Tag Archives: North Cascades National Park

Visit Washington State Using Your 2018 Tax Refund

You’ve finally finished that dreaded tax filing task and you’ve discovered you’re getting a tax refund you didn’t expect. Why not use that money to visit WA State? We have it all here. Deserts, mountains, ocean beaches, iconic cities, just about any landscape you desire.

This year, especially, with all the new regulations and rules, you probably didn’t know whether a tax refund was in the cards or not. Now that it is, I’d like to suggest some Washington State vacations to consider for this summer and beyond.

National Parks

courtesy VisitRainier.com

If you’re trying to visit all the national parks in the U.S., we have three dynamos for you. Mt. Rainier National Park, good for hiking, camping and colorful bursts of wildflowers from May-September, and lots of snow after that. “The Mountain” is considered one of our greatest treasures. The best view of Mt. Rainier, where you can almost touch the snow-covered peak, is from the Gondola on Crystal Mountain. At the top, take time to enjoy a superb meal at the Summit House.

courtesy Visitrainier.com

Olympic National Park, known for the Hoh Rain Forest and Hurricane Ridge, also boasts some lovely lodges ideal for your stay. Lake Crescent, Lake Quinault and Kalaloch (pronounced clay-loch). Lots to see and do including touring Forks, where the “Twilight” books were set.

I love all our national parks, but North Cascades National Park may be the most rustic yet most scenic of all. With its celestial blue lakes, forested alpine landscape and the chance to learn about nature at the North Cascades Institute, this is a trip you’ll not soon forget.

The Palouse

College football fans rejoice. In Pullman, you can take in a Washington State Cougars’ game this fall and tour what is considered one of the seven wonders of Washington State. Gently undulating hills wrapped in wheat dominate the landscape. The best view from Steptoe Butte gives you glimpse into how these mounds were made thousands of years ago. While you’re there, travel the Palouse Scenic Byway to drink in all of the Palouse’s beauty.


Like craft beer? Want to try more? Bellingham is the place for you. Last summer this town had 15 locations to serve you brews. Plus, they have a dog-friendly tavern, Paws for a Beer, if traveling with Fido appeals to you. But you can’t drink beer all day when you visit this town because they have a ton of other attractions to see.

The Spark Museum of Electrical Invention, walkable Fairhaven District, art galleries, Chuckanut Drive with a stop for oysters and kayak adventures are only a few of the must-sees here.

That’s only a taste of Washington State vacations. If you’re interested in other regions, drop me a line at writemix@harbornet.com and I’ll pen another post like this one.

Delightful Diablo Dam Boat Tour

Last weekend, my husband and I took the Skagit Tour on Diablo Lake, located just off the North Cascades Highway near Newhalem. I remembered taking the same trip in my tweens and it stuck with me. Then it combined a ride up a pulley contraption, a boat tour and a farm-style chicken lunch where you passed around platters of chicken and bowls of mashed potatoes (even then that was my favorite part).

Diablo Dam


I’ve been wanting to go again to see if it was how I remembered it. Because Diablo Dam and two other dams in the area create the majority of the power for Seattle City Light, they had always handled the tours before. Then last year, the economy forced them to cancel for the year. This year Seattle City Light partnered with the North Cascades Institute and the North Cascades National Park to bring the tours back.

The day begins with a healthy buffet lunch, organic salad makings, soups, macaroni and cheese, plus a variety of desserts. After a short orientation by one of the park rangers, you’re free to wander the grounds, check out the gift shop or hike down to the boat launch. I visited the gift shop and found out a mama black bear and her two cubs had been sited on the property just four days before. I sincerely hoped I didn’t meet up with her.

We boarded the Alice Ross III (she’s had two predecessors) at 1 p.m. for the narrated boat tour of Diablo Dam, which was built in 1920 and Diablo Lake. We passed by two islands – one named Deer Island, because deer actually swim out to it to sample the grass and another named Monkey Island.

Ranger Lauren telling us about Monkey Island and other stories

J.D. Ross was the supervisor of Seattle City Light when Diablo, Ross and Gorge Dam were built. The story has it that he was quite a showman. So he populated one of the islands with monkeys and when the boat tour went by passengers saw monkeys swinging through the trees. In no way is this a climate monkeys like so every night a zookeeper had to take them to a warm place to sleep. Now the monkeys are gone.

When you go on this tour, you’ll hear lots more stories like the one about Monkey Island. I highly recommend it as informative, educational and above all, very pleasurable. It’s not the same tour of my childhood, but it’s still a very good one.