Miles driven today: 184 Total miles driven: 184

Tonight we are sleeping in Paradise. Quite literally. Our lodge is in the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier National Park. We’ve had a good day of road tripping through some stunning scenery and great endless forests to get here.

We slept quite well considering the time change and also despite having all good intentions, we fell asleep at 730pm. I woke up after what seemed a long time and was quite horrified to find it was only 1am. Managed to get back to sleep again though and didn’t stir till 7am. We got breakfast as part of our room deal and it was pretty nice.

Cloudy today with only patchy sun which meant the visibility wasn’t as good as yesterday. Still, the next few days are going to be totally sunny so that should be good.

Our rental car was delivered at 915. We are hiring from Turo.Com again, the airbnb of car rentals. It worked so well for us in Florida early this year that we definitely wanted to give it another go. We got a 5 year old Ford Fusion Hybrid, in very good condition and a lot cheaper than it would have been through the major car rental companies.

We quickly loaded up and headed off to Walmart to buy some supplies for the next few days and for the trip in general. We needed a large cool box to act as our portable fridge and some picnic supplies plus food for lunches and breakfasts. We are going to be in a national park lodge for 3 nights and there are no cooking facilities or fridges in the rooms so our self catering will be a bit limited. It wasn’t the best Walmart we’ve visited to be honest but we managed to get everything we needed except for a rotisserie chicken that we wanted for dinner tonight. After Walmart we called in at a T Mobile shop and Bob got a local sim package for his phone so he can make calls and use data.

Finally set off from the Seatac area at about midday and headed out on the Mount Rainier Scenic Byway which began in a town called Emunclaw. We stopped there to get the chicken from Safeway. Once past Emunclaw the road quickly entered dense mountains covered in forest – tall – immensely tall – pine trees, cedar….. the road winding and switchblading all the way. We headed around the northern perimeter of the Park to Sunrise, one of the highest points in the park. We stopped at the visitor centre there and picked up our National Park Pass. 80$ for a year’s pass for both of us and the car which is a good deal. Up on top there were great meadows of wildflowers and a great view over to some of the peaks and the Emmett Glacier. The wildflower meadows and verges are quite a feature. So many different types and colours: yellow, blue, purple, red, pink and white. I took a photo of some, especially some tall lily like ones… We should see more tomorrow.

Mount Rainier was teasing us today. Just peaking out every so often for a second or two. Annoying. You knew it was there but you couldn’t see it!!!!

We had a bit of lunch up in Sunrise and then headed back down and drove along the eastern side of the park and detoured a little to drive through the spectacular Chinook Pass – more amazing views. Then we turned south and drove around the southern perimeter and entered the park again at Nisqually and drove to Paradise. Saw lots of signs to trails and waterfalls we plan to explore over the next two days but today, we just wanted to grt there.

The Paradise Inn is a very traditional National Park lodge, built in the early twentieth century, all huge wooden timbers, great leather chairs and roaring log fires. We are staying in the original inn which is largely unmodernised from the time it was built. The rooms are very small and apart from a sink and an alarm clock with 2 usb points contains no mod cons at all. No tv, wifi, kettle…. and no ensuite. 6 rooms share 2 showers and there are seperate toilets for men and women. And it still costs $169 per night!!! You don’t even want to know what the modern rooms in the annexe cost. Of course you are paying for the location – staring right at Mt. Rainier when it comes out of the cloud, miles from anywhere and with 1000 watt atmosphere.

The lodge has a massive great room on the ground floor filled with large comfy leather sofas and massive wooden chairs. There are 2 enormous fireplaces, one at each end, with roaring log fires going, even today. A pianist was playing tunes…. There’s a lovely dining room and bar, a huge terrace that wraps around the place with rocking chairs to sit in while you enjoy the view…. it’s lovely. And the room is actually fine, everything has fitted in.

Tonight we ate our roast chicken as a picnic in the lodge great room and then enjoyed coffee in front of the fire, chatting and ogling the other guests. Bob had a bourbon. I am on the wagon for the duration as part of a get fitter drive. We have planned out some short hikes to do tomorrow. But first…zzzzzzzz