I booked this fantastic tour online. It is one of the best tours I have ever been on. For a small amount money ($49 plus $4.31 tax), I have gorgeous memories of a lifetime. If you have a time restriction in Seattle, I recommend this tour to go. Although I like Space Needle, Pike Place Market and other Seattle attractions, none of them can hold a candle to going on this tour.
Although this tour takes several hours, it is worth it! In addition, we had a wonderful tour guide/bus driver named Ron. He looked like Jack Nicholson and had the attitude of the characters played by Walter Matthaw and Jack Lemmon in the movie "Grumpy Old Men". He was a little rude, little obnoxious but a heck of a tour guide. Oh yes, and his jokes were corny and the majority of us on this tour thought he needed new material. But in spite of this, Ron gave a wonderful and informative tour.
Ron first informed us that we all needed to be quiet because he didn’t want to hear us and so he could talk about the bus tour. In addition, he told us that he would leave us at the Mount Rainier National Park, if we were not at the location of pickup at the park when the tour ended. The following are the highlights of this tour:
After traveling a short time--probably an hour--our bus stopped in a town called Greenwater. There everyone could have a restroom break and could buy snacks and souvenirs at the convenience store and take pictures.
On the way to Mount Rainier we saw Cedar River. This was where the Salmon swam up to spawn. Also, along this route we saw wild roses that were pink and white shrubbery. These actually keep the debris off the highway so it doesn’t blow around. Then we continued on the route to an area called Maple Valley. Here the town is growing too fast and has a result, the roads can’t keep up with it. Here the bus driver said it was illegal for farmers to use round bails to feed their cows. And most of the tourists asked him why. Without hesitating, he grinned and said, "We want to make sure the cows get a square meal." We then continued on and drove through a town called Black Diamond. At one time, it was a coal mine community. But as the years had gone by, the mine was shut down due to it not having enough coal to sell commercially, however the community survived. As we continue our drive, we passed over the Green River, known mostly for the Green River Serial Killer.
Then has we got closer to Mount Rainier, you could see more of the Douglas Fir trees. Ron told us that in order to calm down the ecological people, the logging operations plant two trees when they take out one. But he said in actuality, that only one tree will survive anyway, but this is the way these logging businesses deal with these people.
We passed White River along our journey. It is a river that has a milky appearance to it. My understanding of what Ron was saying is that there is silk that comes down from the mountains that makes a powdery, white cornstarch texture substance that makes the river this color.
Once we arrived at the Mount Rainier National Park, it was around noon time. Most of the people on this tour ate at the Paradise Inn, while others ate at a more fast-food place that was at the Visitor Center, where the seating was outside. Our restaurant was in the lodge. It had the rustic look. The chairs and tables were wood. Here my partner ordered buffalo sausage quesadillas. I ordered a turkey wrap and our friend ordered a spinach salad. All the food was tasty and not very expensive.
At Mount Rainier National Park, we took pictures of Mount Rainier, the wilderness and the scenery on one of the trails (which included waterfalls and an elk). I can’t remember the name of this trail but Ron cautioned us not to go on the Skyline Trail or the Wonderland Trail. According to him, none of us had time to hike the Skyline Trail because of the time we had here and the other one would take a week to hike (93 miles long).
This place is like going to heaven. You will see the majestic snow/glacier-capped Mount Rainier (elevation is over 14,411 feet), and other surrounding mountains and several kinds of wildlife can be present, such as elk, bear, mountain goats, etc.
Our bus left the Mount Rainer National Park at 2:30pm. On the way back, we took a different route to Seattle. A few of the things we saw was Reflection Lakes, waterfalls and of course mountains. We had a photo opportunity when we stopped at a waterfall. In addition, the bus driver made a stop in a town called Eatonville, WA.
The stop was at a restaurant called Aaron’s Ark. It is located at 204 Center Street E, Eatonville, WA, 98328. Their phone number is 306-832-6633. This placed is known for its 30 flavors of milk shakes and the logger’s pie (a chuck of an apple pie slice). Here my partner got a delicious hot fudge sundae and I got the logger’s pie. My slice of pie was huge (it was enough to feed two people). It was scrumptious. I couldn’t eat it all so I saved it for breakfast the following day. Anyway, the main ingredients of it were caramel, raisins, and apples on a flaky, yummy crust with white frosting on the top crust. I am not a real fan of apple pie, but this was great!
We returned to Seattle around 6pm. Our driver dropped every passenger off at his/her hotel. This tour was splendid! I highly recommend this! In my opinion, Gray line organized this tour thoroughly (great sights to see and great stops along the way) and hired a great tour guide when they hired Ron.
You can reach Gray line of Seattle at 1-800-426-7532. It is located at 4500 W Marginal Way S.W., Seattle, WA 98106. If you go on this tour, you need to meet at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel and Towers Lobby on 6th and Pike, Downtown Seattle. You must show up no later than 7:40am, since the tour leaves at 8am.