Tuesday, August 03, 2004

A Short Tour of the Local Parks

With my parents in town, we took a little trip around the area's National Parks and other ecological tourist attractions. It was a great time, because I got to catch up with my parents, and I got to see a lot of cool stuff that's within a few hours' drive, but is still out-of-the-way unless you're willing to devote a weekend to it.

On Friday, we hit Mount Rainier National Park, the nation's fifth-oldest park. It basically circles Mount Rainier (a fixture on any clear day in the Seattle area), and we approached from the north, circling around the mountain to the west. There were two main stops: the lodges at Sunrise and Paradise. We took a little (one mile) hike at the second, coming close to a glacier, but not close enough to actually touch. Because of my mother's knee, any more hiking was out of the question - she was having a hard enough time just sitting in the car for so long.

Saturday we drove through the Gifford Pinochet National Forest, and its main attraction, Mount St. Helens. Again, we approached from the north, going up Forest Service Road 99 to Windy Ridge and the peaks that overlook Spirit Lake. We had the option of hiking to the lake, but decided against due to my mother's knee. Dad and Liz and I climbed four-hundred some steps to the top of a peak at Windy Ridge and got some great pictures of the crater, the lake, and the devastation. It's been almost twenty-five years, and stuff is still covered with ash and bits of rock, and plants are barely starting to grow again. It was like what I've imagined a nuclear wasteland to be. The trees all pointed away from the crater, and it was really chilling to turn around with your back to the mountain and see them fan out in front of you. St. Helens took most of Saturday, and we didn't get to see the inside of Ape Cave (a lava tube) or the other parts of the mountain. Next time.

On Sunday we met up with my Uncle Walter and Aunt Ruth in Astoria, Oregon (where the classic film The Goonies was shot), and had a great time catching up with them. The last time I saw either of them was at my grandfather's funeral in 1999. For a seventy-year-old guy, he's amazingly active and fit. I can only hope I'm that active if I reach that age.

Today, it was back to work. I'd complain, but it's become repetitive. We had a really great birthday party for Jon which I sadly did not find out about until about a half-hour beforehand (as I was out of the office on Thursday and Friday) before I ducked out for lunch with Liz and came back to the Chelsea Drugstore for my fair share of abuse. Then, my day took a nosedive and I'm sitting listening to loud, pouty music and wishing I was anywhere but here, money was no longer a concern, this stupid diet was over and I was healthy again, and I could somehow turn off my mind.

Good news: I should have some cool new graphics for this page in a day or two.

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