Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Unique Seattle Scavenger Hunt

Well over 24 hours ago, Aleks and Kat officially graduated from high school. When their classmates boarded a bus, headed for their grad night celebration (after a full day of senior activities, from the "moving Up" assembly to senior breakfast to the graduation ceremony at UW), Aleks and Kat went with us for a Mystery Day in Seattle.

Both Elisabeth and Peter had "warned" Aleks and Kat about grad night -- that, while it was fun, it was also very, very restrictive (no chapstick, no cell phones, no wallets, not even any tampons allowed!) and after the full senior graduation day, it was just too much. So, weeks ago, Aleks and Kat asked us if WE could do something fun instead. Give me an opportunity to plan "something fun," and I am all over it! I made a reservation at the Marrakesh Moroccan restaurant (which we had to cancel because the grad ceremony lasted longer than expected; we went to Bucco di Beppo's instead) and at the Sheraton in downtown Seattle, where we all fell deep asleep after the very, very long day.

While my plan was to treat Aleks and Kat to a fun day in Seattle, Elisabeth's knew how to REALLY make a day in Seattle memorable and her gift to Aleks and Kat has us all still reeling!

When the kids were little, Elisabeth loved to organize scavenger hunts for her younger siblings. A birthday party? Leave it to eight-year-old Elisabeth to plan and execute a full-blown scavenger hunt for 20 four-year-olds. Clues would be hidden under a teeter-totter and in the sandbox and in the dog's house, culminating in party bags and happy children.

All that practice culminated in Elisabeth's Scavenger Hunt of Life for Aleks and Kat, days in the making and executed to a tee. It began with a knock on the hotel room door and the delivery (by the bellman) of the first clue:

Good Morning High School Graduates! Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life. Today will be a day of adventure and fun. And just as in the game of life, there are a few rules:

1. You must bring your graduation cap with you to each place we go.

2. You must take at least one picture that includes both of you at each destination.

3. It is up to YOU to find your path. You will have to work together and think through the guidance we give you to arrive at each experience.

4. Enjoy each step of the journey thoroughly! Live in the moment!

The first two rules went out the window real fast. In fact, I don't think there's a single picture of Aleks and Kat with their grad hats on!

So here's a picture chronology of the day. We had to skip a few clues in the interest of time (at 1 PM we were just on the second clue!), but I'll list them all here, just for fun. (Unfortunately, Peter and Danelle had finals and couldn't join us. And Aleks faded completely just before the paddle boats, opting to hop on a bus home and sleep while the rest of us continued on. The constant activity of the last two days had just been too much for us and he wished us well, but I think he was perfectly happy to get some sleep in his own room. So here we go!)

For our first stop, let’s start by talking about life’s little challenges. Sometimes finding your way back home won’t be easy. Sometimes you’ll have to swim upstream. Sometimes you’ll even have to make giant leaps of faith. You may decide you’ve had enough of that salty water, and it’s time for the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to. The tides may change. The water level may rise. But if you persevere, if you sail your ship through the challenges across which you come, you’ll find your way through

Welcome to the Ballard Locks! Remember coming here as a kid?

And speaking of being a kid, remember how everything felt larger than life back then? Remember feeling like you could accomplish anything with your imagination, maybe even picking up an entire car? Never lose that confidence in yourself! And never forget to appreciate all the ways that you’ve been lucky in your life. Even when you feel like the grass is greener on the other side of the bridge, know that you have a unique combination of abilities and talents that will get you exactly where you want to go if you can stand tall and proud, even in the face of a giant.

Welcome to the Fremont Troll Under the Bridge!

Let’s get out from under this dark place and talk about bright horizons. What an amazing place to be in your life! This is the point at which you have as many choices and opportunities ahead of you, as well as things to learn and discover, as there are grains of sand on the shore. You can now breathe a sign of relief and wave goodbye to the confines of high school life and look forward to the multitude of Golden opportunities that await you. Make sure to sample many of the different experiences from life’s Garden of choices!

Welcome to Golden Gardens Beach!
(We ran out of time and decided not to include this.)

This, of all places, should remind you that there are some sweet pleasures in life. So let’s get a little mushy-gushy for a second and talk about the ones we call members of the opposite sex. Aren’t they great? And doncha just wish you could sample them all? But unfortunately, as I know you are both upstanding people, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Except at that one place… Mmmmmm.
(Yes, we're a weird family... and this is a delightfully weird...)

Welcome to the Erotic Bakery! Hungry?

I’d like to take this opportunity to talk a bit about teamwork. Luckily, you guys are great at the teamwork thing already. Being twins, you have learned to support each other so that neither of you is ever up a creek without a paddle. And although at times, each of you may be green with envy, disagreements are water under the bridge when you truly need each other. You can translate this to mean that, whatever language you describe your relationship in, be it English, Spanish, German, or Pig Latin, the two of you will always come out on top if you collaborate.

Welcome to the Agua Verde CafĂ© and Paddle Club! Let’s go exploring! (This is when Aleks headed home to sleep. He missed quite the expedition! The sun even came out for the first time in June -- just as we paddled into Seattle's beautiful Arboretum -- which deserves its own post... maybe tomorrow. Yes, in that photo above you DO, in fact, see a wild heron, turtles -- and a crowded freeway at rush hour, all in the same photo. Where, but Seattle?!)

This seems to be a good time to talk about road blocks in life. Luckily, kayaking is free of barricades, detours, and wrong way signs. Wouldn’t it be nice if life were a little more like kayaking and a little less like driving around the city in rush hour traffic? Unfortunately, it may often seem like you’re hitting some red lights in life. But sometimes you may in fact be able to Capitolize on these roadblocks. If you fee like you’re constantly fighting an uphill battle, perhaps this juncture is a sheep in wolf’s clothing?

Welcome to Red Light on Capitol Hill! (Aleks would have been bored here anyway...)

This is a good place in Seattle (and in life) to try on lots of different hats. Play some different roles. Figure out what you’re most comfortable in. (Remember, you can always find the “dressing room” of life and change it up a bit.) How do you want the Public to see you? How would you like to be remembered in the history books? Remember that it’s more fun to try lots of different costumes rather than just sticking with one. And that’s what’s great about life.

Welcome to Seattle Public Library!
(We ran out of time and couldn't include this.)

This place is a startling reminder of how much information is out there for us all still to learn! It’s hard to know where to start. As in life, the best way might just be to pick up something that looks interesting to you and Pier inside. Of the more than 54 gazillion choices, it may be difficult to choose just a couple. Let your Olde Curiosity get the better of you and Shop around!

Welcome to Ye Olde Curiosity Shop!
(We ran out of time and couldn't include this.)

We’re nearing the end of our adventure, so here are some last tips from our friends in the big blue:

-Make friends, not anemones.

-Don’t sweat the small stuff when you’ve got bigger fish to fry.

-It’s okay if you’re not always tide-y.
-It’s also okay to be crabby sometimes.

-No one is the salmon everyone is unique.
-Never be afraid to ask for kelp.

-You otter live life to the fullest, every chance you get.

The Prize!!
Welcome to the Aquarium! (We ran out of time and couldn't include this.)

You’ve survived the day. You’ve survived my corny jokes and pun-y advice. Now it’s time to rise to one of the biggest, wettest challenges life can throw at you: We’re going XXXXX XXXXX XXXXXXX!! (I'm leaving this for Elisabeth to reveal to Aleks and Kat, since we never got to the last clue -- and the Grand Prize!)

Pretty cool, eh? Elisabeth has really outdone herself lately with meaningful and creative gifts!

After dinner at Julia's on Capital Hill, the last event of the evening (and this was part of my original plan) was an evening at "Lease," Seattle's Own Rock Opera. It's both improv (for Aleks... who was home, sleeping) and a musical (for Kat, who was fading fast!), playing at the Historic University Theater. It was the perfect finishing touch to a day of unique sight seeing and scavenger hunting in Seattle!

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Jen said...

What an absolutely cool day and how wonderful that Aleks and Kat wanted to share the day with family, rather than peers.

Anonymous said...

I'm blown away! You and your older daughter are amazing for arranging all of this! Bummer that there wasn't enough time to do it all, but that was a LOT to do! That really is awesome that your kiddos wanted to spend time with family — I know I wanted to spend time with my friends after graduation! (My kiddo, too). That says so much about what a fun and loving family you all must be!

Ann(ie) said...

YOU are officially the coolest mom on the planet. And how cool of your older daughter, too. It was 20 years ago now but our senior party was a bust. Good CALL!!! Looks like y'all had a blast!

Goofball said...

no tampons on grad I am getting too much fantasy while trying to figure out why a tampon should be banned? huh?

can I come on one of Elisabeths treasure hunts tooooo????

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