A Halloween Howl

We were awoken early this morning under starry skies in Death Valley National Park to a chorus of coyote howls. It was the perfect way to start Halloween. For five of the last six Halloweens we have been on the road and it is always fun to fit that days location and destination into our Halloween festivities. Being in “Death” Valley definitely started this Halloween off on the right foot.

Thanks to our early morning wake up (courtesy of the coyotes) we headed to Zabriskie Point to watch the sun rise. We then put on our Halloween costumes and headed to Las Vegas for a stop-off at two of our favorite Vegas attractions, Ronald’s vegan donut shop and the Pinball Hall of Fame.

Our hippie, werewolf, and super-knight had a blast enjoying amazing vegan donuts and playing some serious pinball. While Ronald’s Donuts didn’t feature any specially decorated Halloween donuts we played plenty of spooky pinball machines including The Adams Family, Monster Bash, and Ghost Busters. All in all it was another howling good Halloween on the road.


A Spooktacular Halloween at Seattle Center


No doubt about it, Seattle is a fantastic place for families at Halloween. The 74-acre, pedestrian-friendly Seattle Center (built for the 1962 World’s Fair) is a flurry of free Halloween activities, all steps away from one another. Providing 9 hours of back-to-back activities and crafts, Seattle Center definitely gave us a run for our money this Halloween.

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In the week leading up to Halloween, Five Spice was hard at work painting skeleton costumes (that glow in the dark!) and experimenting with different all-natural face paint recipes. When the big day arrived, each Five had their homemade skeleton outfit (expect High Five’s sweatshirt, found at a second-hand store), ready to customize. Five of Hearts and Five Ball also wanted their faces painted, and the recipe (above) is almost safe enough to eat! To get the black paint, Five Spice mixed some activated charcoal powder into a separate batch.

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The city’s annual Dia de los Muertos celebration spans two days and is filled with crafts, exhibits, and live performances. We left Mexico last year before the holiday, so this was a better-late-than-never chance to learn more about the traditions. There were live performances every hour, and when we needed a break from sitting there were several activity stations (decorate a sugar skeleton, print making, etc.). This is definitely one of the most impressive all-volunteer, free events we’ve ever seen, and it really is a wonderful service to the community.

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Just outside of the Armory is the Experience Music Project’s playground, also completely open to the public. The structures were not for the faint of heart, but the Younger Fives thoroughly enjoyed climbing and sliding in the shadow of the Space Needle (and the light rain only made the slides even faster!).

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We ended our long, action-packed day back in the Armory, this time at the Children’s Museum Halloween Open House. Another wonderful free, volunteer-led activity, the Open House was full of Halloween-themed games, plenty of treats, and a chance to explore the Museum’s regular exhibits. By the time the kids made shields, built structures out of foam building blocks, and tried their hand at pumpkin mini golf, they were finally ready to head back to our rental. Even with the Halloween treats, all the fun made for a sound night’s sleep 🙂

Journey to the Center of the Maize


For our family the Halloween spirit usually takes a year off between visits. Last year our time in Rome was low key, fun but with little time or forethought put into costumes or an aura of spookiness. This year, however, we’ve vowed to pull out all the stops and have no regrets come November 1st.



En route to a Halloween in Seattle, we came across the Portland Corn Maize, a perfect Halloween warm-up activity (and conveniently located halfway between our former rental in Oakridge, Oregon and Seattle). This was the Younger Fives’ first time in a corn maze; a different Maize was right down the road from where we used to live in Western Maine, but we had never actually made the trip. Outfitted with our rain gear and rubber boots, we were ready for an a-“stound”-ing (trying hard not to make the obvious “maze” pun) adventure.

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The maze entrance had plenty to get the kids excited for their journey. Each Five chose a trivia clue card (with different themes ranging from Halloween to Movies) that gives hints (but by no means spoilers) about which way to go at various numbered locations inside the maze (assuming you can figure out the correct answer). We were also advised to be on the lookout for Cornundrums, visual puzzles along the way. Glad to have our boots on, we set forth into the unknown.

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The first half of the maize went pretty smoothly. We took a few wrong turns, but many of the paths looped back around so we ended up where we need to be in the end. We still had plenty of energy left when we reached the halfway point, a convenient exit that lets you take a break if needed then resume right where you left off.



The second half was definitely more challenging than the first but struck a good balance between making you work to find the right path without getting too frustrated. We definitely commented, “I think I’ve seen that ear of corn before!” several times on this section of the maze, and we had to really retrace our steps and engage in some spirited conversation to figure out what we were missing. Eventually we found the right path, and from there it was smoothly splashing the rest of the way. Our 4-year-old was just starting to lose his enthusiasm at this point, so it worked out perfectly. By the time we reached the exit, we felt like we had really accomplished something and, even better, we had gotten our fill of fall fun for the day 🙂


Black Cats, Scary Good Tiramisu, and Other Halloween Highlights


Starting the day with Halloween cards made by Nana Five and Nana Banana.

For our Halloween in Rome, the Younger Fives took the lead to plan our day. Each chose a different destination, and we made plenty of noise to ward of bad spirits by pounding the pavement from the Colosseum north to Largo di Torre Argentina, Piazza Navona, The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and finally Piazza Barberini. It’s a good thing the only Trick-or-Treating we did was virtual fundraising for UNICEF; otherwise, we never could have made it the whole way with loot in tow!

High Five’s Destination: Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary


Cats have free reign over these ancient ruins.


How can black cats be bad luck when they are so cute and cuddly?

How can black cats be bad luck when they are so cute and cuddly?


Five of Heart’s Destination: Vegan Tiramisu at Universo Vegano (Piazzo di Paradiso)


Tiramisu beats candy any day!



The kids’ third tiramisu was the most memorable as it was given to us on the house as we left the restaurant. They wasted no time digging right in!


Five Ball’s Destination: Piazza Navona


All the running water gave us a fright as there was no public bathroom in sight!

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Other stops along the way – The Pantheon, Piazza Colonna, and Piazza Barberini
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