When we began this adventure, as with all of my adventures, I planned a couple things, and then left space for spontaneity and mini adventures. This trip was no different, in that something cool always comes along. The following was planned for Washington State:
Pike Place Market
The 1st Starbucks
Mt. Rainier National Park
Meeting my niece, Abby, for the 1st time (she was 20)
Unplanned were the following:
Olympic National Park
Overnight in Puyallup (favorite hotel stay)
Alex and I left Ellensburg and drove to Mt. Rainier National Park. His 1st view of Mt. Rainier did not disappoint. His reaction was everything I anticipated, and more! It is a magnificent view, my pictures do not do it justice. A little background, if you are unfamiliar with this area of our country:
It is a privilege to see the mountain your first day (cloudy a lot, which can completely hide the mountain); i.e., my husband's trip in 1993 - he didn't see Mt. Rainier until our 5th day in Graham, and he was amazed at how close it was to our location, how large, how beautiful, and how shocked that it was hidden his whole visit until that morning.
Mt. Rainier is a stratovolcano, and last erupted in 1894 - but is still active.
Mt. Rainier National Park was established on March 2, 1899, by President McKinley.
There is always snow on Mt. Rainier - Alex threw a snowball at me this summer. ❄
I love this country, but this view brings me to tears EVERY SINGLE TIME. God's creations are magnificent!
We spent a few hours in this park, enjoying the incredible scenery, spending some money on souvenirs, then on a whim, decided to go to Olympic National Park. These parks are over 100 miles apart. Just call me Crazy! BTW, I get a National Parks Pass every year. This way when an opportunity presents itself, money doesn't come into play! So many of our National Park experiences of been spur of the moment choices.
We got to the top of Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park at 6:03pm - and it was worth it! At one spot you can see across to Canada. The view is beautiful. The drive was white-knuckle inducing. Alex would say "oh, mom, look...wait, don't look, I'll take pictures". The drop was drastic, The road winding, twisty, steep. Coming down, me driving very slow because it was dusk (which is about 9pm), a deer was in the middle of my lane (2 lane mountain road). Thank goodness I was driving slow, and she moved out of the way.
Alex has collected National Park and Monument coins since he was little. Unfortunately, the visitor center was closed at Olympic National Park, and he was unable to get anything. However, in December, I called the park and asked the Ranger on the phone if it would be possible to buy them (they have 2 for the park) and have them mailed. I even offered to pay for mailing them. After explaining what happened, the very kind gentleman said this was an easy fix, asked for my address, and free of charge mailed both coins immediately to me. I wrapped them up and gave them to Alex for Christmas. To say his gesture touched us both is an understatement.
We drove down, over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and drove to a hotel in Lacey, WA. Got up in the morning and made sausage and eggs in the microwave - Alex was quite surprised, and I'm sure the housekeeping staff was too! We drove into Seattle, parked in Pike Place Market area, and made a beeline for Starbucks - the 1st one. It was super cool. Very short, socially distanced line, great staff. For souvenirs there was a menu and a wall, no contact, no touching. The staff were entertaining, masked, and fun. And, yes, best coffee ever! We then walked to a smoked salmon shop - we were the only ones in there, they even offered us some samples! Bought a bunch of smoked salmon - because I LOVE it, even some smoked salmon treats for our dog, Max.
We walked down to the water, saw the Seattle Great Wheel across the way, and looked out over Puget Sound. My gut was telling me it was time to go, so we got in the car and drove into the heart of Seattle. We saw the Space Needle, from the car, some of the places rioters had damaged, and could not get over the homeless situation - there were tents in a bank parking lot I have seen a lot of homeless camps, I have been in cities (New Orleans, for instance), where the homeless situation is established, and I have never seen such rampant, pitch a tent anywhere, garbage everywhere, uncontrolled homelessness. It was surprising to see how overrun this city was.
We left Seattle, and I decided to book it and see if Northwest Trek was open. We pulled in at 4:34 pm, spoke with a lady, who checked with the office to see if we could be added to the 5:30 drive-through tour (I may have said it had been 27 yrs since I'd been to the park and I may have said we were leaving town the next day, and I may have even said that, as was obvious by my license, I had driven all the way from Florida!), they said yes! We drove quickly to the office, they opened the office for us to buy our tickets (such great people), we used their just cleaned restrooms (score!), and joined the line of 9 other cars. What a beautiful tour through the park. Lots of wildlife, elk, buffalo, deer, mountain goats...such a great experience!
After Northwest Trek, we drove to Puyallup, found a Hampton Inn, and ordered dinner from Bob's Burgers and Brew. My 1st experience with Grub Hub, our delivery guy was great, brought it to my room. We had queen sized beds, shower and bath, sat propped in our beds and watched movies and ate! The next morning check out wasn't until 12pm, and we were meeting Abby at 12, so a great night's sleep and easy morning. My only stress was what do you wear to meet your 20 yr old niece for the 1st time? And, why have I waited so long to come back?
It was a breezy chilly day, but because of COVID-19, Alex and I didn't eat in restaurants. We found Rock Wood Coal Fired Pizza, which had outdoor sitting (poor Abby), and had a wonderful get to know you visit with great food. Such a blessing that she was down with meeting us! We got back on the road late, but it was such a wonderful day, and totally worth it. We hit the road and drove to Wolf Lodge in Coeur d'Alene, ID (wow - beautiful spot)!
This closes out our Washington State part of the drive. But the adventures did not end there. Stay tuned for the trip home, and the adventures, and misadventures that followed!