Back in June I had won a Twitter contest sponsored by Visit Rainier, of which I won gift certificates to be used for a nights stay near The Mountain. We had talked about doing a fall trip but then we headed out the Smokies instead, suddenly we were in December and needed to use them up before the expired (oops!). Our plan was to go snowshoeing, introduce Walker to the fun of tromping through the snow so I made reservations for a weekend away. Then in a couple days the weather shifted from normal snow predictions to a sweet Pineapple Express chugging in from good ol’ Hawaii. Oh thanks! Ah well, we figured we would make the most of it that we could! A stormy weekend in the mountains is still better than working at home.
We got up early and got to Rainier right as the rain came in. We tried our hardest to hike but even we had to concede the weather wasn’t worth fighting 😉 Some days are like that, I suppose. It was wet snow coming down at Longmire so we set out on a hike. Oh fine, it was a stroll in the snow/rain. I won’t stretch the truth! It was bad enough I was walking with an umbrella over the baby. Snort!
The ranger station at Longmire, where in summer one gets their permits for the Wonderland Trail. The trail starts just a few yards away. We putzed around on the WT until I realized it was just too icy for Walker’s safety (he is still riding in his front carrier). The snow at Longmire was old and not good for walking.
So trying to salvage the day we poked around on the Trail of Shadows which I realized that I may have walked when I was a kid but have not been on since.
And realized something – I had never noticed just how big the meadow is there, but also that it has so much geothermal activity.
The smell is pretty mild, the hot springs at Ohana on the other side of the mountain smell stronger. Still, it is warm enough that there is little snow that sticks. It just sticks on the trail is all 😉
On clear days there is a lovely view of Rainier from here:
Remnants of the Longmire’s ‘health resort’ where tourists came from far to partake of the waters:
More of the meadows, this one has a good looking beaver dam in it:
We spent part of the afternoon driving up into the snow. The snow wasn’t going to be sticking around, Pineapple Express’s bring in rapidly warming temperatures (it was warm this morning, low 50’s!).
We traded in our truck a couple weeks back for this, our party van as we jokingly call it. After a near month of driving her, I have to say I love driving a mini van. I was one of the “I hate mini vans” crowd until we rented one this fall on the East Coast. We were hooked within a couple hours on how great it was for families. And for hikers!
I love foot shots. Dumb but fun to take!
So thoroughly soaked we headed down the mountain to the outskirts of Ashford.We had a late lunch at Copper Creek Inn. Copper Creek can be equally good and bad – service can be lacking – we were sat and then ignored until another worker realized we had no waitress and more so we sat a good 30 minutes waiting for our meals. If locals come in they get served quickly. I have noticed this over the years in many stops. The food is usually good though and if you can sit through the fer-ever wait you won’t be hungry to say the least. That is Ashford for you though, part of its charm.
We stayed at Alexander’s Country Inn, a 99 year old hotel. I had driven by it many times before on the way to the Nisqually entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park but had never stopped in. It sits within 2 miles of the park with a towering ridge behind the property. It is a scenic spot and you can see why the hotel was built there so many years ago. The history of the property was quite enthralling – with many photos in the hotel to see how it looked over the years. The current owners have had it for over 35 years and it appears to be well run.They were fine with us checking in a bit early and took us on a tour of the inn. We stayed on the second floor in a suite that had a living room, a full bedroom, private full bath and a small sun deck (or shall we call it a rain deck? Hah!) Our suite was on the same floor as the open lounge that was prettily decorated for the holidays with a warming fireplace and many comfy chairs and couches to snuggle up in.
Walker playing under the Christmas tree:
We spent the afternoon and evening reading books, watching a little TV in the media room, playing a game of Monopoly where Land Baron Kirk won by putting us all into bankruptcy. Kirk and I spent a long time in the hot tub that looks out onto the pond and the ridges (only we had the stars and the moon instead!). The hot tub is a lovely place indeed in the cold!
The inn has high ceilings and the quietness that comes at night in the country. It is relaxing, warm and a contented feeling – where doing nothing is just fine. Just enough feeling of a B&B, yet family friendly. Breakfast in the morning was served in the dining room by reservation (one room at a time) and since we checked in first I was able to get us first slot. The breakfast is included with the room. They had a high chair for Walker ready and a bowl of Cheerios out for him. That was very nice of them. So after a relaxing breakfast that involved a very tasty apple nut cake we lounged some more before heading home in the increasing rain.
A relaxing weekend indeed!