Mt. Rainier National Park
We had the luxury of enjoying a free breakfast at the hotel before departing for the forestâ€¦ and by breakfast I mean stale bagels, etc. But the saving grace were some instant oatmeal packets that I smuggled for the next day as well. Iâ€™ve eaten oatmeal for breakfast at home every single day for as long as I can remember. I didnâ€™t when I was at school, but on breaks and after graduationâ€¦ every day.
Before leaving, we took a walk through Olympia to get some good coffee and to find a certain local newspaper for Lauren. The coffee was easy to find; the newspaper, not so much. I was pretty much over Olympia the second we got there, but I felt bad for Lauren who desperately wanted more time there. I even drove us a mile out of town and off our route so she could see Sleater Kenney Ave (yes, another riot grrl reference). It was out of our way and pretty ridiculous, but it gave me one more thing to make fun of her for, so it was almost worth the trouble!
The drive out to Ashford (near Mt. Rainier) went by fairly quickly, though we werenâ€™t sure exactly where to find Whitakerâ€™s Bunkhouse (it didnâ€™t have an exact address?). We passed by an old train on the side of the road whose cars had been turned into some sort of restaurant. How awesome is that? And how lame are we for not stopping in?
And oh, the weather was absolutely glorious again. It was warm and sunny, and clear blue skies â€“ the kind of weather that can (literally) brighten anyoneâ€™s day. We had lunch down the road at the Copper Creek Inn and sat at a table by the road, right in the hot sun. The service was very slow, but the food was incredible. We had salads with blackberry dressing and blackberry milkshakes. Yes, blackberries are in season indeed. I didnâ€™t even know I was a fan of blackberries until I ate here! Oh manâ€¦ incredible.
Adequately fueled, we continued on to Rainier NP. Unfortunately most of the park trails were still closed off from winter snow, which was becoming a pattern throughout our roadtrip. SO AGGRAVATING!! We were only able to hike part of the Wonderland Trail from Longmere, and even part of that accessible segment had remnants of snow. It was also marked with fallen tree trunks. Still, it was enjoyable just to be in the woods, surrounded by forest and vegetation not found back home on the east coast.
We were also able to drive from Longmere to Paradise, which provided us with fantastic views of the mountain and its glaciers, as well as a dried up riverbed. There were also a few waterfalls along the way. Iâ€™m still not over seeing snow on a hot sunny day in May. I know it makes perfect sense, but itâ€™s still too weird to me.
We returned to the bunkhouse around dinnertime, except nothing was open for dinner! It was only about 7pm and here we were in nowheresville, WA with nowhere to eat. Fantastic! So back we went to the Copper Creek Inn for another meal today. They were just finished serving dinner, but agreed to seat us with a limited menu. The Tuscan Chicken with pesto & mozzarella was pretty delightful, I must say.
After dinner (and dark), we had big plans involving the hot tub and our coveted bottle of wine from Oregon. Only problem was that we couldnâ€™t find our corkscrew and had no way of opening the bottle! Much to my dismay, Lauren went around the bunkhouse complex in her bathing suit, wrapped in a towel, asking anyone who was out if they had a swiss army knife we could borrow. I felt like it was a wee bit sketchy, but hey we were on vacation, what did it matter, right? She found a guy who offered to stop by our room and open the bottle for us. He somehow gnawed at the cork with his knife and must have sliced his finger with it because blood kept dripping down his hand and the bottle. We had splotches of his blood right outside our door when he was done. If this isnâ€™t a scene right out of a craptastic horror flick, I donâ€™t know what is! I felt a little bad though because he was about to go to bed so he could wake up at the crack of dawn to hike the mountain in the morning, and here we were holding him up and unintentionally handing him an injury.
After that blood episode, we made it out to the hot tub and had it alllllllll to ourselves (shocker). Iâ€™m pretty sure everyone else had gone to bed already in preparation for the next dayâ€™s hiking. But oh, it was so nice to lounge out in the jacuzzi under the stars, glass of wine in hand, crickets in the bushes. (â€œWeâ€™re not in New York anymore!â€)
And then we went to sleep and I was up all night with a horrible cough. I canâ€™t even remember the last time I was plagued with a cough this bad. Iâ€™d be fine until laying horizontal, at which point Iâ€™d begin coughing uncontrollably. KILL ME NOW.