Friday, July 27, 2012

Mt. Rainier

Tam and I are on vacation, which means we’ve gone to Oregon to visit my parents and then spent the rest of the time close to home because we have a lot to do around here. But sometimes getting away for just a day is a nice thing to be able to do.

We packed lunch and headed toward one of my favorite landmarks, Mt. Rainier. Tam was shocked to learn that I have never been to a place called Carbanado, nor do I recall ever going over “the bridge.” It is only an hour’s drive from home to “the bridge” so we decided to check it out.

Photographs do not do it justice. No matter how hard I tried, I could not capture the feeling of being so far above a river. It was beautiful. Scary as hell, but beautiful.

The river is that color because it is fed directly from glacial runoff, so there’s LOTS of silt in the water. It’s REALLY cold, too, in case you were wondering.

After that, we figured, what the hell, let’s go on up to the Carbon River ranger station and take a little bit of a hike or something. We ended up splurging on an annual pass to Mt. Rainier National Park, because a) it supports our national parks and b) OMG you guys! It’s so beautiful. And expensive. That pass paid for itself in one day, since it would have cost us sixty dollars to take our little hikes and the pass only cost us $30.

The things we saw…

The boardwalk was musical (not on purpose, but the cedar they used made lovely notes as we stepped on them) and the accompanying birdsong was perfect. It was so green and quiet that I wanted to stay there forever.

But we did leave, only to head up to a place called Mowich Lake. Up, being the operative word here, because by the time we got there, the elevation was over 4,000 feet. The sky was perfect blue and the deer flies were busy.

Mowich is also glacier fed, so the chill factor was even more intense than it was on the swift-flowing Carbon River. The water is perfectly clear and the shoreline is NOT broken up with private property and keep-out signs, but the trail is well marked and the part we were on was easy walking.

The road to Mowich, however, was less than awesome and there were a few times I nearly killed my poor little car swerving to avoid a pothole the size of a pickup truck. I wasn’t going fast, but it was hard to see the holes until you were nearly on them, plus I was slightly distracted by the scenery.

We’ve decided to make that pass pay for itself over and over again. We’ll be heading back up to the mountain a couple more times this season. We’re also going to super-splurge on an interagency pass, so we can hit ALL the parks in the state. Ok, maybe not ALL of them, but as many as we can fit into our vacation, days off, budget, and mood.

I’m excited.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Vacation Notes

After leaving the house two hours later than we’d originally planned, we managed to get to my folks’ place at a decent hour. Typical for us, though. I say we’ll be hitting the road around six in the morning, and we can count on pulling out of the driveway at LEAST two hours later.

The trailer where we stay had been winterized by my mother, who is creative with ropes, a tarp, and heavy objects. Just when we thought we’d managed to free the tarp, we’d give it a yank only to discover another length of rope attached to something strange, like part of an old bed frame, an empty (but it wasn’t empty when she tied it there) water jug, some heavy unidentifiable farm equipment parts, and spare wheel from an old pickup truck.

Putting up the tent trailer in 90 degree weather is so much fun; it usually takes me two or three days to recover from the awesomeness that is involved.

But I found a percolator coffee pot in the basement, as well as the propane stove left behind by my cousin when he moved out. I collected my treasures and proceeded to delight my darling with non-instant coffee. Personally, I think it tastes like shit, but that’s because I have no idea how to make coffee on a propane stove. It’s very different.

We went to Ashland to have lunch at our favorite restaurant, then stop in at our favorite metaphysical store to ring the chakra bowls. Because parking is such a premium, they’re very sincere when they say “two-hour parking.” They will ticket your ass if you don’t move it in time, so I set the alarm on my new phone.

Two hours later, I am becoming increasingly annoyed by an irritating sound; a high-pitched ringing that just won’t stop. I can’t figure out where it is, but I keep wishing it would stop. We headed into our final shop and my mother asked how much time we had left. Imagine my horror to discover the noise was my phone alarm and I had no idea how to shut it the hell off. Most Minor Minion tried it, I tried it, and the guy behind the counter might have tried it if he hadn’t been laughing so hard he was almost in tears.

I don’t really know how it happened, but after ten minutes of constant ringing, the noise was stopped. To say I felt like a total derp would be an understatement.

My father is a passenger-seat driver. No matter what I’m doing, he’s going to make a comment, point out something obvious, or otherwise make it known that my abilities are falling far short of his expectations. He does the same thing to my mother and she tends to start shrieking at him, then the big argument will commence and things tend to get uncomfortable.

I, however, sass him. I threaten to break his pointer finger if he starts waving the damn thing around. Then he muttered something about the speed limit and that I was going a little too fast (I was coasting to charge the battery in my hybrid, so I was slowing down, thank you), and I threatened to get a squirt bottle and use it every time he got out of line. Then he started playing with the controls for the window. Mind you, they are a little confusing: if you press down too hard, the window goes all the way down, and if you pull up too hard, it goes all the way up. There is a way to get it exactly where you want it, but it takes a gentle touch, which is not something of which my father can boast.

Down window, up window, down window. “What the hell?” my father wondered.
“Don’t play with the window controls, Pop. That’s what you always told me when I was young.”
Up window, down window… “What are you doing?”
“I don’t know.” Up window.
I hit the window lock button, which flummoxed him even more. We rode in air-conditioned silence the last few blocks to the restaurant. When we got to the parking lot, the finger waving and advice giving commenced and I had to threaten to stop at the store and pick up a water bottle again.
“Pop, I actually know how to find good parking, and since I can use your card, we’re pretty much guaranteed a good spot.” I got the best one in the lot despite the great amount of pointing going on toward another spot one aisle over that wasn’t nearly as close.

As we helped him toward the restaurant, my mother said I was going too fast. Pop looked up at me and said, “My nickname is Creepy.”
“Yeah, Pop, but it has nothing to do with how slow you are.”
My mother thought that was hilarious.

Back at their place, we sat outside in the 90 degree weather while a warm wind coiled itself around us. The Earth is warm on our feet and the birds punctuate our conversation with their calls and songs. We stay out as long as possible, before being driven inside by the mosquitoes.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Road Trippin’

Ok my darlings, it’s that special time of year again when we load up the car and drive straight to hell. Also known as going to visit my parents.

We’re taking Most Minor Minion with us while Beans holds down the fort. This will be his first time house/critter sitting for us, so it should be interesting. He even offered to clean out our fridge. I’m not sure what the motive is behind that, but I wish him the best of luck. It’s been a while since anyone’s seen the back wall of the lighted compost bin, so I’m not sure what he might find. Hopefully it will be slow-moving and easily caught.

The pre-trip jitters/cranky stuff has hit both of us and I’m so thrilled. She’s in the kitchen ranting and crashing about over some lost peppercorns and I’m having a difficult time not getting distracted from what I’m supposed to be doing, which is packing and not writing a blog post about going on a trip. I’m also supposed to be doing laundry, which might be happening right now, but I’m not 100% sure I remembered to start the machine. My camera and computer, however, are ready to go.

As usual, I’ve over packed. It’s so strange: I can go to Ireland or Germany for two weeks and survive just fine with a small carry-on size bag. Two weeks. Far from home. We’re heading to my parents house, for one week, and my HUGE suitcase is bulging at the seams, and that doesn’t include the computer, the cameras, the chargers for all the electronic gee-gaws, my nook… Thankfully I don’t use the CPAP any more, because that was just one more bag to tote around.

I always say I’m not going to over pack the next time, but I always do. There’s the computer (I get to do some editing) the big camera because I’ve not taken it out for a while and I miss it, and the books or stitching projects we take along to while away the hot part of the day when some folks are sleeping and others can’t close their eyes in the heat.

And it is going to be hot (somewhere in the 90’s) which is about 20 degrees hotter than we’ve had it here, but it’s drier so that helps some. I guess. It’s one of the few times my dear Tam does not have cold feet that she must warm on my body. Still, hot is hot, and cold feet don’t bother me that much. And it’s only for a week. And my mother seems to be in a good mood, despite the fact that she just called me to tell me their septic system has died and this should get even more interesting as the week progresses. We cannot change our departure date because everything here has been set in stone; from house and critter sitter, to Li’l Red’s time with is dad. We might end up in a hotel. I didn’t pack for a hotel. Damn.

It will be fun, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get online while we’re down there via our new phones. It will be a first.

Wish us luck, I think we’re going to need it.