Mini Vacations · 22 August 2010

We have had a great summer so far. We had a couple celebrations and went on a couple mini vacations. Most importantly, we have been together. Mostly.

Our first celebration was for our oldest son’s high school graduation. Thing 1 is ready to spread his wings and leave the nest, but we had to have a party to celebrate one of his first milestones into adulthood. Finishing high school is certainly not the greatest achievement he will attain, but it is one of the big firsts in his life. We took lots of pictures to remember the event. After all, soon he will be off to start his latest adventure – college and just being on his own.

We also had a second celebration. For Thing 1’s birthday. We pulled out all the stops and went to the Space Needle for lunch and then walked around Seattle Center for a while. Lunch and dessert were great and it was quite the step up from fast food or even a sit down dinner in town. Even though Thing 1 is afraid of heights, he conquered them long enough so that we had a great time viewing the scenery while eating and in the rotating restaurant five-hundred feet up. We took pictures everywhere we went and even though Thing 2 and Thing 3 did not have swimming suits, they got extremely wet playing in the fountain at Seattle Center. It was a wonderful day of just being together in a special place for a special occasion.

With another birthday/father’s day party and a Fourth of July get together thrown in for good measure (and lots of pictures to document the events), we maxed out our number of big celebrations in just the first few weeks of summer. But in my estimation, summer would not summer without at least some semblance of a road trip. Even if one member of the family was missing.

Our road trip and mini vacation encompassed a trip to Northwest Trek, Mount Saint Helen’s National Volcanic Monument, and Grandma’s house in Portland, Oregon. It was four days of fun on the road, seeing the sights, and, of course, visiting Grandma.

Northwest Trek is a Metro Parks Tacoma zoo that houses mainly northwest animals. Its 723 acres are split into two sections – a traditional zoo and a 435-acre free roam area. It is close to home, and like many folks, we do not often see the sights or do the touristy things near where we live. It was great to ride the open air busses and see the caribou, elk, deer, bison, mountain goats, and mountain sheep roaming around in the free roam area like we might have observed them in the wilderness long ago. As we rode along, there was one huge bull bison right next to the bus, and as we passed by, people were encouraged not to reach out and touch him even though they could. Thankfully, the bears, cougars, wolves, and other predators were not so free to roam, but had their own environments in which we could observe them. Our day at Northwest Trek was well worth the trip past Tacoma. Especially, since we got an up close and personal view of the reptiles and amphibians getting fed.

After a night in a hotel with a pool (a must for anybody with kids), we spent a day without video games in the car observing the landscape around us as we traveled to Mount Saint Helens. At first, we could see our goal, but as we got closer to the volcano, hills kept it from our view. When we got to our fist stop at the Elk Rock Viewpoint, we had a magnificent view. Just from the parking lot. Naturally, Thing 2 and Thing 3 went straight for the playground area instead of heading into the viewpoint visitor center to see what we could see. Unfortunately, the exhibit was closed during the middle of the week, but we still climbed to a couple telescopes and visited with a volunteer who came out even though the visitor center was closed. We took pictures and saw the volcano close up through the telescope and even spotted some elk with the help of our volunteer.

At the end of the road, we sat in the parking lot and ate our packed lunch like we did the day before. Then we made our way to see the volcano close up. The Johnston Observatory was marvelous and we even got to watch a movie. The kids made a seismograph go crazy by jumping up and down on the ground and we took lots of pictures both inside and outside the observatory building. It was great fun and even though my wife, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi, was sick of me taking pictures, I took some more on the road down from Mount Saint Helens.

When we got to Portland and Grandma’s house, everybody was ready to relax. The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi wondered if I was going to get my quota of one-hundred pictures per day even while we were at her mom’s house. I almost made it just by taking pictures of the three generations posing to remember our short time together. I suppose I would have made the quota if I had taken pictures of our time in the pool rather than swimming and trying to keep my kids from drowning me.

All in all, our four day vacation was a successful time of new experiences. We ate well and saw some sights near home. The kids even fasted from video games. Even if it was just for a day. And we had a great time just being together. Both in the car and at our destinations. The journey and the time together were priceless and we have the pictures to remember them by.

Looking back, we have had a great time this summer being together (mostly) celebrating milestones and just living life together. We have seen some sights and taken the requisite (albeit short) road trip and logged it all with pictures galore. I look forward to the rest of the summer with my family even though we have already had to say goodbye to our eldest son. Life is not quite the same without him here day in and day out (like it was without him on our mini vacation), but memories and photos of celebrations, mini vacations, and just spending time together doing nothing will keep us all together in our hearts and minds.

© 2010 Michael T. Miyoshi

Share on facebook


  1. Thanks for the simple reminders, the important stuff – going through a tough year – but reading things like this helps.

    If you’re ever in the PDX area again, and have free time, would love to connect :) – and same goes true if we’re in SEA.

    Take care!

    TravisM · 27 August 2010, 10:41 ·

Commenting is closed for this article.