Summer Adventures Part Five: Suncadia!

Well since summer is officially over, I guess it’s high time for me to finish up these summer recaps and fully embrace the fall.  Especially since I’m wearing jeans and flannel Toms and drinking a hot tea in a coffee shop right now!  Thanks for bearing with me through our end of summer vacation hurrah – we are back now and buckling down with work, the start of school, and some other fun projects.  It’s been so great to travel, but also feels good to get back into routine and structure (and to not share tiny vacation bedrooms with two kids!). 

Two weeks ago was the first big vacation of our summer!!  We planned it back in January, and have looked forward to it all year long.  We had family flying out from Indianapolis and Atlanta – and we planned to spend a week of boating, tubing, and swimming in a beautiful house on Washington’s Lake Chelan.  Our bags were packed and Casey was at the airport picking up the first round of family arrivals, when I got a text from a friend – “Thinking of you this weekend – scary about all the new fires in Chelan!”  Uhhh – what?

So then I did some quick googling.  Uh oh…

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I had been so busy packing and planning all day that I hadn’t spent any time on social media or my computer.  We’d had really weird storms all day in Seattle with tons of lightning and thunder (which is very rare out here), and apparently the Chelan area had gotten all of the lightning but none of the rain.  It’s been the hottest and driest summer in Washington’s history, and a few lightning strikes that morning had ignited the brush around Chelan, and sparkled wildfires that spread quickly and grew very dangerous within a matter of hours.

Meanwhile, we had family arriving who were excited for a vacation that I wasn’t sure we’d be taking anymore.  But after long days of travel, everyone was just happy to be together, and we figured we’d wake up in the morning and see the status of what was happening in Chelan, and plan from there.  I was up all night – frantically googling, searching, and combing for information.  The fires were really scary and a lot of homes and businesses were in danger.  Not to mention, there was a very hazardous smoke level in the area, and most of the lake was without power.  It became quickly apparent we were not getting to Chelan anytime soon.

Once we accepted that instead of rolling out to the lake, we were staying in Seattle, we tried to make the best of it – especially because it was Katie’s birthday!  

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We hit up the parks and my favorite (Madison Park) beach, before going to a very last minute birthday dinner at a Mexican restaurant. 

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But I also spent a lot of the day in tears.  It wasn’t so much about missing a vacation – I mean, after all, these fires were burning homes and businesses, and were spreading quickly.  I couldn’t stop checking the updates and praying the fires would slow down.  But I just felt SO bad for my inlaws, who had planned and provided this vacation so long ago, and I knew they were so disappointed.  And because it was outside of Seattle, I felt responsible for fixing it – whatever that meant. 

Once we were able to get in touch with the property owner in Chelan who confirmed we would be refunded the original trip, we moved forward in scrambling to find a new week-long vacation for nine people.  After a lot of research and phone calls, I had us re-booked a few hours later for a beautiful vacation home in Suncadia – just 90 minutes away from Seattle in the Cascade Mountains. 

So that night, we celebrated Katie’s birthday at home with a yummy cake from Simply Desserts, and we all went to bed excited to finally hit the road in the morning. 

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Where Chelan was going to be all about water and boating and swimming, Suncadia was all about the mountains!  Totally different, but equally beautiful – and as it turned out, absolutely wonderful. 

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We were able to rent one of the private vacation homes, and considering it was the ONE house that would fit our group and was open for the whole week – it was seriously perfect.  We had just enough bedroom space (our family shared bunk beds – ha!), the living space was open and super kid-friendly, and the giant garage was stocked with bikes, games, and this amazing basketball shooting game that all three kids were obsessed with. 

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On our first day, we decided to go out and explore the many miles of paved trails on bikes.  We had a few in the garage we could use, and we rented a few more with bike trailers from the bike shop. 

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One of the reasons I love Hilton Head so much is that whenever we visit, we spend the whole time biking and we never ever get in our cars.  Suncadia was the same scenario – I never got in the car once the whole week other than our final dinner out in town!  And even though it is a resort, it’s on a huge property, so it never felt too small or like there wasn’t enough to do. 

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We biked down to Dawson Park, which was one of my favorite spots at the resort.  It had a huge playground, and access to every sport imaginable.  It even had a little field house where you could use all sort of sports equipment (for free).  Graham was completely obsessed with basketball, and ran around all week asking of he could play “hoops.”  He kills me.

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Afternoons were mostly spent at the pool.  I was surprised there wasn’t a better kid pool or splash area, considering how family-friendly the resort is – but our kids liked being in the adult pool with us anyway. 

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Cullen did swimming lessons all summer, and it has made a HUGE difference in his confidence and ability in the water.  He still uses a Puddle Jumper in deep water, but he wants to do everything by himself.  It’s so much more fun to swim with kids who are not clinging to your neck!

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Evenings were for listening to music around the fire, watching gorgeous pink and orange sunsets, and eating as many s’mores as possible. 

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Our backyard had this awesome fire pit surrounded by adirondacks, and we sat out there every single night.  The weather was perfection – cool enough for hoodies and fires, with no bugs and no humidity. 

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One afternoon we came home and found a mama deer and her babies snacking on the bushes out back!  They were so precious and stayed back there for a long time while we all watched from the windows inside. 

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The view from the front porch was gorgeous too.  As much as I had looked forward to being on the lake and swimming all week, I quickly discovered the peace and relaxation that comes from being in the mountains.  I sat out front most days during nap time, staring at this view and reading with my feet up. 

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The kids were in total grandparent and cousin heaven, and it was so fun to watch them all together.  Hadley is just five months older than Graham, and they were serious trouble together. 

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One of the mornings we were there, we decided to check out the paddle boards and boats around the small lake by the pool house. 

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I had only paddle-boarded once before, but it came back pretty quickly.  It something I’d like to do a lot more of on the lakes here in Seattle once the kids are a bit older.  We have a friend here who is a competitive paddle-boarder, and it’s such a great way to be active out on the water. 

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We took turns switching out between the paddleboards and the canoes.  The kids loved riding in the boats and helping with their tiny oars. 

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And Graham did SO well this time!  We took him out on a canoe earlier this summer, and he was only happy until the snacks ran out.  He also hated his life jacket.  This time he was really happy (despite the face below), and was thrilled to have his own tiny oar he could stick in the water.

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After a bit of practicing and paddling around, I went back to shore so that Cullen could jump on with me.  I knew he was old enough to sit still and understand that he needed to follow directions.  It was SO much fun!

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He got to paddle around a bit with dad too.  And just check out the scenery – doesn’t get more beautiful. 

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The water babies all loved the pool, and it was a great way to spend some of the hot and sunny days.  I bet by next summer we might even have two swimmers on our hands. 

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One of the things I really loved about this vacation is that we were able to stay really active almost every day.  Between hiking, biking, walking, and running – my body was exhausted each night by bedtime.  I ended up pulling Cullen around in the bike trailer for the second half of the week, and oh man – it is SO hard to pull all that extra weight!  He loved it, and it totally makes me want to get one for biking around Seattle. 

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I also did a bit of running on the trails while we were out there.  At the last minute, I grabbed my Brooks PureGrit’s, and they turned out to be the perfect shoe for the trip.  They have little grippers on the bottom that were great for keeping my feet on the bike pedals, as well as for hiking and running on the trails. 

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They also had a great fitness center at the resort, and one morning Katie and I decided to get up early and check out the Barre Burner class.  It was way harder than I thought it would be, and I was so glad we’d decided to sign up.  It felt great to be able to take a class even on vacation!

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One afternoon, Casey and I biked the boys around the entire (very hilly!) ridge loop trail, and then met the rest of the family at Battista Park – another adorable playground spot.  It looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland! 

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Goobers. 

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Casey had to run back home for a work thing mid-week, so while he was there he grabbed our two bikes along with the bike seat.  Graham liked the seat a lot better than the trailer, and it was easier for us to spread the weight out with each of us hauling one kid. 

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One of the cooler mornings we had there, we tackled the 1,000 step challenge. 

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The Lodge sits at the top of this giant overlook – with incredible sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains in every direction.

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And just below is a massive staircase leading all the way down to the Cle Elem River.  We decided to make the trek and explore the river area at the bottom. 

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It was breathtaking down below – well worth both the journey down and the haul back UP! 

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I am so grateful to my wonderful inlaws for making it possible for us to all spend a week together in such a beautiful place.  Even though it wasn’t what we’d originally planned, it turned out to be an amazing week, and I’m already thinking about our next trip back to Suncadia!

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On our final evening there, we hit up Dawson Park one more time before going out to dinner in Roslyn (the nearby town). 

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Cullen got to test out a metal bat (and upgrade from his usual foam) from the sports house, and oh man – he is hooked.  Scary. 

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And Graham is into “hoops” in the most hilarious way. 

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They had a little kid basketball that was much more appropriate for his size, but he wouldn’t even consider using it. 

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We wrapped up our trip with pizza and ice cream in town, and a new appreciation for the mountains and beauty of the northwest.

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It was such an amazing week, and I feel so lucky we were able to make it all come together so quickly at the last minute.  We continued to check on the fires in Chelan throughout the week, and the house we had rented was directly under threat of the First Creek Fire, so obviously we’re really glad we weren’t there!  We are sending lots of prayers and doing rain dances for the business and people in Chelan, and hoping that their community can rebound quickly.  As for Suncadia, I’d love to go back someday and explore the winter season in the mountains!  It was the perfect spot for our group, and a truly wonderful week.