Pike Place Market
On a whim before a flight back to Tennessee for a wedding, Collin and I decided we should bop over to Seattle. We had both always wanted to go there, and with only being 20 minutes away, we couldn’t resist. Collin drove the four-lane into the city, and we both looked at each other and he said, “We’re in Seattle, what now?” After Googling “Free Stuff to do in Seattle,” we dropped a few quarters into the parking meter and set out to explore the Pike Place Market.
On the walk over, we found this hidden gem- a Chris Cornell mural painted by a local artist.
We strolled through the market and scooped up a van-size piece of Haida art. We were amazed at how cool this place was. Fresh fish, CBD lotion samples, and handcrafted goods lay strewn in every direction.
We love Washington.
We followed a fellow van lifer’s advice to check out Kerry Park. The city scape did not disappoint. Collin strolled Olin in her Burley down a long flight of concrete steps. There’s no way we could carry her everywhere while exploring the city, she is getting so heavy!
We were pretty sold when we followed the mountains to the Pacific Ocean in Bellingham. Mt.Rainier stole my heart, and we are itching to explore the park more. Now, we have even fallen for Seattle just from exploring one day. We are applying for jobs, attending interviews, and looking for a winter abode. We hope to stick around here for awhile, but nothing is set in stone.
So we did a thing.
At the start of this journey, we had no idea that 3 months later we’d witness one of our country’s most beautiful features- Mount Rainier. Standing 14,411 feet above sea level, this beauty is home to around 26 glaciers (more than Glacier National Park).
An unnamed glacier-fed lake.
Utterly speechless at the mass of this rock, Collin, Olin, and I decided to go on a ranger led “Nature Hike” to learn more about Rainier’s history. A very kind ranger, Mariah, hiked us 1.5 miles to Glacier Overlook, where we could see Emmons Glacier feed into the White River. Along the way, we met some wonderful travelers. One man from the Czech Republic stated that he had dreamt of being here for 30 years and finally caught up with his dream to visit Mt. Rainier. Collin and I felt lucky to witness this and be here with him. His wife, a professor from Thailand, suggested some off-grid places to visit from her home country. Another lovely couple from Seattle shared stories with us of their personal findings while exploring around the West and Canada. It was truly a wonderful hike and a new approach at learning about the National Park.
Olin receiving her Junior Ranger badge from Ranger Mariah.
After reaching the vista and learning more glacier fun-facts from Mariah, we all parted our separate ways from the group. Collin and I decided to continue following the trail up the steep incline to First Burroughs Mountain. And boy, are we glad we did. The entire trail followed the ridge line with views of Mt. Rainier pulling you closer and closer to witness her height and bulk. Covered in glaciers, snow, and open rock face, she towered above us. We felt as small dots in the universe, ants to humans. Mt. Rainier reminded me of my size in this world. She is glorious.
We reached First Burroughs summit, after switching off Olin a few times to ease our sore backs that come with carrying a 30lb infant. We wouldn’t have it any other way, though. My calves ached, lungs felt as though they would burst and deflate. I felt at home. I felt honored to be in the presence of such astounding beauty.
The feeling I had standing up here is nearly indescribable. I turned to look at Mt. Rainier to take it all in. I skimmed her from East to West, and tears began streaming down my cheeks. It was uncontrollable and beautiful. I felt a breath of fresh air run over my entire body. Cold chills.
A Marmot & Mountain Goats
Our living room for the night.
“We could be heroes, if just for one day.”
There are nights we don’t know where we will sleep and days we wonder why we are even out here on the open road, looking, searching for a place to call home. Then we wake up and find ourselves going on an unplanned adventure in a National Forest and even for just a day, it all makes sense. Time spent on the mountain reminds me what it feels like to be alive.
So we've felt pretty homesick lately.
In the last few cities we have passed through, there have been signs that read "No Overnight Parking Permitted" or "Towing At Owner's Expense." We have not had many options for parking through the Pacific Northwest, and it has left us feeling uneasy and wondering if we are doing the "right thing" with our lives. We parked in a dirt lot by the Skagit River the night before last, and were awoken early in the morning with a polite tapping on our door window. "You can't park overnight here or use this area without a Discover Pass," said the kind wildlife ranger. This is only the second time we have been asked to leave a spot, which isn't bad considering all the places we have parked over the last 3 months. The man was very kind in asking us to leave so we packed up, snuck in a mountain-fed river bath, and headed on to the next. Except, there was no next. We knew the Wal-Mart in town didn't allow overnight parking, so the feeling of uneasiness returned to our stomachs. We slumped around Burlington in hopes of finding a direction. We wanted to kill 1 or 2 more nights in town, because Collin has two interviews coming up in the area this week and we are nearing the very bottom of our budget for the trip.
Libraries Keep Us Sane.
In each town we pass through, we always take advantage of the local libraries. We go to them several hours of each week and apply for jobs, hunt for books, and research more into the area via cost of living and average salaries. The library here in Burlington is one of our absolute favorites! It has a very comfy feel and lots of toys for Olin to explore. She played "kitchen" so hard our first day here and passed out on daddy's lap.
Little Mountain Park
Collin found a wonderful park for us to spend the day in yesterday, as we wondered where we would sleep that night. There were hiking and biking trails all around, and we agreed that we needed a break from hours spent applying for jobs and looking at screens. We took off down a dirt trail without any idea where it would lead. We just kept walking, as if escaping the worries of the day to get deeper into the woods of the Pacific Northwest. Ferns in every direction, we took a lengthy descent to a trail that read Bonnie & Clyde. Sure, why not, we followed a trail parallel to this one called JuliAnne, and it lead us to this remarkable chunk of history crashed and now partly grown in with this tree. We circled around this artifact imagining all the possibilities of what led it to this place on the ground. A mid- 1900s man driving a dirt road on the way home to his family and fatally crashing off the mountainside into a tree, rolling what seemed forever until the radiator lept from the hood and out onto the far mountain side below the scene. "Someone died here," Collin said. It felt eerie and cool at the same time to see such a piece of history on this unexpected trail we had followed around Little Mountain. It was nice to get things off our mind for a little bit with some fresh air to remedy a hollow stomach.
This Is Home.
We ran into three Wal-Mart employees at the gas station later in the evening who told us that the signs stating "No Overnight Parking" were there to sustain city ordinance requirements. They told us we would be just fine parking at the bottom of the lot, as long we moved lanes each night. Collin and I felt our stomachs ease, as we knew we had safe place to park for the night. This took such a load of stress off, so that we would be able to stay close enough for Collin's interview tomorrow and not worry about getting kicked out. As I walked back from using the restroom and buying dog food in Wally World, Dobby came running out of the van to greet my return.
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