Two Year Anniversary

Wow, how time flies! Another year has come and gone for us as Fulltime RVers and today we celebrated our SECOND year on the road in Paradise. You don’t believe us? Just check out the photo below:

Paradise Visitor Center in Mt. Rainier Nat'l Park

Paradise Visitor Center in Mt. Rainier Nat'l Park

In this case, Paradise is located at an altitude of 5,420 feet in Mount Rainier National Park just below massive Mount Rainier, but it couldn’t have been a more appropriate place for us to mark the beginning of a third year of fulltime RV living. In fact, it was so perfect, you’d think we planned it, but we didn’t. It wasn’t until we were driving along and checking the map that we noticed the name Paradise just a stone’s throw from where we planned to camp tonight. Good omen for the future? We hope so!

Gorgeous views of the glacier-dominated mountain can seen from the Visitors Center at Paradise and we took the opportunity to just sit and gaze for a while from the steps leading to the many trails through its sub-alpine meadows, now covered with late-summer wildflowers. Then we took some pictures. Note the quote from the famous conservationist, John Muir (boy, he sure did get around), in this one:

Truly "Paradise"

We started the day by leaving what seemed like our summer ‘home’ at the SKP Evergreen Coho RV park in Chimacum, Washington and driving about three hours southeast to get to Mount Rainier National Park. We had a great time these past three and a half months on the Olympic Peninsula (except for that first VERY rainy month and a half!) but this RV has wheels and thus is meant to move, so it was high time we scratched our ‘hitch itch’ and hit the road for more adventures. So far it looks like we couldn’t have picked a better time to go, as the weather is sunny and warm, perfect for some dry-camping and hiking in the mountains.

Along the way, we drove over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, better known for its predecessor, “Galloping Gertie,” the third largest suspension bridge in the world in 1940, which famously collapsed into Puget Sound on November 7th, 1940 when it twisted and vibrated violently in 40 mph winds.

Last year when we were staying at McChord AFB in Tacoma, we read that somewhere near the Narrows bridge there is a monument to Tubby, a black cocker spaniel who was sadly, but amazingly, the only fatality the day the bridge collapsed. We spent half a day trying to find its location then, without any luck. We hoped we’d finally find it today, but unfortunately Shadow and we were again disappointed that we couldn’t find it to pay our respects. We’re really beginning to believe it doesn’t exist.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge 2010

Upon crossing the bridge, we did see our destination – Mount Rainier – in the distance. It’s amazing just how far away one can see this mountain. Of course, it is 14,411 feet high and the highest peak in the Cascade range, but it’s still impressive how it dominates the skyline in the Seattle area.

We took Highway 7 through Elbe and Ashford into the southwest entrance to the park. Passing through Elbe, we found a beautiful little historical church, and a group of railroad cars that looked to have been converted to restaurants and shops. Elbe really looked like a neat place to stop, but the area was packed with tourists and there was no place to park an RV, so we just took some snapshots as we drove by and decided we would have to come back later in the week.

Elbe Trains

Elbe Church

There was a lot of tourist activity in nearby Ashford as well, but again it was too busy and we didn’t see any place to safely park an RV. But with signs advertising Blueberry Pancakes and Homemade Huckleberry Pie, we will definitely go back to check it out after the RV is safely parked at our campsite!

Finally we arrived at the entrance to the park about noon and found out that this weekend is part of the U.S. National Park Service Free Entrance Days so now we knew why the roads were even busier than we expected them to be, even considering it’s the weekend and how close Mt. Rainier National Park is to large cities and populations like Tacoma and Seattle, not to mention the glorious weather. We were warned at the gate that the parking lots up at the Paradise area visitors center were full. We tried to park at Longmire (the original park headquarters), only to find that parking lot full as well, and it didn’t help any that the cars were using up all the “RV Only” parking spaces.

"RV / Bus Parking Only" - Doesn't look like RVs to us!

We were beginning to seriously worry that all the campgrounds would be full too, but we were lucky to find our chosen campground, Cougar Rock, to have many sites available, though most were not big enough to accomodate an RV our size (about 30 feet). We managed to find a site just barely big enough, then paid for it and left some chairs to mark it as taken, and headed back to the dump station to fill our freshwater tank for the duration as we will be dry-camping (no water, sewer, or electric hookups) for our visit, which is usually the norm for National Park campgrounds. This was interesting as well, as the dump station seemed an even tighter fit for our RV than the site! Chuck did a fantastic job maneuving though, and we got our water without scraping any trees or our camper, thankfully. Back to our site and he did and even better job the second time fitting the RV in our spot.

So here we are tonight, sitting outside enjoying the night air and the earthy scents of the beautiful Western Red Cedars, Douglas Firs, and Hemlocks that surround our camper, listening to the soothing sounds of nature – in this case the crying baby next door. Seriously. 173 sites and we somehow managed to find the one next to a young family with a crying infant! What are the odds? But you have to laugh – what else can you do? That’s life on the road.

To another year of adventures!

What a view! What a life!

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Two Year Anniversary”

  1. Great write up guys! Congratulations on another year under your wheels! The pictures from this blog are beautiful, what color! It was so good to see you again. I’m sorry we didn’t have more time when you came to the house that night. We have had a busy summer with the addition, guests and now a new dog! We adopted a rescue mix, named her Mandy and she’s very adorable. Well, safe travels and writing!