Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summer Vacation

We're back from a great vacation. It started early Saturday morning when I donned my cycling clothes and started pedaling toward Portland. I was one of 10,000 riders participating in the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic (STP), a 200 mile ride from Seattle to Portland. I rode 6.5 hours on Saturday, covering 120 miles. I met up with Laura and the girls in the tiny town of Winlock, Washington, and we drove to the Great Wolf Lodge to spend the rest of the day at their indoor waterpark. The girls had a great time at the waterpark. Carina tried 7 different waterslides and the wave pool and loved it. She is already lobbying to go back. On Sunday, I rode another 4.5 hours to cover the remaining 80 miles. Natalie very maturely (and without prompting) told me as I left: "Good luck Dad, I hope you have a good time on your ride!" I did. We met up at the finish line at Halliday Park in downtown Portland and enjoyed the party there for a couple hours. When Laura drove into Portland she made a point of noting to the girls that "Wasn't that a long drive, and to think your dad is riding his bike this whole way." Natalie was pretty impressed with herself too and replied "Yeah, I can't believe we drove all the way to Portland." Here are a couple shots at the finish line:

I'm the rider wearing the red long sleeve jacket.

From there we headed west to Cannon Beach, Oregon for a couple days at the beach. Cannon Beach is a wonderful little town with an amazing beach, great restaurants, unique shops, and a peaceful atmosphere. The only downside is that it is very temperate like the rest of the beaches on the Oregon and Washington coasts, so most days the temperature never gets above 70 degrees and you can't get in the ocean without freezing. Here are a few scences from the beach:

We then drove to Mount Rainier National Park. Natalie was very well behaved on the ride, and we found out why when we arrived -- she spent a good portion of the ride drawing on her pants with a pen. Here she is holding up her handywork:

We spent the night at the Paradise Inn, a lodge built in 1917 in a sub-alpine meadow on the south side of Mount Rainier (or, as Natalie insists on calling it, "Mountain Rainier") at an elevation of a little over 5,000+ feet. The lodge was a fun place to stay and the main hall and dining area are very charming. Here are pictures in and around the lodge:
Paradise Inn

Carina and Natalie sitting in "thrones" in the lodge.

The next morning we hiked around the meadows of Paradise. Some of the wildflowers were out, but most of the trails were still partly covered in snow. They had over 700 inches of snow last year and it hasn't quite melted off yet. Natalie and Carina proudly wore pins that a park ranger gave them that showed a picture of a hiking boot and the words "Don't be a meadow stomper." Though it wasn't long before we had to tell Natalie to stay on the path and she replied "But I want to be a meadow stomper." At another point on our hike, Natalie also complained to us that "Carina is going to push me off the steep cliff." Carina enjoyed the hike but repeatedly expressed concern that she didn't want to hike all the way to the top (which I explained to her would require mountain climbing gear and another 8,000 feet of elevation gain) and couldn't understand why we were calling it a volcano since "it doesn't have a volcano hole." Here are some pictures from our hike (and a few shots from a scenic overlook on the drive up to Paradise):

An Avalanche Lily in the meadow.

And here is some of the wildlife we spotted on the hike :


Lachlyn (And don't worry about the snow, it was 70 degrees!)

We then drove around the south end of the park and made a pit stop at the Grove of the Patriarchs to look at some 1,000 year old Western Red Cedar and Hemlock trees.
Lachlyn in the Grove of the Patriarchs

Our last stop was at Sunrise on the Northeastern corner of the park, elevation 6,400 feet. The snow had all melted at Sunrise and the meadows were starting to bloom. The views of Rainier from there were amazing! We could also see Mount Adams as well (or, as Natalie called it, "Volcano Adams").

The meadows at Sunrise
The view of Mount Rainier from Sunrise


bigOglasgows said...

What a great trip - you're a beast Steve - I have a hard time driving 200 miles. I'm going to try and make it out to the PNW this fall for work - hope it works out so I can come see the family again.


Wan Family said...

Great job on a great ride, fun vacation, and awesome sand castle. I think we know who we should hire as travel agents!