"Wait for it...wait for it," I tease my Durango full of kids. All four of them came with us to Whidbey Island this time--Lilli, Lauren, Chloe and Nicholas. My mom is beside herself with excitement to see all of them together for the first time. I am beside myself with anxiety that everything should go well this weekend. My family was about to get the Abundis experience as ten of us descend on their quiet home.
This moment, this anticipation has always been one of my favorite parts of visiting Fort Casey. The Durango winds slowly up the hill, through trees and past old military housing buildings--barracks and officers' housing and an old chapel. To the left, the tops of two great, rounded mounds run perpendicular to the road for several yards before plunging straight down again to the ground below. Their coats of well-manicured grass do nothing to disguise their inorganic shapes. "What the heck?" the kids ask.
Finally, as we nose out of the trees and into the parking lot, Fort Casey spreads out before us--a diorama from another age. "Whoa!!" Gasps explode from the back seat, and I smile. I love sharing bits of myself with them--childhood memories that I've taken for granted.
But I feel a twinge. The great, grassy field that serves as a foreground for the Fort is smaller than I remember. Still, it is emerald green and slightly swampy from days of rain, and families play tag, catch and football in this wide-open space. That hasn't changed.
It's taken four cars to transport all fifteen of us, and as we park, kids pile out of various vehicles and embark on the same dash across the grass that I made so often as a child. There's a magnetic mystery to the hulking concrete buildings that lightens your feet and pulls you towards it. Or maybe it's simply the allure of a wide open space that begs to be raced upon.
Fort Casey rises abruptly at the far edge of the great emerald expanse. The long, concrete bunker was built in the late 1800s and early 1900s as a third of the "Triangle of Fire,"a three-sided defense of Puget Sound against invasions by sea. Defunct before it could be used, the Fort now serves as a popular tourist stop for history buffs, adventurous families and bored teenagers.