There are so many fun things to do in Washington! We had a fun whirlwind first week and were so excited to get started on another adventure. I have always been intrigued by volcanos and earthquakes. I actually took a class in college called "Earthquakes and Volcanos." So naturally, we decided to go to Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier. We woke up super early and got on the road by 5:45. It took us about three hours to get there. The boys, FULL of energy, were rarin' to go!
Our first stop was the Mt. St. Helens Visitors Center. TJ and I were worried that the kids would be bored with all of the exhibits and following us around while we read all about the Mountain. They loved it though! There was a movie and interactive exhibits-they really enjoyed them all. Because Mt. St. Helen's isn't a National Park, there were a bunch of different lodges and visitors centers all run by different organizations. All required separate payments. This was the only downfall to our trip to Mt. St. Helens. We drove to the Johnston Ridge Observatory first-which was the closest one to the Volcano. There were some spectacular views! We couldn't resist pulling over to just about every scenic view area on the way there...
While at the Observatory, we saw another movie, the boys got to jump up and down on an exhibit that showed their jumps on a richter scale. They LOVED that one ;) We took a small walk to see even better views and met some nice people on the way that were willing to take pictures of our little family.
These pictures don't even come close to showing the grandeur of this mountain and the devastation-still you can see it 32 years later. P.S. funny side note...The Mountain blew just 5 days before I was born and my parents were watching a special about it and other natural disasters when my mom went into labor. Sooo... naturally I was their own little natural disaster!
We also visited another lodge that was geared more toward kids and is owned by Weyerhauser, a logging company and also the parent company to several builders that TJ works with funny enough. We had a great time discovering all of the fun things there.
That night we headed back to Olympia, had a nice dinner at the Olive Garden and the boys hit the pool. We woke up early again to get a start on Rainier. We had a nice breakfast at our hotel and then took off! It was crazy trying to get there- there are no straight shot roads in Washington. You have to drive on several different highways, go on a bunch of windy, curvy roads and drive through a bunch of towns so you're constantly changing speeds. It didn't help much with my propensity toward carsickness! Mt. Rainier was pretty spectacular. It's almost twice as tall as Helens (post eruption) and it's considered the most dangerous. You can see it for miles around and when we got up close, we were blown away!
We first visited a place called Longmire-named after an explorer who drew a lot of attention to Rainier. It was a small little lodge with some cool features. There was a cute little hike through an old forest and around a bunch of hot springs (just like Yellowstone). This hike was so much fun, we just acted like goofs and laughed the whole way around.
We found this old, old dead tree stump with several smaller trees growing out of it. The boys couldn't believe it, hence the photo ;)
Cute pictures of the boys in front of the tree with eyes ;)
Cam next to his brother tree- both have bends in weird places. Click on it to see Cam's bent pinky finger!
Eli is rarely up for a picture, and this was no difference. He would rather try to grab my lense than sit and look cute! Can you imagine that?! I do think this picture turned out pretty cute though.
We found this cool section of an old tree at the Longmire Lodge. This was fascinating to me- it was cut 50 years ago, but it started growing in 1293!!! The red arrow I added is when the Declaration was signed- and that's near the edge of the tree. Crazy!!
The boys posing in front of an old Rainier Shuttle.
After Longmire, we took a shuttle up to Paradise Lodge. It was spectacular. We were right where the snow and ice were melting. The kids even got to play in the snow. We had lunch up at Paradise, explored the different lodges, watched another video ;) and took some fun pictures!
It was SO bright up on the snow! I love all of our squinchy eyes ;)
We had a great time exploring this amazing place. TJ and I were both pretty stoked to be able to see both Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens. We're nerdy and completely fascinated by the whole volcano-y, geology, earthquake-y type stuff ;) so we absolutely love this trip. I was blown away by Mt. Rainier's height and the glaciers and the big question mark of when will it blow. I was amazed at the power of Mt. St. Helens, humbled by the devastation it's eruption left behind and awed by the images and footage of the eruption. We had such a great weekend, we're so glad we were able to go!