proper guidelines then everything will be fine. After all it is up to us to be mindful of our own actions and to do our part to be as safe as possible. If we can go to the grocery store or mall then we can fly on a plane. It’s all about taking the proper precautions.

Thank you for reading and Happy Travels!

Favorite Free Travel Sites

Below are a few of our favorite sites we refer to for all our travel needs.

  • Camping: We enjoy referring to recreation.gov to help find sites, make reservations and reviews.
  • United States Travel: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ is our go to site for places, ideas and reviews. The best part of the site is how user friendly the site is to navigate. For example, you can set up the site to see a place of interest during the month of September for a family, and the site will update to show reviews from other travelers who met those same requirements. We can go on more about how much I enjoy TripAdvisor but we will keep it at this for now.
  • International/National Travel: An online travel magazine we recently found is https://www.afar.com/. It gives updated information about current travel information as well as deals and new and exciting adventures. The best part is you can set this up with email notifications so you can stay up to date.
  • World Travel: Another online travel magazine that offers travel tips, deals, and fun places is https://www.thediscoverer.com/. Similar to Afar this site can be set up for email notifications.
  • Last but certainly not least is https://travelcurator.com/ we find this site to be good for the swankier traveler. Honestly a little out of our price range, but gives great ideas for new and exciting destinations. Plus it never hurts to dream, right?

Of course there are plenty of other travel sites out there as well, these are just a few of my favorites.

Thank you for reading and happy travels!

CAMPING!

It’s not officially Summer for the travel family until our first camping trip. Over the 4th of July weekend we were able to hit the road and begin our camping adventure. And is there really a better way to experience travel while maintaining social distancing than camping?

Living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest we are lucky enough to be surrounded by what seems to be endless amounts of camping destinations. Utilizing one of our favorite websites recreation.gov we were able to find a simple Northern Idaho camp site named Kit Price campground. A little rough around the edges (apparently trees had been chopped down due to disease and stumps were left throughout the campground), the campsite still provided us with a nice tent spot, a fire pit, and a picnic table.

Beyond our travel families campsite the campground and the surrounding North Idaho Panhandle itself provided our family with an abundance of recreational activities. Such activities as hiking, biking, swimming and boating. Right next to the Coeur D’Alene River we were able to soak up the perfect 80 degree weather in some very cold but clear water. We floated in our little inflatable raft, swam with the flow of the river, and splashed around with the dogs having a fun time creating memories.

Not to shabby for a two day vacation that only cost $21.00 a night with a very scenic two hour drive. All said and done it was a wonderful way for the travel family to get out of the house in a safe environment and create amazing memories. We highly recommend camping as a fun family adventure.

On my next post I will discuss tips for camping as a family, including the equipment we bring, where we purchased the equipment plus costs, food and much more so please stay tuned and comment if there are specific things you would like me to discuss.

Thank you for reading and happy travels!