This year we weren’t up for the traditional thanksgiving; we went with an unconventional holiday celebration. We were itching to get out-of-town and so we rented a small cabin in the mountains just outside Mt Rainier National Park. It had snowed up there recently and the weather forecast was for sun. We drove through the evergreen forest at twilight; the cold winter sun set long shadows over the road, the small towns seemed deserted on this thanksgiving eve. It was dark by the time we pulled up to the cabin.
The next morning was beautiful, full sun; the sky was a washed-out blue, almost white, ice blue. There is only one road open in Mt Rainier during the winter, the road to paradise. Paradise is at the base of Mt. Rainier with a grand old lodge, visitor center and is the jumping off spot for climbing Rainier. The roads winds through old growth pine, climbing to sub alpine along rugged-boulder filled rivers. The road ends in the snow and Rainier at 14000 ft looms massive in front of you, We took a short hike in the snow; truly a mountain paradise.
On the way back to the cabin, we turned up a dirt-logging road to look for our Christmas tree. We purchased that allows you to cut down a tree in the state forest for $5. We bumped along the road looking for a suitable tree, we didn’t even have to leave the car, a drive-thru tree farm. We saw a nice sized tree just off the side of the road; unfortunately it appeared to be in the middle of an illegal dump site, with trash strewn about. Climbing over discarded tires, even though we were actually cutting it down, it almost felt like we were saving it from a toxic fate. We wrestled the tree on top of our car and tied it down; which was actually a bit of a chore as the tree was over twelve feet tall.
We then drove to Elbe,(population 29) and had thanksgiving dinner in an old rail car converted into a restaurant. I had the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings, not bad considering I was eating on a train. After dinner we went to a local watering hole, which was surprisingly busy with Elbians sharing a potluck dinner. We headed back to the cabin early to sit in the hot tub looking at super bright stars in the clear mountain sky; I can’t think of a better way to spend thanksgiving; paradise indeed.