Saturday, August 15, 2015

Aparkolypse 2015: Martha Lake Airport Park



Martha Lake Airport Park, not to be confused with Martha Lake Park (the former is just north of the lake, the latter directly on the south end of the lake), has a wide variety of options for organized and informal play. From the 1950s to the 1990s, the property actually was a family-run airport which the owner sold to the county instead of some evil housing developer. The original owner built the airport to commute by plane to his job in Seattle. The park's official website makes it clear Snohomish County is very proud to have gone into debt to buy the land, then raising taxes and fees to pay for it.



Amenities/Facilities

MLAP, as it not known anywhere, serves as multi-purpose athletic facility for organized sports and other activities.  There are two soccer fields and a baseball field, but they are closed for the duration of 2015 for restoration of the turf.  We callously played on one of the soccer fields anyway (the soccer goals are locked up in the baseball facility).  As is fairly standard for parks in the area, there is a walking path around the area.  Actual decent bathrooms are right next to the play equipment, attached to the generic picnic shelter.  Parking is plentiful in well-maintained spaces.

If your device doesn't display these maps well, go to the originals here.




Unique Features

A 12-year-old boy named Colton Heaverly "gave many impassioned speeches to the county planning team and community organizations and gathered large lists of signatures" for the county to build a skate park, so they did.  The result is pretty cool.


Another prominent feature is this, either a lousy pavilion or a terrible piece of art (more of that soon).


Visitors can also attempt to climb this boulder, left here by a glacier thousands of years ago (damn you caveman-caused global warming!)


Visitors are also treated to views of Snohomish County's fetish for hideous and pointless art:

    
                                     Ode to Tetris                                 Sponsored by Gillette                         Gargoyle Mating with Oil Pump

Further research suggests our captioning of the sculpture pictures may be slightly inaccurate, so if the readers care they may go here for more information.

Play Area

The playground celebrates this area's love of play areas that look like the graphics of the Saved by the Bell theme song, but are less functional.  It has a couple of tot swings and a cool seesaw; otherwise the playground underwhelms.  At least it was very clean, had some additional parking right next to it, and borders the clean and very handicapped-accessible bathrooms.


    

Review

Martha Lake Airport Park is great for skating, sports, and questioning how governments spend money.  The place was immaculate and offers a wide variety of potential activities.  While suitable for kids about 6 and up, parents of small children will be disappointed with the playground offerings which are hard to climb and use for little ones.  We spent most of our time playing sports and having a great time.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Aparkolypse 2015: Silver Lake Park


11405 W Silver Lake Rd 
Everett, WA 98201

Silver Lake Park (I didn't even know until recently that it was "Thornton A. Sullivan Park") is one of the highlights of living in Everett (low bar, I know).  It's a great location for camps, larger get-togethers, a day at the beach, hanging out with friends, or just dropping in with your kids.



Silver Lake is accessible through several routes, both major and minor, and even via I-5 through the South Everett Freeway Bus Station. Costco, Safeway, 24 Hour Fitness, and a ton of other establishments right in the immediate area; we recommend Piroshky and Crepes across the street for some very tasty European food.

Amenities/Facilities

You and your group could come here every day of the week and have a completely different experience.  Check this map from the city of Everett:
In our visits, we haven't checked out the Frisbee golf or gone across the street to the nature trails, so we'll refrain from commenting on those.  However, you can check some of those things out on this sexy video the city produced:


We'll add this word of caution to those finicky about their cars: the parking lot is mostly gravel though the walking paths are paved.

Camp Patterson

Home to YMCA and other day camps throughout the year, Camp Patterson has a large play field, open and covered picnic areas, and access to water and electricity.  The pavilion is reserveable, of course costing a bit more in the peak summer months.



Silver Hall

A cursory internet search yields little information or pictures of Silver Hall (the building on the left in the picture below, the on on the right being a boathouse), but the official website lists it as available for $34 an hour with a capacity of 40 people boasting chairs, tables, a kitchen, and restrooms.

Facilities by the Playground

Right by the playground/beach area you can find bathrooms in okay condition which have rinse-off showers and a lower dispenser to wash your feet.  Adjacent to the restroom building is a picnic shelter and some other picnic tables, as well as an out door ping-pong table, which I've never seen anywhere else.  Further west there are tons of tables and grills available, and they're well-used.  People actually use the fishing dock for its intended purposes, though I can't imagine it's much of an angling destination, but I don't think I've ever seen a boat at the boating dock.



This is as cool as ping pong is ever going to be


Playtime

Silver Lake has a rare-for-this-area sandy beach with marked-off shallow swimming areas.  The water, not-rare-for-this-area, is freezing. The main play area is well-maintained and has activities for various sizes of kids.  A fire truck happened to be there on the day we took pictures so we threw it in; a fire substation is just up the road.  Like the video above shows, there's plenty to climb, swing, run along, and spin on.






Review

Silver Lake Park is pretty clean considering it is usually busy, which is about the worst thing you could say about the place.  Seating for parents watching their kids is fairly plentiful.  Our kids love coming here, it's convenient, and it's really gorgeous.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Aparkolypse 2015: North Creek Park

Photo by Life Lyn Style

Mill Creek, WA 98012

North Creek is well into the depths of suburbia, combining an exquisite park area with a public-utility-functioning nature preserve of sorts.  You won't end up here on accident, yet it's well worth planning an extended visit.

Wetlands Nature Walk

The unique feature among all of the parks on our tour is the 3/4 mile boardwalk through the semi-tamed wetlands, abundant in less familiar wildlife and flora.  The park's official website links to a gallery of the resident fauna (we only saw a black snake, some bugs, and some wiggling in the water) but unhelpfully does not include this park guide.  Signs are posted at several spots (with benches for rest and observation) to explain points of interest and explanation.  One of the signs has a cool explanation of how the wetlands act as the area's kidneys.  The kids were a bit nervous about walking on the boardwalk, but it's really well-constructed and safe.  Parents of toddlers might want to keep them restrained as guard rails are in short supply.



Amenities/Facilities

There aren't any formal sports areas, though there is plenty of space for soccer, football, Frisbee, etc. There are two sheltered picnic areas, one adjacent to the play area and one further down the trail, a picnic table under a tree by the play area, and one random isolated picnic table, probably designed so teenagers can have a place to discreetly break up with their significant others.




Drawbacks of an Otherwise Great Park

It doesn't matter for most of the year in the Seattle area, but there is a serious lack of shade in the play area. Lazy dads trying to read 20-year-old Tom Clancy novels while their small kids play have to sit at that one table at the right time of day or they will roast.

The biggest drawback is the lack of real bathrooms.  The playground is suitable for a variety of ages, but having only Sanicans is a major deterrent for kids and people who don't enjoy being trapped in a little box full of other peoples' waste.

Play Area

As alluded to above, the primary play structure has features for both older and younger kids.  The quasi-castle has some weird appendages that were interesting to see our kids figure out. Fake climbing rocks and other surfaces didn't get too hot.  This area was immaculate.


 

Review

North Creek Park is a visual treat and a great time.  We normally like to get out some balls to kick and throw around, but we didn't even get to that with so much to do and see.  On the boardwalk, the grass is often so high you really can't see much, but it was still fun and informative.  We found it a great place to play, although we can't help but dock serious points for not having a bathroom.