It was a day that started out like any other. We had nothing planned, so we decided to head into downtown Seattle for a little sightseeing, shopping at the book store, and family fun. Parenting reality at its best! Little did I know, none of those things were going to be accomplished.
Ok, so we ended up having fun, just not at all in the way we expected. I don’t know if you’re like me on this, but as a parent, I get super excited when I think I’ve planned the perfect family day. I get giddy inside, and though I try not to show it, I’m bursting with excitement for the awesome day I’m about to give my wife and kids. Almost 100% of the time, the day goes nothing like I had planned, and either one or both of the kids melts down — or I do. Kristi usually holds it together pretty well, but by now I think she’s just amused at how hard I try and how good my ability is to forget about the last time.
For a few months now, I’ve been wanting to drive down to the Denny Blaine neighborhood of Seattle to see Kurt Cobain’s former house. As a rock music fan and someone who enjoys exploring all that makes this city unique, it was something I was super excited to see. So after finally waking up and deciding we wanted to do something fun on this lazy, rainy Sunday, I’d come up with a plan.
It would be a mini Seattle rock star tour, which for some reason, I just knew my kids and wife would love (first mistake).
We’d swing by Uberbeatz Studio to catch a glimpse of where Queensrÿche recorded their most recent album, Condition Hüman, before heading all the way into town for a short stop at A Sound Garden (a public art installation and park where the band Soundgarden got its name), before finally making our way to Kurt’s house, just to catch even a small glimpse of the house that I’d seen all over the news over two decades ago. And to top it all off, we’d swing by the Amazon bookstore in the U-Village to let the kids explore and pick up a new book.
So at 11:30 (second mistake), we piled into the car, with some pork chops defrosting in the fridge that would be ready for us to cook when we returned after our awesome rock star tour. I didn’t grab any snacks for the kids, because I decided we wouldn’t be gone all that long and it wouldn’t be a big deal (third mistake). I pulled up the address I found online for the Sound Garden (completely forgetting I wanted to swing by the recording studio on our way), and off we went.
But had I checked my text messages on the way, I’d have seen that there had been a massive power outage in the U-District portion of Seattle, perhaps saving us from some of the trouble that was about to ensue…
The Quietest Sound Garden Ever
By the time we pulled in to the park where the Sound Garden was supposed to be, it was pouring. Macy had been saying for the last 5 or 10 minutes that she was hungry, so I promised that as soon as we saw “the cool sound things”, we’d go grab some lunch. I told the family to stay in the car while I tried to figure out where these things were. All I could see was a massive dog park but decided I should try to walk across it and climb the hill at the other end to see if they were up there. Through the rain, mud, and unfathomable amounts of dog poop, I trekked across the park. I finally reached the hill, climbed up, and let out an audible swear when all I saw was a soccer field.
I turned around and made my way back to the car. I took one more look at the GPS on my phone, but considering it was telling me I was basically standing on top of the Sound Garden, I decided to cut my losses and just come back another time. Reese had joined the “I’m hungry” chorus, so we decided we had to abandon my perfect plans and pick them up some food.
Kristi was digging through all the restaurants she could find in her phone that were in the area, but all of them were either too expensive or places where our kids wouldn’t eat. We finally decided to just swing through Dick’s Hamburgers, because it was the best we could find, and it was on the way-ish. Plus, it was in the U-District not far from where I worked, so I knew how to get there. That’s always a bonus.
The Rain Poured & Stomachs Growled
We made our way through the pouring rain and started to get upset at the unusual amount of traffic. It was a non-Seahawks game Sunday, but traffic was backed up for miles. Slowly, we worked our way up the road, and finally got to Dick’s. But with no cars in the parking lot, and no lights on inside (remember that power outage I didn’t know about?), we suddenly realized we needed a backup plan. With the kids growing hungrier by the moment in the backseat, I decided to drive a couple more blocks to Taco Time, because at this point, why not?
They were closed, too.
Ok, now we were in trouble, I was quickly exhausting my limited list of U-District restaurants that I knew my kids would find acceptable. I decided to head east and take them to CaliBurger, an In-n-Out clone that would make everyone happy for sure. And this time I was positive they would be open. I’d driven by in the past on weekends and noticed they were open, so I made a promise to the girls that if this place was closed, I’d eat my own finger!
I think you know where this is going.
As we drove towards Cali-Burger, we realized all the traffic lights were out. All the lights in the surrounding businesses were out. We drove by CaliBurger and (drum roll please): they were closed. Before adding some salt to my finger and beginning to snack, I made one last pledge: the University Village is right down the hill, but they’re far enough away to probably not be affected by the power outage. There had to be something there we could all agree on.
We made our way towards The Ram, pretty much the only place we knew everyone would find something to eat. We pulled into the U Village and my heart was filled with joy. All over, restaurants and businesses had lights on and customers. We pulled into the parking lot for The Ram, and… it didn’t look good. Kristi ran up to check, and, say it with me, they were closed. I finally looked at my phone. Oops. Massive power outage in Seattle. Businesses everywhere were shut down.
The Ram would be reopening soon, but considering it was so expensive, and not our first choice anyway, we weren’t sure we wanted to wait. We drove by the Amazon bookstore thinking we could just go there and occupy the kids long enough for the Ram to reopen, but, as you’ve come to expect by now, they were closed.
Ok Seattle, You Win
Finally, I’d had enough. I made the call that we would just start heading north, stop at a Red Robin on our way home, save those pork chops for another day, and come back to visit Kurt’s house sometime when the city wasn’t in a complete meltdown. As we devoured our food in silence, tired and hungry, I realized that we’d completed exactly NONE of the plans I’d put together for the day. In fact, what we were doing at that exact moment — eating at a restaurant — was one of the things I was trying to avoid. And all I really wanted to do that day was see Kurt Cobain’s house…
But I also realized it had been a pretty good day. First of all, I got my wife to go along with the idea of going on a mini Seattle rock star tour. Let’s stop and appreciate that for a moment. Throw in Pearl Jam’s “Ten” on the stereo and a latte from Starbucks and it’s pretty much a perfect day.
It’s in those “disastrous” days you often find some of your best memories. Maybe nothing went according to plan, but no one starved to death, Macy actually ate her entire meal, we had a really good laugh at the whole thing, and I learned to check my text messages more often.
That’s parenting reality.
Originally published at www.parentingreality.com on January 9, 2017.