Saturday. Day three gave us Columbia River mist followed by the road-noise relief that comes when you replace I-5 with eastbound old US highway 12. Quaint farms there, and we narrowly escaped being a part of the Loggers Jubilee parade in Morton. To enter Rainier, or any national park, presents brown signs, visitor center films and flat-brimmed ranger hats, small signals that link to memories of childhood. Today this inner child bought a lifetime senior pass to all parks (Hey! $10!). National Park entrances transport us. Outside is ramshackle commerce (clapboard signs, kitschy motels posturing as resorts), inside is the lush forest. And crowds.
Setup at Cougar Rock campground site E23. Nice space, facing a forest, camper neighbors not too near. We had been invited by Michael’s family to attend their camping reunion that late afternoon which was held, coincidentally, at another Rainier campground. Amy is visiting there too, so–how can it be?–we are 1000 miles from home and yet able to see her and meet more of Michael’s fam. Their campground is Ohanepecosh, which I love to mispronounce Oh-my-gosh. There were cousins galore–too many names to recall, BBQ pork, fruit salad, wine, stories, campfire chatter–then a late evening drive back to quiet dark Cougar Rock for slumber under the Perseids.