Mt. Ranier National Park

It's hard for me to put into words how much I loved Mt. Rainier National Park. The mountain itself is a gorgeous behemoth that looms over neighboring towns and is visible as far as the Seattle harbor. The first glimpse I got of her was from the McDonalds parking lot where we stopped for breakfast. It had been cloudy when we drove into town Friday evening so I couldn't see the mountain, but that morning there she was: 14,000 feet high and standing thousands and thousands of feet above the connecting range. I ended up learning that day that Mt. Rainier is one of the top most prominent peaks in the world, and seeing it you can see why.

Our AirBnB was in Graham, WA so we drove about 45 minutes to the Paradise entrance to the park with our sights set on the Paradise visitor's center and a 5-mile moderately rated hike to see the wild flowers and get an up-close view of Mt. Rainier's peak. 

Well, Mother Nature had a different plan. As we pulled up to the park and ascended into the mountains we realized we were completed encompassed in a cloud system that was dwelling on the face of the mountain. I had dreamt of pulling up to Paradise Visitor Center and getting the breathtaking view of the peak that I had seen in all of my online research. Alas, I could barely see 5 feet in front of my face. You can imagine my utter disappointment when the one agenda item I planned for myself was seemingly ruined by the clouds...

Fortunately, Devin kept optimistic and we decided to head into the center and chat with a Ranger. Turns out this system was pretty local to this side of the mountain and Sunrise Visitor's Center was almost clear with amazing weather and great views. So, we changed our plans and drove the rest of the park north to Sunrise. Along the way we were able to stop at some pretty neat sights and my dreams became more and more fulfilled as we drove further and further and had clearing skies.

About 10 minutes from the Sunrise entrance to the park we came around a bend and there she was, grand, rugged, terrifyingly beautiful, and right in front of us. We were at an elevation of about 6,000 ft. at that point and we were in the midst of a peak that was another 8,000 above us. I started crying, because that's what I do... and Devin pulled over because neither of us have ever seen something as beautiful as what we were looking at.

At the Visitor's Center we asked the Ranger for a comparable hike to the once we had planned on the other side of the mountain and she recommended a similar, yet harder trail for us to accomplish over the next few hours. We ended up hiking for about 3 hours over 5 miles and climbing to 8,000 ft. The entire trail was on a neighboring mountain to Mt. Rainier's peak and we had wonderful views the entire time. It was definitely a hard hike and one that shouldn't be taken lightly because one mis-step could send you toppling over the side of a mountain-face.

From the top though we were proud of what we had accomplished, in awe of the sights we were seeing, and already planning to summit Mt. Rainier one day. According to research it can be done over 2-3 days and there are many expedition companies that host group treks.

I've broken the photos down into two carasols so that you can see unobstructed views of the mountain in one, and then pictures that we ruined in the second {I'm just joking... kind of}. If you're visiting Seattle I cannot stress enough how much you should consider taking a day to visit Mt. Rainier National Park. We honestly could spend a week exploring different areas, trails, lakes, glaciers, etc... but this time we only had one day and made the very best of it. I sit at home and dream of returning to that glorious mountain, and she's at the top of my list of reasons for wanting to move out west.

Portland and Canon Beach, Oregon

Any of you that follow me on Instagram have already seen a sneak peak of these photos. I honestly took so many pictures because every corner I turned on my trip out West had simply the most beautiful sights I've seen. As a quick refresh, Devin and I traveled to Oregon and Washington{state} for an extra long Labor Day weekend. Because we did so much and saw so many things I've decided to break down each day into it's own blog post and then do a full itinerary recap at the end so you can all use them to copy and paste in your own trip planning. Today I'm going to combine Thursday and Friday morning because that will encompass all of our sights in Oregon. From there I'll have to do four separate posts for all of the Washington adventures so stay tuned and be sure to follow along!

Portland, OR

I may get some hate for this, but I wasn't all that impressed with Portland. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely a unique city, it just might be a little too bizarre and laissez-faire for me. It's definitely a very progressive town which I admire and respect, I just couldn't see myself spending any length of time there besides a weekend or short trip with friends.

We did however, eat some amazing food and drink some great cocktails! One place that CANNOT be missed is VooDoo donuts. I know it sounds cliché and it seems over-recommended, but there really is a reason everyone tells you to go: it's to die for. First off, the prices are amazing {I was expecting $5 donuts and was pleased to see they were only $2}. Second, the atmosphere is super unique and fun. And third, they're insanely delicious- like out of this world good! We only got a few and definitely regretted not just getting a half-dozen.

Aside from that we really just walked and site-seed. We were staying about 2 miles south on Hawthorne so we walked the whole strip up to the city, across the Hawthorne bridge, along the water, and ended in the Pearl district. It really was cool and I'm glad we visited! It was good to be out of my comfort zone and witness a completely different vibe than I'm used to in DC.

Canon Beach, OR:

After spending all of Thursday and Thursday night in Portland we had our sights set on greater Oregon. Per Devin's request we didn't really plan anything for Friday so that we could just leisurely drive up the coast from Oregon to our AirBnB near Seattle. Being the planner that I am I had tremendous anxiety, but fortunately we ended up having the best day and found some amazing sights!

As we drove out of Portland we headed straight toward the coast. Along our drive we noticed a town called Canon Beach on the map and decided it would be a great place to pull over. As we approached the town we were presented with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and coastal rocky mountains. My emotions kicked right in and I cried simply because of the sheer beauty of it all. Also, neither Devin nor I had ever seen nor touched the Pacific Ocean and we were both experiencing it for the first time. I ran full speed to dip my toes and was also pleasantly surprised at how refreshing the smell was {the Atlantic doesn't exactly smell good}. It was such an amazing moment and I was so glad to be experiencing it with my best friend.

The town itself was quite a delight with cute shops, restaurants, and houses. We jokingly decided that when we move to the West coast we would buy a vacation home there to enjoy our summers. From there we had our sights set on the boarder of Oregon and Washington to visit a brewery that Devin had researched.

Rogue Brewery

Our last stop in Oregon was to a brewery right on the border of the two states. You can see in my photos the giant bridge that connects the two, and Rogue Brewery sits right below on the Oregon side. I'm not a huge beer fan, but Devin is quite the connoisseur. I got a cider whereas he tried a couple flights to really taste the difference in the hops and brew tactics. The food was absolutely insane! I'm still dreaming of the pretzels and cheese curds we split to start. I realize that this border-town may not be on all of your lists, but I highly recommend trying to squeeze it in if you're planning a trip out West!