2015 In Review: The Year In Travel

San Francisco, May 2015
San Francisco, May 2015
Seattle, WA August 2015
Seattle, WA, August 2015
New York City at night as seen from Hoboken, NJ
New York City at night as seen from Hoboken, NJ, September 2015
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

The year 2015 started off with plans to travel to a couple of locations,
but not the extent of the travel that I enjoyed in 2014. As it
turned out, I had

some great experiences and more travel than had been originally planned. It was truly a good year for my travel as I have noted in my blog posts and Facebook posts throughout the year.

Coast2Coast

Flying in 2015
Flying in 2015

Unlike most of my travel, which I like to do by car on back roads, the year’s travel adventures saw me traveling by airplane on a number of occasions. I don’t mind flying, honestly, but I prefer driving because I can see more of the landscape. However, schedules and other things necessitated my flying to many of the destinations I went to this year.

In a nutshell, in 2015 I was blessed with the opportunity to travel
to the West Coast twice. Once to the Seattle area and once to the
San Francisco area. I also made my way into my old home stomping grounds in Salt Lake City and was able to visit old friends and the beautiful mountains near Sundance Resort on a business trip.

Mount Timpanogos in Provo Canyon, UT
Mount Timpanogos in Provo Canyon, UT
Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT with my sweet wife
Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT with my sweet wife

And, one of my travel highlights of the year was being able to go to New England with my wife, my daughter Marissa and her children and visit the last three remaining states of my 50 states adventure. So, I finally
could say that I have set foot in all 50 states before I turned 60 (see my 50 State Review Here). We also had a couple of smaller road trips including one to Cincinnati and one to Louisville and were able to see if things on those trips as well.

Some of the major highlights of this year’s travel include:

One of the famed lighthouses on the Maine coast
One of the famed lighthouses on the Maine coast

-Visiting Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, just knocking out the
last of my 50 state visits in the United States (see the first of my blog posts about this trip)

Grampz with grandson Charles on the beach in Neah Bay, WA
Grampz with grandson Charles on the beach in Neah Bay, WA
Watching grandkidz play on Atlantic coast at Old Orchard Beach in Maine
Watching grandkidz play on Atlantic coast at Old Orchard Beach in Maine

-Setting foot on a Pacific Ocean beach (See Neah Bay Post here) and also setting foot on a beach in the Atlantic Ocean (Old Orchard Beach, ME post coming soon)

With my wife in Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington
With my wife in Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington

-An extended visit and travel around Washington state

Flying over the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in Colorado, including Mt. Evans
Flying over the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in Colorado, including Mt. Evans

-Flying over the Colorado Rocky Mountains and viewing the snow-capped peaks from an airplane

Happy Me at Woodflock
Happy Me at Woodflock

-Attending the famed “Woodflock” gathering in Red Bluff, CA
over memorial day holiday (see my Woodflock Post here)

Welcome to Santa Claus
Welcome to Santa Claus

-A year end trip with grandkidz to Santa Claus, IN at Christmastime (see my detailed blog post)

Heading east with the grandkidz!
Heading east with the grandkidz!

Along with all of this travel, I was able to see a number of unique and quirky sites. I ate at a couple of unique restaurants. Got to
spend time at one time or another with all of my 10 grandchildren.

Along the way I saw mountains, zoos, wildlife, coastal sunrises and sunsets, famed bridges, big cities, small villages.  Some of the more “unique” places can be seen below in pictures.  It was a great year!!

Sandwich, NH - Discovered that you cannot buy a sandwich in Sandwich, NH
Sandwich, NH – Discovered that you cannot buy a sandwich in Sandwich, NH

Following are a few shots of some of the more interesting places

Easy Street in Port Orchard, WA
Easy Street in Port Orchard, WA
Front side of Larry Kirkland's "Agraria" in Santa Rosa, CA
Front side of Larry Kirkland’s “Agraria” in Santa Rosa, CA
Fat Smitty's in Port Townsend, WA
Fat Smitty’s in Port Townsend, WA
Santa Claus Police in Santa Claus, IN
Santa Claus Police in Santa Claus, IN
Dinos at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Dinos at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
A two headed sheep in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle, WA
A two headed sheep in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle, WA
Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA (featuring Bigfoot!)
Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA (featuring Bigfoot!)
Carlos Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ (famous from Cake Boss)
Carlos Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ (famous from Cake Boss)
Santa Claus exit and Sumoflam
Santa Claus, IN  exit and Sumoflam
Chilling on the porch at Sundance Resort in Utah
Chilling on the porch at Sundance Resort in Utah
Famed Pink Elephant Car Wash in Seattle
Famed Pink Elephant Car Wash in Seattle
"Cyclisk" - Obelisk made out of bicycle parts in Santa Rosa, CA
“Cyclisk” – Obelisk made out of bicycle parts in Santa Rosa, CA
Giant whale mural in Seattle
Giant whale mural in Seattle
Santa Claus Car Wash in Kringle Place - I guess Santa also has a car!
Santa Claus Car Wash in Kringle Place – I guess Santa also has a car!
An obligatory Hershey Kiss from Julianne, at Hershey Chocolate World, Hershey, PA
An obligatory Hershey Kiss from Julianne, at Hershey Chocolate World, Hershey, PA
Sumoflam at MrDHEO's wall painting in Lexington, one of a few new PRHBTN murals
Sumoflam at MrDHEO’s wall painting in Lexington, one of a few new PRHBTN murals
Welcome to Paradise - Washington
Welcome to Paradise – Washington
We all know who is really Nice!
We all know who is really Nice!

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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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