We just returned from a long weekend in Washington - the state of evergreen trees, mountains, and aviation. Driving out of Sea-Tac International on Wednesday night, we were greeted by a light drizzle and overcast skies - not unusual for this Pacific Northwest region.
Most drives through the state will take you on roads surrounded by tall evergreen forests. The weather changes but the beautiful wilderness scenery stays green throughout the seasons. You don't have to travel far for a complete change of scenery though; go a little ways higher up in altitude to experience the winter wonderland you get in colder regions. This is one of those rare places that you might ski and surf in the same season, with snowy summits and moderately warm ocean coasts only several hours apart. Certain mountains around here even keep a snowy peak throughout the summer. More than half of the state of Washington is forested, primarily with evergreens (so the state slogan is not a surprise) 🌲🌲
This is slightly less spectacular of a backdrop compared to my last visit to this spot (see here), with Mount Rainier hiding in the clouds that morning, but nonetheless a stellar view of Seattle's cityscape! Having planned a drive down here a few days in advance, I last minute realized that it’s now summertime (that earlier shot was taken in February) and the sun will be rising a few hours earlier, which meant we had to be out of bed and onto Interstate 5 by something like 4am... So naturally the city was still asleep as we strolled thru the waterfront Public Market and the original Starbucks (est.1971) after this skyline photoshoot. It got busier towards brunch as we made it to the base of the Space Needle and walked the surrounding park. The city reminds me somewhat of Toronto except that Seattle is a little more hip, more green, and slightly less chaotic than its Canadian counterpart!
Here's a closer look at the Needle. I actually shot this during my previous trip but shhh 🤫 - the sky did actually clear up by the time we got to it later that morning so this is an entirely accurate representation of current events. And now we're back in Everett...
...North America's aviation capital and home to the largest manufacturing facility in the world. You are looking at Boeing’s newest airplane, the 777X - which we were lucky enough to spot driving by Paine Field airport. This is the flight test aircraft, having just successfully completed its first taxi test. It was the first time the newly built airplane got out onto the runway, where pilots got their first real feel for its controls. Prior to its first flight, the runway taxi run includes the testing of various systems, including of course the wheels and breaks as well as the hydraulically activated wing spoilers. Note the folding wingtips, the first of its kind, which may look small from afar but are actually each almost 12 feet tall!
And now into the wild... Since we didn't get a good glimpse of Mount Rainier behind the skyline from Kerry Park that morning, we decided to pay it an in-person visit 🏔
Scroll down to follow along some of our drive through this beautiful national park.
A winding road runs around the park's perimeter, zigzagging up and down the mountains, with Mount Rainier sitting tall somewhere in the centre of the park, often hiding in clouds.
We took a short but refreshing break from the long drive at Christine Falls - a small but breathtaking waterfall a few miles into the wilderness of Mount Rainier National Park. The stone bridge above it holds the road we drove in on. There are many pull-off spots along this one-lane highway, with very nice viewpoints and even picnic areas on the edge of the forest.
One side of the road is a rocky mountain slope covered in greenery, while the other - across the stone barrier - presents something like this...
Tunnels along the way take the road right though the mountain rock...
We didn't get too close to the majestic Rainier - some roads are often closed due to weather, even in the summertime. The temperature drops drastically as you gain altitude, with some remnants of snow even at our level. But we did catch a glimpse of it on the way, as the clouds receded to reveal Mount Rainier's high snowy peak!