RIT Big Shot 25

BigShot25Today was RIT’s 25th Big Shot, of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C..  I loved being a part of it last year, but this year I’m glad I skipped the trip to DC.  To be honest, I’m not really a fan of this one.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I see technically wrong with the photo.  It just seems like an uninteresting subject to me.

I loved last years though, which was the first one I participated in, and many of the other Big Shots.

Spokane to Glacier

After a good night’s sleep in the worst hotel of the trip so far (seriously! we had to get maintenance to open our door after we left for 30 minutes for breakfast!) we headed out of Spokane, glad to be on the open road again.

Lake McDonald from Hotel RoomThe trip from Spokane to Glacier National Park was relatively uneventful save the giant bug storm we drove through in Montana.  It seemed bugs the size of your fist were hitting the windshield every 5 seconds or so and they definitely left their mark.

After arriving in Glacier we were greeted with a beautiful view of Lake McDonald from our balcony.

The Lake McDonald Lodge was beautiful, and reminded me of a miniaturized version of  the Old Faithful Inn.  I only wish they had these sorts of places in the Adirondacks.  Come to think of it maybe they could trade.  The Adirondacks could use these sorts of structures and the national parks (or at least the Lake McDonald Lodge) could certainly use some Adirondack furniture.  The chairs at the lodge fit in just fine but they’re crazy uncomfortable.

After dinner we just sort of relaxed and went to bed early, ready to take on the park tomorrow.

Seattle to Spokane

IMG_7413Since we still had tickets to the Aquarium from the City Pass that we wanted to use, Saturday we woke up and went straight there.  There is a section of the aquarium where you can touch the underwater sea creatures.  Rachel’s favorite was the Sea Anemone.  They feel sticky but only because they’re trying to sting you and your skin is too thick.

Washington ParkIn Pikes Place we picked up a few more OMG Peaches for lunch, grabbed the car and headed towards the San Juans.  We ate a picnic lunch and took a quick scenic drive through Washington Park.  Then we were off through the Northern Cascade National Park on our way to Spokane.

While on the way through the cascades we happened upon one of the most beautiful sights we’ve seen so far.  We hit Lake Diablo at the exact time the sun was falling behind the mountains and below the clouds.  This caused rays of sunshine to fall on the lake in a scene like nothing We’d ever seen before.

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We drove from there on to Spokane where we spent the night on our way to Glacier.

Seattle

Fruit at Pikes PlaceWednesday was our first day in Seattle and what a fun packed day it was!

We started off by heading to Pikes Place (of course).  Wow! Their market rocks!  the OMG Peach truly does make you say ‘Oh My God’ and the fish do really fly overhead.  Walking into the building Rachel’s jaw dropped as she saw miles upon miles of flowers at rock bottom prices.

Seattle Space NeedleFrom pikes we headed to the next obvious choice, the Space Needle.  For the middle of the day on a Wednesday it seemed pretty busy, we waited in line for about 20 minutes while reading all about the City Pass.  It turns out to be a pretty good deal so we signed on.

The view from the top was amazing.  Mount Rainier was out and completely visible which we hear only happens about 100 days of the year.  Mount Rainier seemed even more impressive over Seattle than Mount Hood does over Portland.

The Science Fiction Museum was awesome (except for the lack of Firefly/Serenity paraphenaila).  Upon arrival we saw a sign for the Jim Henson exhibit which was only in town for a short period of time and Rachel’s eyes got wider than I’d ever seen before.  We learned a lot and saw a lot of cool Science Fiction effects.  My favorite was obviously the Star Wars junk but Rachel’s was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costume.  I have no doubt in my mind that Matt‘s would be the real Enterprise D used in production of Next Generation.

Rainier over SeattleAdmission to the Science Fiction Museum includes admission to the Experience Music Project and so of course we went.  The Jimi Hendrix exhibit there was awesome and informative.  I loved his music before but I had no idea Jimi was so innovative.  One of the most interesting things I learned was about how his long drawn out notes were actually feedback which he could control with a custom built foot petal.

We ended the day with another trip up the Space Needle to see the sunset and the city at night.  It was very beautiful.  I especially enjoyed watching the colors wash over Rainier as it dissapeared and the sun dipped over the horizon.

Seaside to Seattle

We woke up and got on the road from our cute little Boat Theme Room after a good nights sleep (read: we slept in).  Along the way we passed a sign for the Lews and Clark National Park.  We’d seen stuff all over with the Lewis and Clark names on it and we figured this would be the best place to check out.

Fort ClatstopFort Clatsop isn’t that great.  It’s pretty much a visitor center and remake of a 6 room fort.  that’s it.  Not really much to look at.  There’s even a sign that says the fort’s location is only an estimation.  However; if you’re interested in reading or listening to information about Lewis and Clark its great.  We watched a little video and then determined there was nothing there we couldn’t get elsewhere so we headed on out.

Randy and Rachel in AstoriaFrom there we were on to Astoria where we stopped at the harbor and headed over into Washington.  Hurray! we made it!  After driving for quite a while up the coast of washington we were bored.  Route 101 doesn’t really follow the coast in Washington like it does in Oregon and it’s nowhere near as scenic.  After a while we decided to head inland to Seattle and call it a day.

Almost into Seattle we got a phone call from Heather who was in visiting from Portland for the day and we decided to meet up for dinner at Johnny’s Dock.  It was a little pricey but the food and the service was great!  Liam even got a private magic show!

We said our goodbyes after a great meal and it was on to the downtown Ramada for the night.

Oregon Coast to Seaside

Tuesday was relaxing.  We got up and had the continental breakfast (we made it a point to eat itevery day, no sense spending money on a meal that was included with your hotel).  We took our time checking out and headed to do laundry.  Since we’re here for 3 weeks we intentionally only packed enough for 1 to lighten the load. This only took us a little over an hour (thank you 45lb dryers!) which was just about perfect since right then we got a call to meet at Fudruckers for lunch.  “Sounds good!” we said and headed over.

ecola-state-parkAfter lunch (Michael at a 1lb burger…) with the family (George, Stacie, Mom, Dad, Michael, Michelle, Rachel and myself) everyone took a leisurely drive through the countryside to get a good view of Mt hood.  We stopped outside a ranch of some sort where we could see it pretty clearly.

Here, we said our goodbyes (I think Rachel and Michelle were the most saddened) and struck out for the coast.  We had already been to Cannon beach and south to Tullamook but we hadn’t made it to Ecola State Park and we figured, since we had the time, what better way to get to Seattle than to take the coast the whole way.

Sunset at Ecola was amazing.  However; since we started out so late we only made it as far as Seaside, which turned out to be a very cute town but extremely touristy.  There we stayed at the Sandy Cove Inn which was adorable.  It was family owned and apparently had been purchased and renovated by the current owners about 2 years ago.  It was one of those theme places, where every room has a theme.

Thus ended our first real night on the road.

Mountains out of Mole Hills

While in New Hampshire we took the time to climb a few mountains. No we didn’t strap on our hiking shoes and packs and trek up the mountains but we did make it to the top of both.

To get up Cannon Mountain we took the Gondola. On the way up we didn’t get much of a view because it was snowing! Yup we’ve already seen the first snow of the year. It was a little below freezing at just over 4k feet. We hiked the 1/2 mile trail around the top and even managed to climb the weather tower where the wind blew so bad it hurt. On the way back down the skys opened up and we had great views of Echo Lake.

Gondola Up Cannon Mountain Rachel at the Top of Cannon Mountain View of Echo Lake from Cannon Mountain

Our trek up Mount Washington is less exciting. Well, the trip up is interesting but the hike at the top and the views are night and day from Cannon. To get to the top we took a Cog Train. This isn’t a trip that winds around the mountain speedily going to the top while at the edge of thousand foot cliffs. No, this train goes straight up the mountain at a 37% incline inch by excruciating inch. It’s not only painful but it’s expensive. Oh and you can’t see anything because its so cold (6 degrees Fahrenheit with wind chill) that the people in the cabin steam up all the windows, not to mention the cloud cover. All in all a worthless ride, and one I would only recommend in the middle of summer. Even then I’d suggest a drive up instead. It’ll take less time and you’ll have better views. At least now we can say we’ve been to the top of the tallest mountain on the east coast.

Train Returning from the Top of Mt Washington Rachel and I at the Top of Mt Washington