"Well, it isn't for the money, and it's only for a while.
You stalk about the rooms, and you roll away the milesÖ.
But when you stop to let 'em know you got it down,
It's just another town along the road.
"
Ė Jackson Brown, The Road

TODAYíS ROUTE:
Seattle, WA to Mt Rainier, WA: I-90 East across Mercer Island to I-405 South to SR-169 South to Enumclaw to SR-410 East through Greenwater, South over Cayuse Pass to SR-123 South on SR-706 West into Mt. Rainier National Park to Cougar Rock campground. (
MAP)

THE DETAILS:
I meet Jenny at her place in Eastlake and we head over for a tasty brunch at the 14 Carrot Cafť, just down the street. Itís been great to see her and Iím glad I had some extra time to hang out in Seattle. Itís an awesome city, unique with it surrounding waterways. I often say there are only two cities I could live in: New York and San Francisco. With another few visits, I may be adding Seattle to that list.

I head downtown to the Pioneer Square Historic District, a 25-block area of 1890ís vintage architecture. The area now features shops, art galleries, restaurants, and bookshops, but 100 years ago it was a bustling regional trade center, the jumping off point for Yukon bound gold seekers. That time and place is celebrated at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park which also has a sister site in Skagway, Alaska.

Turning south, I can see my next destination looming in the distance: Mount Rainier National Park. I reach the outskirts of the park by late afternoon. A majestic volcanic mountain, the glacier-capped peak rises 14,411 feet, higher than any other in Washington State. I travel along the eastern edge of the park and enter at the Stevens Canyon Entrance near the southeast corner. The Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center, about 20 miles west, closes at 6:00 PM and I get there with ten minutes to spare. This is the most unique VC Iíve seen at any park site. The building is round with a huge, glass-enclosed observation deck offering spectacular views of the mountain and Paradise Valley. The structure was originally designed for a volcano site in Hawaii.

Mt. Rainier is a relatively young volcano, only about one million years old. While it may be dormant right now, scientists agree that it will erupt again, and the results will be disastrous. For evidence of the mountainís potential you need to only look a few miles south to the next peak, Mount St. Helens.

The park has a number of campgrounds, but the one closest to the visitor center is Cougar Rock. The ranger tells me there are 200 sites there and I should have no problems getting a space tonight, even on a Saturday, because at this time of year the temperature it is a bit colder than most people enjoy. She says I wonít freeze but it will be chilly. Itís getting dark, as the sun sets here today at 6:47 PM. So I head down to Cougar Rock, pick out site number C-24 and pitch my tent. Iím getting rather proficient at this and it takes me only fifteen minutes to get the dry bag off the bike and set up the tent, a Eureka Backcountry 2.

The campground is very nice: a dense forest of enormous cedar and fir trees. I head down for a quick bite at The National Park Inn in Longmire. The hostess gives me a hassle for not having a dinner reservation, but Iím finished with the roast beef special before she even notices. I want to head back to Cougar Rock as soon as possible. Those few miles riding back in the dark, looking out for deer and elk, is something Iíd rather avoid.

THE DAILY TAKE:
Miles Today: 126.3
Total Miles: 14,505
Time on Motorcycle: 3 Hours 7 Minutes
Average Speed: 40.4 MPH
States Visited today: 1 (WA)
Total States Visited: 30
National Park Service Passport Stamps: 2
NPS Stamp totals: 110 Stamps, 27 States
Weather: Cool and Sunny, just like I like it.
Snowfall on Mt. Rainier last year (July 1998 to June 1999): 86.5 feet (1038 inches)

SEEN ON THE ROAD:
"Summer is gone. Fall is here. Come-on inside and buy some beer."- sign outside package store near Enumclaw, route 410.

RANDOM PASSINGS:
There may be a new contender for the best breakfast treat in America. While "The Worldís Best Donuts" are still very highly regarded and I do dream of them often, my memory of Minnesota is starting to fade. Thereís a new kid on the block, and heís coming out fighting. Heís the Cinnamon Roll at the 14 Carrot Cafe in Seattle. Heís huge, heís gooey, heís filled with chocolate sauce, and he is to die for.

The donuts in Grand Marais can rest easy knowing they are definitely the "Worldís Best". But the best cinnamon roll lives at 2305 Eastlake Avenue East, Seattle, WA 98102. LOOK OUT WORLD.

 


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