GRANDVIEW, WA – I’m proud to say that after seven weeks into our stay, Kay and I finally managed to visit the tallest mountain in the Northwest. I could step out of this house right this minute, face the west and see Mt Rainier. It’s right where my thumbs pointing. See?
Did you know it’s a volcano? Mt. Rainier last erupted in 1894. In volcano years, that’s not very long ago. They have a few tremors now and again, but there’s little concern. They seem more worried about all the forest and grass fires around here.
There has not been a hint of rain since we arrived. In fact, it’s rare to even see a cloud. The place averages five to eight inches of rain a year. My nephew Curt told me that we should see some rain in September. It usually comes with a lot of wind and lightning. The good thing about wind and lightning is the fact that the house belongs to my sister, Sue, a charming sibling who realizes I joke.
But forget the fires and the much anticipated thunderstorm that may drop as much as half an inch of rain over a period of two weeks. Let us venture back to the active volcano, one in a chain of large volcanoes that make up the Cascade Mountains. Mt. St. Helen and Mt. Hood are two others. (Remember the article two-weeks back about our trip to Mt. Hood and Mt. St Helen? The guy who gave me directions said he’d make the drive down Lolo Pass, but only if he had a six pack and some weed. I really liked that old man. He probably saved lives that day.)
Our drive to Mt. Rainier was a bit less demanding. Keep in mind “less demanding” creates the threat of dullness to any writer of intrigue… which obviously doesn’t apply to me? I will launch into the “less demanding” by telling you that Rhonda hit me with a snowball, a wet smooshy one that Kay gave her after our short trek to a small patch of ice at the base of the mountain.
Yes, I admit to launching a large snowball at my niece while she was standing at the overlook, but it was way off the mark, which, as it turned out, was fortunate because she may have toppled over the overlook. In retaliation, Rhonda snowballed me right in the chest while I was six feet from her. This was not all bad, because I can now mark off another item from my bucket list. -- Get hit by a snowball in August.
It’s weird to be driving along the edge of a winding, mountainous road cut through a dense forest of tall conifers. Suddenly you round a bend to see a gigantic, white mountain just the other side of a lovely valley. That’s exactly what we saw on our way to Paradise.
The story goes that a young pioneer girl, upon seeing the mile-high flower-laced valley many years ago, exclaimed, “Oh, what a paradise!” Someone of authority chose from her description the word “Paradise” for the name for the Mt. Rainier valley. They decided not to choose from the words spoken by her father-in-law who exclaimed “#@!&, what a view!” Just a story that came to mind after I read the original.
Paradise has a newish visitor’s center that looks wonderful from the outside. We never made it through the doors. Within rock throwing distance from the center is the Paradise Inn, a 101 year-old lodge that is currently being remodeled. We chose not to park in the huge parking area, because all parking places were taken. People were even parked a mile or more along the road to and from the place. And, this was 3:30 in the afternoon on a Tuesday!
I consider it refreshing to know that everyone makes it to Paradise. I saw ‘em. Everyone and his dog were there. Couldn’t stir ‘em with a ski pole. I could only imagine someone driving up there in an RV on a Saturday. I highly recommend anyone considering such a venture not to pack a handgun.
We did find a place to stop in Mt. Rainier National Park that was located just a few miles down the road. We got to take a short hike and notice all of the unrecognizable mountain plants. When Kay doesn’t recognize a flower, it’s likely extraterrestrial.
Everything we saw was just gorgeous. Kay and I were so impressed that we purchased a National Park pass at one of the entrances. If you’re 62 or over, you can purchase a life-time pass for only $10. Just before Labor Day it goes up to $80.
Although there is a $10 fee for registering on-line, some of you age-eligible may wish to pay the extra $10 instead of hurrying to your nearest National Park to make the purchase. Hey, you do what you want, but I’m telling you, it’s crowded. And, let’s face it, you’re at the age where you’re this close to losing it. See? This close.
Well, I shall end this account with the news that in three hours time we were back home where the temperature was 103. We had seen thick forests of pine and fir, beautiful flowers from outer space, and we had played in snow. And, I have every confidence that much of the snow in the Cascades will still be there when the first snow of fall hits. I may not be here to see it, but what do I care? I’ve been to Paradise?
endYou may contact Mark by email at email@example.com