pew-AL-up, but I prefer Pile-up. We saw a nasty one on interstate 5 right next to Camp Murray, some military thingie. At least five cars involved, one crushed, and then four screaming ambulances, but only an hour wait for us. We were about a mile behind when it happened. How the fuck does that happen? Beautiful weather, traffic moving along just fine, then BOOM! Gotta be some asshole fucking around on their phone. Or just idiots who shouldn’t be allowed to drive. Pay attention douche-bags! You’re doing 70! It’s just so sad that good driving innocents get caught up in stuff like this. Just back off jack-off! Tailgaters are a pet peeve of mine. Wish I had a small canon that would automatically pop out from the trunk when some jerk crawls up my ass – and fires at the shithead! Get those fuckers off the road!
Sorry. I drive a lot and see all kinds of dumb stuff from up at the trucker’s level. When somebody gets killed on the road on any kind of day, unless it’s a tailgater who fulfills his Darwin Sanction, it pisses me off. Could you tell? (Counting to a thousand and waiting for the editorial staff to get on my ass for using Joe Pesci character language.)
In Puyallup, we stayed at the Washington State Fairgrounds RV Park. Very nice park, as are most fairground RV parks. They’re usually cheap, have full hookups, and generally close to whatever it is you came for. I don’t know if that makes sense but where else can you stay within 35 miles of the Pike Market Place in Seattle for $30 bucks?
But not worth standing in line for twenty minutes. If you want the best chowder in America (as per the panel of judges on our extensive editorial staff), go to Florence, Oregon and head into the Old Town area to the large public parking lot. On the first dock you’ll see a small shack. Go there. Skip all the expensive restaurants.
Andrea saw the lobster roll on the menu and loved it. Wait, it was Dungenous Crabs.
The big thing in the marketplace is to watch guys throwing fish. And people posing with squid. WTF? After the first ten seconds among twenty billion tourists, I could give a shit about guys throwing fish. Guys throwing up might have been more entertaining. Besides all the fish stores, there were three hundred produce shops, two hundred and fifty niche gift shops, and a few hundred more places to throw your money at. And twenty billion tourists. I just loved it.
The second day in Pile-Up we went to a bead store near Tacoma with the largest collection of beads in the world. I didn’t go in. When she came out, Andrea told me they had a whole entertainment area for the men-folk who don’t find beads all that interesting. They had pole dancers who only wore beads. Cool huh? If only.
The horrendous traffic accident occurred on the ride back. It was pretty awful.
And then we were off to Randle, Washington, a handful of gas stations/convenience stores and the Cascade Peaks RV Park on US 12. The rustic, in the woods, section of the park looked…, well, just great for tent campers. We were directed to the part alongside the highway, for big rigs, and it was fine. A bit weird in that each electric box was centered for the four sites around it and only one of which was 50 amp, the other three 30 amp. We chose a site with no others sharing the box but the 50 amp outlet didn’t work. Overall, it was kind of a dumpy place but good enough for two nights and a great location. US 12 runs east/west (did you know that east/west routes are even numbered and north/south odd, mostly?), south of Mt Rainer’s Paradise entrance and north of the Windy Ridge viewpoint to Mt St Helens.
On Thursday, July 19th, we went to Paradise.
It was clear around the mountain for a short while. Check out all the snow and ice. (At 14,410′, it is almost the exact same height as Pike’s Peak. We just got back to Colorado and Pike’s Peak is bare. You can’t tell from the picture perfect weather we had throughout the northwest, but wow, they sure get their share of precip. Sorry, I’m way behind on these posts.)
If you are on just about any elevated level in the southern Seattle area, Ranier towers above everything, provided it isn’t shrouded with clouds.
The whole drive in was very scenic.
But, again, too many tourists at the visitor center, and major overlooks. We WERE very impressed with all the bicyclists. Kudos to all you crazy people.
On Friday we were off to the volcano. Actually, the northwest is littered with volcanos. They’re all going to blow again one of these days.
The drive to the Windy Ridge overlook,
the closest you can get driving to Mt St Helens, is on forest roads and sometimes, as with life, the journey is the thing.
That little piece of road just seemed worthy of a stop. As we started rising in elevation, we thought, at first, we could see Ranier from one of the overlooks.
Wrong. Mt Adams. From that vantage point, three big peaks are visible, on a clear day. We had yet another perfect day. Mt Hood is the pointy one far in the distance though it doesn’t photograph well from that distance. Zoom in on the info-board below.
And the third volcano from that overlook, Mt St Helens:
The next overlook gave us a peak at Spirit Lake, and a shoreline of logs.
Windy Ridge really doesn’t give you as good a look at the big, bad volcano than the earlier viewpoint.
However, the ridge was aptly named and the flowers were blooming.
It was so windy up there that they set up a few huge panels of plexiglass in front of a small amphitheater where, one might assume, rangers present the story of the volcano. One might have doubts about current presentations when you see the condition of the plexiglass.
The good thing about driving back on the same road you came in on, as opposed to loop drives, is that the scenery looks different from the opposite direction.
First, the devastation was clearer but so was the emergence of new life.
Remember, the blast occurred twenty-eight years ago. Some trees are pretty healthy now.
One last look at Spirit Lake, Harry R Truman’s grave.
And some views we missed going in:
A bit less awesome than Ranier but way fewer tourists. For you RVers with big rigs, the Cascade Peaks RV Park is a perfect mid point to see both attractions. Just don’t expect much of your rv park experience. You’ll be out touristing most of the time anyway. On the way back from Paradise at Ranier, stop at Cruiser’s Pizza in Packwood and be nice to the counter lady. She kept a smile on in a madhouse on a Friday evening. The pizza was just ok but, hell, it ain’t New York.
See y’all in Portland.