August 2017: Mt. Rainier

With David out of town on a motorcycle adventure and a kid-free weekend looming, I made a last minute decision to get out of town on a solo trip, Eat Pray Love-style. Ha.

And so it became a weekend of chasing the sun; of driving to great heights and meandering through wildflower fields; of waiting just long enough in the day where the clouds shrouding the most glaciated peak in the contiguous US parted. Being alone means not answering to anyone, letting your mind wander in long periods of silence, and choosing your own road-trip music as the soundtrack to breathtaking pacific northwest scenery.

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Mt Rainier’s wildflowers peak for a few weeks in late summer

I don’t travel alone enough. I am so comfortable in chaos, in constant noise, and the sound of yapping in my ear is quite comforting. So being by myself in the mountains is getting out of my comfort zone. And pushing myself is always rewarding. Plus, I mean, that mountain. Breathtaking.

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Dusk in the Park
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Rainier Cherries for $2/lb

At-a-glance

  • MSP-Seattle on Delta. $200 direct flight. Booked 3 days ahead of time
  • Homebase: Olympia, WA (1 hr from airport, 1hr from Mt. Rainier Nat’l Park)
  • Transportation: Found deal at National using AAA code, $75 for 2 days (way cheaper than standard rates as this was a very busy weekend for car rental)
  • Itinerary:
    • Night 1: Olympia for food and drinks
    • Day 2: Mt Rainier National Park all day
    • Night 2: Olympia for drinks
    • Day 3: Olympia for brunch, Gig Harbor visit

Travel steal: 

Cherries, cherries, cherries. For us Minnesotans, $2 (some stands even $1) a pound for these beauties is unheard of. There are stands all along the way to the Park. I stopped at one in Ashland, and the local growers had pre-washed the tree-ripened cherries. I subsequently ate 2 pounds throughout the day. Best snack ever.

Travel splurge:

Oysters, oysters, oysters. At Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar, these huge, buttery, smooth oysters are raised on their own environmentally-sustainable shellfish farm in Olympia. The tide-tumbled farming method produces a delicate, light oyster that I can’t stop thinking about. The oyster bar is located in the 222 Market, a hip locale with a creperie, flower shop, artisan grocery, gelateria, and bone broth bar. I hit up all of these. No judgement.

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Don’t miss:

The hiking trails at Paradise are full of tourists but don’t let that stop you. If you go far enough on the Skyline trail you’ll have plenty of solace and the views are unmatched. *Be prepared for cloud coverage of the mountain at times, and this will change throughout the day.

Good to know:

There are several stop-offs with really pretty falls, canyons and views of the mountain. Don’t skip the drive around the park perimeter (it’s lengthy), as you’ll find some of the pretties spots in unsuspecting areas. These are all well-marked.

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Stevens Creek, one of the many non-mountain wonders of the Park

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