Well, we’re packing up now and getting ready to leave tomorrow morning for the long trip back home. Yesterday we went on the “Mt. Rainier Loop“, and today we visited Port Townsend and Fort Casey State Park.

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The Mt. Rainier Loop involves driving south towards the Nisqually entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park. Along the way is Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, which we stopped at after an early lunch. We took the park’s hour-long tram ride through their open-range area and saw bison, elk, mountain goats, moose, and deer, among other animals. It was pretty cool, and definitely worth the diversion on the long ride to Mt. Rainier. We quickly headed around to about half of the rest of the park before getting back on the road.

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The Mt. Rainier loop directions recommend heading in to the southwest corner of the park, stopping at various sites while passing through the Paradise and Sunrise areas, and leaving the park via the northeast corner. One could spend days exploring the park’s many trails and activities; we only had a few hours. We stopped at the Trail Of The Shadows for a quick hike, then visited the Jackson Visitor Center. There we went on the Nisqually loop, which offered great views of one of the larger glaciers of the mountain. Unfortunately, around this time, the summit of the mountain was obscured by clouds. After that we realized it was getting to be late (5-ish), we strove to drive straight to the Sunrise Visitor Center. Unfortunately, we got there after 7pm, finding that the snack bar and visitor center were closed. We didn’t have much food with us and wanted to get some dinner, so we took in the sight of a now-uncloaked Mt. Rainier summit and headed out of the park.

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The drive up SR410 proved to be relatively void of eating establishments. For the first hour of the drive, we were driving through national forest/logging country, with very little infrastructure along the way. Finally we got to Enumclaw and found a local pizzaria that was open, so we ate some pizza and wings there. Then we found our way back via SR192, I-405, and I-5. We didn’t get to the Mulkiteo ferry terminal until after 11pm, and caught the midnight ship back. Ryan got plenty of sleep in the car, so he was OK this morning.

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We did get up a bit later this morning as a result, and decided to have a “lighter” day. We took the ferry from Keystone to Port Townsend and spent lunchtime and afternoon there. It’s a town that boasts a huge number of artisans. We had a great time looking at a lot of wares, and Melissa bought a very unique ceramic bowl. I bought Ryan a new wooden yo-yo to replace one that he had received for his birthday but broke.

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After the ferry ride back to Whidbey Island, we checked out Fort Casey. It’s one of several old armaments built in the 1940s to protect the inlet of Puget Sound, and because it was made out of concrete set into the earth, much of it still stands today. It was neat to walk around an on the different areas of the fort and try to imagine the military operations there when it was active. It was pretty large; Ryan was definitely impressed by the size of it all.

We’ve had a great week here and definitely recommend vacationing here. I’ll wrap this series up after we get back, adding links, details, and photos. I’ll also review this great place we’re staying at. (Yes, I intentionally left it a mystery… did anyone care? 😉 )