Friday, June 14, 2013

Day Trip to Mt. Rainier

Last Sunday was pretty incredible. We went to Mt. Rainier! It was so picturesque. So, let's see how many photos this blogger thing can hold...

I've mentioned previously that my mother has a cousin here in Washington, Carol, who we've met a few times now. Well, Carol's sister Mildred is here visiting from Pennsylvania, so we wanted to all get together so I could meet her and I still hadn't met Carol's other daughter, Yvette yet.

So when Carol mentioned that they were taking a day trip up to Mt. Rainier and invited us along, we jumped at the chance.

Mt. Rainier is the volcano that we can see from our home when "the mountain is out."

Jon, Olive and I drove to Eatonville and met my family there.  On our way to Eatonville, we came around a curve in the road and found this standing there.


I slammed on my breaks, luckily there were no cars behind me, no one else on the road at all, so we stopped and checked each other out for a few minutes.

That's when Jon and I realized that Olive was going crazy in the backseat. She saw the deer too. I had her window open a few inches for most of the ride, so she could take in all of the scents. And that's when she decided to make her move. My little 23 lb. tripod trying to climb through the tiny window opening to go after the full size deer!  She had her front paws and her head and neck out the window and she was panting! 

Jon said "Close the window! Close the window!" but I couldn't, I would have crushed Olive's little neck!  I said "Pull her in!"  Thankfully, she had her leash on, because Jon turned around in his seat, grabbed her leash and pulled her back into the car as I closed the window.  What a scare! New rule, she can only have her window open an inch! 

We met my cousins in the parking lot of a "supermarket" in Eatonville.  Maybe more of a "market" without so much "super."  I grew up in a small town, and when I say Eatonville is a small town, I mean it is a smaaaallll town with a population just over 2,000. They do have a traffic light though! 
This is the street behind the market. I would imagine that if that cloud cover wasn't there, they might have beautiful views of Mt. Rainier!

On our way to the park, we passed some cute small town kind of features, and stopped at a pottery and art shop in the town of Ashford, WA. I appreciated this painting on the side of the building, comparing Mt. Rainier to other mountains of the world.

Ashford is another very small town - population 217!  Across the street, there was another little art shop that looked very cool, but unfortunately it wasn't open. Check out the Sasquatch painting on a purple background on the right. 

Even though it was closed, that didn't stop us from getting a picture with their bear out front.  

Michelle's husband Steve remarked "You two act like you haven't seen a bear before!" 

Now onto the park, with it's trees, rivers and streams. I thought this was about how beautiful it was going to get, and I would've been more than happy with that. But boy was I wrong!

We stopped in Longmire which is the visitors' center about 6 miles into the National Park. There was a lodge with a restaurant and a gift shop.

I was pretty impressed with the lodge's wide front poor with big chairs and beverage service looking toward the mountain. I could see myself being very comfortable there...

The lodge at Longmire.

Olive was very comfortable there too! 

We decided to enjoy our picnic lunch there.  Jon and I had brought sandwiches and drinks for ourselves as Michelle had told us that they had sandwiches and drinks for themselves and salads and dessert to share.  Wow, they know how to do a picnic! 
Salads, chips, a pie and cookies! They even had a tablecloth! 
On the left is Michelle in green and Mildred (or Millie) in white.  On the left is Jon, me, Carol and Yvette.  Carol and Mildred are my mother's first cousins and Michelle and Yvette are Carol's daughters. Steve is behind the camera. At this point, the sun was still trying to come out, so we were a little bit chilly, you can tell here we're all in jackets! 

After lunch, we continued up the mountain! 

Back in the car, consulting the park map. 

 And Olive wondered "Can we go back and try to find that deer now?" 

Next stop: Christine Falls, a 69 foot tall waterfall with this beautiful stone bridge crossing in front of it.

Surrounded by other smaller waterfalls.  Who doesn't love waterfalls? Besides TLC, obviously. 

As we went closer to explore the waterfalls, Olive stayed near the car with her buddy Carol. I tried to get Olive's picture with the waterfall in the background but, as you can see, it was torture for her. I don't know whether it sounded too much like a bath or what!

"More waterfall pictures!" you say? 
Ok, here they are!

Moving on from the waterfalls and continuing up the mountain...

There's Mt. Rainier! We were getting closer to the top, but it was still mostly covered by clouds. We were hoping that as the day wore on, we'd get a clearer view. 

Look at those trees! It's a logger's dream!

More waterfalls?  Ok, here's Narada Falls. 

Narada Falls is twice as big as Christine Falls but it wasn't as easy to view from the road area, it would've required a little bit of a climb to get a straight-on view and we were continuing on! 

Views of the mountains (but not "the mountain") from Narada Falls.

Snow melting into waterfalls. 

Those people hiked down to the lower viewpoint and got a better view of the whole falls. 
Next time, we'll have to do that. 

Michelle and Steve teased Jon and I about taking a self-portrait with the iPhone and I told them, "Our whole honeymoon album looks like this - us with the Eiffel Tower, us with Geyser..."  Here we caught them trying to take their own "selfie!" 

Continuing on up the mountain, we passed a spot where a truck was pulled on the side of a dangerous curve. Jon remarked something like "That's stupid!" and it was. There are safe pulloffs every so often, so there's no good reason to stop on a dangerous curve like that. 

Then Steve pulled off near the same spot, and we followed him!  Why?  To see this...

Don't see it yet?  That last grey/brown rock is not a rock at all...

Now do you see the fox?  She was a mama! And her pups (the correct word, I now know, is "kit")  were down behind her.  

Steve had a super zoom lens and caught this amazing shot:
Bringing home lunch. It looks like she's caught some kind of rodent, maybe a possum? 

We left Olive in the car for this one, we didn't need to see her do the foxtrot tango. Cousin Carol stayed by the car and reported that Olive was crying - I bet she wanted to go meet this new friend! And possibly share their lunch!

This is better than any show on NatGeo! 

Almost Paradise... how could we ask for more...

Paradise Ranger Station. Love the shape of this building and the stone base.

Paradise still has snow in early June and there were plenty of people sledding. There was a sign telling us to keep pets off the snow, but we did let Olive explore it a tiny bit. As far as we know, this may have been her first time seeing snow!

"So, what is this white dirt? And why is it so cold?" 

She did seem to like it!

A glimpse of the top of Mt. Rainier between the clouds.

Paradise Inn
You can rent a room here, they also have a gift shop and a restaurant, and this amazing lobby.

It seems like a great place to sit and relax. 

How about this ginormous dining room set? Like something for a king!

And these big fireplaces on either side of the room. What a place to read a book.

The sun really reflected off the snow and made this area so bright.
Check out the piano player. What a nice touch for lounging in this great space.

Second bear of the trip. I really liked this little mail bear. And you could have your mail postmarked from Paradise! 

They had one room open in the lodge so we could take a look in. 
This room is not "mountain view" though.

Waiting for the mountain to come out, and catching little glimpses between the clouds. 

People were sledding and playing in the snow in shorts and short sleeve. They're crazy.

 We are family. I got all my cousins with me. 

Family Portrait

Road closed? Well, we could move those cones...

Guess we won't be going down into this valley.  It's still a little snowy.

A very cool blue bird.

Goodbye, Mt. Rainier. We hope we'll see you soon. Come out and visit us in Seattle!

Goodbye, Mt. Rainier National Park! We'll definitely be back!

On the way home we stopped at this sculpture-from-scrap place. 
God bless the artist who can make a living from his art, but some of these pieces were kind of just... interesting...

The rocking horse was one of the nicer pieces.

Giant wagon wheel

The tanks on the right are for donations. They are labelled "Democrat" and "Republican."

It seems our trip home was along the evacuation route. So we evacuated our way back to Seattle.

It was a great day in the sun with family and we loved seeing this natural beauty in our backyard. 
We'll definitely be heading back, it was amazing.

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