Changing Landscapes

Photo is rows of rows of bright tulips stretch into the distance to meet the mountains under a cloudy sky. The bomb cyclone delayed us, but it didn’t stop us from traveling across the country. We would still make it with plenty of time for the wedding of a dear friend of my family.  My sister and I grew up with him and his brother, we swam on the swim team together, we graduated a few years apart. My parents and I wanted to honor the camaraderie our families continue to share after two decades as neighbors. We didn’t want to miss the opportunity to witness and support him and his lovely wife as they started their new chapter.

Northwest time included more than the wedding. Taking a few extra days off work meant I could spend time with my parents in a fun place experiencing new things. Sure, we bicker like most families, especially when weather busts plans or with poor sleep. But the best itineraries and forecasts don’t guarantee patience or humor. Those are a choice. 

Getting out of town is all about getting out of your routines, your daily stress. On holiday, the unexpected might turn out to be a delight. 

We left the anxious hustle of East Coast life for the steadier driving, evergreens, and drizzle of the West Coast. As we acclimated, people we crossed paths with offered more than answers, we shared conversation. 

 The day before the wedding, we set out north to the valley presenting a tulip festival. As a storm passed—we got used to that—Mom steered the rental confidently, I cued navigation, and Dad held his breath. Turns were missed. Arguments happened. Yet eventually we claimed a spot in the cushy green grass of the parking area. Sunlight peeked out from the cloudy skies. We joined others excited for the floral extravaganza and paid entrance into the special event. We rounded a corner, and there they were. 

Millions of blooming tulips planted in neat lines. With distance and low vision, they transformed into the poppy fields of Oz. As if under a giddy influence, people paused for photos and smiles. Kids at heart of all ages emerged. Mom, Dad, and I wandered the muddy lanes, absorbing the natural beauty surrounding us. Pinks, reds, whites. Peaches, lilacs, yellows. The mighty North Cascades in the distance were upstaged by the exquisite display. 

My parents helped me navigate as the crowds thickened. Our pace slowed in the complex demonstration gardens. We studied the layouts, petal shapes, and fragrances. My personal audio tour—those signals between parents and offspring—worked from care, not batteries. Unlike that time when the sound system at a modern museum malfunctioned, our track was never muted. 

A day in the fields brings around lunchtime hunger. A banquet for the eyes led to a feast for the stomach. We traveled east to a salmon bbq. (When a bike tour endorses it, it’s a sure bet.) Smoke floated from the fish cooking on the grill, chatter filled the tall lodge. Bites of fluffy baked potato, savory salmon with tartar sauce, and crunchy slaw satisfied us.

We cleared our plates, saying thank you and goodbye. We piled into the car and dealt with traffic, but on a full stomach and new memories, it’s not so bad. We will get through it, together.

We arrived back at the hotel for a rest before heading to the waterfront for dinner. The friendly person working the front desk gave us directions through a nearby park. As did two pairs of dog walkers and a cyclist. The more you walk, the more people you meet. 

We returned on a similar path going uphill, breaks were taken. The tall trees shielded our heads from the latest light rain and the soft dirt cushioned our soles. I thought of those who wouldn’t be attending the wedding. I was grateful for the ability to be here and to have the extra time with my family.

The dirt changed to pavement. Soon the hotel lobby doors parted and we separated to our rooms. I removed my boots and flopped on my bed. No matter how far you go, a good day ends with some mud on your boots.

Why are your neighbors memorable? Where have you traveled for a wedding? Have you taken a trip with your parents or grown children? Tell me about it.

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