It was our 40 month anniversary yesterday. I know, it’s silly to keep track like this, but it’s nice to know that we are still madly in love with each other! Looking back on our relationship, my fondest memories revolve around all of our trips together. We’ve taken one big trip every year and each year has certainly topped the last. I’m in the planning stages for this year’s trip!
Last year, we had quite an adventure in the Pacific Northwest. Absolutely beautiful. We started off in Portland and made our way to Seattle, stopping at Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier along the way.
We arrived in Portland at about 10PM at night and we took a taxi to our “hotel”. The Kennedy School is an old elementary school that McMenamins renovated into a hotel. Most of the original classrooms were split into two guestrooms with a bathroom added in each room. Besides this, the look and feel of the school were pretty much kept intact. Chalkboards, perhaps original, wrapped around the guestrooms and there were white water fountains in the hallways. Memorabilia of the school and of those times decorated the walls. Other classrooms were turned into bars/lounges with incredibly cute names: The Honors Bar, The Detention Bar, etc. It was truly a unique experience to stay at The Kennedy School!
We decided not to rent a car at the airport since it was ridiculously expensive! I saved a lot of money by renting from a non-airport location and since it was located within 5 miles of our place, we were able to get free pick up service. Most of our first full day was designated to sightseeing and eating. As you can see, it was a really warm day.
The main reason we stayed in Portland was because we wanted to go white water rafting. There are many rafting outfitters around Washington and Oregon and we decided on Wet Planet, which is located near Hood River, Oregon, approximately an hour and 15 min drive from Portland (scenic drive). It was our first time river rafting and our guide, Sara, did a great job of making sure we were all having fun while keeping us safe. The trip was about 8 miles total, with rapids classified as class III-IV (solid class IV fall known as “Husum Falls” – 10′ vertical drop). I was a little nervous for Henry because I know he’s not the best swimmer (he almost drowned in Hawaii – that’s another story for another time), but good thing we all survived; no one in our 6 person raft fell overboard into the water, not even when we went down Husum Falls!
On our way back from rafting, we stopped at Multnomah Falls. This would be our first waterfall of the trip :) If we had more time, I would have liked to hike the trails around the falls.
The next part of our trip was definitely my favorite! We drove up to Mt. St. Helens and hiked through the lava cave and then we drove to Mt. Rainier and stayed there a few days.
The lava cave (Ape Cave) was really fun and really scary at the same time. It was mostly an easy-moderate hike, with the difficulty being the huge rocks that you have to climb over as well as the 9 foot wall you have to climb up. If you are claustrophobic or scared of the dark, Ape Cave is totally not for you. As we were hiking through the upper passage of Ape Cave, I actually had thoughts of being trapped underground or being attacked by.. ghosts (yes, ghosts), but I quickly calmed myself down and thought of something else. I found comfort in hearing the voices of other groups – perhaps its the “at least I’m not going to die alone down here” rationalization. The upper passage of Ape Cave is 1 1/4 miles and took about 2 and a half hours to explore. We spent about another hour to hike the mile long trail above ground that took us back to the entrance of the cave.
I originally planned to drive to the Johnston Ridge Observatory for a great view of Mt. St. Helens, but we just didn’t have enough time since we still had to make a 3 hour drive to Mt. Rainier. We picked up some groceries before we headed to Almost Paradise Lodging, our home for the next few days. This place is absolutely fantastic! Everything was clean and I felt right at home. Our fridge was stocked everyday with a complementary continental breakfast basket during our stay. The jacuzzi right outside definitely helped us relax after long days of hiking. At night, all you can see were the faint lines of the trees that blended in with the black sky and the bright stars sprinkled throughout. Amazing…
We technically only had one full day to explore Mt. Rainier, which was really sad since it is such a beautiful place. For our full day, we did a 4 mile hike on the Paradise River/Narada Falls trail. We started at Cougar Rock and ended at the Henry M. Jackson Visitor’s Center in Paradise, for a total elevation gain of 2,000ft (good hiking condition is required). It was a little difficult to find the trailhead, but luckily we were able to follow people that were headed the same way.
We took a lunch break to eat our cole slaw turkey sandwiches at Carter Falls. As we continued along, we passed by Madcap Falls and about 2 miles later, we reached the famous Narada Falls. You can technically take the Paradise shuttle and get dropped off here, but come on, we are no weaklings! It wasn’t enough to just view the falls from the top, we decided to climb down towards the flowing river to get a different view of the falls. BEAUTIFUL. After Narada Falls, Paradise was only a mile away. Even though it was late July, snow still scattered the ground (especially as we neared Paradise). I had some difficulty getting up a hill because it was blanketed with snow and my hiking shoes didn’t provide enough grip/traction. We didn’t have that much time to explore the Paradise area since the shuttle arrived about 15 minutes after we arrived.
The next day, we were able to hike a half day before heading up to the Seattle area.
(to be continued…)