I had a wonderful birthday celebration on Mt Rainier. When I returned home Saturday afternoon, there were birthday cards awaiting me in the mail box. One of them, one of those special Nature's Sketchbook cards from Hallmark, had this message: Our lives are like gardens, never blooming the same way twice. Four years ago I celebrated my birthday in the same place, and took many photos from the same locations. The header photo and this one above are same place, same date, same time in the morning, four years apart. Mother Nature, like any strong woman, determines her own schedule. Even though we've had warm, dry weather for several months now, the record high snow pack from this winter means there is still snow on the flanks of the mountain, and many of the alpine meadows are just emerging, with their first flush of delicate snow-chasing flowers. These two photos, above and below, are the same place fours years apart...
...and so are these two. But while I was at first a bit disappointed, that didn't last, as we had beautiful blue skies, good company, and Tom had never been there to see those delicate first flowers.
But more about those later. It's time to begin at the beginning.
We had arranged to meet my sister Laurie and her husband Arnold at 10:00 at Longmire Lodge, near the southwest entrance to Mt Rainier National Park.
It was a great place to sit and have a cup of coffee on the lodge porch....
...and enjoy this view.
On the road again, we stopped next at Narada Falls, on the Paradise River.
The road to Paradise announces you are going someplace special, as it is lined with wild flowers and big old fir trees. I'll do a posting of roadside flowers later. Peak-a-boo views of The Mountain surprise you around the bend as you work your way up.
Our destination was Paradise Lodge, where we would be staying for the night. Good thing, too, because it meant we had a parking place reserved, and the day lot was filling up fast.
Paradise Inn was first opened in 1913, and while it has undergone various renovations, it stays true to it's historical roots.
Inside we visited with Dale Thompson, a painter we had met before, and whose works we own several of. As we admired his bird paintings we also studied the painted light shades hanging from the old beams. He informed us that he had painted them in 1980, in a previous restoration. He was required to use the same materials as the old originals and copy them as they had been.
From Paradise Inn we walked over to the newly completed day lodge to check it out. It replaces a previous building now demolished to make way for additional parking. The design is much more in keeping with the old buildings than the modernistic previous lodge.