Last Thursday we headed out for our “big” camping trip of the summer to Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. Neither Jim or I had been to either and had been wanting to go since we see the mountains from a distance all the time.
Our first stop was Seaquest State Park, which is just off Hwy 504 on the way to Johnston Ridge Observatory. It was a nice campground, very wooded and had a variety of sites. We had a great, private site (#36), complete with a couple of hills for the boys to roll their trucks down. We arrived after lunch and got all set-up in time for Will’s afternoon nap. Jack and Jim went to one of the St. Helens visitor centers, which near the campground.
The trouble started when Jim and I noticed that the dome lights were still on in the car even with all the doors closed. (Last month while in California we started getting a door ajar alarm when we were driving, but Jim had successfully found a partial fix on our drive home.) We turned the dome lights off at the switch and thought it was fine. Until the next morning when we went to start the car and it would barely start. It did start and we headed out to go see the mountain.
We drove up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, which was a beautiful drive. We couldn’t believe how close we were to the mountain. They had a movie about the eruption. The force and power was quite amazing. I learned a new term, hummocks, which are mounds of debris from the land slide.
During our drive the door ajar alarm started sounding again. Ick!
We had a nice evening, minus the mosquito bite I got on my foot through my sock. I don’t understand that, there was bare skin about 3 inches away and that was the spot it chose.
The next morning we got packed up to move to our next location and when Jim went to start the car it wouldn’t start. So after trying to get a jump and discovering we had corrosion on the negative terminal, we called AAA. He arrived within an hour, cleaned off the terminal and got us going. We tried shutting the car off and starting it again, which it did. So we decided that we would keep going to the next campground and hope that the drive would recharge the battery.
Our next destination was Indian Creek Campground on Rim Rock Lake just over White Pass on Hwy 12. It was a beautiful drive as we skirted Mt. Rainier National Park and would catch glimpses of the mountain. After much deliberation (we didn’t have an assigned site and our first choice was taken) we landed in site #8. It was a very large, pretty private site, with a natural back boundary line (very important with Will, because he likes to wander.)
About 2 hours after we arrived I went to roll up the car windows and they would barely roll up. I tried starting the car and it struggled, but started. All the two of us could think was “Now what.” We are out in the middle of nowhere and are probably going to wake up to another dead battery. Great. With the 1 bar of reception I was getting on my phone I found an auto parts store about 35 miles away that was open on Sunday.
We tried to settle in and enjoy the evening, which as initially more difficult for me because I now have 6 more bites on my feet. Seriously my feet and one in my eye brow. Luckily that night we all got to shower (thanks to our new privacy tent and the outside shower, since the campground only had a pit toilet.) I think that made us all feel better.
The next morning we woke up and got the car started, just barely. After breakfast we headed out to Selah, near Yakima. They were able to assess the battery and they said that it was holding a charge, but something was draining it when it was off. So we decided that we should probably head home, with the car issues and Will was just a pill. (It is hard to travel/camp with a 16 month old; he doesn’t want to sit in his seat, doesn’t stay in the campsite, it is just hard.)
We headed back to the campsite and had a nice lunch before we finished packing up.We got everyone loaded in the car and tried to keep Will awake for a photo at a Mt. Rainier vista about 12 miles back from the campground, but he was out right away. We decided to drive through Mt. Rainier National Park to get home.
It was a beautiful day and there were some good views of the mountain. We wanted to pull over at one point, but there weren’t any turnouts on our side of the road, so Jim took a photo out of the sun roof. About 2-3 minutes later I hear sirens and realize that I am getting pulled over. The park ranger (want-a-be cop that couldn’t hack it) gave me a ticket for Jim not having his seat belt on. The guys was a huge jerk and gave us a lecture about wearing seat belts. This was my first ticket ever, so Jim and I didn’t speak for the next hour and a half of our drive. (Do you like our $91 photo?) Will who only took a short nap fussed from the time we were pulled over until we got home. It was a fitting end to a trip that seemed doomed from the start.
It wasn’t all bad; we did see some beautiful scenery. But we felt bad that we were stressed about the car and didn’t get to enjoy the family time and totally unwind like both of us were hoping. Everyone has trips like this and I am sure that we will have others in the future.