Sun, sand and glaciers

COVID-19 notwithstanding, we decided that a couple of days of us not working on the house, not working in the garden and perhaps not being in Olympia was a good idea. We’d debated going camping, but left it too late to book a site that was sufficiently socially distant for our tastes (our tastes essentially being that no-one else is within about a 10 mile radius of us).

When I’ve been at work the social distancing is mainly for their safety, since Kathryn’s not at work right now her contact with peeps is pretty minimal. But since I’ve been not-at-work for a couple of weeks, this was mainly for our and my patient’s safety – because I don’t want to ferry plague back from other people to my, potentially sick-but-not-necessarily-with-COVID, patients.

So, instead we packed up our car with a coolbox containing lunch, took our coffee and tea in insulated cups and headed firstly out to the coast – and then on our second day of holiday – to Mount Ranier.

Our very first attempt was Westhaven State Park which is a beach over by Westport. Being a bit of a mizzly day it wasn’t too busy until you got down to the bit of the beach which was where the surfers like to hang out. Even there we were able to maintain distance, but it was a bit busier than we liked. So we poked at the map and found Griffiths-Priday State Park. Not far from the very popular town of Ocean Shores, which has reportedly been fairly much fully booked up with people who aren’t as concerned about COVID as we are.

We decided to give it a go, and what an excellent decision that was. It’s much closer to a wild beach with a large expanse of dunes and we meandered around barely seeing anyone that wasn’t a bird. The mist rolled in and out, the waves running up on the sandy beach. It was wonderfully peaceful and a lovely wild space to be away from other people for a bit.

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Sitting there and listening to the sea, watching the birds, hearing the wind in the grass; it just reminds you how beautiful the world is. And letting the water roll over your feet, feeling the sand slipping out from beneath you and back into the water is just such a centring experience.

Dinner was fish and chips (no malt vinegar though; I clearly need to get a bottle to carry for such events) from a restaurant that handily was doing drive-through ordering then kerbside pickup.

Yesterday we decided to head to the mountains. By sheer coincidence it happened to be one of the National Park’s free days – so we loaded up again and headed to Mount Ranier. One primary discovery from yesterday; we’re both hideously unfit. While working on the house has, I’m fairly certain, improved both of us’s upper body strength, our general stamina for ‘walking up a big hill’ has not improved.

But, it being a popular national park you can cheat and drive a big chunk of the way up ;)

We’d actually selected what was supposed to be a lightly trafficed route, but the sunshine and the free day and the fact no-one can go anywhere thanks to COVID mean that it wasn’t that quiet (although, it may be that it’s quieter than other routes…?). It also turned out that the combination of ‘moderate’ difficulty combined with almost no shade at all was… not ideal on such a hot day.

So we abandoned the plan and instead went on the Moraine Trail, which it turned out was an excellent plan because there was almost no-one on the short out-and-back trail which takes you to the foot of the terrifyingly disappearing Nisqually Glacier. It’s stunningly beautiful up there, and the mountain kindly let us get a really good view before mist and clouds suddenly descended covering the peak.

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It’s funny, because it’s one of those highly deceptive trails which – being unmaintained and over in a valley, makes it feel like you’ve hiked out to the absolute middle of no-where, when in fact you’re just a half hour walk from one of the tarmac’d paths in the Paradise area of the park that’s incredibly heavily trafficed.

We meandered up the trail and gazed up a the much diminished but still amazing glacier, then down the hill to attempt to find a spot for our snack. Which… ended up with me shrieking, leaping up and dropping my snack (which we then picked up and packed out, because we’re not arseholes); thanks to an ant deciding to take a bite of my arm.

Thankfully it turned out not to be a truly vicious ant, nor a swarm or herd or whatever it is of ants. But Kathryn swiped off the other one after I’d managed to remove the one from my foot and the one that was attempting to go up my leg. After that we decided to maybe continue our walk…

…and after climbing back up to the main path we headed across to the Stevens Canyon Road for a brief peek, before heading down the mountain, stopping for a brief look at Narada falls (which incredibly wasn’t too busy). Then down the mountain for takeaway dinner (which we tookaway to the carpark outside the restaurant). Turns out there’s a Nepalese food restaurant (and also a Ukranian one, actually) not far from the park entrance, so we tried that… which was okay. Not amazing, but not bad for tourist trap munchies.

And then home.

And now we’re back to regularly scheduled house stuff :)

Author: KateE

Kate is lord and mistress of all she surveys at pyoor.org...