July 18-19: A Weekend in Washington, DC
April 11-12: A Weekend in North Carolina
Return to the Index for 1987

April 18-20, 1987
A Weekend in Seattle


This month I had to go to Vancouver, British Columbia, to do a class for CP Air, and since Grant had some vacation time, I thought I would take him along. He had never seen this part of the country.

You of course probably know where Seattle is, but in case you don't, there's a map at right of our uneventful flight route from Dallas up to the Pacific Northwest and Sea-Tac Airport south of Seattle (and north of Tacoma, hence the name).

We left on the Friday evening flight, and arrived at Sea-Tac about nine in the evening. There wasn't much we could do that evening, so we just got a motel near Sea-Tac for the night.

The plan was to do some sightseeing in the Seattle area on Saturday and some of Sunday, and then drive up to Vancouver so Fred could see that city before he flew home from there.

On Saturday, I wanted to take Grant up to Mt. Rainier. The first time I went there was 18 years ago when I was on my way from Charlotte to South Korea, my overseas assignment while I was in the Army. At that time, I flew through Chicago to Sea-Tac, and then took a bus out to McChord Air Force Base, where I stayed in temporary officer's housing for two days waiting for my MATS (Military Air Transport System) flight to Korea.

While I was there, I rented a car at a little place just off base, and I drove both to downtown Seattle (to see the Space Needle) and also to Mt. Rainier, southeast of Seattle. I have not yet (as of 2016) done the album page for 1969, but you might check at the time you read this to see if that year is complete- if you would like to see more pictures of Mt. Rainier. (NOTE: I will also take a trip here with Fred in the summer of 2001, and that page has been completed as I write this, so again, if you want to see more of Mt. Rainier, you can look at that album page.)

So when we got up on Saturday morning and had some breakfast, we got in our rental car, consulted the map, and headed off to Mt. Rainier National Park.

Mount Rainier National Park was established on March 2, 1899 as the fifth national park in the United States. The park encompasses 369 square miles, and includes all of Mount Rainier, a 14,411-foot stratovolcano. The mountain rises abruptly from the surrounding land with elevations in the park ranging from 1,600 feet to over 14,000 feet. The highest point in the Cascade Range, around it are valleys, waterfalls, subalpine meadows, old-growth forest and more than 25 glaciers. The volcano is often shrouded in clouds that dump enormous amounts of rain and snow on the peak every year and hide it from the crowds that head to the park on weekends (as was, unfortunately, true this weekend).

The route to Mount Rainier NP took us through a series of small towns on the relatively flat plain west of the park, through the entrance to the park, and then on a steady ascent through the park on the main park road. Our destination was the Visitor Center at Paradise.

The earliest evidence of human activity in the area which is now Mount Rainier National Park, was a projectile point dated to circa 4,000-6,800 BC found along one of today's park trails, a trail that actually followed an older trail. A more substantial archeological find was a rock shelter where hunting artifacts were found in the shelter. The shelter would not have been used all year round, and cultural affinities suggest the site was used by Columbia Plateau Tribes from 1000 to 300 BC. Later studies of Native American use of the area concluded that aside from its use by prehistoric humans, there was no evidence of later Native American habitation of the park, although research and interviews revealed that it was used for hunting and gathering and for occasional spirit quests. Before they entered into treaties with the United States in 1854-55, as many as five local Native American Indian tribes used the area that is now the park.

On March 2, 1899, President William McKinley signed a bill passed by Congress authorizing the creation of Mount Rainier National Park, the nation's fifth national park. It was the first national park created from a national forest- The Pacific Forest Reserve created in 1893. John Muir had visited Mount Rainier in 1888; he and nine others accomplished the fifth recorded ascent to the summit. (This trip played a role in reinvigorating Muir and convincing him to rededicate his life to the preservation of nature as national parks.)

At the time national forests, called forest reserves at first, were being created throughout the American West, under the utilitarian "conservation-through-use" view of Gifford Pinchot. Muir was what came to be known as a "preservationist". He wanted nature preserved under the more protected status of national parks. But during the 1890s there was more public support for creating national forests than national parks. During that decade, Muir and his supporters were only able to protect one national forest as a national park. When the Pacific Forest Reserve was created in 1893, Muir quickly persuaded the newly formed Sierra Club to support a movement to protect Rainier as a national park. Other groups soon joined, such as the National Geographic Society and scientific associations wanting Mount Rainier preserved as a place to study volcanism and glaciology. Commercial leaders in Tacoma and Seattle were also in support, as was the Northern Pacific Railway. The effort lasted over five years and involved six different attempts to push a bill through Congress. Congress eventually agreed, but only after acquiring assurances that none of the new park was suitable for farming or mining and that no federal appropriations would be necessary for its management. Later, of course, as the National Park System expanded, federal appropriations were indeed used for support of the various parks, including Mount Rainier.

Once you pass through one of the entry stations, like the one near Longmire, the road began ascending steadily. Soon, there were small peaks off to each side of the road, and the road went by a number of small waterfalls. At left is a picture that Grant took of me beside one of them.

As we continued up the park road past Longmire, we stopped at a number of overlooks and waterfalls. At one point, I returned the favor and took a picture of Grant and another Mount Rainier waterfall. I know Grant looks very serious in that picture. I think he enjoyed the trip, but sometimes it seems as if Grant has just a one-track mind; if it doesn't have to do with sailing or the water, Grant just isn't that interested in it. Here is another photo of Grant at a different waterfall, although the picture didn't turn out all that well. We found the turnoff to Paradise, the location where the Visitor Center is located, and we headed up there.

Paradise is the name of an area at approximately 5,400 feet on the south slope of Mount Rainier. The area lies on the border of Pierce and Lewis counties and includes the Paradise Valley and the Paradise Glacier which is the source of the Paradise River. Virinda Longmire named Paradise in the summer of 1885 while she viewed the wildflowers in the alpine meadows there. Paradise also offers views of Mount Rainier (behind Grant in the picture at right) and the Tatoosh Range.

Paradise is the most popular destination for visitors to Mount Rainier National Park. Two-thirds of the people who visit the park in any given year go to Paradise for the views and to stop in at the Visitor Center. We came in via Longmire, along State Route 706; there is another entrance on State Route 430 from the north, but that road is closed in the winter. The Nisqually entrance via Longmire is open to autos year-round.

Paradise is the location of the historic Paradise Inn and Paradise Guide House, built in 1916 and 1920 respectively. In 1966, the park built the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center, a uniquely-interesting round building with entrances on the ground floor and a 360° bank of windows on the second providing views in all directions. I took pictures of it in 1969 (and would take more in 2001); I did not take any more this time. (I might point out that you can't see this building anymore; it would be demolished in 2009 when a new Jackson Visitor Center was built.)

In 1931, a golf course was built in the area and in 1936 a ski rope tow was installed. These were both added as facilities for use by the guests of the inn. From 1942 to 1943 the U.S. Army used the inn to house troops training for winter mountain conditions.

(In 2006, The National Park Service would undertake the aforementioned two-year, $30 million project to perform renovations and structural work to allow the inn withstand a large earthquake and to replace the "flying saucer-shaped" Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center with a new building of the same name complementing the historic lodge. The inn would re-open in 2008, along with the new visitor center. The old visitor center would be demolished the next year.)

I know that Grant has seen a lot of snow in his time, what with growing up in Chicago, but since we moved to Dallas he hasn't seen very much of it. This brought back memories of the first time I came through here, and how impressed I was to see snow on the ground in July. Of course, growing up in North Carolina, I didn't see much snow at all.

We spent most of the day in the park, but it was getting chilly in late afternoon, so we returned to Seattle. The next day, we began our trip up to Vancouver. I showed Grant the Space Needle, but he didn't show much interest in wanting to go up in it, so we just drove north a bit along the bayside and looked at some of the marinas. The boats were very different here, since they have to deal with weather more like Chicago, and also with the ocean not far away.

In Vancouver, we stayed at a nice hotel near the Canadian Pacific facilities (where I would do my class) for the weekend. We did some touring around the city, but since I had been here many times before, I didn't take many pictures. There were some marinas to look at, and we both had a good time. Grant had to go back to Dallas, though, at the end of the weekend to get back to work. I took him to the airport in Vancouver to catch a plane to Seattle where he would transfer to an overnight non-stop to Dallas. He flew on San Juan (named for the San Juan islands which lie between Seattle and Vancouver) airlines, and I only found out the next day how hair-raising his trip was. The plane was a small one, the first one like it Grant had flown in, and there were storms and a lot of turbulence. To hear Grant tell it, it was quite a trip; I am not quite so smug as to believe that a seasoned traveler like me might not also have been a bit worried, were a small plane pitching and rolling. Grant didn't enjoy the trip at all, although he said the flight on American back to Dallas was much better. I spent the week in Vancouver working, and returned to Dallas on the red-eye from Seattle Friday night-Saturday morning.


You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.

July 18-19: A Weekend in Washington, DC
April 11-12: A Weekend in North Carolina
Return to the Index for 1987