What’s your “multiples” month? The month that’s crammed with holidays, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and other special events?
For us, it’s May.
May includes numerous birthdays, holidays, and special events. Like Memorial Day. Armed Forces Day. Mother’s Day. Our anniversary is also in early May.
Snuggle Bunny and I typically celebrate our May wedding anniversary with a hiking trip to Mount Rainier National Park. There’s just one catch: Mount Rainier is one of the snowiest places on earth. All our favorite hikes are buried under tons of snow.
So this year we decided to celebrate some place different. Where we wouldn’t have to contend with trails under truckloads of snow. Like the coast. Whatcom County, to be exact. “Crew HQ” for the week was in Bellingham, the county seat and largest city in Whatcom.
You can read more about that in Whirling Thru Whatcom: Washington’s Captivating Coastal Community.
But Mother’s Day is special, huh? Especially when someone says “hike,” “Mount Rainier” and “Mother’s Day” in the same sentence! Game on!
A family favorite since 1964, Mount Rainier is our go-to outdoor spot for… just about anything. It’s about a three-hour drive, one-way. But when you can hike the world’s most magnificent mountain on an 80-degree May day and the roads are open a week sooner than anticipated due to an unusually warm week, well, Mountain, here we come!
So we roamed around Longmire’s historic district. Strolled across the Nisqually River Bridge and wandered the back roads of Longmire near Eagle Peak trailhead.
Picnicked at Narada Falls, running fast and hard during the spring thaw.
Then we zipped up to Paradise to suck in conifer-crisped air and some of the most glorious mountain scenery this side of forever. (Paradise is on record as one of the snowiest places on earth. It held a world record for most snowfall in a single season in 1971-72, with 1,222 inches in one year. That’s over 93 feet!)
We expected half the population of the western hemisphere to show up at the Mountain on this warm, clear, sparkling blue Sunday. And it did. Until late afternoon or so. Then the crowds cleared out and we almost had the place to ourselves.
We capped the day off with dinner at National Park Inn in Longmire, about 20 minutes north of the park’s Nisqually gate. We’ve visited the Inn’s Mother’s Day brunch in years past. Barron of beef. Citrus grilled salmon. Blackberry mountain salad with pears and raspberry viniagrette. Fresh broiled asparagus. New white potatoes and risotto with wild mushrooms.
This year’s Mother’s Day buffet was advertised as running from noon to 6:00 p.m. Anticipating large crowds as in previous years, we made reservations for 5:00 p.m. When we arrived at the Inn, there were just two other tables in use. Moms got complimentary white and red roses, which I brought home and put into water.
On the plus side, we enjoyed an uncrowded, quiet dining room. But the meal itself was a major disappointment. The roast beef and salmon were cold. So were the vegetables. I don’t know how long the food had been sitting out on the buffet table, but it was obviously too long. And not exactly appetizing. Especially when you’re shelling out $30 a plate.
Although friendly and efficient, the dining room staff seemed in a hurry to clock out. They tore down the buffet table a half hour early. Maybe they figured that since ours was apparently the last reservation of the day, they’d just serve up whatever dregs were available and call it good.
We’ve dined at National Park Inn several times over the last 15 years or so. This was the first time the food was markedly sub-standard. We’ve had better meals at Denny’s – for a lot less.
Anyway, we enjoyed a lovely post-dinner stroll around the Trail of the Shadows just across the street from the Inn. An easy walk of less than a mile, the Shadows loop is one of the easiest trail in the park.
Crowds dissipated. Bull frogs tuned up for a night time chorus. Purpled in shadow, Longmire Meadow stretched and yawned as the Mountain jacketed into a thin fleece of cloud, donned a golden tiara and bedded down for the night. A chilly wind raced off her shoulders, blue and bracing.
We headed home as night fell, grateful for the multiple blessings of Mother’s Day and May at my Mountain! Can’t wait to go back!