Monday, September 5, 2011

Camping at Mt. Rainier--Labor Day Weekend

Wow! Had an amazing time camping with Wendy's family at Cougar Rock CG in Mt. Rainier National Park. It has been 14 years since I had been to MRNP and in total, I think I've been there just 4 times my whole life. Cougar Rock CG is located between Longmire and Paradise on the south side of the mountain. The weather was absolutely fantastic, couldn't have asked for more perfect weather!

Headed out Friday with Wendy, Brandon and Erik with the truck loaded down with all of our equipment.  Arrived at the park about 5pm or so and found our spot.  CRCG is a very nice campground with lots of trees.  It has flush toilets and cold water for drinking and doing dishes.  It also has an amphitheater and evening programs. 

Attended the evening program which showcased various trails and hikes around the park.  The Ranger was informative and funny.  We were able to pick up some map sheets for trails in the local area.

Camping is often all about the nighttime campfire.  We enjoyed roasting marshmallows to make s'mores, hot dogs and PB&J pockets on the pie-irons we brought along.  This is so cool.  Ooo---eeeey, gooooo-eeeey goodness!  The kids found a way to wedge a piece of chocolate in a marshmallow and then roast it on the fire.

The night was pretty chilly, but the air was crisp and clean when we awoke.  Made up a nice breakfast of "Wendy's Eggs."  Wendy's eggs have ham, cheese, green onion and Fox Point seasonings.  Erik and I love her eggs.  They are so good.

After organizing we decided to head to Paradise.  Again, the weather was gorgeous, the sky was blue, the sun was warm and the views of the mountain were just breathtaking.  Along the way, we stopped along the road to take in some views.  After some pictures we went to go get back in the truck...."Dad, would you please unlock the door?"  Uh oh!  I had locked the keys in the truck!  3rd time in my entire lifetime and the previous two times were just last year!  Am I losing it in my old age????  We are in the middle of nowhere without cell service.  I recently became a member of AAA, but I wasn't about to wait for hours for an unlock.  Ugh!  After my previous experiences, I knew I could force a wedge in the top of the door between the weather stripping and the jamb.  Then insert a rod like a coat hanger and push the unlock button.  But, what do I have for tools?  I found a rock, but it wasn't rigth enough.  I dug through the back of my truck and found two sturdy tent stakes.  Okay, this will work for the wedge, now what to do about the rod?  We started using a stick but it was too flimsy.  We thought some more and some more.... Erik came up with the idea, "what about using the antenna?"  Of course!!!  I unscrewed the antenna and was then able to insert it into the hole formed by the tent stakes used as wedges.  After some monkeying around, we all jumped around like excited girls on Christmas when the unlock engaged and the truck's alarm started sounding as I freed the door!!!  Hah, hah!!!

We went up to the lodge where we met the rest of the gang.  We showed them pictures of the ordeal, in order and they all got a kick out of the story.

The gang all went on a short hike through the meadows of Paradise.  We found some nice flowers, oh they were beautiful and also a waterfall.  We found some snow fields and of course had a snowball fight!

Later Saturday night we had a surprise 40th Birthday Party for Curtis! 

Sunday morning Wendy and I got up at 5:45 and headed up to Paradise for the sunrise.  Mmmm, wow!  It was so beautiful.  We made it over to Reflection Lakes where I took an awesome photo of the mountain and of a waterfall.  We'll just see if these make it to my portfolio some day.

Later that morning we made bacon, eggs and hashbrowns.  Mmmmm, more yummy goodness.  We tried making eggs on the pie-irons and wow!  They are fantastic.  I am thinking that next time, we should try to cook all of our meals on the fire.  So many possibilities with these devices. 

At the end of our camping loop, there were lots of large trees that had fallen over the years and had made a great playground where people could walk along these logs as they hung about 10 feet off the ground.  It was so beautiful and fun.  Makes me wish Aaron and Lauren were there, they would have had a blast!

We then headed down to Longmire and took in some sights down there.  One of the best times was looking at the suspension bridge and then eating ice cream on the bench outside of the General Store.

Dinner was chicken kabobs.  Mmmmm, had these earlier in the year and they are really good.  In the afternoon, we played Yhatzee.  Later at night some folks played multiple solitaire and Uno.  I was pretty tired so I went off to bed. 

At night, the stars were so magnificent.  The sky was lit up from one end to the other with the Milky Way Galaxy.

What a super fun time camping with everyone.  I especially loved meeting and visiting with Beth and Dave (Aunt and Uncle) Cousins David and Britta and her husband Neil.  Also can't forget David's son Zeke who is 5 and reminded me of my little ones.  Of course we always have fun with Maija, Curtis and Daisy Mae and the Sternbergs--Aaron, Becky, Jordan, Hannah and Marly and Lily, and Gene, Cathy and Sofie.  We had 4 camp spots all next to each other.  What a great weekend!

These storage bins rocked!!!

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