Mt. Rainier

Day Forty-two:

The morning was very low key. I grabbed breakfast in the kitchen at the Ace hotel. I then went back to the room and watched tv for an hour. I’m pretty sure that was the longest span of time that I’ve done that for in 6 weeks. In fact, I can only think of three other times that I even had a tv on. Afterwards, I took a walk to get some more coffee and managed to walk through the market again.

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I left Seattle around 10:45 in the morning. The drive to Mt. Rainier NP wasn’t as long as I expected. After walking around the Sunrise Visitor Center and talking to a very nice person behind the desk, I grabbed a quick lunch before hitting the trails. I originally thought that I would do a short 1 mile hike, but I kept thinking that I wanted to go farther. Before I knew it, I had gained 1,200 feet of vertical elevation and was setting myself up for a 5+ mile hike. That’s when I decided to turn around. The cloud cover made for some very dramatic sights and photos. (Although the cloud free view of Mt. Rainier from the Space Needle was impressive.)

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I got back to my car around 4:45, and set off towards Ellensburg. I’ve been calling the past few days to make sure the campground hasn’t closed. The fires in the region have been extremely hard to contain. After driving a few hours in the car, I decided to turn off to a viewpoint only a few miles out. As soon as I rounded the bend, I could see where the fires are burning strong. It was actually shocking to see how close they are to the valley floor and the city below. Very scary.

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After arriving to the campground and setting up, I drove around the town for awhile. The college campus looked nice, and it appeared that they were having an orientation session. (The games they were playing on a lawn looked quite similar to those that I used to lead while working as an OA at Cortland.)

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Tomorrow is a “taking care of business” day. Laundry, cleaning, shopping, calling utilities for the new apartment, and organizing will need to be accomplished before heading to the Arcade Fire show at the Gorge.

Final thoughts:
The nice young lady at Mt. Rainier who gave me some resources explained how she is interested in becoming a middle school science teacher. She informed me about programs that exist that allow teachers to serve as park rangers. I expressed how the job is rewarding and challenging at the same time. In fact, my mind is already starting to think about the new school year. No matter how much I fight it, I’ve come to realize that the last few weeks of summer are critical for me to wrap my mind around the physical return to school. Without this mental preparation, it is that much harder to get back into the routine. On my drive today, I called my teammate (Sorry to drag you into my preparation!), thought about back to school night, thought about a few new procedures, figured out that my bulletin boards will be national park focused for the fall, and determined my game plan for the classroom set up when I get back. Not too bad for a few hours in the car.

Now that I’ve shared a positive perspective, please allow me to share a gripe. Washington drivers have kept me on my toes this past week. I don’t want to draw any conclusions about every driver in the state, but I’ve seen things that I’ve never seen anywhere! Here are some of the winners:
-People laying into the horn for me to turn on red when there are large signs saying not to do so. (2 separate occasions)
-Someone cutting off a tractor trailer only to slow down. They almost got crushed.
-Several drivers on mountain roads going 1/2 the speed limit. When I tried to pass on straight sections, they increased speed so passing became a chore.
-The woman driving completely on the other side of the road on the way down from Mt. Rainier. She nearly hit two other cars, and caused a bicyclist to swerve. Honestly, one should realize that there are no guard rails. Don’t endanger everyone else because of your driving fears. After about three miles, I decided that I needed to document the recklessness. Yikes. Rant over.

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