Above are 2 links to different photos that I uploaded from Phone and Camera
Below is my photo album which contains most of the same pictures.
We had been to this area before so this was some what of a repeat from a couple of years ago. We did virtually the exact same thing.
We flew into Seattle. The minute we stepped off the plane we headed to Ivars for Fish and Chips and Chowder. The only thing we did in Seattle was eat at Top Pot Donuts again. Very good. The caramel donut was the strangest best donut I've ever had. We stayed 2 nights at Holiday Inn Express City Center, which was perfect for us.
We did a day trip to San Juan Islands. The main goal here was to see Orca's as we had on a previous trip. We went with Maya Whale Watching again. The last time we saw Killer Whales the entire 4 hours. This time we saw one Minke Whale for maybe 2 minutes. Very cool, but pretty disappointing compared to the last trip. We did go to Pelindaba Lavender Farms, which we hadn't done previously. This is awesome and the flowers were at peak. It is free, but of course you are going to buy a few things from their shop. We had a nice turkey sandwich at thier picnic area. We had bought this from Market Chef near Friday Harbor. Very good!
The next day we headed to Sunrise area of Mount Rainier. We hiked Naches Peak Loop. This is truly one of the best hikes I've ever done. We had a picnic lunch on the hike. Do the hike clockwise for great views every step of the way.
The next day we hiked Skyline Trail. We had planned on going all the way to Panorama Point. We came up a tad short as the last part of the trail simply had to much snow. The snow was really really deep in some spots. This made the hike actually all that more interesting and beautiful too.
We did a short hike later that afternoon to Bench Lake. It is a nice easy trail and the Bear Grass was crazy in bloom there.
We did see a bear with two cubs, marmots at several spots, silver fox(twice), deer. I have been to just about every national park lodge. Paradise Inn is the first one I've been to twice though. Very good with nice dining and a very good little cafe as well. The new visitor center is super nice and the food is well above average food for park type food.
There is a trade off--The snow made things prettier in some ways, however the wildflowers weren't nearly as good as our previous trip. The beargrass was very good, which I had never encountered before. It would be hard to decide on which trip I liked best though. While I think Glacier, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Tetons are super pretty. I would put Rainier well ahead of them. You could pick virtually any trail and it is outstanding. Lots of little lake everywhere and views of the mountain.
We also stopped by Snoqualmie Falls on our way back to the airport. This is free and is very nice.
I have a new Samsung S5 Active phone. I was shocked at how well the pictures from it turned out. I still had my regular camera with a zoom, but may settle for just the phone on some hikes as it is much easier to carry. It isn't as good, but certainly something to consider.
The one photo of the dust storm is on our plane just outside of Vegas on our connection flight. All of the photos on that link are from my phone.
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San Juan Islands and Mount Rainier Report and Photos