September 6 – Drive to Closed-Due-to-Smoke Sunrise Visitor’s Center
We thought that the best thing for us three to do today would be to drive to the Sunrise Visitor’s Center on the high east side of Mt. Rainier. The temperature is cooler by 10 degrees but still too warm to keep Martha in the RV alone.
At the exit to our campground, we were met by a rotund lady clad in a conspicuity embossed, yellow, snug outfit holding a stop sign. We were told to stop and stay which we did for 45 minutes. The newly paved road up the mountain was being painted and we and many more had to wait for the paint to dry. Fortunately, the sign lady let us out to be at the head of the crowd going up the mountain.
We were making good time since everybody else was behind us and we arrived at the park’s smokier southeast visitor’s center in Ohanapecosh so that Kathleen could get her park book stamped.
While at the visitor’s center, I mentioned to the young ranger that we were headed for the Sunrise Visitor’s Center. She said "No".
The main north/south road was open but all other roads and trails were closed north of Ohanapecosh on the east side of Mt. Rainier due to thick smoke and fire from the 3,000 acre fires in the national forest. The fires were in rugged areas and only being prevented from crossing the two highways in the area.
Lightening started 13 fires in early August and the fires increased at the end of August due to the unusually hot temperatures and the dry conditions.
So, our delay by the stop sign lady enabled us to visit the Ohanapecosh Visitor’s Center when it was open which kept us from driving north 30 miles to a closed Sunrise road. And, we learned from the young ranger that just down the road in Packwood, cell phone and WiFi was available. Every disadvantage yields an advantage.
Oh, but not for AT&T customers is there cell phone service available; every other carrier, but not AT&T. So, we drove slowly through Packwood trolling for WiFi signals and finding no non-secure signals. Now desperate, just south of town we stopped at a motel who offered free WiFi for guests.
Kathleen, who has the better charm between us, entered the motel and was given the WiFi name and password that, Kathleen was told, could be used by both of us for as long as we wanted to park in the motel lot.
We did sit in the lot for about 45 minutes getting caught up on e-mail, paying bills on-line, looking at stock charts, getting caught up on the news and making a KOA campground reservation for Thursday evening in Castle Rock, Washington.
This KOA visit was not planned but our laundry is accumulating and Kathleen needs to be able to use our AT&T cell phone service so she can call AT&T to vent about the non-service that we have had in the last two weeks.
We took a flatter, less smoky route home from Packwood to our campground.
After doing some small repairs on the RV and adding 8 gallons of water to the fresh water tank with bladder containers, I headed back to the Nasqually River to take photos and enjoy the sound of the rushing, tan colored-with- glacial- flour water.