For the Labor Day weekend, some friends invited us to their cabin in Packwood and we happily accepted. We drove from BI to Rainier via the Tacoma-Narrows Bridge, our first crossing of the infamous structure (it was considerably cheaper and faster to go this route — $28 for the ferry, $4 for the bridge). We arrived around midday on Saturday, ate some lunch with the kids and drove up to Sunrise.


On the way we passed through the town of Packwood for the first time and witnessed their biannual flea market. The flea market is a loosely structured affair whereby vendors negotiate with local businesses directly to rent space to sell their wares. It had the distinct feeling of being a hillbilly convention — we loved it.

flea market & orange car body jewelry

Arriving at Sunrise we herded the kids and started along the gravel trails meandering through the meadows under dark, gloomy skies. This didn't last long for it was damn cold. By the time I shed most of my warmer layers for the sake of the family even I was cold so the hiking around Sunrise turned into a sit-around-the-table-at-the-lodge adventure. P and I did take the kids to the Visitor Center where they touched a mountain goat skin and otherwise goofed around. Walking back to their mothers they held hands and jumped, too cute.

We went back to the cabin to warm up, ate dinner and enjoyed wine, fire and friends while the kids slept — a decidedly wonderful evening.

On Sunday morning, my daughter, an early riser, awoke pre-dawn as usual. We knew from the day before D slept in until 9am so we strapped our pajama-clad child into the car and went to Packwood for coffee so the others could catch some more sleep.

I had read the day before about a coffee shop in town who roasted their own beans, the Butter Butte Coffee Co (it's for sale!). At the coffee shop we met and struck up a conversation with a woman from Portland up for the flea market. She told us how it has changed over the years: more food, fewer antiques, more junk. I've heard this story over and over because of eBay, craigslist and other online venues for selling merchandise — it's too bad some aspects of Americana are being destroyed. That said, the market was packing them in, even charging $4 to park at convenient locations.

When we finished our coffee and the flea market was starting up again we headed back to the cabin; Sunday's destination: Paradise.

Before we go though, let's first check out this sign:

no shooting zone

So let me get this straight, you need to tell people not to shoot guns in town for fear of a measly $250 fine? What? Anyway… We all loved this sign but none more than P.

So on we drove (lots of driving on this trip) up to Paradise. After yesterday's freezing (literally) weather we were promised sunshine, shirt-sleeves and flowers — one out of three isn't keeping much of a promise. We were greeted not only overcast skies, more freezing weather but also a mass of would-be day-hikers all up for the holiday weekend.

white flowers

Onward we adventurers went, the kids holding hands again when they weren't tucked under my arms squealing with delight as a I did wind-sprints up the mountain, "More run, more run!" shouted they.


Eventually the air grew colder and the slight dry rain turned into steady freezing snow. In oft written words "the woman and children went back to the warming lodge while the men went a little further up the mountain."

tree, flowers, fog more fog

The rest of the hike, though short, was enjoyable — the more the snow fell the more attractive the flowers and heather.

snowing indian paintbrush in snow

After finishing the short hike, we returned to the lodge to find the kids warm and eating. My daughter didn't want to say goodbye but depart we must and home we went.

Thanks P, M & D for inviting us, we had a great time!

(BTW, the boat ride is beautiful this morning: a guitar serenade, clear Olympic views, clean and crisp air and a blinding sun for the morning ride. I think I've mentioned it before, but for good measure: I love living here.)
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