Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Washington - Seattle, Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Ephrata

(Mount Rainier National Park)
(Mount Rainier)

(The Columbia River)
(Ephrata, Washington)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I was surprised upon entering Washington, as the land was a hot, barren, flat stretch of land with dust devils and not much to offer scenery-wise as I was heading west through probably the first third of the state. I bypassed Spokane and rolled straight into the increasingly interesting vistas of the Columbia river, then over the looming Cascades as I approached Seattle to meet my cousin. I would spend the next week in Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Seattle, and the surrounding areas.

My cousin gave me an anti-tourist tour of the city, which was exactly the experience I had hoped for. Not much of the city was left unexplored, and I soaked up parts of the city I never would have thought to consider. Good food, diversity, and the general progressive attitude of Seattle led me to form an excellent opinion of the city by the end of the day.

The following day we hiked several miles up near Mount Rainier, on a trail that brought us through the forest, over rock and boulder fields that extended as far up and down the mountain as you could see (with concrete-colored water flowing in a white rush through some areas), and ultimately to a minor waterfall further up the mountain. Where the small river flows in a rapid after the fall, it snakes a bit around an outcropping of rock where you can stand and overlook the rush of water as it comes straight at you, then turns sharply twenty feet below. You can feel the drastic temperature change as you enjoy the cold mountain water mist--bliss on a hot day like that one.

I spent a good portion of the following days enjoying the company of transplanted-from-the-east family and the ubiquitous cafes that seem to make up all of Washington. I had found a productive atmosphere in which to work for the first time since Utah, but after a few days of Washington--as well as a day-trip to Portland, Oregon--I was beginning to feel the urge to move on and continue. I hadn't exactly planned the west coast leg of my trip as much as I had liked, and therefore this promised to be the most spur-of-the-moment portion of my journey.