LIVIN’ ON STILTS
Sunday 5:00am DUN DUN DUN…
I woke with a start when I felt a small cold wet spot on my pillow. I felt around with my eyes closed, hoping to find Fred licking his butthole as the source of the wet spot. Unfortunately, he was tucked under the blanket at my feet, meaning there was definitely a leak somewhere off our bedroom window. Here commenced another tarp session in the rain. We jumped to action, grabbing our tarps and bungee cords.
As I stood there holding a tangle of bungee cords, Matt on the roof laying out the tarps, I thought to myself “Ray-Neer? Ruh-Neer? Ray-NeeER?” I’ve heard it pronounced three different ways since being here. You’d think a massive active volcano would have a handle on its own name. Or maybe it’s so giant, the mountain can handle all three? That’s when Matt snapped me out of it, back to reality to help with securing the tarps. It rained all night, so it seems like the leak is pretty small. Still something we need to fix, but hopefully minor.
I was kind of bummed out last week considering the smoke and small bout of homesickness. Not sure if it came across in my last post, but I was definitely in need of a good day. It rained the majority of the day Sunday in Mount Rainier, and with the change in the wind, the skies had pretty much completely cleared of smoke. And, my goodness, did the views change my mood!
We were above the clouds and on top of the world. I was feeling so much but also speechless. From there, we could see Mount Adams, Mount Saint Helens, and beyond in the Cascade Range. On a clearer morning, we would have been able to spot Mount Hood and Mount Shasta. Feeling on top of the world struck me as funny considering Mount Rainier’s summit was still over 7,000 feet higher in elevation. That beast is the highest in elevation of the PNW Cascade Range at 14,411 feet. Mind = Blown We decided we need to get a good pair of binoculars for the rest of the trip.
About half way up the trail, we passed a marker for John Muir Camp. It was just under three miles away. I did what I could to convince Matt to take it with me, but he wouldn’t budge. I wanted it. If I were alone, I absolutely would have doubled my mileage for the day to get there. I guess that’s part of the reason Matt is nervous when I set off on a trail alone. I will regret not getting there until I do. BUT it’s not all about me, and I needed to chill, so we continued along the originally intended path to Paradise Point.
Monday morning, Matt and I woke up early to get up to Paradise in Mount Rainier NP. It was pretty chilly, getting down to 35 degrees Fahrenheit that night. I layered up – tank top, fleece lined long sleeve, and an insulated jacket for the hike. Layers are your friends at a mountain that makes its own weather like Rainier. We started up the Skyline trail, a five and a half mile loop with spectacular views of Rainier as well as the Cascades down the line. We felt like we were in a different country. The explosion of wildflowers had me giddy as we strolled along multiple bubbling brooks.
We left Mount Rainier Tuesday morning, ran some errands, and landed at Jennie and Joe’s house in Puyallup. Pronounced pew-AL-up, the town is just about an hour from the mountain. We spent the day with them the week before in Rainier and I needed more. Jennie and Joe have the best kids. Jolena, or “Lena” is about two and a half, super smart, funny, not to mention gorgeous. She has those natural face framing wispy curls I live for. Dorothy, or “Dotty” is four months old, so beautifully animated, with cheeks I could smooch forever. I’ll say it again, Jennie and Joe – You make beautiful kids.
We went to Ivars for dinner that evening. We ordered fish and chips, and all was going smoothly. Lena dropped the straw she was playing with, so she climbed under the table and over my legs to retrieve it. That’s when Joe saw it, something brown and gunky on Lena’s hand. I thought it must be some sort of melted popsicle under the table and she somehow got her hand in it. NOPE! It was poop. That beautiful creature somehow blew out her diaper and managed to not only get it all over the vinyl seat, but my pants as she climbed over me. It was on her dress, in her hair, her hands, her shoes…it was POOPageddon, POOPocalypse, Pooptastistic, and all we could do was laugh. Jennie took Lena out to clean her up, I grabbed a hundred wet naps, and went to town on my jeans. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. I certainly was not about to let a little (or a lot) of poop on my pants stop us from getting FroYo. I felt extra needy and ended up chowing down 15 ounces of FroYo in my poop pants.
Don’t think I forgot about you, Champ. Champ is their 90lb lab with three legs. He hops around like a good boy, barking like a seal at a stubborn Fred who refuses to play. I love that dog and his ultra stinky farts.
After a couple of nights in Puyallup, we headed north to meet another one of my long time friends, Karli, her family and two other families at Camano Island State Park. The park is a first come, first serve campground with a tiered pricing system. The best spots are $35/night, decent spots are $30/night, and less thrilling spots are $25/night. Matt and I found a great $30/night spot with beach views. I really liked that campground, and Camano Island in general. We took the paddle boards out, I got a little trail running in, picked wild blackberries, made some new friends, and got to spend some quality time with some great people. It was also our first time seeing the ocean in over a month.
We had reliable T-Mobile service on the island. Matt was able to get a lot of work done without the frustration of slow internet. It got pretty chilly at night, at least chilly for this SoCal girl. On the last night, I actually enjoyed the campfire, which I typically try to avoid. Also, I MUST mention the delicious burgers Karli’s friend, Jeff, made. Holy cow! He made his own In-N-Out sauce, but then one-upped it with a slurry of bacon and grilled onions. I ate two, and “slurry” became the word of the night
We decided to stay until Monday to get a beach view of the eclipse. I’ll update you on our eclipse sighting next week. Hope all is well back at home. We miss you!
Ariel + Matt
Smoke cleared, allowing us to really soak in the majesty of Mount Rainier. Left Rainier for Puyallup, where my friend Jennie lives with her family. Her daughter, Lena, blew out her diaper at Ivars, covering our booth and my pants in poop. Laughed harder than I have in a long time over the POOPageddon. We stayed two nights with Jennie before making our way to Camano Island. Camped at Camano Island SP with my long-time friend, Karli, her family and some friends. Ate two of the best burgers I’ve ever had, paddle boarded, hiked, and relaxed at the beach. Fred was cold.
- Restaurant wet naps are an essential tool. Grab a few whenever you can, because you never know when you’ll be wiping poop off your pants.
- Starbucks has a decent Protein box, for when you’re starving on the go.
- Ibotta is a cash back app. You can search for discounts and rebates through the app, and scan your receipt for the cash back after purchases. I’ve just started using it for groceries and hoping to help us stretch our dollars on the road.