So today was my father's last day in Seattle, and seeing as most of the move in type things were done, he wanted to go explore some of the area around Seattle. He suggested hiking, but I pointed out that the only shoes I had that were moderately appropriate were my Converse Chuck Taylors. So instead, we set our sights on the Crystal Mountain Resort gondola ride, which would zoom us up to the top of the mountain so we could spy upon Mt. Rainier up close.
To get there from Seattle, it's about a 2 hour drive southeast. I was expecting picturesque trees and mountains, which we got eventually. But we passed through a section which reminded me of backwoods South Carolina - trailer parks, fireworks shanties, and we even went by a revival being held at a Christian church. If you had told me we had just crossed the NC-SC border I wouldn't have looked at you twice. One of the fireworks shanties (not even as classy as South Carolina's fireworks warehouses - at least those look permanent and aren't made of plywood) was named "Lost Appendages". Because I totally want to go buy fireworks at a place with that name.
Anyways, back to the point of the trip. We made it to Crystal Mountain and rode the gondola up. Pretty sweet, especially because this marked the highest elevation I've ever been in my life. The view at the top was pretty spectacular, although unfortunately low clouds covered a lot of Mt. Rainier. But it was fine - I don't think this will be the first time weather messes something up for me out here.
So we looked around, ate a brownie at the mountaintop lodge, and decided to walk down via one of the paths/logging trails. Please note that I am still in my Chucks. Please also note that, even though it is the end of June, there is still quite a bit of disgusting old snow on parts of this trail. So, yes, I hiked down a steep snow-covered incline in a t-shirt, shorts, and Chucks. The Northwest is not prepared for my level of badassery.
(I had a picture of the slope, but it just doesn't do it justice. Use your imaginations, and trust that it was remarkable.)
But, despite being completely unprepared for the surroundings, we made it safely down the trail and declared the day a good one. I'm sure this won't be the only hiking/nature-ing I do out here, but I think it was a great intro - no more Appalachian foothills for me!