Western Washington - August/September 2014

Here we go again on a trip minus our 5th wheel trailer. It is just too far from Houston to Seattle to fit into our schedule pulling a trailer, so we let United A/L ferry us back and forth.
What a wonderful time we had in WA & OR on this vacation! The weather was almost perfect in late-August/early-September and the scenery was spectacular.
We were also able to visit some old friends and some relatives while in the area. Everything combined to make this a great trip.
You can see a marked-up map of our trip here.

[Friday] Aug. 22 - Our flight, UA-1603 was scheduled to leave IAH at 11:30 AM, so we decided to leave home early and take breakfast at the airport after going through security. Everything went as planned and we enjoyed a nice breakfast in the terminal. Our plane left on time and arrived at SeaTac airport in Seattle at 2:00 PM, a few minutes early.
I won't go into details, but after a unpleasant one-hour wait to get a rental car from Thrifty, we left SeaTac at 4:00 PM, just in time to get in the peak of the Friday afternoon rush-hour traffic on I-5 south toward Portland. We arrived at our hotel, Springhill Suites in Vancouver, WA, about 8:30 PM.

[Saturday] After breakfast at the hotel, we drove about 5 miles to Camas, WA to meet our friends, Dennis & Nancy. We all rode in their car as they took us to several popular scenic sites in the area.
We started out on the Oregon side by going to Vista House. Located at Crown Point on the Columbia River, it was built in 1918 as a traveler's comfort station on the Colombia River Highway. It has great views of the river.

< Vista House. < Colombia River.

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

We then went to Multnomah Falls on the OR side of the Colombia River Gorge. It is 620 feet tall, with a nice trail leading up to an observation bridge.
After lunch, we stopped by a roadside farm market and bought a supply of fresh farm-raised fruit to enjoy on our travels.

< < Multnomah Falls.

Then we were off to Mount Hood. This is a 11,239 ft volcano that last erupted in 1866. There is a nice lodge at it's base. We hiked up the trail a ways. The peak was hidden by clouds most of the time we were there, but the clouds cleared right before we left.
On the way home, we enjoyed a dinner with our friends. We topped the day off by stopping in historic downtown Camas to enjoy a scenic stroll followed by ice cream, before bidding farewell. It was a great start to our vacation!

< Lodge at Mount Hull. < Pacific Crest Scenic Trail.

< Mt. Hull.

< Dinner with Dennis & Nancy.

[Sunday] After breakfast at the Springhill Suites, we drove back north on I-5 to WA-504. Then east to Johnston Ridge at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Mt. St. Helens is a 8,366 ft. active volcano that last erupted violently in 2008. The effects of that eruption are very evident on the north slope where the visitor center is located. After viewing a movie in the center and looking through the museum, we walked along the Boundary Trail for about 1 mile to a very good view of the mountain. The weather was very hazy this day, so it was difficult to make out details on the mountain, but you could definitely see the large steam plume from the lava dome.
We then drove back west on WA-504, WA-505, WA-508 & US-12 to Morton, WA. We spent the night at the Seasons Motel. It was a nice place to stay.

< Visitor Center.

< < < < Mount St. Helens.

[Monday] After breakfast at the motel, we drove east on US-12 to near Naches, WA, then north and west on WA-410 and WA-123 back to Packwood. This scenic loop goes through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, with scenic views of the tree-lined mountains. On the eastern edge of our loop, the terrain abruptly change to an arid landscape. On our drive, we got our first good look at Mount Rainier in the distance. In Packwood we spent the night at Crest Trail Lodge - a nice place to stay.

< < < < Scenes along our scenic drive.

< < < Mount Rainier.

[Tuesday] After breakfast at the lodge, we drove north on US-12 & WA-123 to the Sunrise Visitor Center at Mt. Rainier National Park. At 6,400-feet, it is Mt. Rainier's highest visitor center. We hiked along the Silver Forest Trail for about 1 mile, then returned for a lunch at the Sunrise Day Lodge. Afterwards we joined a Ranger walk back along the Silver Forest Trail, with her pointing out and describing many of the geological details and facts about the 20+ glaciers that reside on the slopes of Mt. Rainier.
We then drove south on WA-123 to WA-706 west to the Paradise entrance to Mt. Rainier N.P. On the way into the park, we stopped at the Grove of the Patriarchs, a forest of old growth giant trees. The small area contains trees that are more than 25 ft in circumference and some over 1,000 years old. We then drove to the Paradise Visitor Center, where we spent the next two nights at the Paradise Inn Lodge. This night we enjoyed a salmon dinner in the Paradise Restaurant.

< Grove of the Patriarchs.

< < Paradise Inn Lodge.

< < < < < Mount Rainier.

[Wednesday]We spent the day in Paradise! In the morning, we walked the Skyline Trail eastward to Myrtle Falls and back. Then we walked the Skyline Trail north to Alta Vista. We ate lunch at the cafe, and in the afternoon, we took a Ranger lead walk on the Nisqually Vista Loop Trail. We got more good views of Mt. Rainier and information on the glaciers. After another good dinner in the restaurant, we walked to Myrtle Falls at sundown, to see Rainier at that time of the day.

< Myrtle Falls. < On the trail.

[Thursday] After breakfast, we left Paradise and drove west on WA-706, WA-702, WA-8 and US-101 to Quinault Lake Lodge on Lake Quinault. We arrived about 2:15 PM and checked in. We then hiked on a trail that left from across the road from the lodge and went through the forest, across a Cedar Bog, on the Rain Forest Nature Trail Loop, and along the south shore of Lake Quinault. The total of our walk was 5.5 miles, according to GPS. We then enjoyed a nice dinner at the Lodge Restaurant.

< < < Quinault Lake Lodge.

[Friday] Today was a very busy day, with a lot of driving and quite a change in scenery from what we have been seing.
We left Quinault Lodge after breakfast and drove north on US-101 to Ruby Beach on the Pacific Coast of Washington. It is one of the most scenic beaches on US-101.

< < < < < Ruby Beach.

We continued up US-101 to Hoh Rainforest in the Olympic National Park. It is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. After a brief stop at the Visitor Center, we walked along the Hall of Mosses Trail. As you would expect in a rainforest that measures yearly rain in feet, it threatened to rain on us during the walk, and rained on us as we ate our lunch in the car.

< < < < Hoh Rainforest.

We then drove up US-101 to WA-113 & WA-112 to Cape Flattery, the most northwesterly point in the continental USA. We walked a one-mile trail down a steep slope to the observation platform as far as you can go. In view was an island with the Cape Flattery Lighthouse. It was worth the hike.

< < < Cape Flattery.

With it getting late in the day, we drove to Port Angeles via WA-112, along the south shore of the Strait of Juan De Fuca, with Canada in view across the water. Our cell phones received a text message welcoming us to Canada! I guess electronically we crossed the border. We arrived at the Olympic Lodge before dark.

[Saturday] After breakfast, we drove up to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. On a clear day (highly unusual) you can see Mount Olympus, a 7,969-foot snow covered mountain. We weren't on one of those unusual days. We had a good view of some of the closer mountains when we arrived, but after about an hour, the clouds moved in and we drove back down the mountain.

< < View from Hurricane Ridge.

We drove US-101 east to WA-20, then to Port Townsend, where we caught a ferry to Whidbey Island. We then drove north on WA-20 to the north end of the island at Deception Pass. We then drove south on WA-20, stopping along the way to do some shopping, to the southern end of the island where we caught the Clinton/Mukiteo ferry to the mainland. We checked into the Holiday Inn Express in Everett.

< Deception Pass.

< Mukiteo Lighthouse.

[Sunday] We had reservations for the Boeing Factory Tour at 9:30 AM, so after breakfast at the hotel, we hightailed it the approximate 5 miles to the Boeing Future of Flight Visitor Center & Museum. We got there a little early and got on the 9 AM tour. We rode a bus to one side of the factory, then walked trough a tunnel about 1/4 mile to the observation walkway. We saw the 747s being made. We then rode the bus to another large building - I think she said the largest in the country - to see the 767, 777, and 787 being built. The 737 is built at another location in the Seattle area. We ended up the tour in the gift shop and museum. No cameras were allowed on the tour. We ate lunch in the visitor center cafe, then rode around the Everett area and looked at new homes being constructed to see the difference in the construction of homes in WA vs. in TX.

< < < < Boeing.

[Monday] In the morning, after breakfast, we left Everett and drove to downtown Seattle and did an early check-in to the Best Western Plus Pioneer Square Hotel. This is a old historic hotel built in the early 1900's, but modernized to today's standards of comfort. It is very conveniently located to the main tourist destinations.

We started the day by walking to the nearest bus stop (underground bus tunnel) a few blocks from the hotel. We rode a bus to Westlake Center, where we caught the Monorail to the Seattle Space Needle. We bought our ticket and rode the elevator to the observation platform at the top of the Needle. Although it is not the tallest point in Seattle, it gives an excellent view of the downtown area and Elliott Bay.

< Best Western with Smith Tower in view. < Pioneer Square street.

< < Seattle Monorail.

< < < Seattle Space Needle.

Next door to the Space Needle is the Chihuly Garden & Glass museum. This the most amazing glass museum that you will ever see. Just Google Dale Chihuly and look at his artwork. It's incredible.

< < < < < Chihuly Garden & Glass.

We rode the Monorail back to Westlake Center, then walked a few blocks to Pike Place Market. We ate lunch at one of the restaurants there. At the end of our day, we walked back to the hotel.

< < < < < < Pike Place Market.

There is an alley off Pike Place that people have started placing already chewed gum on the wall. It has become a tourist destination. Need I say more?

< Gum Wall Alley.

[Tuesday] After breakfast at the hotel, we walked along the waterfront where all the ferries and cruise ships dock. We ended up at Pike Place Market again and ate a light lunch. We then walked to the Smith Tower to go up to the top of their observation area.

< < < Waterfront along Alaskan Way street.

The Smith Tower is the oldest skyscraper in Seattle and was completed in 1914. The observation area is on the 37th floor. It provides another excellent view of the city, and the observation room is of an oriental design.

< View from Smith Tower.

We then walked to the Waterfall Garden Park, a secluded "pocket park" that features a 22-foot man-made waterfall.

< Waterfall Garden Park.

The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park was located near by, so we stopped in and viewed a video about the gold rush back in 1897 and viewed some of the displays.

< Klondike Gold Rush N.H.P.

We then picked up our car from the parking garage and drove to Bellview to have dinner that night with Kay's cousin, Karen, and her husband Mike. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and the opportunity to visit with them.

[Wednesday] Today is the day we fly back home. But we had a couple of hours before we needed to go to the airport, so we decided to walk around Pioneer Square. Immediately we saw that something was going on. Lots of exhibits were being assembled and it didn't take long to see that they were preparing for the first game of the football season the next night in Seattle. The Seattle Seahawks football stadium was nearby, so we walked down to the entrance. We returned back to the hotel, drove to SeaTac, and flew back to Houston on United flight #1581 and arrived back home by 10 PM.

< < Ready for some football?

< Goodbye to Mount Rainier & WA.

If you would like to view a couple of videos I made on the trip, they are located on YouTube at the following links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP50Xv81Z2c for part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgKBsJs9XEs for part 2

This draws to a close our brief vacation to Western Washington. We hope you enjoyed the photos and brief descriptions of our activities. God willing, join us again soon for another RV or automobile travel adventure.

Goodbye for now,
Lawson & Kay

September 20, 2014

Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.(Prov. 11:11 NIV)

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