Tag Archives: Visit Rainier

Crystal Mountain Gondola Ride: A Slice of Paradise

Our friends, Dan and Cheryl with Mount Rainier in the background

This past Saturday evening I experienced the true meaning of breathtaking. After riding up 2,500 vertical feet in the brand new gondola at Crystal Mountain, you’re as up close and personal with Mount Rainier as you’ll ever get without climbing her. It’s only 12 miles away here, but looks much closer. Since you’ve already climbed some while driving up to the resort, now you’re at 6,872 feet. You can feel the crisp chill she sheds off her slopes even on an 80 degree day.

At the top you can hike, sit in the chairs provided and just marvel at Mother Nature’s creations, picnic or dine at the Summit House. Since it only seats 65, and word has gotten out about this must-do activity, the dinners, which are served on Fridays and Saturdays, have been sold out through the end of the season. Sunday brunch and lunches should still be an option, though.

Scrumptious lemon cake

The food served is world class and dinner at the highest restaurant in Washington State should definitely be on your bucket list. Try the lemon cake dessert and the halibut – I recommend both.

Guess what? Dogs are welcome on the gondola and love to hike and chase squirrels at the top. For more ideas on what to do on Crystal, log onto Visit Rainier or Crystal Mountain Resort.

The gondola will run daily through Sept. 11 and then switch to Saturday-Sunday only through Oct. 2. Then it closes until ski season begins.

Mount Rainier, a Spectacular Beauty

Near Graham, Washington

She’s the definition of majestic and our grande dame of natural beauty. Mount Rainier starkly contrasts to Mount St. Helens. Both are major volcanic icons. But Mount Rainier hasn’t erupted yet so she stands tall and snowcapped. Natives say, “The mountain is out,” when the sky is clear and she towers over us. She is “the mountain.”

We’re always in search of the best place to see Mount Rainier – one of those is driving south on First Avenue South in Federal Way. I’m sure there are plenty of others, too, depending on which side of her you’re looking at.

At Visit Rainier you can find out all about lodging, restaurants, Mount Rainier National Park, hiking and Paradise. That is the actual name for one of the entrances to the mountain – Paradise. So very appropriate.

You can spend the night in lodges at the historic Paradise Inn or the National Park Inn where you can see glaciers, stunning waterfalls and wildlife all within a few steps of your room. At the Jackson Visitor Center you can join in a ranger-led tour and learn all about this volcano.

Other summer activities include mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding and mountaineering. If you go, plan to spend at least the day. Mount Rainier may look like a white ice cream cone you can reach out and touch, but it’s actually about a three-hour drive from Seattle. Or you can take a tour with Evergreen Escapes and let them do the driving.

If you come to Washington and want to see the best of the best that we have to offer, go to Mount Rainier.

Enumclaw Holds Some Luscious Secrets

At a conference I attended recently, Julie Johnson who works for Visit Rainier (the mountain) told me about a plethora of things to do in Enumclaw, which is the last major town (on one of the highways) before you head up to the mountain. You can approach the mountain from several sides.

A true spaghetti critic

With my daughter and grandchildren we set out looking for some of those not-well-known places in Enumclaw. In the past the town has been called “Enumscratch,” it smelled of dill pickles through and through until Farman’s moved its operations and it was home to the King County Fair in mid-July. I never thought of this rural community as a place to spa, sip wine or martinis and shop in boutiques.

Today we discovered two of those places that made the 25-mile ride totally worth it. We liked the choices on the menu posted outside Café Panini (1537 Cole St.) so we decided to lunch there. Fantastic pick. Their Italian cuisine rocked. The minestrone soup was brimming with chunks of vegetables, but also a variety of different meat slivers and pasta. If you choose any of the salads, you can add egg, chicken breast or shrimp, so I ordered the House Pasta Salad with chicken and I was not disappointed. Filled with diced roma tomatoes, black olives, toasted pine nuts and creamy pesto, it soothed my hunger. The portions were large so we had boxes to take home.

Café Panini also has a large selection of homemade pies, created and baked right on the premises. I got a taste of the cherry pie and it was mighty fine. Only one of us had room for pie, so we walked up the street and got some dessert to take home.

Julie had told me Sweet Necessities (1215 Griffin St.) makes their own caramels and I’m a caramel fanatic. And then when they come with coarse sea salt and fresh out of the pan – words fail me. Melt in your mouth seems so mundane and overused – these candies flavored your mouth and glided down like water down a slippery slide.

Sweet Necessities also has more than 100 flavors of loose tea, Kookaburra licorice and Snoqualmie Ice Cream.

Enumclaw has become much more than cowboys and biker bars, although they still have those, too.