Friday, May 31, 2013

Celebrating Washington's National Parks with a Slice of Paradise

Historic Paradise Inn at Mount Rainier National Park
It's a late May morning at Paradise Inn on Mount Rainier, where I awaken to a deep, muffled quiet.  When I pull open the curtains and peer outside, a persistent snow is falling and everything is covered in a thick new layer of white.  

When we say that summer doesn't really start until after the Fourth of July around here, we're not kidding.

I'm here at Paradise to help celebrate Washington's national parks with the Board and friends of Washington's National Parks Fund, who were invited to give the Paradise staff a warmup night before opening to the public for the season. 

While we love our three national parks here in Washington (Mount Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades), with the federal sequestration and diminishing government funds, the parks need additional help. Enter the Washington's National Parks Fund, a nonprofit organization that raises private funding to support the parks in numerous ways.

Founded 20 years ago by prominent and concerned Washingtonians such as former Governor and Senator Dan Evans and Melinda Gates, the Fund  provides funding and guidance for many worthy park projects. From monitoring marmots in Olympic National Park to restoring the historic lampshades at Paradise Inn to engaging urban youth as trail stewards in North Cascades National Park, the Fund disburses volunteers and funding for these and more efforts.
The hand-painted lampshades at Paradise Inn depict native wildflowers in the park.

My personal history runs deep in several Western national parks, and I'll admit a nostalgic yet thoroughly contemporary passion for all the Northwest national parks. So I'm thrilled to be invited here to Paradise for this event; I never tire of coming to Rainier.  

Our evening starts with appetizers and socializing in the main lobby bracketed by warming fires in the stone fireplaces, followed by an excellent dinner in the  dining room.  I'm excited to rub shoulders with friendly Northwest climbing legend Lou Whittaker, co-founder of Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (RMI).

Washington's National Park Fund Executive Director Laurie Ward and Northwest icon Lou Whittaker. Photo by Harlan Brown.
Excellent fresh halibut dinner served at Paradise Inn.
Later in the evening we hear about upcoming park projects from park staff, see an inspiring short film about the Washington's National Parks Fund efforts, and watch teams compete in a Mount Rainier trivia contest.  Of course any outdoorsy Northwesterner knows what RAMROD stands for.  Do you? :)

When we arrived in the afternoon, the outside of the lodge looked like this:

And the next morning it looked like this:

After a buffet breakfast, we're treated to a tour of the historic Guide Service building built in 1920 and the original ranger station, part of the Paradise Historic District.  When most of us depart late morning, everyone helps each other dig out of the snow, including park staff.

Tramping to the historic Guide Service building at Paradise.
 Mount Rainier National Park Deputy Superintendent Tracy Swartout helps shovel snow in the parking lot.
It was a quick but very fun overnight trip from Seattle for me and my compadres.  What's not to love about fresh fluffy snow, an evening at a historic national park lodge, good food, and especially good company?  I learned a lot about the Washington's National Park Fund and the wonderful work they do for our national parks here in Washington.

If you'd like to learn more about this great organization and help support scientific research, youth programs, and more for Washington's national parks, just click here


Dave Wenning said...

Nice post conjuring up memories. Thanks. I kind of grew up at Paradise. That was THE place to go skiing in the 1950's

Jill said...

Thanks Dave! I think my mom skied at Paradise when she was a youngster. I've cross-country skied around there several times.

MaryM said...

Great blog Jill! I love Paradise too. Photos are very nice. What a wonderful event for such a good cause. MaryM

Anonymous said...

When I opened that post and the first photo of snow popped up, I thought you
were re-posting something from a winter long ago! How fun that must have

Anne said...

What a great cause for you to be able to participate in. I have over the years worked with people who are traveling with the goal of visiting every National Park in the US. A lot more interesting than visiting every state I would think, and a lot more fun for me to plan. Thank heavens our forefathers got in on this before certain things were ruined.

JT said...

Great post - sounds like a really wonderful event!

Suezy P said...

Jill, thank you for sharing your passion for all things PNW. I loved this article not just because of the pretty pictures, or that it was about Paradise, but was drawn into the why, and am once again appreciative of all the many things you do to expose us to the PNW but also, and perhaps more importantly, how you inform us of ways to be involved in protecting our beautiful natural assets.

Jill said...

Thanks Mary! Yes, our parks are indeed a great cause.

Jill said...

Suezy, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I do hope I inspire some at least to action to learn and protect this special region.

Jill said...

Anne, how cool about those clients. Yes, kudos to Teddy Roosevelt among others and John Muir in particular.

MaryAnn said...

I met Laurie Ward a few months ago when she made a pitch to public radio folks such as myself. She is inspiring. Thanks for the reminder on the role of NPF. I will donate.