We traveled along the National Park to Park Highway for nearly 7,000 miles. We saw wild animals, unique habitats, beautiful sunsets and vibrant forests. I’ve had my favorites and my not so favorites, but every National Park we’ve visited promised to be memorable.
I know that. Mountain Dad did too. But I didn’t realize Big E felt the same way until an experience in Mount Rainier National Park.
In Mount Rainier National Park several forces combined against us. First the weather. Sure we expected some rain or cold sometime on our National Park to Park Highway trip, but to have freezing temperatures, rain and wind all at once seemed like an unnecessary blow. The temperature dipped into the forties and even wearing every warm piece of clothing we owned, I felt cold. Forcing my kids to hike with their stocking caps, gloves, sweatshirts and rain jackets was a major coercive effort. I get it. I don’t like the cold either.
Second, there were the animals. In the woods around our campsite Mountain Dad heard creaking, shuffling, and grunting. Something big lingered nearby. Could it be a moose? Elk? Or maybe something much more dangerous. Was it a bear? While the kids and I huddled in the Ultimate Adventure Vehicle, Mountain Dad investigated the strange sound. We finally determined it was an elk, luckily one that didn’t seem interested in us.
Another animal encounter at the White River Campground involved Big E, Little G and a stump. In true kid fashion they set about to destroy it. Little did they know that a hive of wasps lived there, wasps that didn’t like their home being pummeled repeatedly by a shovel.
Out flew the wasps. Away ran the kids, but not without casualties.
Finally while driving from sunrise visitors center to our campsite, Big E was happily talking and laughing. Then all of the sudden he threw up. Vomit on the carseat, on his clothes, in the car. He never complained about an upset stomach and even right afterward was laughing and talking away. What he said was, “Whoa! I’m going to tell my grandkids about this.”
I’m not sure which memorable part of Mount Rainier he’ll tell his grandkids. The puking, the wasps, the freezing in the middle of summer, were all top on my list of negatives. Although those are things worth mentioning to posterity, I also hope he includes some of the positives from Mount Rainier as well.
The views of the mountain were stunning. The wildflowers along the trail inspiring. The family time fun and enjoyable, even with the puking, wasps and rain.
And that’s how every adventure in the outdoors goes. A little joy mixed in with a lot of aggravation. I can’t control the weather or when my kids get sick, but I can control my attitude about it. I can choose to savor the beauty in the outdoors and ignore the cold as best I can. I can choose to cut a hike short or skip it altogether depending on what works that day. I could spend all day in my sleeping bag if needed.