Hiking · Local Adventures

An On Foot Field Trip

Our middle son has a progressive teacher for the 4th grade. To say the least, it has been a year unlike any other I have seen in public school. I volunteer often in my boys’ classrooms, and I would tell you that classrooms are exhausting these days. The children are nearly feral and don’t understand the concepts of quiet, listening and focusing. Children need guidance but that is an argument for another time. When Walker’s teacher brought up the idea of a field trip done with feet, rather than a yellow diesel limo, even I had to wonder how that would get pulled off. I have made nearly every field trip in the past 5 years and every single one left me with a headache and the desire to drink once we got off the bus at the school. I often get the children with zero boundaries on trips, because the teachers (hope) I can control them. I have had children yell at me that they don’t have to listen to me – and all I could think of was “Am I going to have a kid on a walking trip tell me this? And run into traffic?” However I watched how Walker’s teacher handled his class the past 2.5 months. He (yes, a male teacher…a unicorn!) keeps a tight rein. They are the quietest class in the school. The kids listen. They stop when told. When coming in from recess if they are not quiet, they start over. Sometimes 3 times. It is beyond awesome to not see kids laying on the floor, screaming, and refusing to sit at their desks and even try a tiny bit. I still had my aphrensions of course, that we could pull it off.  But we did.

The plan was a long day, using public transportation to get to Seattle and spend the day doing adventures, all done with walking.

Morning came early. We were at the ferry dock on the island at 6:30 am. We had parked above at the park and ride lot, and took the commuter loop bus down (it’s free) to join with everyone. We had 21 kids and around 22 chaperones (apparently a lot of adults wanted to go) (and we have small classrooms in our tiny district).

We made the ferry, had an easy crossing (it is about 15 minutes long), then we quickly made the walk to the Sounder station at Mulkiteo. We had 6 minutes to make it – and we did. The slower children were highly encouraged to move it. Once on the train (second stop, it starts in Everett), we got going. The Sounder train is a great way to head into Seattle, however it is aimed at commuters, and runs only in the early morning and mid-afternoon/early evening.

We got off the train, and headed up to the surface to look down on the train tracks. For many of the children, this was their first train ride.

Up first we walked around the corner to King Street Station (of which the Sounder uses, but drops off on separate tracks down below). King St. Station is the historical Amtrak station. The last time I had been there was 1995, when I took the train across the US on an adventure. The station then had been awful. Walker’s teacher arranged for us to meet with a docent to talk about the station and he gave us a tour – and explained how the station had been restored, and why it had been so ugly in 1995 for me. One of the biggest things was the restoration of the ceilings. When I had been there the ceilings were lowered panels – that were held up with metal cables that pierced the gorgeous ceilings. Brutal architecture at its finest……the 1960’s wrecked so many things.

This station is amazing to the detail done. The marble walls are back, the light fixtures were all recreated by an Oregon company. It simply feels elegant to be in it. Even the waiting benches are original. It brings back the opulence of 1906 Seattle.

We went into a side room that has not been finished, due to lack of funds. It was the Lady’s Waiting room. The ceiling in it shows the puncture wounds and the artwork destroyed. However, in this room you get to see the earthquake prevention in action, as it hasn’t been covered up yet. The entire building is retrofitted with massive X’s, over the fragile brick walls. The 2001 Nisqually earthquake left a lot of lessons about brick buildings.

After the King St. tour we left for Waterfall Garden, a short walk over.

The park is tucked into a tiny corner, and is locked at night. It also has security guards that watch over it. Waterfall Garden is the birthplace of UPS.

After that we walked to Occidental Park and visited the Fallen Firefighters Memorial. The park also has numerous kid friendly activities to enjoy for free such as games and a climbing area.

After that we took off and headed up 1st Ave to SAM (Seattle Art Museum), where the children had a tour and an art project for 2 hours.

Might have slipped out, and crossed the road to Starbucks Reserve and had a Pistachio Latte, one of the top 5 lattes in my life. No Frappuccinos to be seen, just elegant espresso and coffee…….

After the kids were done, we headed out to Pike Place and split up to have fun. After feeding the two kids in my care and introducing them to Piroshky, mini donuts and a whole lot more.

Then began the good walk – we headed to Spring and 4th, and did an adventure in the Seattle Library, from the top overlook, all the way to the Red Floor, painted in 13 shades of red.

Then we headed up to 5th and ran it back towards ID (International District). turning up S. Washington St., to Kobe Terrace, and then walked down thru Danny Woo community garden, which is terraced on the hillside, overlooking SoDo. I believe I found the steepest section of road in Seattle….the 2 blocks up to Kobe Terrace. I felt that one, and I think most of us did. Haha.

We headed back to the train station and caught it. We had a dry day, while it dumped everywhere else. The train entered a wall of darkness on the way back and as we walked onto the ferry lightning was going across the sky and the skies dumping on us.

I was pretty impressed that 9 yo’s did 7 miles and we didn’t miss any of our connections. No one had a melt down, no tantrums. Just a lot of excitement. And zero stinky yellow busses were needed to do this adventure.

I fell asleep at 8 pm however. Hah.


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