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WA State Geography in 60 seconds or less

The devastating Washington Mudslide is making national news this week, but many of my friends from outside of WA aren’t sure where Oso, Darrington and Arlington are. Roughly speaking, the mudslide is happening in the mountains about an hour’s drive from Seattle.

Understanding the geography of another state is difficult. I’m not very good with Arkansas , Vermont, or Ohio geography, because I’ve never been there. So here’s a crash course in WA geography in 60 seconds or less.



Big cities:

    • Seattle (think Space Needle)
    • Bellevue (think Microsoft)
    • Tacoma (think the Tacoma Dome)
    • Everett, Renton and Kent (think Boeing)
    • Spokane (think close-to-Idaho)
    • Olympia (the capitol)
Edmonds Beach

Edmonds Beach

Puget Sound:

  • A huge, gigantic estuary coming into WA from the Pacific Ocean and Salish Sea (picture rocky beaches with mountain views)
Come in August and there'll be less snow.

Visit Mt. Rainier in August and there’ll be flowers

National Parks:

  • Mt. Rainier (duh!)
  • Olympic National Park (Bella and Edward’s backyard)
  • North Cascades National Park (pristine wilderness)
Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park


  • Western WA can be cold and rainy (think, good place to fish)
  • Eastern WA is almost like a dessert (think, good place to pick peaches)
North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park

Okay, now take a look at Google maps and you’ll have a much better understanding of where the mudslide happened.

This is a very sad time for our beautiful state. My heart and prayers go out to the people of Oso, Darrington and Arlighton.

Stack the Countries

Quick quiz, if your six year old asked you where Windhoek was, what would you say? (For the answer, keep reading.)

Bruce earned all 50 states in “Stack the States” last week, and so I shelled out the big bucks ($1.99) to buy him “Stack the Countries” on our Ipod.  So far he’s been really excited about it, but it is oh-my-gosh so much harder!  It’s taking both the map on our family room wall, plus a lot of adult input, to help Bruce play.  I’d say this game is definitely meant for 5th graders on up.

“Stack the Countries” includes locations, shapes, capitals, language, and flag identification.  My husband and I both are getting schooled while we help Bruce play.  By contrast, Bruce was able to play “Stack the States” 75% on his own. 

By the way, in case you didn’t know (I certainly didn’t), Windhoek is the capital of Namibia.

The Map on my Family Room Wall

Did anyone ever see that little girl on Oprah who knew all of her countries before she was two years old?  Here’s the Utube Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP7JHp0k10o

When I saw that a few years ago, I immediately went out to buy a map for Bruce.  But then for one reason or another, I never got around to doing anything with it.  It’s been sitting on top of my dresser  for three years!  Yesterday, I finally dragged it out again and hung it up on our family room wall with blue masking tape.  It looks hideously ugly, but is had a child’s eye level.

I don’t exactly have a plan on this one, it’s more like I’m flying by the seat of my pants.  My aunt and uncle are in Sweden right now, so I might start with Sweden and the USA.  That will make things meaningful for Jenna.  Bruce has suggested getting “Stack the Countries” for the Ipod touch, and I agreed but told him he has to finish “Stack the States” first.  He only has four more states to go and will have won the game. 

My own geographical knowledge pales in comparison to my husband and his two sisters who know almost every single country down cold.  The had a middle school teacher who was really focused on geography and was able to teach every kid in his class 100% knowledge of the map.  I’ll have to ask my husband how this was accomplished!

By contrast, when I was in 7th grade my teacher, Mr. Bowles, had us perform Shakespeare, act out the trial of Galileo, and create a medieval faire.  We also participated in Junior Model United Nations.  All of those were really excellent and inspiring activities, but my geography abilities aren’t too hot.

10 Days in Europe


Here’s what Bruce, my husband and I played tonight.  It’s a game called 10 Days in Europe. What’s great about this game is that it not only teachs geography, but you can play it quite quickly.  It says on the box that it takes about 20-30 minutes a game, but it can be even shorter depending on what cards you get.