Escaping The Summer Heat

Like most families, when school lets out for summer, that’s when the Tako family does most of our traveling.  This year the world had other plans for us.  COVID-19 happened, and our summer travel plans were canceled.

Instead of visiting the national parks of the American Southwest (like we planned), we settled for a quiet summer at home.  It was a bit of a bummer to be honest… but we tried to make the best of it.

The boys and I ended-up doing a lot of walking, biking, and hiking to stay active.  We had a good summer, but when the heat of August finally hit, I was ready to go somewhere cooler…


Keeping Cool In The PNW

The Pacific Northwest isn’t really known for hot weather.  For the most part, our summer temperatures fluctuate between 70°F – 80°F (21°C – 27°C).  It’s perfect summer weather.

This probably sounds entirely foreign to all the folks living in AC in the southern half of the United States, but we don’t even have air-conditioning here!

Unfortunately, (probably because of climate change) we get about one week a year that’s just too damn hot.  Temperatures exceed 90°F, and we sweat our asses off.  It’s uncomfortable, but it only lasts about a week.

During this heat-wave, sales of AC units skyrocket as Joe Normal and Jane Common spend big money to get cooled off.  Box fans and portable AC units always sell-out at the local big-box stores.  Last year, my neighbor even spent thousands of dollars installing a full-house AC system.  All for one week per year.

This behavior just boggles my mind.  Yes, it can be a bit uncomfortable, but it’s only one week a year.  Why waste money on something you’ll only use (at best) a couple days a year?  It’s completely useless the other 360 days a year.

It’s a perfect illustration of why I believe most people will never achieve financial independence — They’d rather spend endless amounts of money making themselves comfortable, rather than finding creative (and cheap) solutions to infrequent problems like this.

My solution to the heat is actually an old solution.  I can’t take credit for originality.  It hearkens back to the days of yesteryear, when fancy businessmen packed-up their families and headed to the beach house for the summer.

I don’t own a beach house, but the idea is good one — Take advantage of nature’s air conditioning and enjoy a family vacation on the coast!


The Pacific Coast (Part 1)

Every year, the Tako family likes to take a beach vacation to play in the sand, fly some kites, and cool-off.  Last year we went camping at Deception Pass State Park and had a great time.

This year we decided to head south to try out a few different beaches in Washington State.  The first stop on our list was Grayland Beach State Park.

grayland beach

It’s a long, grey sand beach that stretches for miles down the Washington coast…

grayland beach

If you’re worried about crowded beaches and COVID-19, I took this little video to give you an idea of just how crowded the beaches get here:

It was a beautiful day, and there was literally nobody there.  Just us, and one other family on the entire beach.  The kids happily took off their masks, and enjoy playing in the soft sand.

digging at the beach

Then, we took a quick drive up to Westport to check out the town and eat lunch.  Westport is a port-town on the southern end of Grays Harbor.  We took advantage of a free observation tower to check out the area.  From the tower, we enjoyed the cool ocean breezes and got a great view of the bay.


The rest of the afternoon was spent cooling our heels in the water at Westport Light State Park.  We goofed around, played in the waves, and enjoyed the sand and the sun.  Westport beach was a little more crowded, but it was easy enough to keep socially distanced.

Check out this little time lapse I took:

Honestly it was a perfect day at the beach.  I couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather.  While most of the state was sweltering under 95+ degree heat, the coast was a very comfortable 74°F (23°C).


Island Time (Part 2)

After taking a one-day pit-stop back home to do laundry and to restock our cooler, we headed out to the Islands for some fun.  Washington’s State’s San Juan Islands (and other islands) are absolute hidden gems .  In my opinion they’re the best part of Washington State, and only a short ferry ride away from the mainland.

The climate is cooler on Washington’s islands, and they’re absolutely gorgeous — filled with beautiful landscapes, and cute small towns.  The pace of life just seems a little slower there, away from the hustle and bustle of big city life.

whidbey island

This year we went back to Whidbey Island to see all the bits we missed last year.  It’s only a short ferry ride from home, and last year we missed the entire southern half.  Better late than never!

The first stop was Langley Washington.  Langley is a beautiful small town that’s something of an artist haven.  It’s a gorgeous town, but it was practically deserted.  Half of the shops and restaurants were closed!  Maybe because of COVID-19?  I’m not sure why.


Most of the local art galleries were closed (probably due to the pandemic), but we enjoyed the many outdoor art installations.


sculpture and flowers

glass sculpture

Oddly enough, we found a fantastic ramen restaurant in the town, called Ultra House.  It’s hard to find good ramen shops in the United States, but strangely this tiny town had a great ramen!

I ate a delicious and spicy Tan Tan Shrimp ramen:

spicy ramen

Mrs. Tako also ordered a more traditional Tonkotsu Ramen:

tonkotsu ramen

What a wonderful treat!  Usually we skip the restaurants and just eat food from our cooler on road trips… but this time around we couldn’t resist the siren song of a proper Japanese ramen restaurant!

After that delectable meal, it was off to Fort Casey State Park to explore the ruins of the old military fort (and to burn off some of those extra ramen calories).

fort casey

The kids had a blast checking out the old fort, along with its many pop-up guns, ladders, and underground concrete bunkers.

fort casey gun

We finished off the day back at the beach, this time at a beach called Windjammer Park. The boys had fun exploring the many driftwood “forts” here, and Mrs. Tako and I enjoyed the cool ocean breezes.

windjammer park

It was a perfect end to a not-so-perfect summer.


The Final Tally

While it’s entirely possible to spend big money on a family beach vacation (renting a beach house, ordering takeout meals, etc), we try to keep things affordable.  In total we spent about $80 for this beach vacation.  It was a great way to escape the summer heat, and only for the cost of a tank of gas, and a couple bowls of ramen.

Could we have just stayed home and purchased a small AC unit for $80?  Probably, but I doubt we’d have had nearly as much fun!

This to me is one of the great secrets of life… getting the most “bang” for your buck.  It’s not how much you spend, but how much you squeeze out of each and every dollar.


[Image Credit: Flickr]

9 thoughts on “Escaping The Summer Heat

  • August 30, 2020 at 4:18 AM

    Looks like you’ve had a great summer. I was laughing at your description of excessive heat in the PNW. Everything’s relative right? Here in the D.C. area we’ve had a typical scorching summer, which means week after week of not just 90 degrees, but the high 90’s with humidity in the 90% range to match. I grew up without AC and now I can’t sleep without it for most of the summer. But if I only had one week of 90 degrees I agree with you, I wouldn’t bother.

    We usually get plenty of 90 degree days in Sept and sometimes early Oct, so we’re still in it here.

  • August 30, 2020 at 6:03 AM

    We don’t try to escape, we’ve fished and played tennis in heat indexes well above 100 deg F all summer. It’s not a problem, just hydrate when you are thirsty. But we did take a road trip to Colorado, 2500 miles, and one to the Louisiana coast, 1000 miles. And numerous in state trips for tennis matches. Covid is no restriction at all for travel by car. The last three days we’ve lived in the part of our house the generator can power, Laura hit our part of Southern Arkansas pretty hard. But since we can still cool one end of the house with our smallest hvac with the generator, it was only a minor inconvenience.

  • August 30, 2020 at 7:45 AM

    Looks like a great time to get out of town and spend some time with the family. We are in the Phoenix area so we know all about heat. Was camping involved in your trip? Wasn’t sure if this was 2 day trips or a longer trip. Your small towns and beaches in PNW are great. Before we had kids, we ventured out there and had a great time. My wife and I really enjoyed Bellingham.

  • August 30, 2020 at 8:39 AM

    Yep, Virginia is cooking and we followed suit with a trip to the beach to escape while the house sat at a toasty 77f as our Nest decided that was appropriate while we were away. I saw a couple days with zero AC usage while we were gone 🙂

    Glad to see you all found some uncrowded, beautiful beaches out there to escape to. I especially liked the driftwood fort. We don’t seem to get quite enough washed up to build something like that, I’m sure the kids loved it! Glad you’re enjoying!

  • August 30, 2020 at 10:14 AM

    Nicely done Tako!

    I’m in Houston and couldn’t make it without my A/C. But I do occasionally make the short trip south to Galveston island to enjoy the breezes, stroll the historic “Strand” district, see the remains of pirate Jean LaFette’s La Maision Rouge mansion, eat a tasty seafood dish, and maybe stroll the seawall. A friend from grad school retired there inside a loft he converted from the remains of the old Opera House.

    There is also a world renowned train museum, the historic Cotton Exchange, Bishop’s Palace, a haunted mansion tour (corny), an overpriced “pleasure pier”, and more. The beaches are sort of ‘meh’ as the muddy Mississip makes the water very brown. It’s also a little ouchy as the water is plagued with countless millions of barely macroscopic jellyfish that leave you with little stings that feel like something tiny and sharp pricked your skin. There is good offshore fishing though if you have the right license.

    But the constant seabreeze is the best. Why they haven’t lined the interior of the island with wind turbines I don’t know.

    Also, social media is for pix of food! You earn +2 internet points for some mighty fine looking Ramen. We have a place near downtown that allegedly makes fantastic Ramen but it is also alleged to be about 16 bucks a bowl not counting a drink. Not for me.

  • August 30, 2020 at 10:19 AM

    You’ve figured out a perfect way to beat the heat. We sometimes use a neighbor’s pool or join him on his boat. The best part of not owning a swimming pool or boat is knowing someone else who does!

    Back in the mountain west, going up to the high country is always a great way to cool down and escape the crowds too. You’ve found some very nice beaches and the San Juan islands truly look like a hidden gem.

  • August 30, 2020 at 5:55 PM

    You guys definitely know how to have fun! I didn’t realize that you have such great summer weather there – those are the kind of temps that I love.

    Maybe I need to start considering becoming your neighbor if we can’t get back to Panama! Of course, that means you’ll probably be putting your house up for sale as soon as you know we’re on our way. 😉

  • August 30, 2020 at 8:13 PM

    Those ramens look delicious! It was pretty hot up here in BC for a few days too but fortunately our house stayed cool for the most part (we have 3 ceiling fans which helped). Looks like you guys had a tons of fun. 🙂

  • August 31, 2020 at 9:09 AM

    We haven’t been to the San Juan islands for years. I was planning to go this summer, but canceled. Did you guys sleep on the Island? I don’t think $80 would cover lodging.
    We don’t have AC either and it isn’t a big deal. Our neighbors have AC and seems like it’s on most of the summer. It doesn’t seem very efficient. They probably are too lazy to let the cool air in at night.


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Mr. Tako Escapes