From California to cold Seattle...or so we thought. We spent the next 10 days in Seattle and it only rained 2 of the 10 days. THAT IS UNHEARD OF!! We were so lucky weather wise with most of the week sunny and 75+ degrees. Unfortunately Brandon could not join us so it was me and the kids. We spent the week visiting friends and family, enjoying the sites, and playing with fireworks. I love Washington in July. There is no other place that I have lived where the 4th of July lives up to what it should be. TOTAL FIREWORK CHAOS! We started the day by visiting the Mitchell's who I haven't seen in 3 years. There were about 10 kids running around their house playing, and Jackson and Elizabeth thought it was heaven. A baby pool and so many new friends. We chatted on the deck in the warm sun for over 4 hours before heading home to a family BBQ complete with burgers and smores. We also got the fireworks started with some little kid stuff like pop-its, smoke bombs, fountains, and my favorite the tanks. Jackson was right in the mix, using the punk to light the fireworks. A kid after my own heart. Finally when it was dark we headed down to the lake for the big show. We brought some of our own shells but mainly just enjoyed what the lake veterans had to offer. You will never see more fireworks at one time in your whole life. I think I looked like a bobble head doll scanning the lake for all the fireworks. Elizabeth kept saying, "Mom that was the biggest boom." Then a minute later, "No mom that was the biggest boom." By the end of the night the kids were beat and went straight to bed (around 11:00pm).
We also took a trip out to the canal to visit my grandparents. My grandma was still in the rehab home getting better from her broken leg so we stopped by the house first. It is so relaxing there, quiet and laid back. I had a great time watching the kids explore the yard and all my favorite activities I enjoyed as a child. They played in the fountain, found crabs on the beach, played hide and seek in the gardens, played the organ, and sat for pictures with my grandpa's statue. It brought back so many memories for me and was a perfect flashback to my dad. His spirit is so strong there, I spent the day soaking it up and remembering my childhood with him. We stopped by for a short visit with my grandma after that and headed back home.
The last day of our trip we visited grandpa John. I miss him so much. He has a heart like mine, only 61 years apart. We sat on the patio discussing his life in the war and his courtship of my grandma. I just love talking to him because there is so much experience and wisdom in his stories. A few things we talked about that I want to write down:
The Tuskegee Airmen. He was an instructor for them. They were affectionately called Eleanor's boys. He talked about how they wanted to share the bathrooms with the white airmen and when the airforce allowed it, all the white airmen went to the gentlemen's locker room at the golf course nearby. My grandpa never understood that.
We also talked about his training. He learned how to fly over 7 different types of airplanes throughout his career. One of which was during WWII and he actually carried an H bomb, although he never thought he would use it and fortunately he was right. He flew the plane that lead the approach during the Cuban Missile Crisis as well. During WWII he said they would fly from Maine all the way around the world to California in 48 hour shifts during the high alert periods. He has lived all over the world including: Maine, South Carolina, Florida, California, Arizona, Germany, Australia, Guam, and New Guinea.
He talked about courting my Grandma who is no slouch herself. She met my grandpa in high school and used to ride home on his handlebars of his bike. They would go out to the movies for 25 cents each. Then to the diner for ice cream another 25 cents. My grandpa would make $1/day at the paper mill and $4 a day during the summer when he worked as a caddy on the golf course. He joked that if the girl wanted a banana split at the diner he knew he was ordering a coke for 10 cents for himself. He loved my grandma but left for the air-force right after graduation. He said he knew he wanted to be a pilot because one day in town there was a plane that the kids could climb into during a fair one year. As soon as he climbed in he knew he wanted to fly one. My grandma went to business school for 2 years and received her degree. Then when my grandpa returned they were married. I admire their relationship so much. They were married for 66 years before she died and he still misses her so much every day. 12 kids, 2 countries, 5 major moves, and their love stayed strong. I can only hope my life will be as blissful (chaotic and difficult) but happy as theirs. I hope that I will have many more opportunities to talk with him in the future but if I don't I want to make sure to document what I know now before I forget it.
We had a wonderful time, and I am grateful that my family allowed us to take over their lives for a few weeks.