Great Wolf Lodge & a Great Daddy Day

An islander treat is to board first on the ferry, park on deck front and center

a true vehicle sailing, rope gate just beyond our windshield

a mainland drive over Fir Island, where Olive was born

to where Betty and Lucy were born on Whidbey Island

I walked across Deception Bridge

where tide-powered driftwood swirled like damp linens

so, so many feet below

I quickly remembered my fear of hovering above sea level as toes peeked out from the guard rail

Deception Island, framed and illuminated in the sunshine

just before the outline of our current island

like some digital treasure map brochure.

We spent the evening at friends,

kids in pajamas, in bunk beds, in laughter until way past bedtime

while adults popped bottle tops

beside the fire, the douglas firs

in conversations until way past midnight.

In the morning, we drove slow

past the house Lucy was born in

past the prairie we buried our first dog in

and waited for a ferry to The Olympic Peninsula that never arrived

so we drove to the island’s south tip, took another ferry

drove south of Olympia to Great Wolf Lodge in Grandview, Washington.

In the parking lot, once unbuckled, our children shrieked, giggled, jumped

as my husband and I stood on the pavement and took deep breaths,

this is the sort of thing we do because we love our children

– our manta in a full parking lot, full hotel, full restaurant

having traveled from our tiny island we expected

crowds and chaos and tantrums behind the front doors

our eyes wide, mantra on our lips

yet the moment walk inside

watch our girls explode with excitement

there remains no need for our mantra

Great Wolf is huge, 56,000 square feet of splashing,

with enough room for everyone to really enjoy themselves

Olive got new goggles in the gift shop and it took some convincing that her eyes were supposed to be open with goggles

to which she’d reply, Mama, there’s turtles on my eyeballs!

Olive brought her baby in a swimsuit

it wasn’t long before I was carrying it around the park

while she begged me to say I had four children

it’s really her way of insisting I say she’s always gonna be my baby, our last baby

The girls love the fireplace pajama story time with songs, Great Wolf meet-and-greet characters

giant stuffed robots that sing, as Olive says.

After coloring in a booth, nachos and sliders in our tummies

we put the kids to bed,

Maybe this place is for kids since this much fun is so exhausting for adults,

said Luke, already half asleep and sideways on the bed

You know I love skee-ball so much and we’re steps away from a 24-hour arcade, I said,

besides, when was the last time we woke our kids up to play skee-ball?

just like that we dragged our girls out of bed, told them to get shoes on really fast

Mama, but where are we going? Lucy asked.

When I said, the arcade, of course!  

The girls were totally shocked and convinced we were playing a trick on them

all the lights and noise and giggles and gaming options were a bit overwhelming at first, half asleep

Olive brought a basket for tokens and tickets

somehow, having never played in an arcade, she was insanely prepared

and most of all excited about the carousel

Mama, I’m tired but I love skee-ball too much, said Olive.

the arcade is kinda like Vegas, electronic gaming tempos ring out of rhythm

with just-one-more gold coin down for a

a candy necklace, a Hello Kitty doll

chance, only 273 more red tickets for the ladybug stuffed animal our middle girl just needs to have

but I love arcades.  I could play skee-ball until dawn.  As it turns out, so could our girls.

The next morning, Luke set the alarm to take Lucy on a hallway magic wand expedition

while the rest of us slept in, ate vacation-special cereal (Fruity Pebbles)

and had a dance party.

Briefly, I turned on the television just as the new Apple commercial came on

the one that starts:

This is it, this is what it all is about

and in that space and time, I couldn’t have agreed more

where vacations, even mini ones, are an all out party

and we’re at a place so magical, it couldn’t have been designed better by kids.

We spent the rest of the morning splashing around the park

until we remembered we had a late ferry to catch

Our girls loved it and could have stayed for, at the very least, another day.

Sure, there were a lot of people and it was loud

but the noise was mostly giggles and when I looked hard enough, there were quiet corners

where the light was just right.

Great Wolf Lodge is a place you go because you love your kids and because it’s just so darn fun.

We didn’t want to leave.  On the highway at nearly 3 pm, we wondered if we’d make the 8 o’clock ferry.

I have total ferry anxiety, which Luke finds somewhat hilarious.

I like to arrive way too early, and he’s convinced it’s always gonna work out if it’s meant to.

Without traffic, without broken I-5 bridge mixups, we pulled into the ferry lane at 5:58 and drove right onto the 6 o’clock ferry.

Yup.  Things just work out when they’re meant to.  Some days are just magic.

And the light is just right if you take the time to look.

[This is a Great Wolf Lodge sponsored post.  Luckily, my family and I think Great Wolf Lodge is amazing, so this was an honest and fun post to write..]

Our girls were counting down how many sleeps until Daddy Day

kept construction paper cards and pom-pom-scotch-tape caterpillars under their pillows

I woke at dawn, went for a long run with a new playlist

tiptoed back in to start coffee

Olive came down after solo sips of coffee, after long thoughts in the shower

sometime after 9:30 am

I was thrilled with my quiet, with the sleepers-in

I often mess up for the sleepy and drop heavy things

turn music up when I don’t mean to.

We decided Daddy needed a huge donut

so I climbed on the counter to get the pan

the world’s most giant black spider leapt onto my shoulder

and I totally freaked out screaming.  So that’s how everyone else woke up,

Olive hiding under the piano, Lucy terrified she was about to step on it without her glasses on

and Luke, smiling at the ordinary of it all

happy for hugs, fresh coffee and his role as spider hunter

So we made the cake and frosting and bacon and eggs

made plans to fish on Egg Lake (and really, it’s located next to Bacon Lake)

Olive listened to everything Luke said about lures

she kept saying, I’m gonna catch a huge fish and throw it down on the dock and say,

wow, look at that guy, he’s huge!  Yup.  She’s watched a few fishing shows before with her grandpa.

She was so patient, holding the rod and her sea otter and waiting

as Luke spoke of his love of fishing

every two minutes unsnagging the lures from pond grass

It wasn’t too long before the girls purposely got their hooks stuck on grass

just so they could see the fierce bend in the pole, just so they could see what it’d be like to catch a huge fish

they giggled over their Sponge Bob fishing bobbers rocking on the water

and spoke about all the sorts of fish they like to eat.

Soon, Olive’s fishing pole became too heavy and the fish were taking too long

Luke took over as she napped

I sat and knit and watched

knowing I don’t like fishing, not even one bit

but that was perfectly fine from where I sat in the middle

amazed to watch the guy I love teach the people we’ve created together

something so close to his heart

even without catching fish

when our girls on the ride home said they loved fishing almost as much as skiing

I knew we’d had the perfect day:

one that began with donuts and bacon

one that ended with Luke getting to choose the bedtime story.


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