USA2

Lakewood, Washington

I mentioned in a foreword to yesterday’s journal that being amongst familiar people — my cousins and aunt, in this case — makes it difficult to put much effort into writing my daily journal, simply because they prove to be a pleasant distraction, an attractive alternative to doing my journal. But I discovered another impedance today. Whenever I’m traveling alone, with no one else to talk to, I find myself “composing” most of the time, talking to myself in journal prose. It’s a very helpful mechanism, actually, because I usually use a lot of the stuff I come up with, lots of the little tidbits I spontaneously compose. But when I have others to talk to all day long, I don’t really have a chance to think inside my head a whole lot and I certainly don’t have any gems to stick in my journal at the end of the day.

So again, I must forewarn: Today I simply set down a brief record of today’s events for I am too weary and tired to do anything proper, and, yes, all the aforementioned apply. Tomorrow, when I’m back on the road, on my own, I’ll be back in form, talking to myself, jabbering away.

We were set to leave at exactly 10 a.m., the time we had scheduled to pack up the car and head to Mount Rainier. The drive was a bit over an hour and we used my National Parks card to get the lot of us into the park. We stopped halfway for a picnic Lori had arranged of fried chicken, vegetables, chips, and such. And we stopped at a little rest area too, for a restroom break and to check out the gift shop. It would hardly be worth mentioning, except that on this occasion I actually bought something.

Many times, I’ll scope out the hats at these places and occasionally find one I like, but inevitably, when I try them on they don’t look right. But this time, a simple red one that both looked good and fit well, called to me — to replace the old battered little league hat I’ve been wearing whenever I need to wear a hat for the past several years. So I have a new hat.

We did a few short little hikes, all originating from the Paradise trailhead, somewhere around 5400 feet. The main hike we did was called Alta Vista, whose apex affords spectacular views of the Cascades in a full panorama, as well as a perfect view of Mount Rainier itself, covered in snow and glaciers and evidently steaming within of lava and magma, a volatile situation demanding the “Volcano Evacuation Route” signs that, unlike the “Hurricane Evacuation Routes” lead you only a short distance away, mostly just to get you at a high enough level to get you out of the potential lava-flows’ paths.

The hikes were nice, but it was hot today, even way up there on the mountain, and so we all tired very easily and by the end of our relatively short hike were fatigued enough to ache only for a dip in the lake. So we drove the whole route back to the house in Lakewood, stopping only once for ice cream at a place owned by Lou Whittaker, the first American to climb Mount Everest. We arrived back at the house around 5:36 and swan to our hearts’ delight in the lake, laid on the dock until the sun descended so far it no longer cast its light on our pale flesh, and retired to the house for showers and a relaxing evening.

Later at night, almost too late really, we decided to rent a movie and watch it over at the house Erika is house-sitting. In the spirit of our “mountain-climbing” we picked up the terrible movie “Vertical Limit.” I’d seen the latter half once when I was flipping through channels at 2 a.m. on a weekend at school and found no need to ever see any more of it ever again. But I had forgotten what movie it was, and Jamie and Aaron were all for it, so we got it and watched it. And yeah, it’s pretty terrible: uncreative storyline (relies TOO heavily on thrills, so much so that they get boring and trite), predictable characters (the bad rich guy; the savior clean-cut Chris O’Donnell; the random cute girl who kisses Chris O’Donnell at the end for some reason), unrealistic events (no one does, has done, or would do any of those things), and finally bad effects (maybe because it’s several years old, but the special effects are terrible). I won’t even get into the score, which was also dreadful.

It’s one of the latest nights for me and I’m really looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow. I have no idea when I’ll eventually get out of the area tomorrow or where I’ll end up tomorrow night, but I’m looking forward to getting my drive on southwards. I’ll be hugging the coast for almost the entire way, except for a day’s diversion to Crater Lake, in a couple days.

There has not been a single cloud in the sky for 36 hours. I’m feeling lucky.

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