Day 6

An amazing tractor, and more amazing Ajanta Caves.  Such a long story about them, I'll tell you later...or wikipedia can. 

Day 5

Cave 16 at Ellora Caves, built in the 6th century AD. 
But more exciting:  a baby monkey!

Day 2

Okay, so only on day two and I cannot narrow it down to one picture.  So here are three, and I haven't even included the stereotypical cow in the street picture. 

India Day 1

There is so much to take in here, I know that I cannot do it justice in words until I have time to process it all. But, as a tease, I've decided to put an abbreviated version of a picture a day project for the rest of December. That is, as long as I can recharge the lappy, which remains to be seen. So, Day 1, flying over UAE.

Day 0

No weather is going to make me late!  10 hours early to the airport...plenty of seating.

Black Thursday

For the first time ever, I was coerced/forced/dragged to a post Thanksgiving shopping event.  There is a clear cast of black Friday shopping characters.  "The Planner" is strategic, cunning, and comes clutching competitors ads. They probably have a wing woman or two to grab and growl on their behalf.
"The Bloodthirsty One" will do whatever it takes, including throw themselves on a pile of crock pots while shouting "I'm buying all of these, nobody touch them!" at the top of their voice.  They'll enter the store with three carts, not just to fill them, but also as personal crowd control.
"The Ninja" took something out of your hands and checked out before you knew it.  Cart-less, ruthless, and back in the car within five minutes.
Those unfortunate enough to find themselves as "The Newbie" can't find a parking place, a cart, what they came for, and is at the end of every line.  They skipped Thanksgiving dessert for this crap.  
I went as "The Casual Observer."  An annoyance to the other shoppers.  The one who doesn't want or need anything, but will take in all this humanity with a glassy stare and slacked jaw.

We entered the 24 hour store quite calmly, no chance of stampeding or general craziness.  My friend became so excited, giddy even.  In fact, more excited than I've ever seen her, and I was there for the birth of her child.

There is a visceral, psychological force at work at these sales.  The thrill of the hunt is a real, a primal instinct.  Instead of hunting nutrition and sustenance, we are hunting the cheapest television or new laptop.  In that sense, I can forgive the excitement as it's in our blood and even I can appreciate a deal. 

There I was, standing in the middle of the snake pit feeling smugly above it all.  Hanging in a nearby tree with binoculars and a notepad to observe the predators and their prey.  Acting like the foreign reporter watching the bizarre coming of age ritual of a native people, when suddenly a panic washed over me.  The panic of 'I need something'.  I didn't know what I needed, but I was surrounded by 'deals' and surrounded by other seemingly reasonable people who were willingly waiting in line for these deals.  Certainly, my subconscious said, I too, should be acquiring things.  Think of the savings!  Throw your perfectly good TV away!  GPS, yes!  Game console, blu-ray player, power wheels?  Things!  I raced toward the stack of uniformly stacked boxes, violently shoving an old lady to the ground.  I strong-armed a kid and took their Elmo doll for no reason whatsoever.  I began to climb and was truly on the mountaintop as I perched myself on my claim, high above the rabble.  I taunted the uninitiated as I shook my reward above my head. "I don't even need this!"
But then I slapped myself. Somebody had to do it.

I went in wanting nothing but to witness a fist fight over something stupid, but after learning that in other stores people were actually killed, I mean KILLED, I was happy to have witnessed such a civilized bunch of shoppers.  At the end of the day, I guess I'm glad I now have this uniquely American experience under my belt.  I feel less blood thirsty and somewhat understanding of the whole thing.  Though, it is ruining one of the top two American holidays, and for that, I am sorry.   


pic stolen from http://www.websitegeographer.com (Not an endorsement, I just liked the carts)

Employment Process

As I said in my last post, I am still employed, thank goodness.  In the time that I learned about these lay-offs and now, I decided to put double sided tape on my resume and throw it in all directions, just to see if it sticks anywhere.
Short story is that it hasn't.  But I have only heard back officially from one place.  I applied to a job I was mostly qualified for for the local government of my town.  I guess they're in a rush because I was asked to interview within a week of applying.  I caught the closing date just in time, which was one of those silly things that made me think "It's meant to be!" despite that I don't believe in that.
But anyway.  I put on my absolute best and absolute only business-type outfit and drove the five minutes to the interview.  A job that's five minutes from my door again reiterated "It's meant to be!".  Silly me.

I was nervous.  Really nervous.  All of my previous job interviews were laughably easy and informal.
"Hi, I'm Ellie."
"Great to meet you.  We reviewed your resume and wondered when you could start."
"Tomorrow."
"See you then."
Or something like that.  To say that I am unprepared for a formal job interview would be a woeful understatement.  But, after research and cover letter writing and applying and learning the salary, I really wanted this job.  I felt prepared.  Well, until the HR lady came to collect me and told me I was about to sit for a panel interview.  My first.
I entered, infinitely grateful for flats and sat before six potential colleagues for an administrative position.  As I settled into the room and was introduced to everyone, I had about 30 seconds of sheer panic.  Relentless thoughts of "They will see right through me!"  But then my "fake it 'til you make it." philosophy kicked in and I was off.  Although, I didn't drink from the water they left from me for fear that my shaking hands would give me away.
Still worried about what to say about what my greatest weakness was, I was almost gleeful to see that the interview was comprised of only scenario based questions to talk my way through.  I emerged feeling fairly confident about the interview and even more confident that I could do the actual job.

The problem with these jobs that I am 'mostly qualifed' for is that they allow me to fantasize.  Even a little fantasy is dangerous.  Fantasy about the commute, the new clothes, how comfortable I would be with this new salary.  I convinced myself that I could do the job and give up my beloved current one.  All of the bad things about EMS began to shine brightly. How great it would be to never do a 3am emergency call, never drag a poo covered person out of their third floor apartment, never argue with a drunk person again?
It was shockingly easy to talk myself into the 9-5 gig.  All of the things I thought I'd hate about it seemed so acceptable.  Meetings, pant suits, getting a 'case of the mondays' all of which are completely foreign to me, but suddenly doable.

At the moment, it's a moot point.  I didn't get this job, but in a way even getting as far as I did changed the way I look at employment.  It certainly changed the way I look at what I could actually do, or would at least be willing to try. 

Redundancy

It is a sobering thought when you realize that everything you have and maintain you have because of your job.  Sobering, scary, and very adult.
It is one thing to realize this when gamely and happily employed.  At that point, it's something to muse about and help to motivate you to do your best to maintain that job.  It is quite another thing to realize this at the same time your job is suddenly hanging in the balance.

Many people avoid making adulthood career changes.  It makes sense to stay:  retirement plans, steady incomes, climbing that ladder, but what if that ladder is taken away while you're nearing the top?

I've been thinking about this problem a lot recently, as it came to light that my part time and full time jobs would be downsizing at the end of the year. 

I want to make enough money and I want to be proud of the patch on my shoulder.  I started this post when all this silliness at work was happening.  For about a week I convinced myself that I would not survive the lay-offs we were going through.  I have never felt so anxious in my life and that's the truth.  In the end, I was not laid off and will continue to work where I work for as long as I can.  Change is hard at the best of times, but change that is forced upon you is the most difficult. 

That said, my ear is as close to the ground as it has ever been concerning jobs.  But that's a story for another post. 

Refresher

I spent much of last week in a refresher class.  This year, I've transitioned from a Nationally Registered EMT Paramedic to the new title to Nationally Registered Paramedic (NRP)  I know.  That's a lof words.  But it is kind of important as the NREMT's is trying to make sure every paramedic in the country (more or less) is on the same page.  They've added some new things to the national standard curriculum such as end tidal C02 (I know you do that already) and the potential use of ultrasound and bed side lab work in the prehospital arena.  This is all very exciting, I guess, especially as I have survived the class.  I do love to see services expanding their horizons, questioning the norm, and demanding excellence. Medicine is an evolve or die kind of business and EMS should be the innovators, not the followers.  Okay, I'm done. 

This is the second time I've taken the week long refresher and it is always odd.  It's the only time for one week out of every two years that I have to get up early five days in a row (I know, what a chore) but it is weird if that's not already your schedule as a 30 year old adult. 
I admire all of the 9-5ers.  It's not very fun.  I often wonder how anyone gets anything done in their personal lives.  It is a phenomenon to me, and the blessings of my schedule are not lost on me. 

Kayaking

The cooler weather, the fact that the mini is currently out of service, an I have to take the truck to work has gotten me back on the kayaking bandwagon.  It had been far too long since my last sojurn to the lake.  I can measure how long it's been by how easily I can get the rack and kayak on the truck.  It's also been the first time I've regularly taken the new fancy cam on the water, and I'm pretty pleased with the results.  I don't really know why this deserves it's own post.  I think I just feel bad for september. 

A note on September

September is one of my favorite months.  Topped only by October and November.  I'm a fall girl.  This year, I noticed that I didn't do any blog posts in September.  Shock!  Horror!  So, I decided to do a retrodated post to tell you why.  Don't get excited, there's no one real reason, but it's been a busy month.
1.  The Fair.  The fair in my town is the best event of the year and I try to go as often as possible in th week.  As a kid, I liked the rides and games, but as an adult I go for food and adorable baby animals.  So much food.  I can't even tell you the wonderus things that could delight your taste buds at the fair.  But I can tell you that my brother's friend from NYC insisted on making it an annual trip because she loved the food so much.  Additionally, I love the demolition derby.  It's good old fashioned american fun and I love it.  I feel so united with my countrymen at this event.  We all want the same thing:  big smashes, exciting hits, and occasional fire.  It's great.

2.  Writing.  I know you loyal readers have heard this before.  'Real' writing getting in the way of blogging.  But, it's true, as it always has been.  I've been working pretty regularly on my 'retirement plan' as I like to call it.  Mostly because I am confident that I can retire on $20.  I joined a writing group where one can submit short workds for review and critique.  This is fun even when I'm not the one waiting to hear what strangers thought of my work.  I submitted last time and the prologue of the fake book seemed pretty well received.

3.  Skyrim.  My friend lent me a copy and I've made it to a new level of nerdom.  I am addicted. 

Wild-Ass Plans

For the last several years, I have navigated my life around what I like to call 'Wild-Ass Plans.'   A WAP is a goal, a plan, that doesn't have to be spectacular, just something you want to accomplish.  One should always be there, somewhere on a back burner.  Anything from starting a family, making a expensive but meaningful purchase, to going back to school or traveling to a new and exciting place. I firmly believe these things are essential to a meaningful life.  They have helped me be decisive on big things, helped me to be frugal, and helped me to strive toward a purpose driven life.

The first and my favorite step of a WAP is to always say yes.  Despite what your friends, family, or colleagues say, if you want something- go out and get it. If someone questions your plan and your instinctive answer is "Why not?" then you are well on your way.  All you may need is a little spark in your mind. A little idea that becomes a (healthy) obsession.  Yes is the answer that takes courage.  Yes is never the regrettable answer.  Always say yes, because from there everything is possible.  (copyright resqellie)

From yes, the WAP moves into my next and second favorite stage which is planning. I love logistics more than UPS.  It may be pouring over train timetables, reading up on how cloth diapers work, or checking the hours of the justice of the peace, a little planning and research can go a long way.  While a WAP doesn't have to be expensive, financial planning is essential.  Pinching pennies is just one more challenge.  Planning can take years or months or maybe just that moment of inspiration is all you need to get started.

After planning is my other favorite stage:  execution.  This may be the most difficult part.  Having already said yes and figured out how to do it, now is the time to take the real first step. 

And that's all.  Most wild-ass plans are not as easy as this sounds, but who cares!  It's the thrill of the hunt that can be the best part.  In adult life, it is easy to forget to be inspired, curious, and creative.  Wild-ass plans in my life have helped me to rediscover these traits and believe me, it feels good. 

Every wild-ass plan comes with moments of clarity and terror, sometimes at the same time. 
The mark of a good one is to at some point think to yourself with more amusment than worry: "How did I get in this situation!?"
There is only one rule of wild-ass plans and that is to never give up.  So, go out there and find a little inspiration and courage and try something new.  Thanks for reading and now I'll conclude my motivational speech because I have some research to do. 

Big Wheel

Yesterday I witnessed something magic.  For the second time in my town, we hosted a High Wheel bicycle race.  This is a race between those huge one giant wheel/one small wheeled bicycles.  Yes, it is as awesome as it sounds.  In fact, more awesome, I discovered, as I wandered through the huge crowd that had gathered for the occasion.  All sorts of people were there, and all stood for an hour, encouraging the racers as they went by.  These cyclists, due to the unusual fortitude required to sit five feet up on a wobbly bike with no brakes, have clear personalities.  There was the guy who fabricated his bike by hand into a work of art.  Another who wore (rather wisely) a full face helmet and was guided by the skull figurine welded to his handlebars.  The more traditional riders wore early 1900's garb and looked right at home atop their impractical velocipedes.  Well, at some point they were practical.  Until the chain drive was invented, increasing the wheel size did maximize efficiency and speed.  How anyone survived riding these bikes in traffic, on cobblestoned streets, or near basically any obstacle at all is beyond me.
But yesterday, maybe all of the Penny Farthing riders in the country gathered their boneshakers to ride around my city for an hour.  When they finished, the course was swamped with spectators, bursting with curiosity over the riders and their machines.  They were quized on the mechanics, posed for pictures, helped people pose atop their bicycles and for these glorious moments, biking was the coolest hobby in town.  The brave riders had become transitory celebrities.  As they passed on the 1/2 mile course (they rode for an hour competing for most laps completed) spectators whooped, clapped, and shouted "Moustache man" or "Socks" to newly nicknamed riders.  It was amazing to watch.  I felt pride in my town, proud in its people and, pride in cycling.   

Lambo

I've found that using 'I can't do that tomorrow, I'm driving a Lamborghini.' as an excuse is very satisfying, especially when it's true. Last week, with my dad and friends we went and participated in a super car driving experience.  It was about five minutes of driving bliss.  The track was set up in a parking lot, which doesn't sound glamorous, but they packed in as many turns as possible.  And when you're in a Lamborghini, that's what matters.   Although, I would have liked to drive it in a straight line for a longer time, just to see how fast I could brave.  It is a powerful car.  So powerful that when I did get to punch it on the straight, the speed pushed me back in the seat and my foot slightly off of the pedal. 
If you're wondering, it was an automatic, or had stupid flappy paddle shifters.  I did a lap and a half with the paddles before the guy asked me if I wanted to switch.  "I don't know.  How am I doing?"  "No so well."  As he offered no advice for improvement, I switched to automatic and drove with abandon.  "How much is this car worth, anyway?"  I asked as I navigated through a serpentine (badly.)  "Um, about 220."  my copilot replied coolly.  "Oh, my!"  I said as a punched the accelerator.  After all, it's not my car. 

Facebook rant ahead. You were warned.

I love facebook, but it has its drawbacks, as we all know. Poised to turn 30, it is my generation whom has taken over this free version of classmates.com and made it what it is today: a place where we can all annoy each other based on accomplishments, vacations, jobs, spouses, and babies. I’ve seen pictures of babies I will never meet, weddings I didn’t attend, and vacations I didn’t go on. It’s really rather insane. While I love hearing about everyone’s successes and accomplishments, seeing your vacation pictures and keeping up with kids I rarely see, sometimes it’s all too much.
Now I know that I’m guilty of too many pictures, too many meaningless updates, and too many ‘wish you were here’ posts, but...I don’t know, I’m empowered to complain. Here’s a list of things I’d consider banning if I were in charge of anything.

1. Baby development pictures. I know you’re excited about your baby and you should be! I just don’t want to see every moment of its gestation. Especially ultrasounds. No, especially baby bumps. No, especially every step of the way towards decoration of the nursery. All are equally weird. My favorite is the ultrasound picture that 500 people liked, and then at least 50 commented that the baby was a. cute or b. looked like you. This is my favorite because neither is true. It’s a fetus. That, and I'm sure that one day your kid will not appreciate you posting a picture of their 'boy parts' on the internet. I’m going to post a scan of my liver on facebook and see what happens. As for baby bumps; Considering half of them look like what I already have in the belly department, and believe me, that’s not a baby bump, the whole thing just pisses me off.

2. Everything's wonderful all the time. I'm not looking for depressing posts, but the never-ending stream of adorable pictures of your children and/or awesome house, posts about how wonderful your boyfriend is because he brought you ice cream, and any post whatsoever about how easy it was to lose the baby weight: banned. (wow, bitter single woman, am I?)

3. Those pictures that are really just a quote. What is up with that? Motivation is great, but do you really have to share it with everyone? And I keep falling into the trap of reading them! Several just today that left me saying only ‘I can’t believe I just wasted the time reading that.” Which is probably what you will say about this post. Sorry. At least you knew going in that it was a rant.

4. Posts about the weather. It’s hot?! I had no idea? I guess my office doesn’t have windows. Or perhaps I never leave the house, or I haven’t seen my electricity bill this month. And, in August too! Hot! Who knew?! Likewise, winter is cold. At least that’s what facebook tells me. (and my sarcasm meter just broke).

5.  Countdowns. Everyone has been invited to your wedding/party and they put the date on their calendar. There is no need for a daily reminder. Or, we’re not going on that vacation so I’m afraid we don’t really care how long it is until it starts. Except perhaps there is the hope that there won’t be internet where you go so we won’t have to see the fruits of that countdown until your regular life resumes.

6. Political opinions. I firmly believe that everything political on facebook was posted just to get the other side angry. I am the ‘token liberal’ at my place of work, and I feel that every conservative post I read from co-workers is directed at my blood pressure. Unfortunately, it works! Unfortunately, I already know your opinion and I still accept you all for who you are.

7. Pictures that will bite you in the ass later. I’m talking about the beer filled drunk parties that have no business being in public. Just like you probably had no business being in public when they were taken. Employers look at this stuff. Of this, I have no doubt.

That said, there are things I’d like to see more of. If you’re still reading this, perhaps you put a little stock in my thoughts so here’s the balance.

1. Any posts that warms the heart and mind. From meaningful articles to ted talks. Actual news that’s well written and intelligently researched, and anything that’s fascinating and restores my faith in humanity.

2. Pictures from your vacations. Because I love travel, and I love to see other people do it too.

3. Pictures of your kids. I know, some of us just can’t be pleased. There are parents out there who neglect the power of facebook and the magic it performs in connecting us all. Now show me those kids before they go off to college.

4. Just plain, honest, humanizing posts.

5. Things that make me laugh. It’s really all I want anyway.

Pirate Tooth

I recently acquired what I call my ‘pirate tooth,’ a crown of gold atop a, now humiliated molar. It was very expensive, so I like to show it off. It can’t be seen unless I pull my cheek back, so showing it off is difficult and gross. But all will appreciate my hard earned tooth!
I have one, unrelated half crooked tooth in my mouth and when I first met my new dentist, she looked at me carefully from each side and then determined that the side of my smile without the offending tooth was my “better side.” Well, thank you, that is the angle used in all of my photo shoots. Then she suggested that I get invisalign for my one semi-crooked tooth which I entertained for a second before she said it was $4000. Then I laughed for five minutes, but what if I had two “better sides”?

Anyway, back to the pirate tooth. I found the whole thing traumatic as I hate all things teeth and dentistry. Like many people, I have an irrational anxiety at the dentist. I guess I should stop hiding my anxiety as my dentist didn’t seem to believe that while getting dental work done I am constantly thinking ‘go to your happy place!’ without even deciding where that is. I find myself so tense at in the dentists’ chair that my arms actually hurt by the time I get home.
She was reluctant and ultimately didn’t give me any anti-anxiety medication, so, I brought my ipod which felt rude. Can’t win.
Either way, she suggested gold as it adheres better and last longer and other stuff I stopped listening about so that’s what I did. Really I got it because the tooth cannot be seen without putting some effort into it. Last week when I went for the final installation and reveal visit, my dentist excitedly showed me the gold tooth in all its glory. Holding it on a custom plinth, she ‘oohed and aahed’ over it and raved about how beautiful it was and how much it was worth until I told her that I felt like we were getting engaged.
Installation was atraumatic and I’m happy to report I have had a slurpee and ice cream since without wanting to cry. So, brush and floss kids, or you too will have a pirate tooth.

A 5 decade

In cycling, if one rides 100 miles in a day, they call it a century. It sounds cool. When I did 50 miles for a charity ride last week, they called it 50 miles. I think it would be much better if cycling adopted cool names for smaller accomplishments with your velocipede. Such as 50 miles is a 5 decade. It can be applied to any number of miles under 100.
"Yeah, I did a 7 decade yesterday, it was awesome."
or, "I did a 2 decade! And I lived!"
or, "I did a decade on my bike yesterday," he proudly sniffed. "Wasn't so bad."

Anyway, I did 50 miles and it really wasn't so bad. Probably because I was slightly prepared, had good company, and the terrain was more or less flat, but I did survive. I'm not sure how I got roped into it, but, it was one of those situations where I knew I wouldn't regret saying 'yes.'  Only three days before, I bought my first proper road bike.  It's a 1983 trek, sold to me as 'vintage.'  Ha!  Well, It does look pretty cool with its leather saddle and old school branding, but 'vintage'?  Really?!

It was possibly the oldest bike on the ride (and coolest) and I was only slightly worried that I'd only ridden it 40 miles total ever before, but we set out and did like Dory does; just kept pedaling.  The breaks were well spaced and food was plentiful, and the weather was great.  Well.  It was overcast which protected us from the being too hot, then it rained, which protected us from being to dry.   Almost the entire last half, it rained.  The kind of drizzle that within minutes, soakes you to the bone.  But, it was cool, which is really the important part. 

Afterwards, we treated ourselves to a hamburger and milkshake, I think the appropriate 5 decade post- ride fare.  The ride must have posessed me, as in the following days, I took the bike out enough to round out my weeks total to 130 miles. I went in the mornings, and after work when I would have usually rather napped, voluntairly!  Thankfully, that sickness has passed.  Kind of. 

Victoria

I have some strict beliefs about running.  I really don't understand doing it for recreation.  Why run when bikes exist?  As a rule I only run away from things, or in the airport.  But I will modify that from now on having had to run to a pier to catch a boat. 
Both my friend and I were running uncharacteristically late.  Well, we left on time, and the uncontrollable elements of a big city got in our way.  But we found ourselves arriving at the port for our boat to Victoria, Canada with literally minutes to spare as we parked the car.  So, I only run away from things, or toward things that will take me on a trip.  That adage is a work in progress.
Running toward your transportation is an exhilarating way to start a holiday.  Then sitting in a boat for 3 hours is less exhilarating, but, as I love boats, I didn't mind. 

I'm sorry, Canada, but it is easy to forget you are a foreign country.  I blithely put my passport back in my backpack, stowed under our tour bus.  It wasn't until I sat down and thought for a second that I realized that without it, I couldn't get back home.  I immediately retrieved it. 

We took a great little prebooked overnight trip to Victoria, because we are elderly.  To be fair, we did bring the median age on the bus down by about 30 years.  But Victoria is home to the amazing Butchart Gardens.  Here, some well to do Victorians bought some land for its rich lime deposits.  They were cement tycoons, one could say.  They built their quarry (or whatever it's called) on this land, and eventually their home as well.  Mrs. Butchart had a bit of a green thumb, and eventually, once the lime had all been used, she created an amazing garden around their house and even in one of the old lime quarries.  The result is magnificent, and even on a rainy day, early in the season, it is a botanists and photographers dream scape.  I am sure millions of budding and enthusiastic gardeners have drawn inspiration from the Japanese, Italian, Rose, or Eden-like sunken garden here.   

When our tour was over we explored Victoria, the capitol city of British Columbia, located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.  This is a very interesting European feeling town with a cobbled high street, historic Chinatown, and some very expensive ivy-coated hotels.

On the waterfront, I had the third best fish and chips I've ever had.  I have a deep philosophy concerning fish and chips.  The taste is directly proportional to the eaters proximity to the sea.  Well, literally sitting on the dock, enjoying the evening activities of boats mooring and sea planes landing, this was about as close as I could get to the sea without actually being in it.  The fish and chips were amazing and, I attribute it to Canadian haddock, great preparation, and of course, the sea air.

The next day we returned to Seattle and went in search of the Fremont Troll, which is a really cool art installation under a bridge.  We did find it, and it was cool.  We stumbled upon the flagship Archie McPhee store which had me over excited, and made me never want to give a serious gift ever again.  (Inflatable turkeys for everyone!)

This was more or less the conclusion of my trip to the pacific northwest.  A return trip is all but compulsory, if for nothing else than to see the top of Mt. St. Helen's.

Rainier

At 5000 feet in the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier National Park, one is still 9000 feet from the summit, in spring it makes rare, unscheduled appearances.  From the visitor center, we did glimpse the summit for a glorious 5-10 seconds, it's curved, snowy, outline barely discernible from the clouds behind it.

Wind and snow decide how tall and how straight the trees grow here, and even in late May many struggle to peek out of the snow.  They are called krummholtz, a German word meaning twisted and crooked. 

Shrouded in cloud, Mt. Rainier is a mysterious force.  It is considered an active volcano, which is more concerning having visited Mt. St. Helen's.  25 glaciers adorn the mountain which would melt in the case of an eruption, forming a violent mudflow that would travel for miles into populated areas.  But, that is unlikely.  Kind of.

Even on a rainy day, the park is amazing. The mountain road to 'paradise' is windy and wonderful and full of viewpoints. Granted, viewpoints with little to no view, but it's the thought that counts.  We were still able to see waterfalls, a few tourists, and stand in an ancient lahar.  The visitor center was wonderful and had the requisite inspirational video and scary volcano section of the exhibit.  While we were there, the building nearly fell over when one of the rangers announced that the summit was visible, as every tourist flocked to the windows, hungry for a glimpse of this mammoth.  The glimpse was fleeting, and only added to the mystery and majesty of this mountain.