Friday, July 25, 2014

A Very Walker Vacation part I: Mt. Rainier

This year for our Walker Family Vacation (all caps so you know it's serious), we decided to explore Washington State. Well, we've been kind of negligent about showing the girls the finer points of our neighbors to the north (in case it doesn't translate: We're from Oregon), and we thought it would be fun.

Also: This entire trip was equal to the mileage we put on in just one day last year during our Very Canyon Vacation. That's one of the reasons why we chose Washington State. We're still kind of broken from Utah/Arizona.

Our first stop was Mt. Rainier National Park. But because this is the Pacific Northwest, we also saw Mt. St. Helens in distance, which I am going to show you now just in case you're wondering what it looks like 34 years after it blew its top:

Mt. St. Helens.

We got to Mt. Rainier in time for (a late) lunch:

That's how you know you're in the park

We were in a pull-out, just chillin' on a rock wall.
Abby looks ticked but she was just hangry.

This was about the time Johanna announced she was going to throw up, which sent me into an IBS attack (stress is an interesting thing), but hey, the good news is that she DID NOT and I eventually rebounded. P.S. This is probably TMI, but Johanna has acid reflux and that does indeed make you feel like you're about to barf.

She was all better by the time we drove to Reflection Lake:

Aptly named.

And then! We hit Paradise Inn and visitors' center (two separate buildings)!

Paradise Inn. It's full of history.

So the ground was covered in snow... and the air was in the 70ºs. We were not expecting blue skies and warm weather, so we were all over dressed. The lesser mature of the Walker clan indulged in a snowball fight:

The good news is I didn't get hit taking this photo.

It was so warm that the snow was rapidly melting, making a waterfall out of this staircase:

Well, I thought it was cool.

After hiking around for a while and touring the visitor's center, we checked into the lodge:

This was taken right about the time we realized there's no cell service or wi-fi
on Mt. Rainier. The humanity!

Our room was tiny but comfortable. Johanna made the observation that the bathroom was so small that you could literally pee and wash your hands at the same time. That ended up being a true story. You really could. I tried, so I know.

Anyway, we relaxed for awhile, sans phones and devices (which was really weird. Made me feel isolated and disconnected and kind of anxious), and then went to dinner in the Inn's restaurant:

Busy place.

Here's where our story get sad, dear friends. I had high hopes for the restaurant--I've eaten at many a National Park Lodge--and my hopes seemed well founded when I saw on the menu that they're big fans of local food and sustainability.

Me too!

Unfortunately, our meal was kind of terrible. We wouldn't have minded so much if we hadn't just blown a wad of cash just to be disappointed. And it's not like we're food snobs or anything... but come on! You do not need to drown a perfectly good pear and spinach salad in crappy store-bought vinaigrette.

It also didn't help that the aforementioned IBS attack was on me in full force by then, and I kept having to leave the table. As a public service announcement, I'd like to say that Imodium Multi-Symptom is kind of a lifesaver. No one's paying me to say that, but if Imodium wants to send me a free box or something for the plug, I would not be opposed. (Hint hint.)

After our Meal of Disappointment, we went outside on the patio, where a kind soul took a family portrait of us that will probably end up on our Christmas card:

Mt. Rainier is pretty, but we like these crag-tops behind it even better.

We played games:

Johanna is the thumb wrestling champion. She's not quite as good at
Rock Paper Scissors or arm wrestling...

...And watched a bird Mom and Dad feed their babies:

Any idea what kind of bird this is? Jeff, you know, right?

Eventually we got antsy and started walking around again (I was feeling great by this point). It was fun to be in the park "after hours;" we've only ever spent the night in Yellowstone out of all the National and State Parks we've visited, and it's a great way to explore without a crowd.

This "back of the lodge" shot was taken on our exploration mission.

A view of the visitor's center, parking lot and mountain. Paradise Inn is
on the right, not shown.

There's those craggy tops again. So gorgeous.

As we were walking around and taking pictures and wondering aloud if it's safe for deer to be so tame they just walk right past you on their way to the good grass, we met some park hosts, who invited us to be a part of the star gazing... show?... they were setting up for. It looked awesome, and we actually went back to the lodge to change into warmer clothing--by this time, the sun was down and we were freezing. When we went back outside, though, we discovered that we are wimpy and couldn't hack the cold. We had sweatshirts and stuff, but what we really needed was coats, and that we didn't pack because hello, summer.

So we went to bed instead.

The next morning, we had a choice: Spend more of our hard earned cash on what was probably going to be a crappy breakfast, or drive down the road a bit to a picnic area and eat out of the trunk of the car with Mt. Rainier in the background.

Guess which one we picked?

Jo was hiding in the car.

Although, confession, I did stand in line at the Lodge deli for like 15 minutes for a cup of coffee. It was delicious.

Abby wanted to get the hell out of Dodge (which isn't really fair to Mt. Rainier because it is beautiful and peaceful and lovely), but Eric decided we'd mosey the hell out of Dodge instead, so that's what we did. And then we headed to Seattle.

But that's another post for another time. You deserve a breather after this one.

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