Uncertain Revisited: A Tour of Caddo Lake

It was a few years ago when I first visited Uncertain, TX (You can see my March 2012 Post here.).  As a matter fact, it was on a cold day in February 2012 when I stopped by to see it for my first time. The real draw for me initially, was the name of the town, but the bigger draw ended up being the beautiful swamp-like setting of Caddo Lake.

This past weekend (Feb. 10, 2017) I had an opportunity again to visit this beautiful setting, this time with my daughter and her three children. Unlike my visit to Uncertain before, we had bigger sights set on seeing Caddo Lake and some of the swamp.

Our guide, Aaron Applebaum with Mystique Tours
Hanging with Aaron on our Swamp Tour

Upon arrival, we noticed that there was a group of people in a boat taking a tour of the lake and that looked very appealing. We continued driving around until we got to the main dock area and the tour had just arrived back and we were able to talk to the guy that ran the tour on the boat, Aaron Applebaum (see more at on their Facebook Page.).

A scene from Bald Cypress Swamp in Caddo Lake
Caddo Lake

Now, I am not one that usually will spend $25 per adult for any kind of thing as I consider that to be fairly expensive. But the opportunity to take a ride into the swamp on a boat and see the beauty of the swamp, birds in their natural habitat and to hear some of the history, coupled with my daughter wishing they could do it was a little bit too much and so we decided to pitch in and we took a boat ride into Caddo Lake with Aaron…just my daughter, my three grandkids and me. This is one of those instances where it was well worth it!

One of Many Bayous in the lake
Bald Cypress Swamp
Check it out…8 year old Landen driving in the swamp while Aaron looks on.

Our guide and boat driver Aaron grew up in this area and currently resides in Uncertain. His father was also a boat guide on the lake for many many years and so he knows the lake very well. Not only was he informative, he was also courteous, and fun. There was one spot where he even let the three young children drive the boat in the lake. And that without him touching the steering wheel!!

I truly enjoyed the one hour tour

Eerie Sunshine through the trees

We enjoyed a lovely February Sky

Honestly, the views from the shore are pretty impressive, but once you are in the midst of the lake and floating through the various bayous and channels amidst the bald cypress trees, there is nothing that can express the awe and intrigue.

Caddo Lake, largest Natural Lake in Texas
Daughter Marissa enjoys the tour of Caddo Lake

This lake, Caddo Lake, is the largest naturally formed lake in the state of Texas. Scientists believe the lake formed when floodwater, blocked by massive log jams on the Red River, backed up into the Cypress Bayou watershed. Caddo Lake was artificially dammed in the early 1900s, when oil was found, and for flood control in 1914.  A new dam replaced the old one in 1971.

Another scene from Caddo Lake
Boaters heading out to fish on Caddo Lake

The lake covers about 26,810 acres of cypress swamp, depending on rainfall.  According to the Caddo Lake State Park Website,  the lake’s average depth is 8 to 10 feet, while the deep water in the bayou averages about 20 feet. Aaron tells us that much of the lake only has a depth of around 4 to 5 feet.

Enjoying time with my granddaughter Joselyn
Old Lakehouse….used to serve as a place to drink on the “Wet County” side of the lake

The lake has its own “roadway” with marked signs that guide and direct those taking their boats and pontoons through the lake. These are areas where a dredge has cleared all of the stumps so there is room for the boats to pass and not scrape bottom. Having been on the lake for many years, Aaron knows the route very well and was able to traverses without any problems whatsoever.

A blue heron flies by on Caddo Lake
A Great Egret relaxes in the swamp

In terms of seeing wildlife, February is probably not the best time to go see the lake. We were fortunate enough to see two or three blue herons, a couple of egrets, some turkey vultures and even caught a glimpse of a cormorant, which they call water turkey in the region.

A Blue Heron caught in the act of swallowing its dinner. Had to be a big fish as it struggled for a while
Another Egret sits in the shallows as the wind blows its plumage
A Turkey Vulture, also called a buzzard, flew way overhead
A blue heron flies into the trees

Apparently, in the summertime, there are opportunities to catch glimpses of alligators and other wildlife on these boat tours. But the benefit of our trip in February, was low humidity, cooler temperatures and no mosquitoes! Doing without those skeeters was probably the best part of the tour (besides the expert guiding by Aaron.)

A serene capture of an egret in the swamp (photo by Marissa Noe)
Sun shining through the trees
Caddo Lake Institute was founded by singer Don Henley

We learned during the tour that the famous singer Don Henley, of the Eagles, owns a house on the lake and we got to see that. Apparently it’s been used for a couple of music videos. Henley is originally from the area and actually caught his first fish in Caddo Lake while a youth.  He loves the lake and the natural habitat in the area and has provided funding to help conserve the lake.  The Caddo Lake Institute  (CLI) is a non-profit scientific and educational organization founded in 1992 by Henley with the mission of protecting the ecological, cultural and economic integrity of Caddo Lake, its associated wetlands and watershed.

Uncertain Inn
A typical rental cabin in Uncertain

The village of Uncertain also has a number of little resort cabins that can be rented and one can drive around and see all of them. Many of them have themes. One section had four cabins all with Moon in the name. Others had frogs in the name. But they are all very unique and would be a fun place to stay for a week sometime.

Swamp Plank Trail near one of the many rental cabins. (Photo by Marissa Noe)
Watch out for Bigfoot in Uncertain (photo by Marissa Noe)

Overall, this was a wonderful adventure for all of us.  Thanks to Aaron for the tour and thanks to all of the residents of Uncertain that make this place a worthy destination.  you can be certain of a good time in Uncertain!!

Cabin Signs…Spatterdock is one rental group
Blue Heron
Yes, there is a Church of Uncertain!!
Bigfoot sighting in Uncertain!!
Panoramic view of Caddo Lake

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Finding Prosperity near Canonsburg & Washington, PA

Welcome to Canonsburg
Welcome to Canonsburg, PA

Just a week after a nice three-day visit to northern Ohio (see post HERE), Julianne and I made our way to Canonsburg, PA, which is south of Pittsburgh. Julianne’s sister Laura recently moved there from Idaho with her husband and daughter and wanted us to visit.

Sumoflam with Julianne and Autumn heading to Pittsburgh
Sumoflam with Julianne and Autumn heading to Pittsburgh

From Lexington, Canonsburg is about a 5 Hour drive. We loaded Julianne’s bicycle onto the bike rack and were off shortly after she got off of work. We also took our first trip with one of our grandchildren, our oldest named Autumn.  She has traveled with her mother and me on a long trip to Wisconsin, but this is her first trip alone with Grampz and Grandma.

Welcome to West Virginia!
Welcome to West Virginia!

Most of the trip was fairly uneventful as we headed east on Interstate 64 into West Virginia and then north on Interstate 79 just outside of Charleston, West Virginia.

Along the way, we decided to stop for a couple of snacks and found a unique Amish market located in Flatwoods, WV.  The shop is

Sitting in the Big Chair in Braxton, WV
Sitting in the Big Chair in Flatwoods, WV

located in the Flatwoods Factory Outlet.  As is often the case when making an unknown stop, there’s always a surprise in store. We were looking for some interesting food items and/or snack items to enjoy, but while there, we found that they have a giant Amish-made chair to sit in. Always have to include the quirky things!

Sumoflam and the Big Chair in Braxton, WV
Sumoflam and the Big Chair in Flatwoods, WV
Rolling Hills of West Virginia
Rolling Hills of West Virginia
Amish made Old Fashioned "Traffic Jam" - should make a good pile up with some bread and peanut butter!!
Amish made Old Fashioned “Traffic Jam” – should make a good pile up with some bread and peanut butter!!

We also picked up some goodies to leave with her sister and we got some hot mustard that was absolutely amazing! The view from behind the store into the hilly farmlands of Pennsylvania was very nice and I’ve included a photo of that above.  After our break and an ice cream cone for Autumn, we were back on the road heading towards Canonsburg.

After arriving in Canonsburg, and having a nice evening together, we spent the next day touring around Pittsburgh (that post will follow this one).

Julianne at the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania
Julianne at the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania

The next morning, Julianne and her sister decided to take a bike ride down the Montour Trail Bike Trail, a 46 mile trail from Moon Township (northwest of Pittsburgh) to Clairton.  This is one of a number of Rail Trails that Julianne will take over the next few weeks (I’ll write about each of those in upcoming special “Bike Trail posts – watch for them!).  This trail is actually part of a larger set of trails that stretch nearly 330 miles to Washington, D.C.  (Known as the Great Allegheny Passage) Julianne and Laura hope to ride that complete trail in 2017 (And maybe I’ll be ready by then too!!)

Sunrise near the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania
Sunrise near the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania
The sunrise near Upper St. Clair, PA
The sunrise near Upper St. Clair, PA

While they were doing that, I arose early took a ride into the countryside nearby and captured a beautiful sunrise early in the morning.  It was a beautiful drive up US Hwy 19 into Upper St. Clair, PA.  There was a hint of fog in the air and the sun came up over the rolling hills and verdant farmland.

Pennsylvania sunrise as seen from Boyce Mayview Park near Upper St. Clair, PA
Pennsylvania sunrise as seen from Boyce Mayview Park near Upper St. Clair, PA
Another shot of sunrise from Boyce Mayview Park
Another shot of sunrise from Boyce Mayview Park
Sunrise as seen from the Greenmoor Common Equestrian Center in Canonsburg
Sunrise as seen from the Greenmoor Common Equestrian Center in Canonsburg
A pair of geese stroll by a relaxing swan at the Greenmoor Common Equestrian Center just after sunrise
A pair of geese stroll by a relaxing swan at the Greenmoor Common Equestrian Center just after sunrise
Welcome to Prosperity
Welcome to Prosperity
Heading to Prosperity
Heading to Prosperity

After breakfast, I took another ride to visit the small town of Prosperity, PA. The small unincorporated village is south of Washington, PA on PA Hwy 18.  Obviously, I wanted to add this as another of those uniquely named towns that I like to visit. Prosperity really doesn’t look like it’s that prosperous of a town, but did have some unique old buildings and of course the Prosperity Post Office! (I have also found Success, Romance and Uncertain, among many others in my travels.)

Prosperity Post Office in Pennsylvania
Prosperity Post Office in Pennsylvania
Small old-fashioned grocer in Prosperity, PA
Small old-fashioned convenience shop in Prosperity, PA – Jim’s Stop & Shop Mall
Welcome to Washington, PA
Welcome to Washington, PA

On my way back from Prosperity, I made my way through the city of Washington, PA.  The city is the County Seat of Washington County, which was the first county in the U.S. to be named Washington – done so in 1781.  As the home of the old Washington and Jefferson College (the oldest college west of the Alleghenies), it is definitely a college style town but has some very old charm and many old historical buildings and some unique history.

All along the roads the lovely Dame's Rocket wildflowers can be seen
All along the roads the lovely Dame’s Rocket wildflowers can be seen
Washington, PA Historic Marker
Washington, PA Historic Marker
One of many old buildings in Washingotn, PA
One of many old buildings in Washington, PA
The old Bradford House historic marker. It was the home of David Bradford, leader of the Whiskey Insurrection in 1794
The old Bradford House historic marker. It was the home of David Bradford, leader of the Whiskey Insurrection in 1794
A look at one of the main streets of Washington, PA
A look at one of the main streets of Washington, PA
Washington Courthouse Statue
Washington Courthouse Statue

Most impressive about Washington was the amazing looking historic courthouse with a large golden statue of George Washington on top.  This is apparently the fifth version of the county courthouse, with this one being built in 1900.

Washington County Courthouse in Washington, PA
Washington County Courthouse in Washington, PA
Washington Statue
Washington Statue
Whiskey Rebellion of 1794
Whiskey Rebellion of 1794

Washington also gained notoriety in 1794 as a result of the Whiskey Rebellion, which was led by David Bradford. The Whiskey Rebellion, also known as the Whiskey Insurrection, was a tax protest in the United States beginning in 1791, during the presidency of George Washington. The so-called “whiskey tax” was the first tax imposed on a domestic product by the newly formed federal government. It became law in 1791, and was intended to generate revenue to help reduce the national debt.

The David Bradford House is a National Historic Site in Washington, PA
The David Bradford House is a National Historic Site in Washington, PA
Whiskey Rebellion Statue in Washington, PA
Whiskey Rebellion Statue in Washington, PA
Closeup of some of the Whiskey Rebellion Statue
Closeup of some of the Whiskey Rebellion Statue

Washington, is also the home of the PONY League, one of the well-known youth baseball and softball organizations that can be found throughout the world.  They have a World Series event every August in Washington.

Welcome to Canonsburg
Welcome to Canonsburg

But, I would have to say that the small Borough of Canonsburg actually holds some merit as one of the more interesting places to see in the area.  First off, it was the home to two famed singers from the 1960s – Perry Como and Bobby Vinton.  And the local McDonald’s restaurant offers a rare glimpse of them and their lives with an in-restaurant little museum (the second such “Fast Food Museum” I had seen in as many weeks – the other being the Wendy’s/Dave Thomas Museum in Dublin, Ohio – see that one HERE).  The museum display includes photos, albums, yearbooks, clothing and instruments, as well as the statues.

Bobby Vinton Statue in the Canonsburg McDonald's
Bobby Vinton Statue in the Canonsburg McDonald’s
Bobby Vinton Stage items on display in Canonsburg McDonald's
Bobby Vinton Stage items on display in Canonsburg McDonald’s
Perry Como Statue in the Canonsburg McDonald's
Perry Como Statue in the Canonsburg McDonald’s
Perry Como story
Perry Como story
Singing Perry Como statue in downtown Canonsburg
Singing Perry Como statue in downtown Canonsburg

And then down the road from the McDonald’s is another statue honoring Perry Como.  It is located in front of the bourough offices.

The statue of Como was unveiled in May 1999 and the city pipes his music 12 hours a day. (I must have missed it the day we were there).

Another shot of the Perry Como statue in Canonsburg
Another shot of the Perry Como statue in Canonsburg

A couple of historic pieces are also in the Canonsburg downtown area.

John McMillan's Log School. This log house was a frontier Latin school in the 1780s and was later moved to Jefferson College in 1895 as a symbol of Canonsburg's educational tradition.
John McMillan’s Log School. This log house was a frontier Latin school in the 1780s and was later moved to Jefferson College in 1895 as a symbol of Canonsburg’s educational tradition.
Veteran's Statue of a World War I soldier was sculpted by Giuseppe Moretti in 1924
Veteran’s Statue of a World War I soldier was sculpted by Giuseppe Moretti in 1924
Plaque commemorating Col. George Morgan, who was a noted Indian trader and agent. He apparently reported Aaron Burr's conspiracy to Thomas Jefferson.
Plaque commemorating Col. George Morgan, who was a noted Indian trader and agent. He apparently reported Aaron Burr’s conspiracy to Thomas Jefferson.
Turtle Holding a Waffle Cone on top of the Turtle Treat Ice Cream Shop
Turtle Holding a Waffle Cone on top of the Turtle Treat Ice Cream Shop

Canonsburg is also home to one of the quirky and iconic Turtle Twist Ice Cream Shop, shaped like an ice cream cone. The Ice Cream Shaped building was originally created by Twistee Treat Ice Cream out of Florida. The buildings are 28 feet tall and 20 feet wide and made of fiberglass.  The original Twistee Treat company went out of business in 1990, but a new company was formed in 1996.  Turtle Twist is a former Twistee Treat building.  Their building was previously installed in 1992 at an amusement park in Lakewood, NY in 1992. It was then purchased and reassembled in Canonsburg in 2004.  I have only seen one other of these in my travels (see M&M Twistee Treat in E. Peoria, IL)

Turtle Twist Ice Cream in Canonsburg
Turtle Twist Ice Cream in Canonsburg
Sarris Candy in Canonsburg. One of the world's largest candy stores
Sarris Candy in Canonsburg. One of the world’s largest candy stores

Speaking of Ice Cream, there is another well known place in Canonsburg known for its ice cream and as well as its chocolate and chocolate art work. The Sarris Candies Factory and Ice Cream Parlour covers an area the size of a full city block, and carries over 100 yards of chocolate, penny candy, ice cream and life-like plush toys. Not sure what it is about Pennsylvania and chocolate.  In other visits I have seen the huge Hershey’s facility in Hershey, PA and also Daffin’s Chocolate in Sharon, PA, known for its huge chocolate sculptures (see my post about Hershey HERE and my Daffin’s post HERE) . Both Daffin’s and Sarris claim to have the world’s largest candy stores. Sarris does also lay claim to an amazing 2600 pound Chocolate Castle (Daffin’s has a 400 pound chocolate turtle in their Chocolate Kingdom).

Sarris Candy Castle weighs 1500 pounds
Sarris Candy Castle weighs 1500 pounds

Some of the facts that Sarris notes about their castle:

  • Cost $130,000
  • Weighs 2600 pounds
  • It is 12 feet tall from floor to ceiling
  • It is 8 feet long and 3 feet long
  • It took 8 people three months and 2000 man hours to create
  • The whole confection room is also surrounded by 65 feet of beautiful hand-painted wall murals depicting a circus train ride through Candyland.
Closeup of Castle Decor at Sarris
Closeup of Castle Decor at Sarris
Chocolate!!
Chocolate!!

The shop has tons of candy products, massive plush toys including some life size ones and then there is the amazing Ice Cream shop.

Life Size Plush Rhino in Sarris Candies
Life Size Plush Rhino in Sarris Candies
Cuddly plush panther
Cuddly plush panther
Candy!!
Candy!!
Sarris Ice Cream Parlor
Sarris Ice Cream Parlor
Massive Line for Ice Cream at Sarris in Canonsburg
Massive Line for Ice Cream at Sarris in Canonsburg
Lots of stained glass artwork and other art around the store
Lots of stained glass artwork and other art around the store
Eighty Four, PA Post Office
Eighty Four, PA Post Office

Finally, some mention of a couple more places nearby that I visited.  Not too many towns are named with a number, but Eighty Four, PA is one of the few numbered towns.  There are a number of stories surrounding the name, but the town was actually founded in 1884 and the Post Office sought the name of Smithville, but it was already taken. So, apparently, the Postmaster H.F. Weir asked the post office be named after the year founded.

Eighty Four that a way
Eighty Four that a way
Welcome to 84 Country
Welcome to 84 Country

DSC_4343In 1957 a lumber company was created in town and was named 84 Lumber.  It has grown dramatically with more than 250 stores, component manufacturing plants, custom door shops, custom millwork shops, and engineered wood products (EWP) centers in 30 states, representing the top 130 markets in the US.

Community Honor Roll for Veterans in Laboratory, PA
Community Honor Roll for Veterans in Laboratory, PA

Not too far from Washington is a place called Laboratory, PA, yet another strange name. But I also noticed an historic plaque with the name of Pancake. But there was already another Pancake in Pennsylvania. Some internet research warranted the following explanation (found on Jim’s Journey Website HERE):

Pancake sign in Laboratory, PA
Pancake sign in Laboratory, PA

Earle Forrest wrote about this area in his 1926 History of Washington County, Pennsylvania in the chapter on South Strabane Township. He discusses first George Pancake, then Jonathan Martin and adds this paragraph:

“About thirty years ago the late Dr. Byron Clark, who resided near the end of East Maiden Street, Washington, established a chemical laboratory for the manufacture of patent medicine, which he sold throughout the country. He had a post office established and named the place Laboratory, by which it is still known, although the original name of Pancake still sticks.

Library Volunteer Fire Company
Library Volunteer Fire Company
Library Volunteer Fire Co., South Park, PA
Library Volunteer Fire Co., South Park, PA

And finally, there was the Library Volunteer Fire Company in South Park, PA, near Washington.  How did it get that name?? The Library Volunteer Fire Company was organized in October 1939 and was comprised of 21 firefighters and one truck housed at the corner of Brownsville and Library Road. Presently, the company is located at 6581 Library Road in South Park Township.

My next post will cover some of our visit to Pittsburgh

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Washington State: Mt. Rainier National Park

DSC_5960Our last couple of days in Washington and we finally made it to Mt. Rainier National Park.  This was a fabulous day trip from Port Orchard and we were blessed with amazing weather.

DSC_5963For this trip we headed south to Tacoma and then eventually made our way to WA 410 and to the small picturesque town of  Enumclaw.  We had a couple of hours to get there, so we stopped for a play break for the kids and a stretch break for the adults.  We found a nice park that afforded us all some time to get stretched and even take a few photos.

Livvy climbs the ropes to the top in a ark in Enumclaw
Livvy climbs the ropes to the top in a ark in Enumclaw
Kade having fun
Kade having fun
Hanging with kids in Enumclaw
Hanging with kids in Enumclaw
Benson hanging around
Benson hanging around
Charles just playing
Charles just playing
Grampz and Bensie
Grampz and Bensie
White River runs along WA 410 near Greenwater, WA
White River runs along WA 410 near Greenwater, WA

From Enumclaw we continued west on 410, also called the “Chinook Byway,” along the White River to Greenwater, WA.  The historic Naches Trail brought ox and horse drawn wagons through this area carrying early settlers west. Many years later, touring cars carried early visitors through Greenwater to the newly dedicated Mt. Rainier National Park.  Today, this place

Old Naches Trail Sign
Old Naches Trail Sign

is a dot on the map with a couple of touristy stops and a bar/cafe. Lots of Sasquatch carvings around the place as well.  By the time we got to Greenwater, everyone was hungry.  So we stopped at a place called Naches Tavern to get some lunch.  They had a nice picnic area on the side (the kids couldn’t go into the tavern portion) and actually had a pretty good menu.

Naches Tavern
Naches Tavern
Find the Sasquatch
Find the Sasquatch
10 foot tall Sasquatch carving at Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA
10 foot tall Sasquatch carving at Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA

DSC_6051Naches Tavern is a rustic old place and has apparently been around as a watering hole since the early 20th Century. The inside is decorated with old memorabilia of the Naches Trail and a covering of dollar bills all over the walls.

Naches Tavern 1
Naches Tavern 1
Old telephone sign in Naches Tavern
Old telephone sign in Naches Tavern
Dollar Bills on the walls at Naches Tavern
Dollar Bills on the walls at Naches Tavern
I found a Davey Dollar in Naches Tavern!
I found a Davey Dollar in Naches Tavern!
No Pets Allowed...notice what the pets look like!
No Pets Allowed…notice what the pets look like!

After lunch we were back on WA 410 heading towards Mt. Rainier National Park.  Chalk up another National Park visit for me!

Entering Mt. Rainier National Park on WA 410 south of Greenwater, WA
Entering Mt. Rainier National Park on WA 410 south of Greenwater, WA

The drive on 410 offers up some wonderful scnic views of Mt. Rainier but also of other mountains.  We got to a wonderful overlook near Naches Peak Overlook called the Tipsoo Lake Parking Area.

Panorama of Tipsoo Lake Parking Area near Naches Peak Trail
Panorama of Tipsoo Lake Parking Area near Naches Peak Overlook
Cowlitz Chimneys as seen from Tipsoo Lake parking area
Cowlitz Chimneys as seen from Tipsoo Lake parking area
Wildflowers near Tipsoo Lake
Wildflowers near Tipsoo Lake

From the parking area there is  a wonderful easy trail that walks along the ridge allowing a great view of Tipsoo Lake as well as wildflowers and wildlife.  We all walked that trail to the point where it started a decline down to the lake.  We wanted to get to Mt. Rainier, so we only went that far.  Along the walk I got some great closeup shots of birds in action, a chipmunk scurrying off and then the breathtaking view of Tipsoo Lake.

Birds on trail to Tipsoo Lake
Bird on trail to Tipsoo Lake
A chipmunk scurries to hide from my camera. Caught it just in time.
A chipmunk scurries to hide from my camera. Caught it just in time.
Mt. Rainier as seen from Tipsoo Lake parking lot
Mt. Rainier as seen from Tipsoo Lake parking lot
Another bird caught on the trail
Another bird caught on the trail
AA view of Tipsoo Lake as seen from the trail
AA view of Tipsoo Lake as seen from the trail
Sumoflam at Tipsoo Lake
Sumoflam at Tipsoo Lake
More wildflowers
More wildflowers
Family all walking along the trail from Tipsoo Lake
Family all walking along the trail from Tipsoo Lake
A Halo surrounds Mt. Rainier
A Halo surrounds Mt. Rainier

DSC_6178After our little hiking break we were back on the road to return to Cayuse Pass and then north to visit the Sunrise Visitor’s Center.  This location offered some amazing views of Mt. Rainier as well as of the Cowlitz Chimneys.  This is also the highest point that can be reached by vehicle at Mount Rainier National Park.

Sumoflam and Mt. Rainier from Sunrise
Sumoflam and Mt. Rainier from Sunrise
View of more of the Cascades
View of more of the Cascades
Stevens Canyon
Stevens Canyon

From Sunrise, we headed back to 410 and south to Cayuse Pass and WA 123 which would take us into Stevens Canyon and then around the east end of the mountain on the windy road towards Paradise.

Winding road to Paradise
Winding road to Paradise

We reached Paradise and it most certainly matched the name. Splendid views of the mountain.

Paradise is not as high up as Sunset, but it still offered a different perspective of Rainier and the Cascades.

Mt. Rainier from Paradise
Mt. Rainier from Paradise
Welcome to Paradise
Welcome to Paradise
One of many waterfalls seen along WA 123
One of many waterfalls seen along WA 123
Deer on the road from Paradise
Deer on the road from Paradise
Giant redwoods surrounded the highway
Giant redwoods surrounded the highway
Pine forests.
Pine forests.

After visiting the mountain we were soon on our way back to Port Orchard via Longmire, WA on WA 706 and then on to Elbe, WA.  The road was lined with giant redwoods and other tall trees.  It was a splendid drive.

WA 123 heading to Elbe, WA
WA 123 heading to Elbe, WA

Once in Elbe, we stopped for dinner at the Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co. to eat in an old Railroad Car.  It would be a fun experience for all  of us!

Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co. in Elbe, WA
Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co. in Elbe, WA
Dining Car at Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Company
Dining Car at Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Company

The Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Company includes a caboose motel (The Hobo Inn), a gift shop, the Cascadian Dinner Train and a restaurant and lounge.  Great for railroad buffs, the Cascadian Dinner Train, once known as the American Freedom Train, apparently toured the country with 26 cars displaying over 500 treasures of Americana.  It was a unique place for all of us to eat.

Making friends at the entrance of the Dining Car
Making friends at the entrance of the Dining Car
Caboose Motel - the Hobo Inn
Caboose Motel – the Hobo Inn
Scaleburgers, across the street from the Dining Train.
Scaleburgers, across the street from the Dining Train.  Apparently known for great burgers, hot dogs and shakes.
We got to eat in the "luxurious" Silver Palace Car
We got to eat in the “luxurious” Silver Palace Car
All of us in the Silver Palace Car for dinner
All of us in the Silver Palace Car for dinner
Elbe Church
Elbe Church, Elbe, WA

Elbe is also know for its historic Elbe Church.  This tiny (18-by-24 foot) church sits on its original location and has a rich German heritage.  It bears the name of the founders’ origin, the Elbe River valley near Hamburg, Germany.  The church has been around since 1906. Forged by the town’s first blacksmith, a 4-foot iron cross tops the 46-foot steeple, which houses the first bell.  The church still features its original altar and elevated pulpit as well as one of the hand-carved pews. Lettered prominently on the steeple of the landmark Elbe Lutheran Church is “Ev. Luth. KIRCHE” (Evangelische Lutherische Kirche), a reminder of the founders’ German origins.

Alder Lake near Elbe, WA
Alder Lake near Elbe, WA

From Elbe, we drove along the eerily picturesque and spooky Alder Lake.

The lake is dotted with old tree stumps and is really kind of “out of this world” looking.  And, some of these are really quite huge stumps.  Quite an amazing site after all of the magnificent trees we had seen throughout the day.

Alder Lake stumps near Elbe, WA
Alder Lake stumps near Elbe, WA

Finally, as we approached the small town of Eatonville, we got one fabulous view of Mt. Rainier, which, in my opinion, was probably the highlight photo of my entire 10 day visit to Washington!

Closeup shot of Mt. Rainier form near Eatonville, WA
Closeup shot of Mt. Rainier form near Eatonville, WA
Another Rainier view from near Eatonville, WA
Another Rainier view from near Eatonville, WA

It was a glorious day of travel and a wonderfully scenic drive around one of America’a most amazing mountains!!

 

 

 

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