Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Volcano Days: Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Crater Lake

We were pretty eager for some sunshine after many days of rain on the coast. So we turned eastward to visit some volcanoes. The rain subsided for the most part but the temps dropped considerably. The scenery, however, could not be beat.

Because of our side trip to the wildlife park we arrived at Mt. Rainier late in the day. Andy quickly jumped out to grab this shot because we do not like looking for camp sites in the dark. We camped at Ohanapecosh which was really cool.  

In the morning we drove up to the mountain. It was around 45 degrees! Pretty uncomfortable if you don't have the right clothes. We really loved the architecture of the visitors center and lodge.  

The mountain was shrouded in clouds and it rained on and off for a long time after we arrived. So we spent a lot of time in the visitors center looking at the exhibits, watching the movie, and trying to avoid the gift shop. It was so cold and raining so hard that we bought hot chocolates and a soup so we'd have a cover for eating our picnic lunch in the cafeteria rather than the designated picnic tables outside. And the mountain was still not visible. Right after Cubby spilled her entire hot chocolate in Andy's shoe we thought maybe it was time to give up and head back to camp. But as we were packing up, the sun suddenly came out and the clouds started to clear. We quickly ran outside and walked and walked up the trail catching glimpses between the cloud cover.  

Alpine meadows are the best. 

There it is!! We couldn't believe this gorgeous site was hidden behind the clouds. It is truly impressive and cool to see through the binos. We wondered if there were any climbers out there and wish we had the stamina and time to hike closer. 

The clouds rolled in again but we got to see a marmot. Cute!

Coat back on and mountain gone again. In the afternoon we went inside the lodge. It was so pretty inside we decided to stay for a tea and coffee. Cubby tried to dunk her cookie in Andy's coffee and it completely disintegrated in it, ruining his drink! It was definitely time to go home. But that lodge. We could see ourselves coming back sans kids one day just to sit by the fire and read a newspaper. Uninterrupted and without a shoe full of hot chocolate or a coffee full of chunks. 

Out again! One last pic while we heard a distant crack and deep rumble. Avalanche?

Back at the campsite the next day we took the kids to a ranger program just for them. It was really good. 

Another promise to take care of their parks and brush their teeth! 

The eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 is something Andy and I vividly remember so we couldn't miss visiting. 

After the (pretty bad) movie the curtains rose dramatically to reveal the collapsed side of the crater. But it was too cloudy to see it. The visitors center was fine but we were hoping to see clips from the news and eyewitness interviews in the movie. Not a bunch of cheesy effects and head spinning camera work. 

As you drive up to the mountain itself you can see the impact everywhere. You can also tell that you are driving through a lumber forest. We stopped by the Weyerhaeuser (lumber company) visitors center and that was really, really good! We were too busy enjoying the movie and the exhibits to take photos. 

So now we know there is corn in everything as well as wood. 

Here's tedze (I've been spelling it wrong all along!) with almost all of the ten essentials for hiking. I think he's missing a first aid kit. After Mt. St. Helens we visited Portland. But for some reason we didn't include any pictures which usually means we left the camera home, took one lousy pic with a phone, and forgot to put it on the computer. Drats. But we had a quick and fun visit. Portland seems like a very laid back city. It's nice looking and there are a million good restaurants. I got to cash in my birthday dinner rain check at an awesome sushi restaurant. Then we had lots of fun meeting up with the daughter and family of our old friends and neighbors from Fairfield. They treated us to incredible ice cream at a place called salt & straw. What a treat!

 As usual we got off to a late start for our next leg so we stopped for a quick overnight in a really pretty campground called Trapper Creek on a lake in Deschutes National Forest. As we walked the trails we saw very obvious signs of a beaver at work. 

It was so obvious it was like a cartoon. 

Crater Lake. The color is amazing and not easy to capture on camera. And you can really see that it is a volcanic crater.  

The trails were really nice with lots to choose from and many pretty overlooks with exhibits about how the crater was formed. 

This was my favorite campground of the whole trip. Cubby and I liked it so much we stayed home one day just to go for walks and ride bikes while Andy and Drew took off exploring. 

On one of their hikes. 

They clambered down to the lake for some fishing and swimming. 

Then hiked around some more. The island is called Phantom Ship. We all had a really nice day. The weather was perfect and Crater Lake NP felt very peaceful.  

Another oath. These kids love their badges! But by this time we were all volcanoe-d out so it was time for a change of scenery. 

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