Washington Blog

Living in Washington: Summer. What Is It Really Like

Living in Washington: Summer. One week from our life: waterfalls, mountains, camping, wildfires. Rising kids at the one of the Seattle suburbs.

What living in Washington is really like? A simple, everyday life, as it is? “Living in Washington: Summer” is about one typical week from our life in Washington in September 2020. (North American summer ends on September 22nd)

We are a family of 5: 2 tired from coronavirus quarantine parents, 3 active more than usual kids, and one cat. As an average family in Washington, we have a summer picture of our brood at Mt Rainier:

Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington
Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington

Summer started late in 2020 – almost in the middle of July. But with every year, temperatures are getting hotter and drier. It used to be +25C on the hottest days 4 years ago.

Our week: Day 1, Friday

Due to online learning, we couldn’t get out of the house basically the entire day. Erika started at 9.15 am and finished at 3.40 pm. Poor child, she was really tired.

Online learning, at home
Online learning, at home

As the air temperature was in the upper 20th (Celsius), we went to the lake to unwind and stretch the legs.

What Living in Washington is Really Like: Lakes

One of the biggest joys of summer in Washington state – lakes. Water is everywhere here, behind every corner. Since we all love to swim, going to the beach during hot days is our main activity.

On the picture below: the beach with the finest sand. Usually, it’s grey, kind of dirty. At the many beaches, you can see just dirt with some pebbles instead of sand.

Our most favorite beach in the Seattle area
Our most favorite beach in the Seattle area, 18 minutes drive from home

With online school and quarantine, swimming is my antidote to depression. I’m not alone: there are always a couple more adults who join in to do some laps (pools still remain closed – March 2021 update).

You may have noticed the sunset over the lake is a little bit “bloody”: smoke from the California wildfire is coming.

Day 2: Saturday, Sep. 4th

Every Saturday morning during summer (if we aren’t out camping or in the mountains), we save for the Farmers Market. Fresh produce is so much better than what we buy at the stores. It tastes different: more like food than sawdust. You can buy basically everything: wine, meat, eggs, bread, fruits, berries, vegetables.

Biking culture

We live close to the market and usually ride bikes to get there. Andrew insisted he’ll go on his balance bike. I was surprised, but he did well:

On a trail, Western Washington

Trails in Washington deserve a separate post.

They are not as good as in The Netherlands, or in Germany, but amazing for US standards. We love it and use it a lot. Sometimes we don’t use a car for 3 days in a row due to bikes. It is pretty unusual for the US.

Despite this “bike paradise” most of the time we are alone:

Locked bikes. Bikes are getting stolen all the time

Washingtonians use bikes more for recreational purposes, rather than transport. Besides us and our friends, there are hardly any other families on bikes on weekdays.

But, I have to add, for commuting biking is pretty popular in Seattle.

What Living in Washington State is Really Like: Farmers Market

Because of the quarantine in Washington, there are a lot of empty spaces at the Market. No live music, no kids stands, no ice cream, no food trucks, freshly cooked lunches. Our favorite lunch used to be Lebanese cuisine:

Lebanese dish for lunch
Lebanese dish for lunch

Below are different stands:

What Living in Washington State is Really Like: Mountains

Going to the mountains is a typical weekend activity in Western Washington.

Summertime is short in the mountains: during June many trails are still closed, and in September snow can start on any day. “Wildflowers time” probably the most special time and lasts only a couple of weeks in a year:

The only con of being in the mountains in Washington (besides crowds): distances. 2-3 hours one way is exhausting to drive often.


People are just crazy about camping in Washington, and we are no exception :D.

Booking in 6-9 months in advance is the norm. Places for camping are so unusual (like a fully-equipped cabin on a tiny island) and beautiful, it’s hard to resist:

You can watch orcas right from a tent!
San Juan Island, right across Canada. You can watch orcas right from a tent!

Day 3: Sunday. Dacha

On Saturday night we had the most unusual camping: at our friend’s summer house near the border with Canada.

Many people who were growing up in the post-Soviet countries had “dacha” or summer cottage with a garden. That’s exactly what summer house was and it’s reminded me of my childhood a lot :).

Checking the beehive:

Pictured below: camping at American dacha. Little ones asked to sleep in a separate tent (yellow one):

Late movie night and shish kebab: rare social gathering in our culture will go without this dish:

Day 4: Monday. Labor Day

Monday was Labor Day in the US. It is great to have an extra day off to enjoy the summer!

We are slow as snails at packing up the camping gear. All we did on this day was a short and memorable hike: we checked the nearest waterfalls:

What Living in Washington is Really Like: Waterfalls

Living in Washington often means “having a waterfall somewhere in the backyard”. We chose Racehorse Falls.

When we moved to Washington from New Jersey, I can’t get used to the trees covered in moss. I called them “bearded trees”. They are everywhere:

Bearded trees, Washington
Bearded” trees, Washington

On the pictures below: getting to the Racehorse Falls: I’m the only one in this state who is going on a hike wearing flip-flops:

Next time I would take a dip in a swimming hole, in the picture above. Leo measured the water, it was +15 C and crystal clear.

What Living in Washington is Really Like: Coastal City

On the way home (2 hours drive) we made a pit stop at Bellingham.

Bellingham is my favorite coastal town in Washington. Small, full of surprises, and beautiful. Every time we stop, we find something special. All pictured below are right in the city. Wow!

When we finally arrived home late at night, I have found a very strange hairy ball:

Our alien
Our hairy alien

No, it’s not poop :D. It’s our new pet. Caterpillar Clara arrived from one of Bellingham’s parks 2 weeks ago and made a cocoon!

Day 5: Tuesday. School again

Tuesday was the beginning of the second week of online school and it drained all the energy from us. It’s not too hard but the timing is crazy – school lasts for more than 6 hours.

Erika lost her first tooth over the weekend and now can proudly participate in “teeth” math:

Day 6: Wednesday.

On Wednesday, after school, we took Artem to the first swim lesson (the local pool just opened for classes). 1-hour lesson a week costs $240 a month; twice more than usual.

The next stop was Lake Sammamish, pictured below. It is smaller than Lake Washington and often overcrowded (many beaches in the area are closed due to pandemics).

Lake Sammamish, Washington. Sky is colored by smoke
Lake Sammamish, Washington. Sky is colored by smoke

What Living in Washington is Really Like: Wildfires

On the picture above you can see how the sky is colored by smoke. Wildfires are raging almost everywhere around us: California, Oregon, Eastern Washington.

Unfortunately, heavy smoke and wildfire are common for summers in Washington, because of hot and extremely dry weather. I can’t recall when was the last real rain… Probably 2 months ago!

Our car covered in ashes
Our car covered in ashes

Day 7: Thursday, Sep. 10th

On Thursday air temperature rose up to +34C. Right after online school, it was beach time, at Lake Washington.

Artem made a fishing pole from scratch (we just finished reading “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” :)) and was excited to try it:

Water is very clean at the local lakes. I’m amazed and proud that I can see the feet and far below:

Lake Washington
Lake Washington

Artem saw a lot of fishes swimming under the dock. He didn’t catch any, but his new friend gave him his fish as a present.

Although our cat was pretty excited to smell the fish, I had to make a fillet from it for him. This old man totally forgot what to do with a fresh fish!

Our beloved cat. He is going to be 13 y.o. soon
Our beloved cat. He is going to be 13 y.o. soon


Despite warm and sunny days, Fall is in the air: the temperature drops immediately after sunset and it’s chilly in the evenings. We soak up the last sunshine: it could disappear any day for a long time.

I’m not ready to give up doing laps and did something I would never dare before: swim at +14 C. Water was actually warmer than the air, +18 C 🙂

Swimming at Lake Sammamish
Swimming at Lake Sammamish

The biggest surprise wasn’t that all three kids joined me later (it was already cold and almost dark) but watching a beaver who accompanied me the first 10 seconds of swimming :D.

Washington summers are pure joy. We love them and are happy to have so much to do before “winter” will starts in October until …May.

Read next:
Winter in Washington. Who might not survive it

Water Wonders in Washington: SUP, kayaking, swimming, camping. Family YMCA sleepaway camp experience on Orcas Island, WA

How to make Hawaii on a budget in 2021. Canada: Vancouver adventures

Alaska 14 days itinerary. Trip of a lifetime.

0.5 day summer bike trip from France to Germany

Thanks for reading friends, I hope you enjoyed it!

P.S. Useful books and movies about WA

If you are thinking about relocation to WA, the book that will show and tell more about our region and its activities is here.

Nice book about hikes in Western Washington Eastern Washington doesn’t have that much beauty here. I love them both.

There are also a bunch of popular movies that were shot in WA: “Twilight”, “Twin Peaks“, “The butterfly effect“, “50 Shades of Grey“, “Sleepless in Seattle” and many more :).


In summer 2022 we moved to Strasbourg, France 🙂

By Mrs. Grazy Goat

I am Ira, the author behind Grazy Goat. My husband and I run this blog and share our experiences about thrilling places and cultures. Our son Artem recently joined us and helps with editing.

We are very happy to have YOU here 😻

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