There’s a reason they call the place Paradise

Continued from last week:

  • Monday, June 22, 2009 10:47pm
  • Opinion

Wally’s World

Continued from last week:

I’m waiting at the Paradise entrance to Mount Rainier behind eight or 10 cars. My rear-view mirror reveals a continuous, unbroken line of vehicles as far as I can see.

All this traffic so early in the season – my friends, the park had opened only a few weeks before – gave rise to the fear that, eventually, tourists will completely overrun and crush our national parks. Consequently, visitors will be ordered to leave their cars and boats and RVs and trucks and bikes in huge parking lots and board buses to see the sights, which surely isn’t the best way to explore the natural wonders offered. If you’re like me and enjoy seeing our parks at a leisurely pace, driving where I want, when I want, then you best plan to visit the most popular parks like Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Rainier and others, in the not too distant future.

An attractive young lady in a handsome uniform smiles cheerfully. “Good morning, sir! There’s a $15 entrance fee per vehicle.”

That seems rather expensive, but the blow is softened a bit because I’m an avid supporter of our national park system and such fees are allegedly used only to maintain such parks.

Then I’m driving into a lush environment of mid-spring, green foliage which isn’t yet covered with dust or drooping from summer heat. There are towering fir and cedar trees that may have been saplings when Columbus arrived – or, if not that old, they’re at least old enough to inspire awe and wonder compared with lowland forests, all of which were planted during the last 60 years.

So, you follow the crooked and horseshoe curves of the highway, higher and steeper, until the trees shrink and yield to sheer granite walls. Your ears pop and the air grows even more incredibly fresh and pure. Where the sides of the road don’t drop off for a 1,000 or more feet, there are 5- and 6-foot snow banks.

And I finally reach my destination. The old, ramshackle visitors’ center has been demolished. In its place, we have a new multi-million dollar Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center with an information desk, a theater, an interesting museum, a geological gallery and, of course, the obligatory gift shop. It’s a beautiful building constructed in the expected alpine style of huge oak beams, steel straps and a fine decor of fir and pine.

But the most appealing structure at the summit is the old Paradise Inn. Though it’s gone through a $20 million renovation and seismic upgrade, I’m happy to report that the upfront appearance has changed very little since it was built in 1917. The huge lobby with its opposing, large stone fireplaces, the gigantic oak beams, the dining room and even its little cocktail lounge, capture all the highland magic and romance of a Swiss chalet, but there aren’t any ski runs here.

Rooms with a bath start at $150 bucks a night. A suite will run you $220.

So, take your sweetheart by the hand and lead her or him away from the pollution and bustle of everyday life. They don’t call this place Paradise for nothing.

More in Opinion

Supreme Court resets the playing field

The ruling on the Masterpiece Bakery v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case wasn’t a win for the right or a loss for the left; it’s a chance to do things right the second time around.

Supreme Court ruling shows sanity, moderation

The 14th Amendment equal protection clause does not negate the First Amendment religious freedom clause.

Initiative signatures are the new greenbacks

As of Wednesday, June 6, petitions for four statewide initiatives were getting circulated.

Public record battle brings in a mediator

A taskforce is also being put together, but it’s not clear who will be on it.

One almond latte, if you please | Wally’s World

There was a time in the distant past when a friend and… Continue reading

Eyman risking retirement funds on car tab initiative

Will the $500,000 investment be enough to get the initiative on a ballot?

U.S. isn’t the only nation flirting with trade wars

There’s another brewing between Alberta and British Columbia.

I wish I could stay in Enumclaw | Guest Columnist

There is a kindness and decency and desire to be a community in Enumclaw.

We live in frightening times

Our country is being torn apart from limb to limb, coast to coast.

Voting habits tied to feelings of security

The dangers of authoritarianism are a far greater threat to the nation than seeing rising racial equality and religious diversity brought about by immigration.

Gun rights advocates won the battle, but may lose the war

NRA leaders will need to decide if it’s worth putting resources into a fight in a Left Coast state versus investing in efforts to keep Republicans in control of Congress to prevent ideas like this initiative from becoming federal law.

Trump not accomplishing as much as supporters think

This is in response to Craig Chilton’s letter claiming Trump’s presidency is not a mistake because of all of his “accomplishments,” 81 signed pieces of legislation.