For Aaron’s birthday, we decided to make the most out of the end of winter and take a snowshoeing trip up by Mt. Rainier last weekend.
This seemed like a good idea. My extended family has a rustic (and by rustic I mean no running water or heat, although it does have electricity) at the base of the Crystal Mountain turnoff right outside of the entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park.
We thought we would go out there on Saturday to spend the night, take Ansel showshoeing, and celebrate Aaron’s birthday with a special dinner and a molasses spice cake. It would be the perfect end-of-winter cabin-in-the-woods trip.
But it was not perfect.
(1) It took us literally 3 hours to get the car packed and ready to go. Even though we borrowed my mom’s brand new Subaru Forrester (thanks, Mom!) we had just enough room for all of our supplies (snowshoes, kid backpacking carrier, sleeping bags, extra winter clothes, bags of pirate booty, and on and on and on), the dog, the kid, and ourselves. Aaron and I like to think of ourselves as minimalist travelers, but we had a lot of “gear” packed for this trip. And for some reason it took us FOR-EEEEEEEEEVER to pack it all.
Can I go back to my twenties where all I would pack for camping was a sleeping bag, six pack of beer, and bag of tortilla chips?
(2) When we got to the cabin, we noticed there was no toilet paper in the outhouse (or stored elsewhere), there were THREE DEAD MICE caught in mouse traps to dispose of, and there was mice poop on the kitchen counters. I was sure we were going to get the Hanta virus.
(3) As we were unpacking our supplies, we let Sadie run around in the snow, which is her absolute favorite thing to do. Minutes after we let her off leash, a HERD OF ELK ran by the cabin. Naturally, Sadie took off into the woods after them. Mind you, the last time she chased a hoofed creature, we lost her and she came back to our car an hour later with a deer leg. This time we were in a pretty remote location in the woods in the winter, I was sure Sadie would be lost to us forever. Aaron ran after her, running through a foot of snow. I was carrying Ansel (who was bawling) and trying to run after her too and yelling her name and maybe some profanities.
I am still shocked that Aaron was actually able to catch her, but he eventually did.
(4) We knew the cabin would be cold, but we underestimated how long it would take us to heat it up. When we got there, it was about 35 degrees and it took us about 2 hours and piles and piles of wood to get the main floor up to about 62 degrees. I had no idea how much time we would spend making and stoking the fires (in the fireplace and the wood-burning stove). We also woke up multiple times to add wood to both fires because we wanted to make sure the place was warm enough for Ansel, who refused to sleep in his brand new REI kids sleeping bag.
Note: I learned last weekend that wood-burning stoves are far more effective at heating a place up than a fireplace. You probably already knew that. Why didn’t you tell me???
(5) In the evening Aaron started showing signs of a bad gastrointestinal illness. I don’t want to go into it, but let me just say that he had to run to the outhouse multiple times and it was a good thing that the previous guest had left a bag of picnic napkins.
(6) By the time we had put Ansel to bed, we were both too exhausted to play our super-dorky German board games (Carcassonne and Mad King Ludwig) that we had packed along with us. I’m bringing this up because it was one of the things that we were especially looking forward to doing – playing our dorky games by the light of the fireplace.
(7) The next morning, I was ready to make eggs and sausage and serve them with the ginger-cardamom scones that I had made the day before. Aaron felt so badly he only wanted the scones, so I didn’t bother making the eggs or sausage. And then to make matters worse, we realized that I had only brought decaf coffee instead of regular. I think this was the point that we really lost our minds.
(8) We had planned on going snowshoeing on a trail around the cabin, but Aaron felt too bad to go, so after breakfast, we packed all of our stuff up and cleaned the cabin. Again, packing everything up took us an ungodly amount of time. We also needed to figure out what to do with all of our trash, which included three dead probably Hanta-infected mice. Shout out to the kind lady at Alta Crystal Resort who let us drop our garbage in their dump.
(9) We left the cabin and drove home. No snowshoeing. No cake even (Aaron didn’t feel well enough for that either). But we did finally get coffee in Greenwater, so there’s that.
I do want to mention that through it all, Ansel was really quite wonderful and pleasant.
And eventually Aaron felt better and got to try his molasses spice cake. This cake, by the way, is for a true molasses-lover. It has a whole bunch of molasses, plus a slew of other fun ingredients like fresh ginger, grated lemon peel, black pepper, and cloves.
Plus, it was covered with a cream cheese-sour cream frosting that only had a touch of sugar AND this brilliant brown sugar glaze. I could have eaten spoonfuls of that caramelly glaze. Heaven.
Needless to say, the only plans we have for this weekend is to wear green tomorrow and try to do some laundry. We might even play Carcassonne. I need a few weekends where we set the bar really low before we try our hand at some more adventures.