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One Day in Mt. Rainier National Park

Fog at Mt. Rainier

On our last day in Washington, we had to be out of our AirBNB at 10:00 am, but our flight didn’t leave until 11:00 pm, so we had a full 12 hours to kill. So, we decided to do what any National Park chaser would do with a day in Washington and we headed to Mt. Rainier National Park. Mt. Rainier is a three-hour drive from Port Angeles and an hour and a half from Seatac, so this was definitely a good way to kill time.

Our foggy view of Mt. Rainier

At over 14,000 feet above sea level, Mt. Rainier is the tallest peak in Washington State. Mt. Rainier is an active volcano and with its proximity to Seattle, it is considered to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. Near Mt. Rainier, I saw a volcano evacuation route sign for the first time. Mt. Rainier became the nation’s 5th National Park in 1899. Popular activities in the park include hiking, biking, and mountain climbing.

Like most of our time in Washington, the fog was so thick on our visit to Mt. Rainier that we couldn’t see it! With limited time to explore the park, we entered the park through the Nisqually entrance and drove to the Henry Jackson Visitor Center, and walked around the historic Paradise Inn (left). Once again, I was blown away by the amount of snow still on the ground in mid-June. There were still feet of snow up there at 5,400 feet above sea level!  The Paradise Inn is a beautiful building, built in 1917. The Parkitecture-style of the building reminded me a lot of the Old Faithful InnObviously, with such a short time to explore the park, it barely counts as a visit. I will have to come back later in the season so I can actually see Mt. Rainier!

After leaving Mt. Rainier, we still had extra time before our flight. We didn’t want to head back to downtown Seattle and have to worry about getting in and out of the city so we did some digging and found Kubota Garden in Seatac. It’s not in the nicest part of town and there are signs in the parking lot to keep an eye out for “car prowlers” but there was no one else around when we were there. There are a lot of trails to explore throughout the beautiful garden. It would be a great place to walk around on a sunny summer day. The parking lot is currently under construction and some of the trails are closed which did cause us to get a little lost, but we made it out of the garden and to the airport in enough time for our flight!

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop by next week for my final recap of our summer trip to Alaska and Washington! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Mt. Rainier Pinterest Graphic

Wordless Wednesday: Chihuly & Space Needle

Chihuly in front of the Space Needle

One Day in St. Kitts

View from Brimstone Hill

As I stated last week, when I began to research the ports on this cruise, I knew right away what I wanted to do in St. Lucia, I had the exact opposite response to St. Kitts. I had no idea what I wanted to see or do on the island. I didn’t book anything for this port until we were on the ship! We ended up doing a half-day island tour called Essential St. Kitts. The tour visited Brimstone Hill Fortress, Romney Manor, and a stop at Timothy Hill.

St. Kitts from the Ship

St. Kitts from the Ship

The tour didn’t leave until the afternoon, so we enjoyed a relaxing morning on the ship, doing the Flow Rider, playing in the pickleball tournament, playing putt-putt, and winning at trivia. This was the rainiest day we had had on the trip and the pickleball tournament ended up being canceled because the court became too slippery to play, although if you ask the guys, they will tell you that they won. After a light lunch at the Windjammer, we headed to port for our tour.

I was glad we chose a sightseeing tour instead of a beach day because it rained most of the day and was pretty chilly. We boarded our bus and headed out to get to know the island. Our tour guide explained to us that before 2005, much of the island was covered in sugarcane. In 2005, the government decided to stop subsidizing sugarcane and instead put its money into tourism and this has paid off immensely for the island.

Gardens of Romney Manor

The first stop of our tour was Romney Manor. Romney Manor (above) is home to a popular gift shop in St. Kitts known as Caribelle Batik, which sells hand-dyed sea island cotton using an ancient Indonesian method. Since it was raining everyone on our tour crowded inside the gift shop. We decided to brave the elements and walk the grounds. The gardens are beautiful and I would’ve loved to see it on a sunny day!

Romney Manor has a fascinating history. The property was purchased in 1625 by Sam Jefferson II, Thomas Jefferson’s great, great, great grandfather. It has had only four other owners throughout the centuries and was the first estate on St. Kitts to free its slaves. The Saman Tree on the property is the largest living thing on St. Kitts. It is over 400 years old and covers half an acre.

Prince of Wales Bastion

Prince of Wales Bastion

From Romney Manor, we headed to Brimstone Hill Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (top). Canon were first mounted on Brimstone Hill in 1689 but it was 100 years before the fort as we know it today was completed. The fort changed hands between the British and the French several times but has been in British control since The Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolution and gave control of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis to the British.

Restoration of the Fort began in the 1900s. The Prince of Wales Bastion (above) was the first part of the fort to be completely restored and Prince Charles was there at the reopening in 1973. In 1985, Queen Elizabeth unveiled a plaque naming Brimstone Hill a National Park.

Looking toward Nevis

After touring the fortress, we headed to Timothy Hill, which is really just a photo stop. While Romney Manor and Brimstone Hill are on the western part of St. Kitts, Timothy Hill is on the southeastern part of the island and the sister island of Nevis can be seen from this spot. I am glad we booked a tour that stopped here, but I wouldn’t plan my whole trip around it.

Overall, I enjoyed my day on St. Kitts and would love a chance to return to the island! I would’ve loved more time to explore Brimstone Hill and maybe a beach day on the resort (southeast) side of the island!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip check out my Island a Day Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Camping in Holland

Tulip field in front of windmill

Tulips in front of De Zwaan windmill

Tulip Time Festival in Holland is one of the most popular festivals in Michigan. It takes place at the beginning of May and with the cancellation of the festival in 2020, I had a feeling it would be an even bigger deal in 2021. In an attempt to beat the crowds, we decided to go the weekend before the festival began.

We decided this would be a great time to take the camper out for its inaugural trip for the 2021 season so with just a few weeks advance planning, I booked a site at Holland State Park. This park is very popular in the summer and with good reason. It has a beautiful beach on Lake Michigan with a view of the iconic Big Red Lighthouse and is relatively close to downtown Holland. The campground is made up of two sections, the most popular section is right on the beach (which was not yet open for the season when we visited) and the more wooded Lake Macatawa unit where we stayed.

Because of its popularity, this campground comes with some very strict rules. I had to sign a paper and hang it in the window of my camper agreeing to the 1pm checkout time. There was a sign in the office saying the visitors are not allowed and campers must keep their ID on them at all times in the campground to prove that you are allowed to be there. No alcohol is allowed in the campground at any time and rangers frequently drove around, looking into campsites to check. I’m sure these rules are necessary for peak season but the fact that the campground was only 25% full at the time made a lot of this seem a little intrusive and over-the-top. If I had a reason to be in the area, I would probably stay here again, but I wouldn’t seek it out when I’m just looking for a place to camp for a weekend.

Mini camper in front of dune

Our Runaway camper at our site at Holland State Park.

As I mentioned at the top, the purpose of this trip was to visit Windmill Island Gardens and see the tulips. It was pretty chilly this weekend and we even saw snow flurries Sunday morning, but most of the tulips were in the early stages of blooming. I always enjoy visiting the garden and photographing the tulips. If you are looking to see the sights in Holland, Holland State Park is a good base for exploration, but be aware that they do have a lot of rules and they do patrol and enforce them.

This year I knew there were going to be more people than ever camping and it was going to be challenging to get into the most popular campgrounds in the summer. I decided to book the busiest campgrounds (such as this one and Ludington) in the off-season and then try out some of the more under-the-radar spots when the parks would be the busiest. For the most part, I did make reservations about six months out, and with this methodology, I was able to get some really nice sites. I am excited to share those journeys with you!

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Wordless Wednesday: Holland Tulips

Tulip Garden

Wordless Wednesday: Tulip Garden

Tulip Garden

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Flashback Friday: Butterfly on Flower

Flashback Friday: Tulip Garden

Tulip Garden in Holland

Wordless Wednesday: Savanna Meadow

The Savanna Meadow

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