Category: Places

Swimming at Mason Lake

“Summertime and the living’s easy and Bradley’s on the microphone with Ras m.g. All the people in the dance will agree that we’re well qualified to represent the LBC” Doin’ TimeSublime

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It’s no wonder that Mason Lake in Washington is FILLED with people utilizing it’s vast body of fun and swimming potential. When I was first invited to go by my cousin Chris, I was a bit hesitant. I wondered what would be in the lake and how the water was. So far, my experience in bodies of water (other than the ocean) have me searching for snakes and jellyfish like crazy. In NC our rivers and lakes have snakes, jellyfish and even alligators (depending on where you are). Well, even though I was skeptical I couldn’t pass it up. For whatever reason, being in Washington definitely has brought me out of my shell a bit and I appreciated the invitation.

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I drove to Olympia to Chris and Brooke’s house. We loaded up the truck and his cool little motor boat (that goes pretty fast for a 70’s model) and hit the road for a 30/40 minute trip to Mason Lake. Apparently it’s pretty popular from what I was told and it REALLY was. There were boats EVERYWHERE. People were swimming like crazy. I was kind of blown away by how many people were utilizing this lake. I’ve never seen so many people in a body of water at one time like this. Well, I found out that there are no jellyfish or snakes in these lakes! They’re freshwater and don’t have those creepy little things floating in them. So why wouldn’t you be in it having the best time of your life? It’s also QUITE warm, unlike Wynoochee Dam.

This lake trip wasn’t just about swimming. It was also about TUBING!

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No, that’s not me. It’s Brooke. LOL I fell off pretty quickly. It was a little hard to keep myself on the tube. But it was fun while it lasted!! Hahaha I did get in the water and swam for a while and then got back in and chilled out. We had such a blast!

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We ate an awesome lunch of sandwiches and swam some more, but as all good things do come to an end we headed back to the dock. On the way I noticed a FINE home that looked pretty sweet!

imageA lot of the houses are nice like this but for whatever reason this one stood out to me the most. It looks like everything you would think a lake house would look like. I also noticed that all the homes in Washington are not brick. Apparently it’s kind of expensive to have a brick home and it’s not as easily accessible as it is on the east coast. But this home would have done just fine for me 😉

It was incredibly nice of Chris and Brooke to invite me on their adventure. I had a wonderful time with them as well as Chris’s son Jordan. Chris really went out of his way to make sure I was having a good time and I did just that. I’ve gotta find something equally as cool for them to do when they come out to visit! But what?

 

The 4th in Aberdeen

“She couldn’t help thinkin’ that there was a little more to life somewhere else. After all it was a great big world with lots of places to run to and if she had to die tryin’ she had one little promise she was gonna keep.” American GirlTom Petty and the Heartbreakers

During the 4th of July, most all of America is up and running. People are gathering with their families to roast hot dogs, hamburgers, eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and basically enjoy all things American. In Belhaven, where I’m from, they PARTICULARLY LOVE and celebrate the 4th with major festivities. They start off the day before with a Miss Independence Padgent then move into a “Street Dance” that lasts until very late. People dance the night away and have a great time. Then the next day there’s quite a large parade with festivities around every corner and booths to buy lots of cool junk. Up the road from this, there is a famous “Mud Run” where trucks are forced into the mud with their tires-a-spinning and the redneck in every one of us flying. You could say Belhaven is pretty hoppin’. But there’s one thing that can make all of this not worth the effort and that’s THE HEAT! One of the sayings go, “It’s hotter than the Belhaven 4th of July’s in here!” That’s when you know it’s hot! LOL So…this year I took great satisfaction in enjoying our day of independence in the nice 78 degree weather that was Aberdeen WA. :p

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Everyone gathered together: Me, mom, dad, sister, nieces, cousins, cousin’s girlfriends and children. We feasted on some wonderful dishes: watermelon, cheese/summer sausage and crackers, pasta salads of all kinds, crab salad, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, cookies, WA cherries and other fruits. We played “Washers” (which is something like cornhole I suppose) and were just all around merry. Check these guys out. Dad (on the left) is attempting to explain something in the best of ways. Tommy (my cousin on the right) of course looks confused, but I assure you he’s not. Though he may be deciphering the white man’s speak.

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It was really great because I got to hang out with my cousin Chris. This summer’s trip was the first time I’ve seen him since I was 13 years old. I have great memories of those times. I met him and a lot of other relatives at a family reunion in Cowden Illinois (look for that post to come). He was 18 then and now we’re both in our 30’s. My how time flies!

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We really were having a great time. It was the first time in many years that I’ve really enjoyed myself. There was no heat really and it seemed like the most simplest, easiest action to just put food out and hang with the family!

Now, let me say that Belhaven puts on a nice little firework show at 9 p.m. It’s nice. BUT, in North Carolina, only cities can administer big fireworks. They’re illegal for residents to just shoot them off (or at least some are). In WA State…THEY’RE LEGAL! This town and every other town is lit up with explosions. Here, there, EVERYWHERE they shoot them off. Fireworks had been blasting off for days before the 4th actually came around. So naturally, Chris being the dude he is went and bought a lot of fireworks so we could have our own firework show!

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Everyone was ready to kick it off! Even the kid.

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It was so funny because he set all the chairs up in a row to watch the fire show commence. Hey look! It’s Kenny again! LOL

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These fireworks weren’t just some run-of-the-mill fireworks. These were the BIG ones!

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It was so exciting even I decided to try my hand at it. I lit several off. I have to tell you I was a little nervous to start with but after that it was all in good fun! After the show commenced we were all lit up; on the inside as well as outside. I know I definitely was. Yes, that IS a sweater. The nights are cold in Aberdeen.

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Our 4th of July celebration was a hit and I’d LOVE to do it every year. I do love America. God bless our soldiers and all of those who fought for us to be free! We know it comes at a price. We love you and will always support you.

Wynoochee Dam

“Well, way down yonder on the Chattahoochee it gets hotter than a hoochie coochie.” Chattahoochee – Alan Jackson

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That song was all I could think of when the family told me we would be going to the “Wynoochee Dam” to swim and picnic!

The dam is made up of glacier water that has come off of the mountain and rested in somewhat of a lake. People swim and boat in it and that seems okay but you can imagine  my concern; for what else would I be worried about than how COLD that water would be?! YES! It was definitely cold. Tolerable but cold. It is definitely not like rivers or lakes in NC but it’s to be understood because of it being glacier water!

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Swimming was fun and I have to say I’ve been swimming more this summer than I have in the past two summers combined!

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It’s really cool because there are picnic tables set up at different locations for people to eat, hang out and grill if need be. I kind of thought it was odd that you could grill out in that heavily wooded area. This summer has been considerably dry and everyone in our party was a bit worried about sparking up the grill. That worry left when the stomachs began to growl.

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It was absolutely beautiful…looking around at all the trees and even the dried up light brown grass. LOL

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The trees are definitely beautiful in Washington; like no other. And THIS guy seems to be in ALL the shots! (Kenny)

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So we’re swimming in the dam and all of a sudden Kenny says, “Hey look! It’s Smokey!”. We all thought he was teasing but he wasn’t! It really was SMOKEY THE BEAR! He was walking around the beach and greeting everyone.

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I was lucky enough to meet him and get his picture. I can’t believe I’ve met Smokey The Bear 😉

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Basically I really enjoyed the Wynoochee Dam.

Mt. Rainier

“Comin’ down the mountain. One of many children. Everybody has their own opinion…” Mountain SongJane’s Addiction

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Like most fantastic sites to see, Mt. Rainier is coming in hot on the “fantastic sites” meter. Boy what a huge volcanic mountain! I tell you, along with Mount St. Helens this place is just as enormous and wonderous! One thing I noticed after we left, was how mysterious Mt. Rainier is! It’s this huge, gigantic mountain that seems like it has its own personality.

While we’ve been here it feels like I’ve been “chasing” this mountain for weeks now. You can see the mountain from hours away because of how large it is. We can see it here in Aberdeen, which is about 3 hours away. You can definitely see it from Seattle, 2 hours away and so it seems as though in specific spots you can see the peak or part of this amazing wonder. However, at times it has been hidden by fog, clouds or darkness; the one time I got to see it before we actually went to it was on the Bremerton ferry to Seattle (check out Seattle Part 1 to see what I’m talking about). This elusiveness kind of gives it an interesting trait. It’s like it’s playing a game with you and knows you want to see it but won’t come out until it feels sorry for you and only then will it let you glimpse at it. But on the flip side, it seems to be quite visible from every direction – thus giving it it’s elusiveness. It only took a couple of hours to arrive at Mt. Rainier and so, like most of the attractions, there are many pull-offs you can stop at to get out and take pictures. On route you can see that everything is quite rustic: the cabins, houses, food places etc. It’s not only rustic but it’s VERY green! Along the way you can see moss growing on all the trees inside of the forest area. And no, this is not spanish moss.

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Whenever I end up in a spot so beautiful that I have to make an image, I say to myself, “Gosh I want everyone to see this.” And so it goes that I have to show you this beautiful image with the light busting through and hanging over the trees and spilling onto the little walkway.

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That was our first stop coming into Mt. Rainier. Our next stop was directly in the national park. You do have to pay to go through it:

  • Vehicles: $20
    Motorcycles/ Walk-In/Bicycles: $10
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There are four entrances to Mt. Rainier, we went in through the “Paradise” side. It’s not as beautiful as the “Sunrise” side but it was still beautiful…as you can see 🙂

We kept on going until we reached a place where we could have a nice picnic. We had quite the caravan with us; 10 people. But we found a place – a NICE place!

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Here are some of the picnic crew.

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What you DON’T see is that FANTASTIC “Yeti” cooler to the left-hand side of the image. That cooler is the end all, be all to coolers! I highly recommend it. My friend Kelly and her husband Heath have one and swear by it. We do as well. It has kept our food cool for at least 4 days like it was the first day! We haven’t gone longer than 4 days but we will find out when we go camping at the Clearwater if it can keep the cool longer.

You would have thought I was the paparazzi the way I was snapping pictures (and I’m sure you can tell from the images above). It’s the same mountain just different angles. LOL, it was so magnificent I just want no one to miss anything!

Info on the Mountain:

*In Mt. Rainier, 97% of the park is wilderness and is protected from development. It became an official national park in 1899. It’s an active volcano and has repeated eruptions! When it erupts again they say it could be devastating. Geologists also say that Lahars will be the devastation that comes from the eruption (a slew of material looking like wet concrete).

Engineers designed the roads specifically for view and not by how easy it would be. Even though these roads are nice to drive on, it’s because of the winter snow and ice that much of the park is inaccessible. They say that sometimes you can hear the glaciers pop and crack as they move as well as avalanches! Another thing that I thought was pretty neat was that the mountain creates its own weather system. I think that’s clever. I never knew that.*

We finally arrived at the visitors center at “Paradise Inn”.

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This is the final stop to see her in all her glory.

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These signs are plastered all over the picnic tables throughout the entire drive up:

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These are obvious warnings but if you’re unfamiliar, wildlife inhabit this entire national park and so when you picnic, you are not picnicking alone. 😉 Somewhere there is a bear smelling your food like Yogi and wanting to get your “Pic-a-nic Basket!” Just make sure he doesn’t have a sidekick named “Boo Boo” or you may have bigger problems than wildlife.

When you leave the visitors center, just a little ways down there is an area named, “Packwood” where there sits a BEAUTIFUL little waterfall and a nice tall view.

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I thought it was kind of neat how the wind had blown in just one direction that the branches permanently face this way.

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And of course, there is the tallness of everything that really puts you in your place.

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