Today, we decided to sleep in a little, not remembering that the sun actually rises around 4:45am and our curtains were not quite drawn tight enough. We got ourselves up and ready and packed our bags. We rented our car with Budget and they came and picked us up at our hotel at 10am. After signing away my life and left arm on the rental agreement, we were on our way south on I5. We quickly decided the best route and headed right for Mt. Rainier National Forest. We arrived at the main gate of the park around 12pm. After paying the $15 fee, we were on our way. We decided to head for Paradise, that's right... Paradise... which is the location of the main visitor center on Mt. Rainier. On the way up we stopped at several viewpoints to take pictures. The main visitors center was a zoo, with people everywhere. At this altitude, we were able to play in ample amounts of snowbanks, even though the temperature was almost 80 degrees. Inside the visitors center, we grabbed a quick lunch, surveyed the gift shop, and spent some time on the lookout level, which had a wonderful view. On
the way out, we decided to ask the forest ranger for directions to Mt. St. Helen's. He told us we would not make it to the visitors center before 5pm, so we quickly changed our plans and asked for directions to the Mt. Hood area. Mr. Ranger told us the best route would be to head out of the park thru "Ohanapecosh", which I still cannot pronouce. We took our map and set out. We were able to stop at many scenic viewpoints on the way out of the park. We made a quick stop at the Ohanapecosh visitors center before heading south towards Mt. Hood. Little did we realize, we were in for a interesting journey. As we headed south, we came upon another National Forest, and we realized we needed to cut straight thru the forest. We entered Gifford Pinchot National Forest around 4pm and from that point on, we saw only a handful of cars for the next 3.5 hours. It was the longest car ride of my life... lots of turns and twists. The road was very narrows and both sides were covered by very dense forest. About 30 miles into the forest, we actually found
a scenic viewpoint and was able to see Mt. St. Helen's for the first time. We finally made it to Hood River around 7:30pm. Hood River is located on the Columbia River, which has incredible wind surfing. I think the town of Hood River is a "surf town". Since we were not exactly sure where we were going to end up, we did not make any hotel reservations. BIG MISTAKE! Hood River was packed. Every room was taken. We finally found a room in "The Dalles" about 20 miles east of Hood River. We pulled into the motel 6 around 9pm. We asked for a recommendation for dinner, and the clerk (who had no teeth) told us to go to "Cousin's". Cousin's turned out to be a once in a lifetime experience. I don't know if I was tried or just plain happy to be out of the car, but I couldn't stop laughing. As we pulled into Cousin's, we saw a wide range of fake animals... horses, cows, pigs. (That should have been a clue!) As we entered the resturant, the door had a sound effect that changed with every opening..... I got the sound of a rooster. We
were seated in a booth, and our water was served in canning jars. I looked out the window and saw the ass end of the fake cow. NICE! Dinner was ok and we were ready to leave quickly.. BTW... I heard a horse neighing on the way out. We headed back to the Motel 6, where I proceeded to fight to get internet connection, and finally gave up and went to bed.
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