5/27/2010: Vacation Day 2 (Portland, OR to Seattle, WA: Pine State Biscuits, Mount St. Helens, & Mt. Rainier)
Left to my own structured (read: boring) devices on vacation, I would probably eat at whatever restaurant was next door to the hotel for most of my meals. In this case, that would have been IHOP. I suggest this to Doug so we can get an earlier, easier start to the day. His mouth said, "Let me see if I can find something else while you're in the shower." His body language said, "Come on, Rachel, we are not about to eat at IHOP on vacation. Have better taste than that!" He ended up proving, yet again, that he knows his food! Actually, he proved that he has great iPhone skills and that Guy Fieri knows his food because we ended up at a funky TINY place called Pine State Biscuits that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (video of segment). Although the seating situation in the restaurant was a little daunting for newbies (room for MAYBE 16, some along a very thin bar against a wall), the taste and experience were great. I had The Reggie featured on their menu and Doug had just Biscuits & Gravy I think. Hands down, best biscuit I've ever had and I'm from the near-South!
After we had our morning fill of the native, dirty-looking...oh, sorry..."alternative/grunge" Portlanders, we headed out on I-5 to to our first of three mountains on this vacation: Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. I just wanted to just stop off at the visitor center 5 miles off of I-5, get my corny refrigerator magnet, and quickly move on to the second mountain of the day. I mean, the Johnson Ridge Observatory camera setup at the visitor center clearly showed that we wouldn't even get a clear view of Mount St. Helens due to dense fog, so what's the point, right? I would have been happy with just this view of the volcano (click on all of these to see more detail. Once you get to Flickr you'll then have to click on "All sizes above the picture itself):
Plus, the drive would add 100 extra miles. Once again, Doug proves he's the one with better judgment. That 50 mile drive is ridiculously beautiful with tons of cute waterfalls along the way. One tree caught our eye on the drive, the Noble Fir. The branches are splayed out in such as way that when many trees are grow together and one is driving, they look out of focus. It's difficult for me to put in words what I mean. Nor can I find any pictures of this effect.
Once we drove past the sign that said "Entering Volcanic Hazard Area" (scary!), the contrast between living and decimated forest was eerie. The death of the forest, almost exactly 30 years, is still very palpable.
When we got to the Johnston Ridge Observatory and stepped out of the car, Doug said, "oh man, it's chilleeee up here." It was probably 40 degrees at the observatory compared with the 60 degrees we had experienced just an hour earlier. I looked over and notice he's wearing SHORTS and a short-sleeved shirt. Silly boy. "Did someone forget that it gets cold on mountains?" I just got the shifty, sad boy look back at that one. After Doug changed clothes, we headed into the visitor center. We spent about 10 minutes in there. Eh, whatever. We then took a small loop trail that lead up a little higher in elevation. Here are some of the views from the trail (including the picture above):
And finally me in front of the beautiful volcano:
Well, sometimes ya get what ya get.