A Ghoulish Getaway

Large orange pumpkins, selected from a local farm, filled the kitchenette in the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center’s dining hall. Parents and children soon arrived and eagerly selected the perfect gourds to carve. Slimy orange goo covered the tables and nearly four quarts of pumpkin seeds were collected as toothy grins and smirky smiles took shape on pumpkin faces. Pumpkin-carving was the first of many activities participants of all ages experienced last weekend during North Cascades Institute’s first Halloween Family Getaway.

The weekend’s guests consisted of a couple from Seattle and their two-year old, along with another Seattle family of several generations who were celebrating a family member’s eightieth birthday. The first evening concluded with a night hike and moonlight canoe. The afternoon had proved dark and drizzly, but a break in the clouds revealed a starry sky for hikers and paddlers.
Families working together to carve jack-o-lanterns

Participants’ pumpkins on display in the dining hall for all to see
An Institute staff member and participant sort through pumpkin seeds to later roast for a tasty snack

One of several children assisting the Learning Center chef in making “dirt” cupcakes for an evening’s dessert

The rain continued to fall off and on throughout the weekend, but parting clouds often revealed a bright blue sky against the white tops of Pyramid and Colonial peaks located across Lake Diablo. Participants began their Saturday with a tour of Cascadian Farms in Rockport where they learned about the farm’s crops and growing process and treated themselves to ice cream.
Later in the afternoon, families returned to the Learning Center for more activities, including a Halloween haunted house and scavenger hunt, which concluded with the smashing of a pumpkin-shaped pinata. Institute staff and program participants added to the spirit of All Hallows Eve by arriving in costume. Popular faces such as Elmo, Mario and Luigi and Woodsy the Owl made an appearance during these Halloween activities.

Glimpses of snowy peaks are revealed through parting clouds, offering a break from the fall rain

A child gets a ride during a tour at Cascadian Farms

An Institute staff member dressed as Woodsy the Owl paints a young participant’s face as part of the haunted house

Farmer Jim leads a tour for Family Getaway participants at Cascadian Farms

The rain poured Sunday morning, but those ambitious enough to brave the dampness ventured to Forest Service land to collect mushrooms for identification purposes and also for eating. They returned to the Learning Center with a basketful of chanterelles and smiling faces. We concluded the Family Getaway with a slide show of the weekend’s activities and a final meal together at lunch.
The Halloween Family Getaway seemed to tap into the child in all of us, as it has the tendency to do. From pumpkin carving to experiencing the oddities of a haunted house, it was fun to spend time with and celebrate these age-old Halloween traditions with people who were greeted as strangers, and left feeling more like family.

Photos courtesy of Hannah Weisberg and Brian Rice.


  1. Brandi

    Looks like a ton of fun!

  2. charlotte lyons

    really beautiful photos
    thank you for sharing the holiday

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