Many people travel to Great Wolf Lodge by car, some by train, some by plane, but when we heard of a mother and son traveling to our resort by foot, it caught our attention.
Jaime Teevan (@jteevan) and her son, Cale, walked over 100 miles from their home to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, WA. When we read about their walk on Twitter, we wanted to make sure their adventure would be one they would always remember. Great Wolf Lodge tweeted words of encouragement to the duo along the way as they shared updates about their trek, and the downside to walking for eight days: rain, blisters, and sore muscles.
The team at the resort was also getting ready for their arrival. A full welcome party was planned, complete with Wiley the Wolf and Rachel Raccoon, balloons, treats and foot massages for their tired feet.
Once Jaime and Cale returned home after their 100 mile walk and exciting stay at Great Wolf Lodge, we caught up with them to ask about the experience:
Q: Why did you and Cale decide to walk to Great Wolf Lodge?
It was Cale's idea to walk to Great Wolf Lodge. We were coming home from a visit to Great Wolf Lodge over the holidays (we go every year for a few nights on Christmas Day), and Cale and I were brainstorming what we might do for a trip together in the coming year. He first suggested that we spend a whole week at the lodge, but, as we looked at the window at the landscape speeding by, that evolved into our taking a journey there on foot.
Q: How did you prepare for your adventure together?
Cale and I spent a lot of time preparing -- it was a fun way to dream about the upcoming trip. I mapped out each day of the route, choosing where we would walk, where we would stay, where we would eat, and where we would rest.
I used Bing maps to "walk" our whole route virtually before we even left home so I would know what to expect. However, we still managed to stumble upon some surprises as we walked. For example, I had no idea that all of the world's Almond Roca candy comes from a factory in Tacoma we just happened to walk by. (This was probably Cale's favorite stop of the trip; they had samples to eat and huge boxes of factory seconds for sale for just $0.99.)
I think the effort choosing good restaurants along the way was particularly useful. We ate at some fabulous hole-in-the-wall places that I'm sure we'd never have discovered on our own.
There's only so much planning you can do, though, and it was comforting to know that even five days into the walk, our family was just an hour away and could come help us out if we needed it.
Cale and I also did a lot of training prior to the walk. We spent weekends and afternoons walking around our neighborhood, often with the rest of the family. It was a great way to discover things we didn't know about our local area -- small art installations, creeks we'd been driving by for years but never seen, hidden paths.
Q: What was your favorite part about the walk?
My favorite part was spending time so much time with Cale. Every day we walked for hours. Our routine was monotonous -- we would wake up, pack our bag, eat breakfast, walk, eat lunch, walk, check into our hotel, eat dinner, do laundry, go to sleep, and then repeat the whole thing the next day. We spent a lot of silent time trudging down the road next to each other, but our focus was always on each other, what we were doing, and where we were. And this created a really unique opportunity for us to connect and share.
I was also struck by the sense of community that the walk engendered. Cale and I were alone on the walk, but could feel the whole time that we had a huge (largely invisible) support network all around us. For example, some friends set up a treasure hunt for us, with clues and care packages hidden along the way. Others kept an eye on the weather and local news events remotely, so we could keep abreast of what was going on around us. Online our friends cheered us on, and we picked up supporters as we walked. The hotels we visited started following us, and it was particularly exciting when Great Wolf started replying to our tweets and offering encouragement. Strangers would stop to make sure we didn't need help, and get engaged with the walk as we told them about it.
Q: What was Cale’s favorite thing to do at Great Wolf Lodge?
Great Wolf Lodge is Cale's favorite place in the world, and he's visited several times a year since the Grand Mound location first opened. Cale's current plan is to move to Great Wolf Lodge when he's an adult. At the waterpark, his favorite activities are the wave pool and the Tornado. He also loves playing MagiQuest – although I think all the pre-arrival walking meant he played less than usual during our most recent visit.
Q: What did you learn from the trip?
We learned to slow down and notice what was interesting about what was right in front of us. For example, Day 2 of the walk took us from downtown Bellevue to the Seattle airport. This is a route we theoretically know very well, but I think we could easily have spent days exploring all there was to see on just that one leg of the walk. There were beach parks to swim at, a defunct railroad track to follow, the Seahawks training center to explore, blackberries to eat, and more.
If I were to do the walk again, I would create a little more space for meandering. Because we were walking 15 or more miles a day, we didn't have the energy to do anything besides get from Point A to Point B as directly as possible – and for all of the amazing things we saw, I'm sure there are many equally great things we missed.
Q: Will you do it again?
Nope. It was awesome, but will almost certainly remain a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. The lesson about discovery will stick, though, and I'm sure we'll come up with new and different ways to explore our surroundings in detail.