It took a lot to get them here. In the almost-five years that J and I lived in England, my parents never visited - but to be fair, I had much younger siblings then and it would have been far more expensive. I'm not completely delusional though. Having their two eldest grandchildren now living the US is a huge drawcard... but whatever the reason, I'm glad they came.
After me talking up Seattle at this time of year, the city decided to make a liar out of me. For a good chunk of my parents' first week with us, it was grey and mostly rained. Temperatures were not that much warmer than the part of Australia they'd just come from. They'd also had a two-day stopover in Hawaii, which didn't help matters, so I don't think their first impressions of Seattle were particularly favourable.
A couple of days after their jet lag hd worn off, we had a sunny afternoon so I took them to a nearby state park for a walk. They've both seen little but eucalyptus trees over the last fifty-odd years, so it was great for them to experience some classic Pacific Northwestern forest. This park is full of cedars and firs - incredibly majestic, and I still remember how those tall trees took my breath away the first time I encountered them in Vancouver more than fourteen years ago.
Later that week, after giving up on the wait for blue skies, we drove out to Snoqualmie. It's a town that J and I have taken the girls to several times, and we love it there. It's only a forty-five minute drive so it's an easy, short road trip to do but gives a sense of being well away from the city. It's also where much of Twin Peaks was filmed, so - geeks that J and I are - we always get a little kick out of seeing Snoqualmie Falls. In Snoqualmie, there's also a historical old railway museum, which the girls love, so we thought my dad might also enjoy seeing some of those old rattling trains because, let's face it, there's far less of that sort of thing in Australia.
Thankfully, the weather gods decided to smile upon us and make that the last grey, drizzly day for the remainder of my parents' visit. The next day we went on a lake cruise, where the sun gently eased out from behind the clouds, then gradually turned up the dial for heat and brightness over the next eight days. We spent much of it sightseeing: the city skyline and Lake Union from Gas Works Park, had dinner at the same seafood restaurant where J and I had celebrated our anniversary in May, checked out a classic car show that happened to be in our neighbourhood (because what fifty-something-Australians who love older American cars but have seen very few in real life wouldn't pass up the chance?), visited a fabulous hipster coffee joint downtown, took in Pike Place Market, and enjoyed sunsets at our local beach at Lake Washington.
A couple of days before my parents were due to leave, we celebrated the Faery's eighth birthday. EIGHT! Having two doting grandparents in town to help with the spoiling, she was in her element. We let her pick somewhere fun to go and - because we hadn't been on it yet - she chose the Seattle Great Wheel, down by Seattle's waterfront. The weather was amazing, the views were amazing, and I'd recommend it to anyone who might be considering it. The pier also had an arcade with old games, so a birthday carousel ride, along with air hockey, was a must. The day was topped off with dinner of her choice (pizza within walking distance of home) and chocolate cake. I felt bad because this was her first birthday that I hadn't baked her a special cake myself, but the days leading up had been a busy blur. Hopefully next year I can make it up to her... but I think she had a lovely day regardless. She is a darling, and I love the age she is. I have clear memories of my own eighth birthday, so it feels easy to get into her headspace and remember what it was like to be an eight-year-old girl. We promised her a low-key bowling party too, but that had to wait until August, when her best friend from L.A. was due to visit. Stay tuned...