Day Ten – September 19, 2012

I am sitting in Mt. Rainier NP writing this edition. I ended up with a campsite in the Park next to a beautiful river. The Douglas Firs surrounding me are probably 100 feet tall minimum, and are probably 3 – 5 feet wide at the base. They are huge. The smell and sound of the forest is amazing, and there are campfires burning all around me. I am left out on the fire – there is no wood for sale.

On the way here I finally got to see the mountain. Last time I was here was about 17 years ago and it was socked in with fog.

Mt. Rainier National Park
Mt. Rainier National Park

Got up this morning and had a leisurely time getting ready to go. Got a shower, looked at the car a bit to see if anything was loose that could be causing a misfire in the engine. Nothing obvious so fingers are indeed crossed.

Finished getting everything packed up and headed put to find the mysterious “Fred Meyer” store. After driving around I did finally stumble across the place. A very interesting store – much like a Wally World only different – and it is actually a Kroger store, like King Soopers, Dillon’s, City Market, and others. Stocked up on a few groceries and went on my way.

The appropriately-named Explorer needed an oil change and tire pressure check so I also got that done before I left town.

When I left Ellensburg the air quality was horrible. There was a huge fire north of Ellensburg that I saw when leaving to head south to come here. I heard it was up around Roslyn, where they filmed the TV show “Northern Exposure” ( my all-time favorite show). It looked like the entire mountain was on fire. Between the fires here, in Idaho, and possibly Montana, I have seen smoke in the air (and little scenery because of it) since probably Billings, MT. if not earlier. It is really bad out West, and probably worse than Colorado. I drove past dried riverbeds, many forest roads are closed because of the fires and the danger. I got out of it in Canada, but when I got back into Idaho I have seen and smelled it ever since. I hope I am getting far enough west to be past it. Gonna run out of continent if I have to go much farther. The smoke is killing my eyes, and it makes me glad my asthma is very slight or I would need oxygen. Yes… it is that bad.

Wenatchee fire - near Ellensburg, WA
Wenatchee fire – near Ellensburg, WA

Heading south towards Yakima it was hot – in the 90s. With the humidity 75 was hot to me…I need to get acclimated soon! Starting up this very long pass the “Check Engine” light went out and it is running better. Yay!

The drive here was a nice drive through the forest – quite beautiful actually. I went a bit farther than I had intended, but wanted to get close to Mt. St. Helens so I can hopefully get there tomorrow.

I have taken a ton of pictures, but I need to figure out how to post them correctly. I put a few up but am not sure if I want to post them like that or if there is another way to post them. I will figure it out.

I sit here in the darkening campground and look at the silhouettes of these big trees. They look like the “happy little trees” in a Bob Ross painting – jet black bristle-strokes against the fading blue color of the sky.

I think of this place, of Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Yosemite… all of the majesty and grandeur of the original parks. You can see it in the construction of the bridges, the buildings… even the signs. In Theodore Roosevelt National Park they talked about his vision of nature and his determination to save it from humans. He designted many national lands for protection – I think they said over 150 areas. Pure genius that man and he made this world a better place with such foresight. Too bad there are those who continue to try to destroy it.

Another thing I thought about was the bi-lingual signs in Canada. To me, they kind of take away from the grandeur of a national park in a sense that they make it seem more like an amusement park. It is a shame to me that they do that really. Trying to please too many people. The road signs elsewhere are not bi-lingual, so why do it just in the park?

I also think back through all the years camping, all the places I have seen. There have been a ton – 40 years worth of camping. I also look around the campground and see all the tent campers. Many was the night I spent on the cold hard ground, tossing and turning, waking up aching all over struggling to get a fire started or get the stove going for something warm to eat or drink. Goddammit, I may be getting old… I miss that but the trailer sure as hell is nice and comfy. In Canada it was also nice and warm too. I don’t miss that part. I saw these girls camping in Banff in a tent trying to figure out the sleeping bags and I thought “you chicks are gonna freeze your balls off”.

I do still have my backpack, my backpack tent, my stove (which I just heated supper on), sleeping bag and pad. Still nothing like the thrill of backpacking for a day or two, relying solely on yourself.

As far as the tent camping, well… we shall see.

One thing when camping I just cannot comprehend, and that is sitting outside by the campfire with the damn lantern on. I wanted to sit out in the darkness and stare up at the sky but the next door neighbors had to sit by the fire with the lantern on. The fire is so mystical and magical to watch in the dark. It is almost a tribal, primitive high and that is the only way to get it. The lantern is light pollution for those around you – again, people do not think of others. Turn the goddamn thing off or go inside if you are afraid of the Boogeyman. You are in the wilds of nature where you are just another part of the foodchain. Recognize.

I finally got to see the sky somewhat through these big-ass trees. Very first thing I saw when I looked up between a space in the trees was a satellite moving SW. Then, not two seconds later, another one in the same place heading SE. I have seen many satellites in years past, but not two that close together.

Awesome.

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