It’s my birthday! Well, technically yesterday was my birthday but we decided to go out and have a little adventure. We decided we’d head to Mt. Rainer with the boys. We had seen it from the metro area several times on clear days (which by the way were much more plentiful than we were led to believe before we moved here). It was awesome to see from afar so we were excited to get a little closer.
The drive into Mount Rainier National Park was stunning. I could have gotten out every mile and taken a new picture. It was gorgeous and the boys were loving the new views. We stopped once on the way up at an overlook but for the most part we took in the views from the car. Once there, we did a little hike out to some waterfalls, had a little snack at the visitor’s center and then made our way back down the mountain. On the way back down we stopped a LOT to check out the views. We ran into a couple at one of the overlooks who had lived here all their lives. They said this was the first time they had ever been that high on the mountain and there wasn’t ice. They even commented at last time this year it was a slippery trek.
One of my favorite things about being in the PNW is my kids learning to appreciate this beautiful country and nature around them. Sure, we spent a lot of time at the lakes and nature in Minnesota, but this is different. Watching them be inspired by the world around them has made me appreciate being here. Sometimes it’s hard, we are all missing our people back home. However, when we’re “adventuring” in nature we come back to this beautiful baseline of God and family. It’s a calm that cannot be explained but I see it each of my boys’ eyes.
Something about being here has made me feel so calm. I’m sure it’s part the surroundings, part becoming a stay-at-home mom, but I think there must be more. I don’t find myself being so rigid about schedules and rules. I’m less “we must get from point a to point b in the most efficient way.” I’m becoming a more laid back mom in ways that are healthy and I’m feeling my free spirit coming out more. I know it was always there, but you know how it is. As wives and moms we have things to do and deadlines to meet and as a teacher that was amplified x100. Life feels a little easier without the demands of being a working mom. I’ll admit, not working has a learning curve and that’s another post but my weekends are not filled with the anxiety of Monday morning.
So, with the new free-spiritedness, on the way back home we noticed we were following a river. It seemed to change names every time we saw a sign, but it was clay-colored and running water is my kryptonite. We looked for a spot that we could get down to the river to hang play a little. Finally, we found a spot, parked, and headed down to the river. The boys threw rocks and hopped across the rock dams left from visitors before us. We hung out until our fingers were cold and the sun was dipping behind the mountains. Not being tied to the million things I need to do for work has made me a better mom. I’m so thankful for this because these moments are the memories that my kids will carry with them and no lesson plan is more important than that.
So, how do we do Mt. Rainier? Now that we’ve done it few times, we have our plan of attack nailed down. We enter through the southwest entrance directions can be found here. We then make the beautiful trek up to the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center. There’s lots to do with the kiddos and my boys especially enjoy watching the movie about Rainier as well as checking out the danger zone if it were to erupt again. There’s a gift shop and some interactive areas for the kiddos. Then we usually head out on one of the hikes that start at the center. We typically take the Skyline Trail to Myrtle Falls which is a 1-mile hike that the isn’t too strenuous. Then, depending on how prepared we are and how the toddler is holding up, we keep hiking up the mountain until the kids start getting tired. We head back down the mountain, continuing the same direction we were when we arrived and exit at the Northeast exit and through Enumclaw. We have found this to give us so many amazing views and lots of stopping points, though if you are easily carsick, this might not be a great route for you as there are a lot of switchbacks and curvy roads.