Friday was a special day as it was the day we planned to go to the “airplane museum”, officially known as the Museum of Flight near the Boeing plant. On previous visits to Seattle, I had had numerous fun excursions here with one or both boys, so I knew we would have an exciting time. And for this visit, there was a special fiftieth anniversary exhibit of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.
Even before entering the special exhibit, we got to pretend we were planting the American flag on the lunar surface. But no doubt realizing that lunar attire was more appropriate, my oldest grandson soon donned a space suit.
When we arrived for our appointed time, we found a fairly long line. But while waiting to enter, I found an authentic 1960s-era model kit on display that included all of the rockets used by NASA up to that date. My heart skipped a beat as I recognized this as the very one, I too assembled sometime prior to the 1969 lunar landing. What a thrill even before I entered!
As we turned the corner, the line snaked around in almost a wedding party-like review line—slowly moving while others admired each of the display cases. Some of the exhibits were existing permanent ones we had seen before and so we skipped ahead. Naturally I was attracted to the scale models of the space and lunar capsules.
For me, the climax of the special exhibit was getting to see the actual Apollo 11 capsule that made that momentous journey 50 years ago safely transporting the three astronauts over a half million miles to and from the moon (the only piece to return to Earth).
By the time we returned home, my son-in-law had arrived back from his trip and so my daughter and I got to walk to the microbrewery in her neighborhood for a nice cold IPA while Dad got a chance to play with the boys.
With Dad home for the weekend, we had big plans. First up was to go to another park, this one distant from their house, for a nice walk and play time.
My daughter had looked up several microbreweries in the area we could go to afterwards but unfortunately none of them opened before 3:00 PM. So, Saturday we missed our craft beer excursion, but we did go to a fun party that night at one of their friend’s house. There was lots of local beer available as well as some great food. While I didn’t know anyone there, I made it a point to speak to as many couples as possible, a rare occurrence for an introvert like myself. Since they all had small kids, I told everyone they could just call me granddaddy.
Sunday, my son-in-law was flying off for his second conference so after early mass, my daughter and I and the boys headed off on a great beer adventure.
While we were at one of the parks earlier in the week, my daughter had looked up and found out that we were in the middle of the hop harvest and that in Yakima Valley, you could actually get a beer brewed with hops less than 24 hours after being picked—a fresh hop IPA. When she saw that it was only 120 miles away, we both agreed it was a must visit.
By the time we got there, it was noon and so our first stop was lunch at a downtown eatery that had Yakima beer on draft. My oldest grandson took this picture of us. Not bad for a five-year-old.
After lunch, we headed to our first craft brewery which advertised not only that they brew their own beer, but that they grew their own hops (Yakima Valley actually grows 75% of all hops used in the US). And you could sit and enjoy those beers surrounded by growing hop bines (yes bine not vine).
This was absolutely my kind of brewery. They had 14 beers on draft and ten of them were IPAs. I couldn’t sample them all, but I did get a great taste of six while the boys and mom entertained themselves.
Turns out, we actually were early by about two weeks for their harvest and thus their fresh hop IPA. However, there was a nice photo of their harvesting process in the tasting room.
And my daughter picked me a fresh souvenir hop to take home.
Checking the traffic before we left, we found that a major snarl on the interstate was causing a significant delay. So instead of being stuck in traffic, we headed to another craft brewery. While this one was a much smaller operation than the first, it also grew its own hops and being up on a hill, had great views of the valley. After finishing another tasty IPA and loading up on snacks for the road, we headed home in time for the usual dinner, boy’s bath, reading, and bedtime.
Monday was a momentous day for my daughter and me. My oldest grandson was scheduled to start kindergarten in a couple of weeks and in advance, his school was having a weeklong jump start program to get parents and kids acclimated to the school, teachers, and routine.
We saw lots of kids (and several parents) shedding a few tears at what no doubt was, the most significant milestone to date for many of them in their young five years. Our launching went off with only a minor glitch, but I know it pulled at my daughter’s heartstrings to walk away from him at the door.
Meanwhile, one-year-old brother was unfazed.
After school let out and after brother’s nap, we headed to another park for some fun biking and playing…
…before heading home for pizza and beer from one of my favorite local breweries.
Tuesday was my last day before flying back home and so after jump start drop off…
…we readied our plans—they were dual-focused.
First, we planned to visit the airplane museum one more time since it was my last chance. But second, my daughter had again done her homework and discovered that a craft brewery close to the museum had in fact harvested their hops from the Yakima Valley less than two weeks before and after having a “picking party” (hand picking the hops off the bines) had brewed their fresh hop IPA. Only problem was that no one under the age of 21 was allowed in their tasting room (not the norm we encountered at most breweries). So, my daughter making what is for a beer lover the ultimate sacrifice, encouraged me to go and enjoy the beer while she stayed at the museum with the boys. It was one of the kindest gestures a daughter could make for her dad!
Fortunately, they also canned some of those first brews and so my daughter and I were able to share a fresh hop IPA taste together after the boys went to bed.
Sadly, I had to fly off Wednesday and so when my daughter dropped me off at the light rail station, she snapped this selfie, one of the few we had of both of us, but one that truly captured the love we have for each other.
To cap off my visit, I was fortunate enough to get upgraded to first class on my connecting flight to LA and so had one more beer for my trip.
Since my daughter moved to Seattle, there have been numerous times for me to fly out to help. While I have often referred to them as my “granddaddy duty”, they have never seemed onerous but rather very special times. However, on this trip they really fell into another category—a vacation—for both of us. I got a chance to spend special time with my two grandsons, a chance to help my daughter while my son-in-law was out of town, a chance to visit some extraordinary parks, and a chance to enjoy some really great beer together. So, it really was a vacation, a granddaddy vacation!