S: Washington 2011
BC: The End
FC: Washington June 18 - 25, 2011
1: Itinerary June 18 ~ Mt. Rainier National Park June 19 ~ Mt. Rainier Mt. St. Helens June 20 ~ Olympic National Park: Ruby Beach Hoh Rain Forest Sol Duc June 21 ~ Hurricane Ridge Washington State Ferries June 22 ~ San Juan Island Whale Watching Tour Wedding Rehearsal June 23 ~ Lime Kiln Point State Park Wedding June 24 ~ Deception Pass State Park June 25 ~ Seattle | Sol Duc Falls Olympic National Park
2: Mt .Rainier National Park After landing at SeaTac Airport and stopping for groceries in Puyallup, we made the trip down to Mt. Rainier only to find the mountain completely shrouded in clouds and snow (907" this year!) The steep cliffs, misty old -growth forests and wildlife still made for an amazing drive. Will told us it was "the day he will remember forever!"
3: Paradise Inn Built in 1916, Paradise Inn sits in the shadow of Mt. Rainier at 5,400' elevation. Although recently renovated, it retains it's original architectural accents, including small rooms, thin walls and squeaky floors! | The view we had ... the view we expected!
4: Trail of the Shadows This 0.7 mile trail at 2,757' elevation was a loop around Longmire Meadow that explored the early history of Longmire Springs Resort, including bubbling mineral springs (once thought to have medicinal benefits) and a cabin built by James Longmire's son. | Mt. Rainier National Park
6: Mt. St. Helens On May 18, 1980, Mt. St, Helens erupted and blew down 230 miles of forest... 30 years later the recovery continues, but wasn't visible to us! We had planned to travel to Johnston Ridge Observatory in the center of the blast zone, but 10 miles down we were completely under cloud cover, unable to see the edge of the road, much less the historic volcano! | We stopped at Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center for views of the Toutle River Valley, and spent an hour at the Forest Learning Center. There we watched a film chronicling the story of St. Helens, learned about the effects in the blast zone, and about the forestry industry. The boys loved the mock helicopter with views of a miniature forest!
8: Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park Located on the southwest coast of the park, it's just a short hike through the woods and a crawl over drift piles to this rocky stretch of sea stacks, small caves, and low-tide pools. The boys loved the perfect, flat stones for skipping and couldn't resist getting their shoes completely wet...which meant pruned toes and blisters by the end of the day!
10: Bigleaf maples and Sitka Spruce laden with club moss dominate the Hall of Mosses trail in the Hoh Rain Forest and give it its characteristic look and ethereal quality. Trees that once stood 220' tall for over 200 years now decay slowly and support new life as "nurselogs." Will wondered if this was the Forest of Nottingham and Josh worried a bear would cross our path. The giant trees and dense canopy were unlike anything we'd ever seen!
11: Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rain Forest 1 mile hike, 100' elevation gain
12: Sol Duc Falls This 1.6 mile trail with a 2oo' elevation gain took us through old growth forests to an amazing, cascading waterfall. The bridge over the falls and the trail along the canyon were slippery, dim, and enveloped in mist...making it a bit treacherous to traverse with a 3 year old on my back! | My fearless Josh refused to carry the trail mix, worrying it would attract bears. Will said he'd never seen anything like this "in real life!" And Jack...well, his "legs were too tired" to walk.
14: Sol Duc Resort
15: Our resort offered 3 mineral hot spring soaking pools ranging in temperature from 98 to 105 degrees. The springs receive part of their water from rain and melting snow, which seep through cracks in the sedimentary rocks where it mingles with gases coming from cooling volcanic rocks...or, if you believe local Indian legend, the pools are the hot tears of dragons once defeated in a brutal fight for their territory. The air is scented with sulfur and any silver change in your pocket tarnishes after a lengthy soak. Nevertheless, it was such a treat to relax in luxury...we stayed until the sun set and the bugs came out!
16: Looking south: the Olympic Mountain Range | Looking north: the Strait of Juan de Fuca and British Columbia
17: Hurricane Ridge Olympic National Park | After rising early, we took a beautiful drive on Highway 101 past Crescent Lake to Port Angeles. From there it was a stunning, white-knuckle drive up to Hurricane Ridge. Named after the 75 mile an hour gusts that buffet the ridge, it offers 360 degree views of alpine, ice-covered Olympic peaks to the south and British Columbia to the north. The 30-35 feet of snow that falls annually lingers into summer, obscuring the trails we'd hoped to explore. Nevertheless, the view from the snow-covered visitor center deck was everything we'd hoped it would be!
18: Washington State Ferries | The Washington State Ferries are the largest fleet of passenger and automobile ferries in the U.S. and the third largest in the world. We experienced this part of the Washington culture from Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula to Coupeville on Whidbey Island, then another larger ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. | Mt. Rainier in the hazy distance...about 120 miles away!
19: While riding the ferries, we enjoyed views of seals playing in the surf alongside the boat and sea birds nesting in the towering pylons at the ports. We also caught our first glimpses of two of Washington's most famous peaks: Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker.
20: Roche Harbor, San Juan Island | Nestled on the sheltered northwest side of San Juan Island is historic Roche Harbor. The resort was formerly a town surrounding a lime company incorporated in 1886. Listed on the National Register of Historical Sites, it was once a favored destination of President Theodore Roosevelt whose signature is on the guest book in the lobby of the resort's centerpiece, Hotel de Haro. It is undoubtedly an amazing location for a destination wedding!
23: Our first night on the island, Cara and Devon hosted a bonfire and s'more roast in front of our cottages to welcome us and to introduce the Langeland and Connor families. The highlight of the evening for the kids was a golf cart ride from one of the resort staff! | Our beautiful cottages overlooked the harbor, the heated pool, a play ground, and volleyball and tennis courts. Despite these amazing amenities, the main attraction for the kids was wading in the murky, weedy water searching for baby crabs.
24: Whale Watching San Juan Outfitters On Wednesday the wedding party chartered a boat and headed out into Canadian waters in search of Orca whales. Unfortunately, the elusive J-pod was moving north faster than we were and we didn't catch so much as a glimpse. We did enjoy fantastic views of the rocky island shores, a bald eagle, and a plethora of harbor seals sunning themselves wherever the tides took them. The sun and fresh salty air made the day one to remember.
27: Wedding Rehearsal
28: Rehearsal Dinner | The dinner was held down by the harbor beach under white tents decorated with paper lanterns, drift wood and beach grass. We enjoyed crab cakes, chicken salad pastries, snap peas with basil, lamb kabobs, and buttermilk chicken. After dinner, the kids had a ball exploring the pebbly shore and chasing crabs while the adults gathered around a bonfire. Cara's friend Suzie wrote and performed a cover tune chronicling Cara and Devon's courtship that left the group roaring in laughter. We lingered long after the sun had set, many of us running up to the cottages for extra layers as the evening cooled, and everyone looking forward to the big day ahead.
30: Lime Kiln Point, located on Haro Strait on the west side of San Juan Island, is considered one of the best places in the world to view Orca whales from land. The trail led us to a rocky marine viewing area, then continued on to Lime Kiln Lighthouse, where we could check a reader board and speak with a naturalist to see when the whales last passed by. While we were there, the J-pod was a couple hours south of us, but when Cara and Devon came by for wedding pictures, they were treated to a rare viewing of the amazing Orcas. What a wedding present!
31: Lime Kiln Point State Park | If time had allowed, another trail would have taken us to a restored lime kiln. Built in 1860, it was used for 90 years to produce lime used in the production of steel, plaster, cement, and paper.
34: The Wedding of Cara Langeland and Devon Connor
40: Deception Pass State Park | Deception Pass is a strait of water separating the northern tip of Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island. It connects the Puget Sound with the Strait of Juan de Fuca. A group of sailors led by Joseph Whidbey found and mapped the pass on June 7, 1792. They gave it the name "Deception" because it misled them into thinking Whidbey Island was a peninsula. The "deception" is heightened by the seemingly peaceful view from the massive twin bridges connecting the land masses. Deception Pass is actually a dramatic seascape where the tidal flow and whirlpools move quickly. During low tides, the swift current leads to standing waves, roiling eddies, and class 2 to 3 rapids. The state park surrounding the pass is popular for hiking, fishing, camping, and bird watching. We spent the afternoon on the ocean beach with my Aunt Sharon and cousins Kyle and Cory. The boys loved exploring the driftwood, climbing on the sea stacks and collecting stones, several of which made it all the way back to Michigan hidden in sweatshirt pockets!
42: Pike Place Market perches on the steep hillside of downtown Seattle overlooking the Elliot Bay waterfront. Founded in 1907, it is one of oldest continually operated public farmers' markets in the U.S. We were mesmerized by the vibrant colors, sounds, and smells of Pike Place. A grumpy but colorful clown convinced the boys they had to have a balloon creation, and a fishmonger used a fishtail to give the boys a "high five." We met Clare, Missy, and Cara at Ivars on the harbor and did our best to eat the legendary fish and chips before the seagulls claimed their share.
44: The Seattle Center Monorail was originally constructed for the 1962 World's Fair as an example of a fully self-sufficient public transit system. For us, it was a fun, quick, and convenient link from downtown to Seattle Center, home to two of Seattle's most famous landmarks. We enjoyed the iconic Space Needle from the ground, then spent the rest of our time on the 74 acre arts-and- entertainment campus cavorting in the shooting waters of the International Fountain. The kids skipped down the steep cement banks of the fountain barefoot and carefree with the promise that they would outrun the spray, yet they all crawled back up soaked to the skin. But who's going to let wet clothes dampen the fun?
45: Seattle Center
47: Our last evening in Washington was spent relaxing in Cara and Devon's backyard. We relived the amazing week and the beautiful wedding over grilled hot dogs and gourmet salads while the kids raced a team of snails they'd found in the garden. The thought of leaving was bittersweet. But along with our weary bodies and suitcases full of laundry, we would be flying home with hundreds of unforgettable memories!