Saturday 11 August

After a 7 hour flight to Philadelphia and a 6 hour flight to Seattle, we finally arrived. Tim and Stacey were waiting at baggage claim and got there long before our luggage did! I still find it weird that baggage claim is next to the exit in American airports if you’d already landed somewhere else within the States. Glyn and I were relieved to get our baggage through after telling customs we had no alcohol or food when our luggage contained M&S Jubilee beer and chocolates that barely kept us within the weight limit. So concerned I’d been about the weight and had left clothes behind, that I clean forgot to check how much alcohol I was actually allowed to bring in – if any!

We’d landed at around 7pm local time and after meeting Tim and Stacey’s friends, Sue and Shane, we walked down to the ‘Red Hot’. This is a hot dog place that also sells proper beer. Every type of hot dog could also be done veggie style, so I had a vegetarian Hillside Strangler. A contradicting name, but still, very tasty!

Tim and Stacey’s house is awesome! I’ve seen similar styles in American movies and often wondered what it was like inside, and now I know. It was built in 1890 and they’ve done it up beautifully. It has wooden floors and the rooms come in a variety of shapes which I adore. There are coloured windows and varying sizes. Upstairs, some of the rooms are directly under the roof and even I at 5 foot and a fag end have to be careful not to bang my head. The upstairs loo, Tim and Stacey describe as their ‘Alice in Wonderland bathroom’ as only very short men can stand upright to use the lavvy. You can also see Mount Rainier from their bedroom window. Continues after video

Sunday 12 August

Today, Tim drove us all around town and up to Point Defiance. Despite having a 60/40 chance of seeing a racoon (Tim’s estimates there) no racoon was seen. All I’ve seen in the racoon department so far is racoon poo at the bottom of Tim and Stacey’s tree.

We drove along the waterfront that was all new to Tim! There are gorgeous views across Commencement Bay too. We walked around downtown Tacoma, saw Union Station, the part of town where Tim and Stacey used to live and went to the Glass museum. We also went to a cool bar called the Swiss. And an antique sandwich shop where Glyn had the most excellent lemonade.

In the afternoon, Tim and Stacey held a party, partly to welcome us and also for Sue’s birthday. We met lots of people including Stacey’s parents. Stacey’s dad assured me that a bear would win in a fight against a moose.

Stacey is an awesome cook and her mushroom pie is to die for. I don’t eat meat but Glyn was loving the fish that’s baked on cedar wood and the barbecued steak that was covered in sauce that Tim referred to as ‘glop’. Stacey’s mum had brought some fried chicken and we practiced our best American accents saying it. The trick is to make the word ‘fried’ last a lot longer than ‘chicken’ – so you say: frrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeed chikn!!. Continues after video

Monday 13 August

Due to a combination of jet lag and being used to be woken at 5.30 am by Candy-cat, I was awake way before 6am, but Stacey was already up and soon we all were. Sue came over and drove us in her hamster car over to Snoqualmie Falls where we had an expensive but gorgeous breakfast at Salish Lodge. If you’ve ever watched Twin Peaks, its the building at the top of the falls that was Benjamin Horne’s hotel where Agent Cooper stayed. The hiking trail was closed due to construction work but we got some good photos and of course, a fridge magnet.

Sue then drove us to Seattle where the parking charges were INSANE!! The first place we tried to park wanted $56 and that wasn’t even for the entire day! We parked somewhere else. We wandered around the market and saw fish flying. We took the monorail to the Space Needle. At the top, we were taking photos of the view and Sue wanted to know where the Space Needle was. We then popped to the EMP and saw Yoda’s cane, Darth Vader’s lightsabre and an Avatar exhibition amoungst other stuff before we fired off fast back to the car before the ticket ran out.

After a beer, we walked to the waterfront where we saw lots of cool stuff plus various hobos and a guy walking a coke bottle.

Tuesday 14th August

There’s a long, red archipelago down my left arm with other large red islands on my punching hand and legs due to being mosquito food on Mount Rainier yesterday. But whereas my bites average at the size of a quarter dollar, Glyn’s are the size of a giant cookie.

We left in the early morning, heading to Paradise but ending up at Sunset. I learnt a new American term today – slippage: the tatty but occupied edge of a town. Tim drove us there and back with Stacey navigating from the backseat. We stopped at Greenwater and a few other scenic places. We also stopped at Skookum Falls which were barely noticeable, high up in the rocks across the river. We were impressed but one other American was visibly disappointed and annoyed!

Upon arriving at the State Park that Mount Rainier was situated in, we had to pay $15 to get a car load in and I saw a sign that said ‘no gas at sunrise’, this baffled me for a while and I asked if gas was only available at night. I was left feeling pretty wumpous when I was reminded that the name of the place we were visiting is Sunrise.

We drove up and up, along a good few hairpin bends with plenty of stunning views. We stopped at Sunrise Ridge that was pretty breath taking with 360 degree views of a lake, forest and snow covered peaks.

We drove for a few more minutes to Sunrise itself which is a picnic area with snack bar, toilets and gift shop. There was another building, I have no idea what that was. We had a picnic and saw chipmunks, blue jays and a clerks nutcracker.

Tim pointed out a chunk of bear fur on the ground and we were most impressed until he realised it was actually fibres from the trees. Or maybe it was from a green bear, we shall never know.

We started walking on a trail away from the other people. We only meant to go for a short wander and were very slow as we took photos of everything, plus a photo of the mountain with every few steps, as the view got steadily more impressive!

We passed hikers coming the other way who told us that the Frozen Lake was exactly half a mile ahead, 700ft up, so we headed there.

It was very sunny and warm, we were all wearing factor 50 suncream and it was needed. So it was quite surreal to walk across two ice fields wearing shorts, t-shirts and sandals. The cold ice on my toes was quite refreshing when the rest of my body was baking in the sun going uphill. There were plenty of hikers in proper gear with wanky walking sticks, but there was no need for that foolishness!

The Frozen Lake was indeed frozen and a lake. We carried on, stopping every five seconds to take photos along the mountainside trail. Glyn got rather close to the edge and Tim was all Mother Goose on him. The sign posts claimed it was a 3 mile moderate walk with strenuous parts and a smidge of easy at the end. Trés enjoyable although Stacey and Tim got sun burnt.

The drive home took a couple of hours and we were certainly ready for our huge Mexican meal at La Fondita in Tacoma.

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About the author

Having only one cat, Claire is currently failing at being a mad cat lady, but she does have a mad cat, Bod. When Claire isn’t chasing cats and other animals with her camera, she works as a Graphic Design Manager.

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