Washington- Spokane and Mount Rainier

It’s been awhile! I’m happy to report we are still on the road and having adventures, just no internet or phones most of the time. You can expect several posts in a row now that we are back online for a few days! So here’s what we have been up to. After several weeks in the mountains of Montana we were in need of a resupply mission, luckily just over the border was the lovely big city of Spokane, Washington. We settled into Riverside State Park for several days so we could have some cell phone and internet service, do the laundry, the grocery shopping, get my bike fixed (I sort of crashed in North Dakota and broke something on my bike, and also ended up with a nice bruise on my butt), etc. Spokane was a great city, very large but spread out with businesses mixed in with residential areas, and little neighborhood bars and restaurants gave the city a charming appeal. I am convinced that Washington runs on espresso. On every corner is a little espresso hut or coffee shop, even the tiny, no stop sign towns we passed through had at least one espresso hut. You can get your espresso served anyway you like it, Lingerie Espresso, Bikini Espresso, Guys in Underwear Espresso. There is probably even one with people dressed as clowns if that’s your thing. I’m not a coffee drinker myself but I enjoyed driving around seeing all the creative ways people were coming up with to make their espresso hut stand out from the rest. Spokane also gets the award so far for the place with the nicest people I’ve ever met. Everywhere we went people wanted to know what our plans were for the day, or what they could help us with, and they genuinely seemed to care what we were up to for the day. Maybe they are smoking the recreational marijuana, I don’t know, but everyone was in a really good mood in Spokane and it made it a great place to plug in and resupply our rig for a few days. It was also super convenient to have a State Park so close to town. The park itself had something for everyone, you could kayak the river, hike through the forest, or enjoy a scenic bike ride along the bluffs of the river. To escape the sweltering heat (it was in the 90’s during our visit) we spent our last few days camping right on the shore of Lake Spokane. The campsites were really close together, not our ideal, but you couldn’t beat walking 10 steps to the water to cool off or drop in your kayak. There was also a paved bike trail right from the campground.
From Spokane we headed west to explore Mount Rainier. We love camping in the National Forest areas whenever possible because they are usually pretty cheap and being in nature is what it’s all about for us. For our Mount Rainier segment we choose Little Naches Campground in the Wenatchee National Forest for our base. The town of Naches was a short thirty minute drive away and was full of fruit markets from the surrounding orchards. While we were driving back from the town to our campsite we came across a herd of Big Horn Sheep. They were kind enough to let us photograph them, they are a magnificent animal with their huge, curling horns. While we were at Little Naches we kayaked on Bumping Lake and rode our bikes along the scenic roadways and forest roads. The famous Pacific Crest Trail ran through forest as did many ATV trails and tons of campgrounds, many of them free, making this area a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.
As we drove up the mountain pass from Little Naches the views got more breath-taking as we climbed, eventually the commanding presence of Mount Rainier came into view. It towered above the rest of the peaks, covered in glaciers and surrounded by forest and meadows of wildflowers. We spent a day driving through the eastside of the park, stopping for pictures and amazing views. We made our way all the way to the upper northwest corner of the park for a very different experience. Here was a beautiful rainforest running alongside the Carbon River. The Carbon River road is perfect for bikers like us because it has been closed to vehicle traffic and is open now only for hikers and bikers. The rainforest was full of towering trees and rhododendrons so large they could swallow us. The smell of the rainforest is so unique to me, like a cross between a musty basement and the freshest air I’ve ever smelled, it really assults your senses. Hikers can take the 5 mile Carbon River Trail to a campground at the end of the trail where they can begin a journey on the Wonderland trail, a hiking trail that traverses Mount Rainier National Park and displays everything it has to offer, rainforest, mountains, rivers, and wildflower meadows. A beautiful place to marvel at nature!
Stay tuned for Washington- Part 2, Forks and the Olympic Peninsula!

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