The day is June 17th, Father’s Day 2018. The blazing sun bursts through the usual rain of Western Washington and shines over Seattle, warming my bare shoulders. There’s a buzz in the air with families bustling about, couples strolling hand in hand and friends of all ages in groups, giggling and conversing amongst themselves. People are rolling by, cruising on longboards and grooving their way down the pavement on inline skates. Packed out family vans, souped up Subaru’s and classic, vintage vehicles line up bumper to bumper as far as the eye can see, blasting tunes, revving their engines with tops and windows rolled all the way down, waiting for their chance to grab a spot on the coveted main strip of Alki Beach.
All of these people are eagerly waiting their chance to join the crowds, to enjoy the tastes and smells of the busy waterfront cafes and peruse the tables and racks of local businesses that spill out into the street. They’re ready to pose for iconic photos in front of the Alki’s iconic miniature replica of Lady Liberty and to post up on the beach to enjoy the sand between their toes. All of these people ashore, and I’m headed straight for the water.
I’ve arrived with a bountiful crew of friends and family to celebrate the holiday. Unloading from our cars and motorcycles, some armed with coordinated paddleboards, some with a colorful array of kayaks. We tromp enthusiastically from the nearby parking lot to launch from the second cove of Seacrest Park, one of the easternmost waterfront points of Elliott Bay. We slip into the water quickly and begin paddling west around the northern point of West Seattle toward Alki Beach Park. The relaxing feeling of being on the water is unparalleled.
We can hear popular 2000’s music resonating over the Puget Sound (an ironic name for the body of water, in this precise moment) from a couple following a politely close distance behind us, having launched their kayaks nearby. Bobbing alongside them I feel a comforting sense of comradery and greet the two enthusiastically with a wave and a crisp “hello there!” The two greet and sign back their salutations to me and it’s in that moment that I feel a sense of being part of a small but like-minded community. The feeling of the distinct pulse from familiar music vibrates through her kayak and gives her experience on the water a new dimension that my fellow adventurers and I took a respectful moment to observe and acknowledge before paddling on.
The rambunctious ones of the group raced one another, weaving in and out amongst each other with the others trailing a comfortable distance behind as we crested the peak of the West Seattle peninsula. After launching myself forward as quickly and skillfully as possible, I eased up and floated peacefully behind the frontrunners to take in the incredible view of the Space Needle, the iconic Seattle Great Wheel and the towering skyscrapers of Seattle Center.
I breathed in the beautifully contrasted sensations of being immersed in nature while surrounded by the bustling city and glanced down at the water around me just as a bundle of soft pink carnations bumped the side of the kayak. They floated through the water (likely dropped from a nearby shipping crate) an enchanting flurry of flowers in an ombre of magenta pink to off-white. We raced amongst one another to reach for the long-stemmed carnations, creating an elegant bouquet of rose tones.
We rounded our way back to the shore, flowers in hand, smiling and laughing from a combination of physical exertion and pure joy. Helping one another haul the kayaks back out of the water onto the rocky beach, there was a gleam in our eyes that conveyed a new sense of appreciation for our health, our sense of adventure, and for each other. And with that, we grabbed a seat, a bite and a beer and set out to plan our next excursion.