Drive Through Central Idaho, May 2016

Drive Through Central Idaho, May 2016

While visiting a sick friend in Boise in May 2016, I had a free morning and decided to take a drive up into the mountains of central Idaho to visit the places of my childhood. It was a quick blast of nostalgia that was met with a rainstorm and then blizzard at the high altitudes...

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Columbia River Gorge, Sept 2016

Columbia River Gorge, Sept 2016

In September I took Tiana Kai around the Columbia River Gorge to see lots of spectacular sights, including the Portland Women's Forum State Scenic Viewpoint, the Vista House at Crown Point, Multnomah Falls, Latourell Falls, Wahkeena Falls, Horsetail Falls (and Upper Horsetail Falls), and Thunder Island at Cascade Locks. An excellent way to spend the day...

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Coyote Wall, Washington, April 2016

Coyote Wall, Washington, April 2016

Last April I went hiking with Meghan Sinnott and four-legged friends, Maddy and Journey, up Coyote Wall at the eastern end of the Columbia River Gorge in Washington. The outing offered a great chance to try out my newly purchased Velvet 56 lens from Portland's own Lens Baby; the lens can do some really fun "velvety" bokah tricks (particularly along the frame edges) and looks nice whether you're shooting landscapes, portraits, or macros...

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A Day at the Fair, Sept 2016

A Day at the Fair, Sept 2016

My friend, Rosemary Stafford, and I spent a seriously fun day at the Oregon State Fair in Salem, the capital city. There were many carnival rides, fried foods, happy fair-goers, musicians, artists, gorgeous show animals (like pigs, cows, rabbits, pheasants, horses), you name it. I wish it were going on every weekend! It brings up such happy nostalgia from my early boyhood on a Kansas farm.

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Rainier Day 2: Sunrise, Washington

Rainier Day 2: Sunrise, Washington

After our stop at Eunice Lake, we traveled onward to Sunrise, Washington, which is the highest spot in the park you can drive to. From its lodge, hiking trails spider off in all directions for easy hikes that all offer truly breathtaking views of Mount Rainier and its surrounding foothills. Cascade beauty! As we drove up to the site, a thick layer of clouds sat around the mountain, but as we started hiking the cloud cover quickly burned off.

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Rainier Day 2: Crystal Mountain Gondola to Summit House

Rainier Day 2: Crystal Mountain Gondola to Summit House

For lunch on the second day in the Mount Rainier National Park area, we rode the Crystal Mountain gondola to the Summit House restaurant. The views from atop the sky slopes were breathtaking, particularly Rainier itself. 

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Rainier Day 1: Sunset Drive to Crystal Mountain

Rainier Day 1: Sunset Drive to Crystal Mountain

We ended a packed day of fun in the Mount Rainier National Forest by driving through incredible scenery to our hotel, the Alpine Inn at Crystal Mountain. The room was pretty small, but I had my own bathroom, and hey, we closed the bar that night. One thing that is for certain: the location is spectacular. Plus, we were a short walk to a host of ski runs. I'd love to return in the wintertime. 

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Rainier Day 1: Hiking in Paradise

Rainier Day 1: Hiking in Paradise

Near the end of Day 1 in the Mount Rainier National Park, we stopped at the satisfyingly appropriately named Paradise, Washington, for some hiking and then a picnic dinner. The views were beyond description! And the weather for us was perfection, as the fog burned off Rainier just as we started on the trail. When you visit the park, Paradise is a must-see!

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Rainier Day 1: Narada Falls

Rainier Day 1: Narada Falls

Up the road from Longmire and the Trail of Shadows is spectacular Narada waterfalls on the Paradise River. There are two sections of the falls, with the larger just under 170 feet long. Impressive! You can pull right off the highway to see it. Additionally you can hike down a short trail to the Inspiration Point viewing area near the base for a better view; it's a little steep but well worth it. 

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Rainier Day 1: Trail of the Shadows Hike, Longmire

Rainier Day 1: Trail of the Shadows Hike, Longmire

After lunch we entered the Mount Rainier National Park and took the Trail of the Shadows hike across the road from the Longmire National Park Inn. It's a short hike, but with lots of quick changes of scenery to make it interesting to all ages. As you leave the inn, you get breathtaking views of Rainier and then you travel through swampy meadows and into the forest whose giant fir trees give the trail its name. There are also several springs along the trail, including the vibrantly colored and slightly poisonous Iron Mike spring, and even a restored homestead cabin from the 19th century.

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Rainier Day 1: Lunch at Wildberry Restaurant, Ashford

Rainier Day 1: Lunch at Wildberry Restaurant, Ashford

On our last stop before entering the Mount Rainier National Park, we pulled over for lunch outdoors at a lovely roadside cafe called Wildberry. It offers "authentic Sherpa-Himalayan Cuisine of Nepal" and has a big outdoor seating area. I most enjoyed the sunlit prayer flags fluttering in summer breeze. Our morning fog was finally burning off.

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Rainier Day 1: Ex-Nihilo sculpture park

Rainier Day 1: Ex-Nihilo sculpture park

Between Ashford and Elbe, Washington, there is an outdoor gallery for an artist named Dan Klennert who builds animals, people, machines, you name it, out of old iron parts or driftwood. Some of it is truly astonishing to see. He calls his park Ex-Nihilo, meaning "something from nothing." And exploring Ex-Nihilo was a real treat.

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Rainier Day 1: Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum

Rainier Day 1: Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum

Continuing my coverage of my July 2016 adventures for Travel Tacoma and Visit Rainier... On the first day of the Mount Rainier section of the "instafam" trip, we stopped in Mineral, Washington, at the Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum where we got a private tour and learned a ton about steam engines and logging practices. Pretty darn fascinating. And gave me new appreciation for how hard the work was.

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