Day Trip to Mount Rainier & Washington Video Diary

Mount Rainier was high on my list of places to visit in the U.S. and I'm so pleased with the way my visit worked out. The Pacific Northwest is known for its typically gloomy weather, fog, and clouds but in the summer, it's sunny and the air is crisp and I managed to have a lovely morning on the mountain. However, by afternoon, the clouds rolled in and I got a taste of the typical climate which I actually think was kind of cool.
I rented a car and I'd pre-downloaded a map of the area on my Google Maps app on my phone ahead of time, which I recommend doing because reception in the park is spotty.

I rented my car through Enterprise because it was the best deal amongst all of the agencies. It wasn't cheap; I still paid about $65 per day for an economy car, but it was worth it.
On my way, I indulged in my hazelnut cream pasty from Piroshky Piroshky for breakfast. I could tell it was Russian because it had a pretty strong alcohol taste, which worked but I don't recommend sharing this with your children.

I had actually hoped to go to Ludi's to get some traditional Filipino fare, especially since they were slated to close at the end of the month (because of a disagreement over the cost of rent). However, they were closed early due to a fire, which was so sad for them but also sad for me because I wanted some longanisa and lumpia.
The drive south was quiet and beautiful. The pine forests were so lush and green and wonderful.
The entrance fee per vehicle into the park is $30, which seems kind of pricey but I'm willing to fork over as much money as they deem necessary for the parks to be loved and cared for and well-maintained.
As I was ascending the mountains, the skies were starting to get bluer and bluer and I finally saw the main event: Mount Rainier.
I pulled over at Sunrise Point to grab a few photos of Sunrise Lake.
When I got to Sunrise at around 10, the parking lot was pretty empty; there were about three dozen cars.
I decided to do the hike to the Frozen Lake so I geared up with my water bottle and camera and headed out.
It was pretty windy so I was bundled up with my sweatshirt and jacket but here and there, the wind would calm down and it would get warm enough for me to take off my jacket and tie it around my waist.
The hike was pretty easy since the trail was blazed and there were plenty of people around. And lucky for me, the altitude wasn't overwhelmingly high; I tend to get altitude sickness pretty easily.
To be honest, the frozen lake was pretty disappointing compared to the rest of the surrounding landscape, but hey, it was a landmark and a goal for the hike. I could've ventured further on but I'd had it in my head that I wanted to make my way to at least one more part of the park so I decided to head back but I took a different route.
By the time I got back to the parking lot, it was full.
By then, I was ready for lunch so I scarfed down the rest of my Piroshky Piroshky haul.
And then, I headed south towards Paradise.
There were loads of pullover points so we stopped wherever we saw something that interested us and snapped plenty of photos along the way.
The closer we got to Paradise, the cloudier and foggier it got.
My favorite stop of the day was probably at Louise Lake. Not only was the lake gorgeous (the colors in the photos do not match what it looked like in real life) but there were wildflowers all over the place.
The southside of Mount Rainier National Park is where all the wildflowers are so I shouldn't have been surprised but all of the views here were so breathtaking, I was so overwhelmed by everything I saw.
There were a bunch of signs for Reflection Lake so I pulled over and saw that there were some cool trails but it was starting to drizzle so I just snapped a few photos and headed back up towards the Paradise Visitor Center.
So Paradise was high on my list because I was hoping to encounter fields of lupines. I did see a lupine here or there but it was mostly other wildflowers in bloom, which were still really beautiful, just not what I'd been hoping for or expecting.
I did the super easy, paved hike to Myrtle Falls and then headed up a cute little trail up a hill but ended up turning around when I realized it was just too foggy to be able to appreciate the views.
Once I'd spent a couple of hours at Paradise, I was pretty tired and ready to head out. I'd chosen to stay in Olympia after visiting Mount Rainier because I'm somewhat loyal to Marriott and figured I could get a couple nights' worth of points out of this trip and the location in Olympia was the closest and most convenient for this trip.
The drive to Olympia was just as picturesque as the trip down from Seattle had been.
This hotel was clean, cheap, and in a decent location so I have no complaints, though there wasn't anything special about it.
I got into Olympia around 6 so I got dressed for dinner and headed out to explore a little.
I ended up walking around the Capitol Building campus which also had the Supreme Court of Washington and a pretty park in the back.
I went to this cute wine bar and indulged in a rose flight as my aperitivo before dinner.
For dinner, I headed to Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar because I had my mind set on getting some super fresh oysters. Washington is definitely the place for you if you're a fan of oysters.
At my server's recommendation, I started with a Triceratops IPA, which was so crisp and citrusy.
For my starter, I got the Caesar salad. I hadn't had high hopes at all; I just wanted something crunchy and crisp but this salad blew me away because it was fantastic. I'm usually not a wedge salad person, but the chef had spread the perfect amount of dressing on each of the leaves - in a way that reminded me of the way kimchi is made - and the dressing itself was so lush and creamy and perfectly flavorful. The croutons were wonderfully crunchy, the pepitas added another lovely texture, and the portion size was perfect for me.
Of course I had to get some oysters. I ordered a half dozen of the Chelsea gems; the flavor profile was described as being fresh and cucumber-y and that description was spot on. The oysters themselves were humongous and meaty, the brine was subtly salty with the light flavor of cucumber as described, and they didn't need anything else but were also really delicious with a little squeeze of lime and drizzle of mignonette.
For my main, I got the mussels. There was a trio of locals sitting adjacent to me and the woman made this recommendation and it didn't take much to convince me, since I love mussels. The meat of the mussels was so plump and delicious and all of them were perfect. Sometimes when I order mussels or even when I make them at home, some are puny, some have a gritty texture, some have a muddy flavor, but these were all so uniformly delicious.
Also at that kind woman's suggestion, I asked for bread to mop up some of that mussel liquor.
For dessert I got the honey tart, which was a honey flavored custard with a buttery crust and even though my stomach was bursting from all of the food I described above, I inhaled this. One of the servers came over and made a comment that he was really impressed by my ability to eat. I basically waddled back to my hotel before passing out.
So that's a wrap on my time in Washington. Here's my video diary: