Pacific Northwest Vacation

In August and September 2004, Jeff and I spent 2 1/2 weeks vacationing in western Washington and northeastern California. In Washington we visited Mt. Rainier National Park and Mt. St. Helens National Monument. We also spent a day in Seattle visiting with my brother and his family. On our way back home, we spent a few days in Lava Beds National Monument in northern California. Following are brief descriptions of our visits.

Driving to and from Washington

We took two days to drive to Mt. Rainier National Park, our first stop. Our "rig" is a truck and 24 ft travel trailer. On the way there, one of the trailer tires went flat. Unfortunately it was dark when it happened, so we neither saw or felt it. A local resident, who was driving behind us, alerted us and showed us where we could safely pull off the interstate and change the tire. Since we had driven on it for quite a while, the tire was in pretty bad shape! Our return trip was much less eventful.

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Mount Rainier National Park

We spent a total of six days in the park. It rained the first four of those days, and Jeff was convinced that Mt. Rainier was a myth cooked up to lure tourists :-). We managed to do some hiking and sightseeing, in spite of the weather. We visited Grove of the Patriarchs, a stand of gigantic, 1000 year old firs and cedars in the southeast corner of the park, the high-altitude meadows of Sunrise, on the northeast side, and remote Mowich Lake, in the northwest corner. On our last two days, the sun and "The Mountain" finally came out. We visited Sunrise a second time, and Paradise, another high-altitude meadow on the south side. Below is a map to help get you oriented.

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For more information, visit the Mount Rainier National Park web site.

Mount Rainier Waterfalls

One of the neat things about having so much rain, was that it filled up many waterfalls, making them full and lush. The rain didn't start until late afternoon of our first day, so we were able to get "before" and "after" pictures of several waterfalls.

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Part way through our Mount Rainier visit, we took a break to visit my family in Seattle. While there, we checked out the remodeled central branch of the Seattle Public Library. When I was growing up, this library was a nondescript five story building in downtown Seattle. Now it is an eleven story building with a shape that cannot be described in words! Use the following links to get more information and see photos of the new libary.

History of the Central Library
Seattle's New Central Public Library

While walking around downtown Seattle, I also took some pictures of sculptures being given their finishing touches. The sculptures were created for the Downtown Seattle Beach Festival

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Mount St. Helens National Monument

At the beginning of our second week we headed down to Mount St. Helens National Monument, created after the eruption of May 18, 1980. We spent three of our four days there on the west side of the monument, and the remaining day at Ape Cave Lava Tube on the south side. These two areas look very different: the northern half of the mountain and the land that surrounds it was devastated by the 1980 eruption, while the southern half was practically untouched. Privately owned land that was affected by the eruption was reforested, while the land inside the monument has been left alone to regenerate naturally. Thus, in some of my pictures the land looks quite barren, while in others it looks lush! For more information visit the Mount St. Helens National Monument web site.

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Western Washington Wildlife

Another nice result of all the rain while at Mount Rainier, was getting views of plants and wildflowers covered with raindrops, a few of which I've posted. At the Mount St. Helens Silver Lake Visitor Center, Jeff got some great pictures of an Osprey (a large, fish eating raptor), which was nesting in the vicinity.

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Lava Beds National Monument

We spent the last three days of our vacation at Lava Beds National Monument. The monument is in Northern California, about thirty minutes drive south of the Oregon border. It contains the largest concentration of lava tube caves in the U.S. Lava tubes form when the outer surface of a lava flow hardens, while inside fluid lava continues to move. The lava tube caves formed when all the lava drained away. The caves in the monument were formed from lava flows ranging from 1000 to 2,000,000 years old. The lava tubes can get quite complex, with many branches and side passages, and are quite fun to explore! For more information, please see the official Lava Beds National Monument website.

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