Visiting family in the Pacific Northwest, the Highland games, and Mt. Rainier

As I write this, we are in a small town just south of Mt. Rainier National Park.  We just spent the last few days riding away from the Seattle area and around Mt. Rainier.  Luckily, yesterday was a stunningly clear day and we were able to see the mountain in all its glory.  Pictures included, but after I talk about visiting family! This is kind of a long post, so bear with me!

Electronics central!

Electronics central!

We spent a wonderful rest day in Port Townsend with my (Daisy) cousin, Mimi.  I hadn’t seen her in a decade (gasp!), and it was a blast to visit with her and her two sons.  We had a true rest day here – watching movies, playing with her adorable almost-two-year-old, and eating pizza.  Best of all, we had a blast getting to know her older son Anchor.  He has excellent taste in books so we happily took his recommendations for future reading material.  One thing is for certain, we won’t wait another decade to visit!

Lachlan was so much fun to play with.  He convinced Jason to read him a story.

Lachlan was so much fun to play with. He convinced Jason to read him a story.

Family photo!  We were lucky the sun came out.

Family photo! We were lucky the sun came out.

The plus side of rainy riding here: Blackberries!

The plus side of rainy riding here: Blackberries!

From Port Townsend we spent a day riding south to Seattle.  The weather had been beautiful for the last two weeks in this area, but of course a drenching storm rolled over us.  Oh well, a typical Seattle welcome.  We took the ferry from the Olympic Peninsula straight into downtown Seattle, and it was so beautiful, even in the rain and wind.

We were quite overwhelmed when we rolled into the heart of a giant city.  We had to resort to pushing up the steep hills when traffic was too bad to be on the roads at our glacial pace.  Many folks stared, but only the crazy ones said anything!  It didn’t take too long before we were out of the bustling center and into the neighborhoods where our host lives.  An incoming Penn State Statistics grad was kind enough to host us and tell us about his bicycle trips this summer.  It was great to see him!  We felt guilty about not taking the time to visit with our many many friends in Seattle, but we were so overwhelmed.  Please accept our apologies Seattle folks!

Seattle skyline from the ferry.  What a fantastic experience.

Seattle skyline from the ferry. What a fantastic experience.

In the Smith Tower.

In the Smith Tower.

The next day my mom drove down from Bellingham to spend the day with us.  We had a blast at the flagship REI store (which is insanely large), and taking a tour of the Seattle underground.  Seattle has a really fun, gritty history complete with ‘ladies of the night’ that controlled most of the city’s government for a few decades, a police chief that also was head of the rumrunner’s in the area during prohibition, and an entire downtown that was slowly sinking into the tidelands.  The city rebuilt on top of itself, leaving an entire abandoned first story underneath modern street level.  It was really fun to go on the tour!

Seattle underground. This used to be

Seattle underground. This used to be the sidewalk!

Jason's family - so fun to see them!

Jason’s family – so fun to see them! The life vests were part of their 30th wedding anniversary celebration.

That night we rode a short but difficult 16 miles to visit Jason’s extended family in Redmond.  They were so kind, welcoming us to their 30th anniversary party and getting everyone out on the street to cheer us as we rolled in.  At that point, we were happy to find food waiting for us!  Daisy snuck off to visit with a dear friend from college.  We spent two hours reminiscing about our days as super math nerds, and catching up on the days since.

Daisy with her math friend Christine.  Those college days were some of the best ever!

Daisy with her math friend Christine. Those college days were some of the best ever!

We spent a leisurely morning at Jason’s family’s home, and then finally starting riding South again.  Finally!  Then… we got lost on the bicycle path.  Ha, serves us right for being so excited about getting out of Seattle.  We eventually made it to Enumclaw, where we saw a sign that indicated fairground camping.  Curious, we ventured over.

IMG_1121It was a giant gathering for the highland games!  We slowly rolled through the full camp, hoping to find a friendly face to share with.  We found it alright – a fellow and his adorable dog were camped in an REI tent with a bicycle nearby.  Perfect.  We set up, and ventured through the fairgrounds to listen to bagpipes and see the sights.  Another unexpectedly wonderful night of free camping!

The next morning we tried to roll out early to climb into Mt. Rainier national park, but were a little slow.  Eventually we did get on the road into the forest, only to find that construction had recently laid a large amount of gravel on the road.  As cars passed they transformed the gravel into projectiles.  Luckily, a cyclist in a car stopped and insisted that we get a ride through the construction.  Even as we loaded up the bicycles, we got hit by those damn gravel pieces.

Nasty gravel!

Nasty gravel!

She dropped us off quite a few miles up the road, and just past the end of the nasty gravel.  From there, it was all up up up to Chinook Pass.  The climbing was pretty easy, and the cars were very polite despite it being a sunny Saturday.  Our route took us to the south before the road’s highpoint, but we decided to finish the climb and go to the top before returning back to our turn.  Good thing we did, because the pass was stunning!

It was still early when we got to our chosen destination – Ohanapecosh campground in the national park.  Of course, it was full, but we found a little spot that no one else was using and the rangers seemed to approve.  Somehow, we got another unexpectedly free night camping!  Daisy worked on her dissertation until her laptop ran out of batteries, and we were asleep early.

Almost to the top!

Almost to the top!

Mt. Rainier!

Mt. Rainier!

Next stop, Portland area to pick up Jason’s cousin for our next leg heading south in earnest.  Yippee!


6 thoughts on “Visiting family in the Pacific Northwest, the Highland games, and Mt. Rainier

  1. Kendra Smith Cousin

    Hello Jason and Daisy … so glad to be getting your posts along the way … I am amazed at how you do all you do … but I am old now and thats why I can’t do it like that, I guess, haha … I do like to ride my bike … we ride to the corner, the girls here and I … and its a mile each way … good for me, as I am diabetic and need lots of water and exercise … I am loving all the pictures you send … plz keep sending them … I am a camera nut … at least thats what my 3 kids call me … my dad was like that, also … always a camera in his and my hand … my dad is Ken Bronson, and he used to love to play golf with your grandfather, Raymond … they had a great time together on the golf course, when we would visit you all in the summer there … (this was before your time tho …ha… it was when your mom, Debbie and I were great cousin/friends …) Loved my summer trips to York … oh well, enough of reminiscing … I could go on and on … but I know you all are on a schedule … be safe Jason and Daisy and keep the updates coming … Love them … and I send them on to our youngest son, Sean … he loved biking when he was a kid … and he enjoys reading about you two … God’s blessings to you, thanks again … Cousin Kendra Smith in Indiana :)

  2. Karen Jones

    Daisy and Jason,
    Hello from Kim, Mark, Karen, Erik and Mary 0! We met you outside of Seattle as you were headed for Enumclaw and we’ve all been thinking about you ever since. It’s great to see the progress you’ve made and grand adventure you are having. Some of us are riding up to Vancouver BC this weekend and while that seems a big deal to us old folk, you are our inspiration! Sending best wishes from your (new) friends and fans from the road,

    The NW gang

    1. Daisy Post author

      We remember you folks! Great to hear you found the blog, and that you are taking a trip of your own! I hope the weather is pleasant for you, and that you have a great time. It is near 100 every day now, and we are somehow getting used to it. Happy riding!

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