Back-to-basics fun for the kids

By Lynn Porter

Around the Island

The clown or the pony rides?

How about neither.

The City of Mercer Island has a solution to parents' dilemma of what entertainment to provide for kids' parties and other child-centric events.

It comes in the form of a sedan.

Actually, the real draw of the Fun Mobile is Ashley Dahl and Steve Boynton.

They drive the decorated car around the Island to parks and beaches, and create fun with games and arts and crafts.

Now that fun is for rent. Call Diane Mortenson, recreation coordinator for the Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Department, at 236-3590 at least two weeks in advance and the car of fun will show at your door, with Dahl and Boynton, part-time summer employees.

The price for all this silliness has not been set, but will be soon, said Mortenson.

This summer, the Dahl-Boynton duo and the Fun Mobile have been making a tour of the city's developed and semi-developed parks, which include three swim beaches.

Years ago, the Fun Mobile made the rounds, but on a more limited schedule.

The idea is to get people outside doing the outdoor games that the fun-pair specializes in, said Mortenson.

``We want to bring back some of the old-fashioned fun in being outside,'' she said.

That fun includes potato sack and relay races, kick the can, Slip 'N Slide, water balloon tosses, and arts and crafts, like making kaleidoscopes.

But the fun is only as good as the fun-makers, Dahl and Boynton, who Mortenson said put the whim in whimsy.

``They are what makes this happen,'' she said of the University of Washington students. ``They are very creative, full of energy and extremely good with the kids.''

And now for the grown-ups

People who want to do some summer reading and learn about Washington-based monsters and mysteries can pick up a new book by Mercer Island native Lynn E. Bragg. It's titled ``Myths and Mysteries of Washington'' and details just that.

The book features some well-known tales and some not-so-well-known ones. Included are stories of ghosts, buried treasure and the like.

Take the tale of D.B. Cooper, who snagged $200,000 in the hijacking of a 727 in 1971, and then parachuted out of the plane over southwest Washington. In 1980, a boy found $5,800 in marked bills from the caper buried in sand along the Columbia River near Vancouver, Wash. But what happened to D.B.?

``People come forward all the time claiming to be him or married to him,'' said Bragg.

The book also includes a section on demons of the deep -- about monsters in the waters off Washington.

``There's even a picture,'' said Bragg. It's of a giant carcass that washed up on Henry Island. Some people thought it was an extinct animal called a steller's sea cow, said Bragg. Others thought it was a basking shark.

In the past, Bragg has written about women of the Northwest, among other topics.

This time around she wanted to do something different.

``I love mysteries and I love people stories and I love history,'' she said. ``So I wanted to do something that combined those things ... Of course this is a little more macabre than (my) other books.''

It's available at Island Books.

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