Good news for everyone who loves gorgeous, old, historic lodges in our National Parks. The Paradise Inn, 5,450-feet high up on the slopes of Mt. Rainier in Washington State, has re-opened after a two-year renovation. Originally built in 1917, it's all hand-hewn logs and Douglas fir floors, with a gorgeous, expansive lobby decorated in knotty-pine furniture. My favorite pieces are the piano whose cabinet is made from raw logs, and the two massive, 1500-pound tables that flank the lobby near the towering, stone hearths. Overhead on the mezzanine hang dozens of lamps whose shades were hand-painted with images of the wildflowers that will be springing up by the hundreds later this summer in the meadows surrounding the lodge.
There are 118 guestrooms at the Inn, many of which were updated during the renovation to accommodate wheelchair guests. Some have private baths with showers, some share a bathroom down the hall. They're plain and simple, small, but fine after a day of hiking on part of the 243 miles of trails in Mt. Rainier National Park.
When I was there last week, the Inn was covered in snow, with fifteen-foot drifts pushed to the edges of the parking lot thanks to the massive snowfalls of this winter. It snowed another six inches overnight, and we awoke to a blanket of white over everything, marked only by the tracks of a fox who has been hanging around the property lately. Just gorgeous, and it will be fun to go back during the summer when all of the white is replaced by green.
The Park itself is coming back from terrible storms last year that knocked out roads and campgrounds and caused widespread disruptions in services. "Please tell your readers to send their money to the National Parks," said General Manager Michael Bradford. "They need the dough."
You can start by booking a visit to the Paradise Inn: call 360-569-2275, or go to www.visitrainier.com to make an on-line reservation.
And what, you ask, about the stuffed pork chops with sweet onions on the dinner menu? Highly recommended, is all I'm going to say about those pork chops.