Bob and I recently traveled to the Pacific Northwest. It was our anniversary vacation (22 years!), which, as of last year, since we became empty-nesters, is now a tradition. Neither of us had ever been to this part of the world, so we were quite excited about it. I should have started this blog series sooner, but I’ve been daunted, stymied really, by the sheer volume of photos my dear husband took on the trip with his phone – over 1000!! I’ve been culling through them, deleting the doubles (and triples and decaruples – is that a word?). And the blurry ones and the ones I just don’t like. It’s been a week and a half, and I’m still not through them all.
But it’s time to get started.
We flew into Seattle. Our first stop was Mt. Ranier National Park.
We stayed three nights in Eatonville, 25 miles west of the park, in a little motel called Mill Village. Nothing fancy, but clean, comfortable, and adequate. We were told we could see the impressive mountain from the balcony outside our motel room. But that first morning was cool and cloudy. All we saw was this.
Our first day in the park, we drove to the area called Paradise (and with good reason). We drove up, up, and more up through an enchanted-like forest, resplendent with age-old pines and waterfalls originating from either glaciers or snowmelt. We learned how to tell the difference. Glacier water is a milky green color because it is full of minerals and finely crushed rock. Like this dam.
Snowmelt is crystal clear. Like this stream.
This lovely Christine Falls I believe is from glacier melt.
Narada Falls I believe is from snowmelt.
All morning long as we drove, we looked and looked for Mt. Ranier. Overlook after overlook, we knew it was right there. But heavy clouds obscured the grandeur. It was like a cruel joke from Mother Nature. But the countryside was nonetheless incredibly breathtaking.
This is what much of rural Washington State looks like.
We arrived in Paradise and went first to the visitors center. We watched a film on the history of the park and learned that, because of the crazy weather and frequent cloud cover over the peak, some visitors come and never get a glimpse of that mammoth rock. That was the last thing we wanted to hear.
The lodge there is a beautiful historic building. Being a Sunday, we were thrilled to enjoy their popular brunch.
It was chilly that day, in the 40s, and I wasn’t prepared. I bought a knit cap in the gift shop before we set off hiking.
We hiked up and up into the foothills of the mountain. We had heard about the beautiful wildflowers that grow there. We expected that it was the wrong time of year to see them. Wow, were we mistaken. Incredible! Our Creator, what an amazing gardener!
As beautiful and breathtaking as it all was, we KNEW the mountain was RIGHT THERE. But we still couldn’t see it.
We hiked and drove and hiked some more, well into late afternoon. It was nearing time to head back to Eatonville, and we’d mostly given up on seeing the mountain, at least for that day. And then . . .
Soon after . . .
Look how happy we were to finally see the peak! Stunning, breathtaking, awe-inspiring . . . adjectives and superlatives in our English language are inadequate to describe this national treasure.
That evening, we ate dinner at a humble little restaurant next to the motel called Bruno’s. The Seattle area is well-known for craft beers and micro breweries. It was here at Bruno’s that I discovered my new favorite beer – Quilter’s Irish Death. I have no idea why they call it that. But it’s good. I haven’t looked around town yet, but I hope I can find it in Lake Charles.
Here’s what the view from our room balcony looks like on a clear day.
Here are a couple fun facts we learned about Mt. Ranier.
- The Park was established in 1899.
- Mt. Ranier boasts 26 active glaciers; more than any other mountain in North America.
- Altitude 14,410 feet
· The following day we returned to the park. This second day, the sky was clear and we could see the majestic mountain all day long.
More hiking, more trees, more waterfalls. Bob wanted to hike a bit farther than I did that day, so while he climbed higher, I parked myself against a boulder in the shadow of this lovely waterfall and wrote several haikus. Yes, I carry pen and a pad of paper everywhere I go. Just in case the muse strikes.
Water crushes rock
Rushes, roars, cascades to seaMist kisses my cheek