Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mt. Rainier, How Many Pictures Can One Take?

Roger here... This post is definitely about our short time at Mount Rainier; however, I must point out that when I asked Dianne (after a Yakima Valley wine tasting excusion) if she wanted to do this post, she said, "You do the Route Manier Post."  Never again will I feel guilt when she insinuates that I might be slurring!  :-).

On to the post.   I have been seeing Mt. Rainier from a distance for a while:  once when  I was in Seattle with my parents, once when we landed in Portland during my nephew's HS graduation, several times recently from the Olympic Peninsula and Seattle.  Now.... We are there.

 We originally intended to spend four days in the Yakima Valley sampling wine.  When we discovered that taking a slightly different route would take us right next to Mount Rainier National Park, we opted to reduce a couple of wine days (we need no more wine) and stop by the national park.  Since arriving in Washington, we have seen iconic mountains floating above the clouds:  Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood (the perfect cone), Mt Olympus,  and Mt. Baker (the forgotten giant). 

We finally got to see Mt. St. Helens without clouds from Mt. Ranier
What a mistake it would have been to miss Mt. Rainier ---the MOUNTAIN. 

We found a local RV park in Packwood, WA, that was just a few miles from the National Park.   This was not a fancy place, but it had full hook-ups and lots of grassy room for the doggies to relax (and us).  The next morning we walked the dogs and drove a few miles to the national park entrance.

Our first stop took us to a point where a bridge and tunnel intersect.  The bridge spanned a narrow canyon with a raging stream below.

Love the white water.  We learned that glacial melt water is milky looking.

A short trail led to a view of the mountain and the glacier-scraped rock, covered with red lichen.

Returning to the bridge we were able to look straight down to the churning water.

Moving on, the views of Mt. Rainier became more spectacular.

The view from the reflecting lake was especially nice.

A close-up of the glaciers at the top hint at the bluish color of the ice.

When we arrived at the visitors' center, after exploring the exhibits it was time to go off our diets and have lunch --- wraps in front of The Mountain.  (I was good and had a veggie wrap -- D.)

The foreground of this picture was filled with flowers shown in the pictures below.

After lunch, we opted for a short -- but very steep -- hike uphill to a waterfall.  Our first views, as we got even closer to the mountain, were worth the effort.

A few painful steps later brought us to this even more amazing view.  Wow!

The easier trek downhill took us by the Mt. Rainier Lodge.  What a setting to spend the night.

Before ending, here is one more view of Mt. Rainier, this time with the zoom lens.  All of those black specks are climbers heading to the top of the mountain.  Oh, to be young enough to do this!

To answer the question posed in the title; How many pictures can one take of Mt. Rainier?   Certainly more than we were able to post in this blog.

The pet picture of the day shows Bandido relaxing in the shade.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sequim Lavender Festival, 7-Day Diet Experience, and Mountain Alpine Wildflowers

Hi all, Dianne here.  This opening photo shows Fat Smitty's restaurant, home of delicious burgers and shakes, fish and chips, and all things non-dietary.  (Not to mention some really cool chainsaw art!)       Fat Smitty's Yelp Reviews

I love the whimsical decor, outside and


Fat Smitty's was the scene of our "last meal" before we began a 7-day "detox diet."  After Fat Smitty's burgers and blackberry milkshakes on top of all the restaurant food consumed with our friends Jay and Nancy and our daughters and granddaughter over the past month or so, Roger and I each managed to gain about six pounds!  Worse than that was how we felt.  Sluggish, bloated, and tired to the point that every time we got into our car to go somewhere with the kids I could hardly keep my eyes open.  

If you're not interested in the diet details, simply scroll down to read about the lavender festival and the check out some really pretty flower photos from Hurricane Ridge.

Our friends Bob and Linda had found this diet and blogged about it, and I thought it sounded like just the thing to jump-start Roger and I back into healthy eating habits.

Linda e-mailed me the link, and I printed out the directions for the diet.  My granddaughter, Kaia, saw them lying on the counter and added her own comments (above).   Here is the link, in case any of you want to check it out for yourselves:

Full disclosure:  My starting weight:  142.6 
(Aren't I brave?  Oh well, it is what it is!)

Roger's breakfast
Day One:  Nothing but fruit and "wonder soup" (recipe in the link).  (Note:  when I made our wonder soup I added garlic, leeks, and some "Slap Ya Mama" Cajun seasoning to give it a kick.)
My breakfast
One major advantage we had was our location:  Just up the road (in Sequim, Washington) was an awesome fruit and vegetable market, with lots of organic and unusual offerings.  We spent $100 on fruits and vegetables there, but believe it or not, we ate every molecule of them before the week was done, and that's all we ate for the week.

Day One was uneventful, other than it was a good thing we stayed close to home so that I could pee every ten minutes.  (Not much of an exaggeration).  Our energy level went way up.
(My weight after day one:  140.2)

Day two was nothing but vegetables, including the "wonder soup", salad, and stir-fry:  

Day two was harder for me than Roger, because he actually likes vegetables.  Another down day in the motor home doing paperwork, etc., so no real exercise to speak of.  My weight after day two:  140.4 (bummer)

Day three was nothing but fruits and vegetables; fruit for breakfast, then veggies, soup, and stir-fry for the other meals.  
My weight after day 3:  139.4 (that's more like it)

Day four was the unusual menu we had on the day we hiked at Whidbey Island:  Bananas and skim milk.  This was meant to replenish potassium and calcium.  Wonder soup was also allowed.  We hiked 7 miles altogether that day.  I must mention that the detox part of this diet forbids alcohol and caffeine for the entire 7 days.  We did forego our beer and wine, but there was no way I could give up my morning coffee, so we cheated on that.  When we stopped for the latte on Whidbey Island, I rationalized that that wasn't too far off the diet because we were allowed skim milk that day.  You  can see a photo of our banana and soup lunch in the blog entry before this one.    My weight after hiking and banana day was 139.6 (added muscle).

Day five was pretty easy for us:  protein and tomatoes; tomatoes for breakfast, then salmon + tomatoes for both lunch and dinner.  We had some awesome local salmon in the freezer that we had purchased in Oregon, so this really wasn't a hardship.  My weight after day five was 138.2

Day six was the same as day five, except that instead of tomatoes and salmon it was vegetables and salmon.  Grilled asparagus was just the thing.
My weight after day six:  136.6

Day seven was only fruits, vegetables, and vegetable juices.  We also took a hike that day up on Hurricane Ridge (see flower photos coming up).  Here was our lunch during the hike:

I also drank a bottle of carrot juice with dinner.  Weight after finishing day seven (last day of the diet): 136.4   Total weight loss:  6.2 pounds!  Roger lost 6 pounds too.

Would I do it again?   Maybe.  Most likely it gives us added impetus to continue our healthy eating habits so that we don't have to do it again.  We immediately felt more energetic, less lethargic, and the thing that amazed me the most was my miscellaneous aches and pains went away.  Now our stomachs have shrunk so we don't get hungry as often, and we are back counting our calories (I use the "Lose it!" app on my iPhone), exercising more, and cutting out the sweets and starches.  So far, so good....

If you skipped the diet play-by-play, you can start reading again here:

On one of the salmon days (I forget which one) we went downtown Sequim to check out the Lavender Days festival.  Lavender Days is a really big deal in Sequim, Washington, because Sequim is known as the "Lavender Capital of North America."   There are a number of lavender farms there, and lavender is growing all over town.  

It was so crowded that it was difficult to walk through and see all the tent booths.  This was just one section of tents.  

There were all things lavender available for sale, along with other local items and booths from far and wide with the usual festival offerings, though most seemed a cut above the norm as far as quality.  We walked through the crowds, then left before we were tempted by the kettle corn and other foods that would have ruined our diet.  

And now for some mountain alpine wildflowers...

Our last day of the diet we revisited Hurricane Ridge so that I could experience the awesome hike that Roger and Amanda took together.  When I hiked it, we did not see a bear, but we did see one mountain goat...

...and a couple of marmots...

At one point we traded photos with another couple who wanted their picture taken.  Love this backdrop!
Still smiling, even after a carrot stick & V-8 lunch!
Things were a little different on our hike than the hike the previous week with Amanda.  For one thing, the lake where they threw snowballs and which had been covered in ice had melted...

And there was a new profusion of wildflowers.  If only this blog had smell-o-vision -- from the strong, deep pine of the towering trees, to the perfume of wild roses that completely covered one hill that sloped away from the trail.

Here is a sampling of what caught my eye (and nose):

These flowers have a very short growing season high up in the mountains, but they sure make the most of their short time in bloom!
I didn't re-take the unbelievable mountain vistas that Roger and Amanda took during their hike.  If you missed that and want to see them, scroll down and click on "older posts" twice, until you get  back to the one entitled "Olympic National Park - Hurricane Ridge Hike."  
Scary Cat Eyes!   Seems he has an "inner glow"!
The pet photo of the day shows Charlie enjoying his new crackly sack.  He loves it when we go shopping!