I’m in Canada!
But let’s backtrack a little bit. I’ve been pretty tired at the end of every night, which is usually when I blog, so I have a few days of adventure to catch up on.
When I last left you, we had just spent the day adventuring with some friends.
We woke up the next morning and decided to do the Underground tour of Seattle, which takes visitors underneath the city streets and around a tour of the “old” Seattle. I’m not usually one for tours, but in certain circumstances where a tour is necessary to gain access to a location, I’ll go on them.
This was the case with the underground tour. Although the tour was fairly chock full of cheesy jokes, I did enjoy myself and learned quite a bit about the quite interesting history of the city of Seattle while exploring some fairly creepy places underneath the city streets. Pretty cool.
I highly recommend this tour for anybody who wants to learn about the city, take a peek underground, and most importantly doesn’t have trouble walking and going up and down stairs, which there is a fair amount of on this tour.
After the tour, we were pretty hungry so we wandered around the area looking for lunch and happened upon a place called Casco Antiguo, which was a really delicious Mexican restaurant with interesting, innovative tacos. Great lunch! The Seattle Sounders were about to play a game so there was a festival atmosphere in the area, with people walking around wearing jerseys, laughing, and a marching band playing in the streets. Good times!
We wanted to get a little exploring in, so we spent the rest of the day driving around to different areas of the city. We checked out the views of the Puget Sound from Discovery Park and also spent a considerable amount of time checking out the Ballard Boat Locks.
What they are is an area where boats can go through from the Puget Sound into Lake Union and Lake Washington. However, since the lakes are freshwater and also at a different height than the Puget Sound, they use boat locks to connect them.
Boats drive into the locks and then they close them and slowly raise or lower the water level to allow them to be at the proper level, then they open them on the other side and allow the boats to continue on. It’s an interesting thing to see. Also at the locks is a fish ladder with a viewing window.
The fish ladder allows the salmon to pass through the boat locks and the viewing window allows people to see it in action.
I should mention that I was so incredibly tired while at the boat locks that I ended up wandering into a small theater operated by the National Park Service and fell completely asleep during a presentation about the history of the boat locks. After my much needed impromptu nap, we wandered through the Fremont area and stopped at Gas Works Park, which has an incredible view of downtown Seattle from across Lake Union. As I was dead on my feet, that was pretty much all the exploration I could handle for the day so we went back to our Airbnb and I crashed pretty hard for the night.
The next day, we got in the car and headed towards Mount Rainier National Park for a day of hiking and beautiful mountain scenery. There is one thing I should warn you about: when you’re in Seattle and you decide you want to go spend the day tromping around Mount Rainier, do NOT just type in “Mount Rainier National Park” into Google Maps and expect to arrive at the proper location. We made that mistake.
We followed the GPS and since the mountain appeared to be getting closer and closer, we didn’t think anything was necessarily “wrong” until the road narrowed to a single lane dirt road that went on and on forever.
Of course, at this point, we had no signal at all on our phones so Google wasn’t really an option. Eventually, we decided that something definitely felt wrong and we decided to turn back to a small town we had encountered along the way to ask them what to do. When my husband wandered into a small hardware store, the woman working there told him that it “happens all the time”. She even had a giant map on the wall to guide people in the proper direction.
Apparently what happens is the GPS guides people to a small offshoot that is, technically, part of Mount Rainier National Park, however, it just goes to some small lake and not to the spectacular mountain views everybody is really there to see.
Sadly, the mistake cost us about an hour of driving time. It was a major detour! We followed the directions she had provided until GPS finally worked again and we were able to search for “Paradise, Washington” (very important that you search for either Paradise or Sunrise and NOT ‘Mount Rainier National Park). We did finally arrive at the park and I was beyond ecstatic to not only be there but also to get out of the car.
It was still a bit of a drive up the mountain to get to Paradise (where there are a lodge and a hiking trail), but there were plenty of places to pull over with interesting viewpoints, short hiking trails, and waterfalls, so we took advantage of those things as we drove up.
When we finally made it to Paradise, parking was a little nutty! We circled around a bit and finally found a spot, though, and it felt so good to be out of the car! After grabbing lunch at the lodge cafeteria, we ventured up the Skyline Trail to get a little exercise and catch some good views of the mountain. Elevation changes always get me and the elevation changes pretty quickly on this trail, so it was pretty tough.
It was still a manageable trail, however, and I saw people twice my age coming down, which motivated me quite a bit to keep going. About halfway up the trail, we met a park ranger lady who must have been in her seventies.
I asked her how much longer until the viewpoint and she jumped around and excitedly told us all about it. She also handed us a map.
I kept thinking about how awesome shape that older lady was in and how I, a woman in my early 30s who attempts to keep in shape by doing Crossfit, was having such a hard time and huffing and puffing so much.
I’m going to go ahead and blame the fact that I live at sea level so my lungs aren’t used to the elevation. Yeah, that’s it. Anyway, we ventured up the trail some more until we came to a turnaround point where you could see the whole glacier on the mountain and some really incredible views in all directions. We could have kept going up the trail, but seeing as though it was already 2 pm due to our little detour and we were pretty tired anyway, we decided this was a good turnaround point.
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The trail down was easier, but a little hard on the knees because of the steepness. Still, it felt great to gain more and more oxygen as I ventured back down the mountain.
We didn’t spend too much time at the lodge after our hike and instead ventured back down the mountain as we had made dinner plans with a friend we know from San Diego who had recently moved to Seattle.
The drive back took about 2.5 hours. We met our friend (looking disgusting and ragged in our hiking clothes) at a great little restaurant in Bellevue called Square Lotus, where we gorged ourselves on food since we were so hungry from all the exercise. The restaurant was really good but I kind of wish I had showered first, hahaha. Oh well.
Anyway, that was my evening. I came back to our Airbnb and crashed pretty hard. Then we drove to Canada, which I will write about in the next installment of my Pacific Northwest adventure.