This past Valentine’s day, looking for a quick but not overly ambitious little day jaunt, we found ourselves pulling into the Breazeale Interpretive Center in the Padilla Bay Estuarine Reserve. After a curbside picnic in the warmth of the waning winter sun, we loaded up London in the hiking pack and headed down to the beach. The trail down is great, short & paved all the way, and it leads to a bird lookout above the beach before descending to the sand below via a spiral staircase.
Padilla Bay is a tidal bay which means that it floods during high tide and lies almost completely exposed during low tide. This allows the eelgrass which covers the bottom of the bay to grow unusually large, thus creating an ideal environment for many different marine animals and plants to thrive in. It is also an estuary, that murky no man’s land where fresh water and salt water meet. I’ve always liked estuary’s; a unique place where two worlds collide and somehow meld together to create a whole new environment. That and the mud. That silky, smooth, stinking mud which exists in estuaries the world over. I would have gladly let London cover himself head to toe in it had it not been high tide in February.
On our way back towards the car, London and I ducked into the Interpretive Center and were pleasantly surprised at all it had to offer. There are a few well done aquariums as well as a hands on learning room, with lots of things for kids to touch and explore all while learning about the local Padilla Bay environment. A little edification thrown into a Valentine’s day adventure? Now that’s my kind of romance.
Breazeale Interpretive Center
10441 Bayview Edison Road
Mt. Vernon, WA 98273
Open Wed~Sun 10am~5pm
I used to live mere feet from this park, and many of my favorite childhood memories are wrapped up in its shrubbery. I perfected my tree climbing skills there, picked blackberries off it’s slopes and roared with laughter the 4th of July my daredevil uncle caught it’s grassy bank on fire.
Though spread across only 5 acres, Grand Ave Park is long & narrow and beautifully maintained, so it gives the illusion of being much bigger than it truly is. The city of Everett acquired the land in 1906; it was sold to the city by the Everett Improvement Company for the grand total of $1. Many stately houses line the east side of the park, including the home of Henry M. Jackson, a US congressman and senator. His house had been built by another Everett notable, William C. Butler, a conservative Republican banker who had had great influence over Everett’s early development. When Mr. Jackson, a Democrat, purchased the house in 1967, he was said to have savored the irony of owning the house of the tight-fisted ‘ol Republican not only because of their political differences but also because he had delivered newspapers to that same house as a child.
Grand Ave Park is probably not the place you’ll want to visit for a toddler playdate or a power jog. There’s no playground or plastic jungle gym or batting cages. Just a long expanse of beautiful views, big trees and green grass. When I walk along its promeade, looking down on the twinkling lights below, I can nearly imagine myself eleven again, running ahead, wild & free. It’s a mirage that I’m always grateful for.
Grand Avenue Park
1800 Grand Ave Everett, WA 98201
I may be a bit bias as the Centennial Trail literally runs right by my house, as in across the street from my front door, but I think it’s one of the better paved trails around. It runs for 29 miles, from Historic Snohomish to just north of little ‘ol Bryant, passing thru both Lake Stevens and Arlington along the way. Following former railway lines, there are benches, picnic tables and even a drinking fountain or two sprinkled along the route.
When I was a kid, long before cell phones and motorized scooters, my cousin and I would meet up on the trail & have picnics. He would call from his house in Lake Stevens and I would answer at my house in Snohomish & after a brief discussion of who was bringing what to the trailside grubdown, we would hope on our bikes and take off towards each other. We would meet someone along the way, pull our dusty bikes over and eat whatever food we were able to smuggle out of our respective houses. Then we would climb back on our metal steeds and pedal back home again.
That kind of childhood freedom makes me nostalgic not only because my life now has far fewer bicycle filled days but also because I fear that carefree freedom, which should be such an integral part of childhood, is fast disappearing. Though London is too small yet to even ride a bike, I hope to someday cover all 29 miles with him; from Snohomish to the Nakashima Farm which marks the end of the trail. And, in the spirit of raising an independent young man, I might even let him ride a bit ahead of me.
Runs from Snohomish, WA
to Nakashima Farm, north of Bryant, WA
London and I stopped by this little gem yesterday as a brief respite from errand running in the suburbs. It wasn’t raining at the time & actually was quite warm out, yet the park was nearly deserted. That worked out well for us though, giving my toddler daredevil complete domain over the entire playground including the big kid area, a freedom which he rarely encounters.
The Burke-Gilman Trail runs right thru the park, adjacent to a burbling little river and had I had my act together, we might even have gone on a stroll.
The park is very well maintained and the rest rooms are located right next to the playground, a thoughtful setup which I can only imagine to be the planning of a park engineering parent. The playground itself is nice, with a cute little color scheme of white & teal big toys, a nice change from the ‘ol wooden standard. There is a section for both little & big kiddos, a sandbox with a digger and a tire swing. All in all, it’s a swell little city park, right in the heart of Woodinville.
Wilmot Gateway Park
17301 131st Ave NE
*Free Parking though spots can be limited on a busy weekend*