Day three, at last. Unfortunately for us Eastsiders, the Seattle 3day was actually in Seattle. And we're not talking about the walkers walking from Redmond to Seattle, but all in Seattle. The walkers boarded buses early in the morning (while I was still sleeping, or at least I would have been had it not been for my cell phone rattling around on the table) and were deposited at Green Lake to start their final day of walking.
Since we were planning to go to the closing ceremonies in the afternoon we chose to skip the morning cheering station to prevent trips into, back from, and returning to Seattle. So while Amy was churning out the miles we were taking it easy at home.
When Henry went down for his morning nap Papa and I took the girls to the magical Castle Playground in Woodlands Park. I was somewhat excited by the idea of "Woodlands" Park, but shouldn't have been. After all, it was right in the middle of suburban Kirkland and all the trails were paved. Nonetheless, the girls felt like they were hiking as we wound through the woods to the playground.
There were a surprising number of people crawling all over the Castle when we got there, but the girls knew where they wanted to go and had a blast in spite of the crowding. After an hour I made them traverse on the climbing wall and then we returned to NanaPapa's for lunch and naps. And, of course, after two days of no naps both kids were quickly asleep in spite of the need to leave at 3pm.
The closing ceremonies were at Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center. That meant we had to drive through the Mercer Mess. We were assured of good parking, though, since there was a brand new parking garage open just across the street just calling our names (and for our dollars). We fought traffic, at times thinking the only reason we were moving was because others were bailing on the route, and wound up deep underground on level five. No matter, there were elevators to get us back to the surface, though I did feel a bit like a miner desperate for some sunlight.
Nana and Papa took the girls into the stadium to find seats while Henry and I took balloons to Amy who was, predictably, on the other side of the stadium. We met her by the fountain. She looked good, relieved, and a bit stiff. I guess 60 miles will do that to you. She gave the monkey boy kisses and stole his balloons. We watched her go for a moment before returning to the stadium where the rest of the family had primo seats in the shade on the north side.
Two years ago the closing ceremonies were in the Montlake parking lots at the UW. Standing under the sun on blacktop was merciless compared to the comfort of the shade and benches. Still, it was a hard half an hour for Henry who wasn't feeling terribly well to begin with.
Even if you don't walk it yourself or crew it or know someone with cancer it's got to be an emotional experience. First came the all-volunteer crew of 400 or so who did everything from the lofty to the menial to make the walkers' lives easier. They formed a final corridor to guide the 3,000+ walkers toward the stage.
With music swelling the walkers entered full of pride and jubilation. Those that still could danced and jumped, but most walked with heads held high. There were more than a few with bandaged legs from untold injuries. We looked for a pair of pink balloons following behind some penguin balloons. It was tough picking our the Melons in the surging, roiling sea of pink and white, but when we did our cheers caught in our throats before getting even louder.
The walkers formed an outer ring around a center stage with an empty flagpole. When they were all in place the crew formed a ring inside the walkers. The final group were the breast cancer survivors who had walked. They were marked by special pink shirts and when they were closest to the flagpole it was as though the walkers and crew were hugging them tight.
A final group of survivors brought banners to the middle and then raised their arms as the 3day flag was raised up. The MC talked about the massive turnout and the $8.6 million raised and the unprecedented grants made to research efforts.
And then they were released and as they streamed to the stands their families charged the field. The pink balloon that Amy held bobbed above the heads of everyone in front of her until she was peeking through the crowd and finally walking down the aisle toward us. The girls raced to her and there were some tears and laughs and wiping pour Henry's face.
Of course, that can't be the end of the adventure, right? Back at the car we realized that after 30 minutes we hadn't moved at all. Traffic was so backed up we weren't going anywhere so we went in search of food since it was already 6:30. We wound up on a walkabout that Amy probably didn't need with only Quiznos as our reward. By the time we returned to the car the garage was nearly empty but for the stray walkers who had done the same.
After a final stop at NanaPapa's we made it home by about 9:30. Amy got a shower (the first good one in days, she claims) and crashed into bed. Henry did some fussing, but seemed less interested in it now that Mommy was home. The girls hardly stirred and probably don't have any idea what 3,000 walkers did for their future.
And what kind of adventure story would it be without stats? How about a mammoth 60 miles and 2,000 feet of gain and a whole bucket full of hope for a cancer-free future?