Current Location: Fife, WA in an extended stay hotel
For 6 days in a row, we woke up to bright blue sky and sunshine. We must be dreaming! We haven't seen this much sunshine since we left California. Maybe our luck really is changing in 2011.
Well, the sunshine didn't last (we are now back to rainy days) but we tried to get out and enjoy as much of it as we could. Tracy was still recovering from the crud that so many caught over the holidays so we stuck to low level activities.
We started out going for a drive to get some good pictures of Mount Rainier. "The Mountain", as it's referred to by locals, is visible from pretty much anywhere in the Seattle-Tacoma region. Its summit is over 14,400 feet and when you're standing at or near sea level, that's pretty darn high. It's an awesome sight when it's not shrouded in clouds.
The next day we drove out to Mount Rainier National Park.
The view of The Mountain is far better from outside the park. Once you're inside, it seems to lose some of it's massiveness.
Also, the park is very forested and while it is very beautiful, you can't see much from the road. This is one of the buildings along the park road. It was built in the late 1800's and is now used as an administrative building. We loved all the icicles hanging over the dark wood.
Most of the roads through the park are closed in winter. I didn't know this but the Park is known as one of the snowiest places on earth. The town of Paradise (elevation around 5400 ft), which is inside the park, has had over 220 inches of snow by the end of December and last winter recorded a total of 650 inches. The highest amount of snow recorded in one winter was 1,122 inches in 1971-72. That's almost 100 feet! That's a lot of snow!
We drove about 10 miles into the park until the roads started getting a little slicker than we were comfortable with. We continued on for another mile or so until we could find a place to turn around our big truck, but we just took it slow and made it back down without any trouble.
We also spent a day exploring Tacoma and drove out to Point Defiance Park. It is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. It contains a zoo, an aquarium, and multiple gardens. We hope to be back some day when all the gardens are in bloom. It also has miles of hiking trails and lots of picnic areas. I'm sure this place is crazy in the summer, but it was pretty quiet during our visit. We did a short walk along the beach, during which we saw some whales and a couple of eagles.
There is a 5-mile drive through the park which contains a lot of overlooks. One is of the Olympic mountain range.
From another stop, we could see the Tacoma Narrows bridge. It is the 5th longest suspension bridge in the U.S. We've been over this bridge several times since the dealership where our RV is currently living is on the other side. Not something that Tracy is exactly fond of, but she crosses it like a trooper (and with her eyes open!)
We stopped for a bowl of chowder at Dukes Chowder House (highly recommended!) along the waterfront. That's the restaurant on the right-hand side and The Mountain in the background. The steam you see on the left hand side is from the Port of Tacoma, one of the largest ports in North America.Although we haven't had the best luck during our stay in the region, we do admit that this is a very beautiful area and we look forward to coming back in the summer when we can truly enjoy the outdoors. And hopefully we'll have a few more days of sunshine yet this winter.
We ended our afternoon with a stop by the RV dealership to check on our RV. Not much progress has been made as they're still waiting for the parts to arrive. They do have it inside the bay so it is protected from the cold which was a relief since we've had several nights below freezing. They've started doing some prep work on it but not as much as we had hoped. They said the parts were shipped on Friday and were expected to arrive either Wednesday or Thursday. We're not sure why it took until Friday to get them shipped since we agreed to their estimate on Tuesday. I know it was the holiday season but what was happening on Wednesday and Thursday? We didn't ask about the delay, but I think we're realizing that we may need to stay on top of them to ensure that things are moving as quickly as possible. On Monday, they said that it would still probably be another 2 weeks before it's done. We dropped it off the previous Monday, which means that we'll probably be in the hotel closer to 3 weeks. Uugh. I sure hope it's not any longer as we're already getting itchy to get back in our home and on with our lives. But we also recognize that getting frustrated or depressed about the situation is not going to help anything, so we're trying to stay relaxed and make the best of it. It's all part of the adventure, right? :)