Sometimes I wonder how life would be without the Internet. I mean, I lived without it back in the day. Then came printed MapQuest directions. And AOL messenger. I was brisgrl (Brian and I have been together that long). As a junior in high school, I was one of two students who helped set up the computer lab to have Internet. And my homeroom teacher asked me after class one day if it was possible to search topless women. And so we did, with no internet restrictions back then. Haha. That wouldn’t fly nowadays. Now as an adult—and watching the progression of technology and the Internet—I imagine life would be more boring in some ways and yet more meaningful in other ways without the internet. Like how would Karann and I know about the random Rail Riders place in Shelton if not for the Internet?! Not boring.
Karann texted me the TikTok suggesting we check it out. Funny thing is, I had saved it a few days before, thinking I should text Karann but I got caught up with life. Whatever TikTok does for their algorithms is on point. We were both sold. Karann made all the plans for our one-night away to Shelton. Which is always a welcomed change from my normal, where I make all the plans for everything. The TikTok must have been super popular—or people already knew or found out about Vance Creek some other way—because they were almost booked solid through the end of August. We found a mutual Friday that would work; there were no weekend openings.
The plan on Friday was to meet in Queen Anne at noon, grab Impossible Whoppers at Burger King, and then head to Shelton for our 3pm rail ride. Thankfully we decided to hit the road and find a Burger King along the way, because traffic galore. It was questionable if we would make it to Shelton in the time we allotted. If not for traffic—or even minimal traffic—timing was perfect. But man, it was almost a parking lot through Tacoma. Because it always is there. We kept watching her car GPS add minutes to the drive. I called Vance Creek and they said if we were 10-15 minutes late, it would be okay. That felt doable.
Thankfully traffic cleared up eventually and we were booking it to Shelton. We arrived with 10 minutes to spare. It was time to get our rail riding on.
After the quick overview of what to expect and the rules, we selected our rail car and waited for the action. The rail ride kicks off downhill, going about 6.5 miles before turning around. Everyone starts close together and as the ride carries on, the cars separate a bit. Which was a good thing. A group of four women were in front of us—in two separate rail cars—and they were blasting music from a Bluetooth speaker they attached to one of their backpacks. They seemed like a wild bunch, on a gals weekend getaway and they seemed ready to party. Probably late 40s, early 50s. They didn’t GAF. They were nice and cheery, but their lack of courtesy was annoying. And it’s not like their playlist was bad, it was decent music. But I wasn’t there to listen to music. Like people who hike with loud music. Why?! I love this tweet from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
Anyway. We eventually had enough space between them that it wasn’t horrible. We could still hear their music but we accepted it at this point. We didn’t have to pedal much going down the 6.5 miles because gravity. But we still pedaled. It’s a pretty ride, standard PNW trees and whatnot. A few houses with yards filled with stuff galore. And one property with cute pigs! Mostly nothing but nature to see.
At the turn around point, they have everyone exit the rail cars while they manual turn all of them. Now the musical gals were behind us. We decided to book it to get space between us. Once we were far in front without them in view, we slowed down to get the car in front of us out of view. Pedaling back up was fairly easy. It’s a slight grade so it doesn’t feel like a workout or anything. Eventually we caught back up with the cars in front of us, and the cars all behind us joined the line. It was a road crossing.
Road crossed, it was the final push back to where we started. Karann and I were down to pedal for the whole experience, but the guy working the back of the group used a motorized quad to push all the rail cars up the grade. All the rail cars were touching and we were back to listening to music. Clearly this rubbed me wrong, haha.
Vance Creek Rail Riders!
Back at the beginning we loaded up and left for the hotel Karann booked. It was a fun experience. A random experience that made it that much better. I love doing things like this with Karann. Nobody else would make it as memorable. That said, I’m taking the family next year. They’re already closed for the season.
Little Creek Casino Resort. The hotel where we stayed. We checked in after the rail ride. But we were hungry. Because of traffic, our plan to get Impossible Whoppers at Burger King didn’t happen, and neither of us had eaten all day. Maybe Karann had breakfast; I didn’t. It was past 5pm. After putting our stuff in our room, we looked at the dining options nearby. No luck. We briefly thought about driving to the coast. And then we pondered ditching the hotel and staying on the coast. It’d be an hour drive, no biggie, but then it’d be dark. And while staying on the coast sounded way better than a random casino in Shelton, the casino was fine. We decided another trip needs to be made to to coast so we can fully enjoy the ocean. Instead, we decided on the RAM in Lacey about 25 minutes away. Why? Because they have a wide-variety menu. It’s kind of funny that we drove about an hour round-trip for dinner. We could have just drove an extra hour and made it home. But that wasn’t the plan.
We ate at the RAM in the bar. Neither of us had a drink. But whatever. We tipped well. The crowd there is different than around here. It’s near JBLM and felt like a really American crowd. All white, trucks in the parking lot, American flags, hats on heads while eating, sports on the televisions… it kind of felt like Idaho. Not my scene but we were hungry and it worked out. The one thing that keeps me from going to RAM around here is all the damn televisions. Why do restaurants need televisions, let alone [what feels like] 20?! And of course, they’re all on different channels. Dentist offices also. I always ask them to turn off the television above my head. I find it annoying. I digress. We ate, we left for the hotel.
Somehow we took a wrong turn from the roundabout and ended up in a Walmart parking lot. We jointly decided to check it out. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been to Walmart in the last 20—maybe 30—years. And I doubt Karann has been more than me. We parked and made our way to the entrance. It felt foreign. I’m a Target shopper.
Karann wanted to check out the coffee aisle; she has connections to a company that has products in several stores. We were nosing around all the food aisles, amazed at all the junk we found. Meanwhile, people were shopping and we clearly didn’t fit in with our looks of shock from what they sell, and our laughing at the different disgusting items. We had looks. Eh, Walmart. Everyone gets looks.
Maybe Target sells some of this junk also?! I’ve never noticed though. Either way, I cannot believe this stuff is a thing (and I’m a sweets fan).
We must have spent well over an hour nosing about Walmart. I did find a few things around the store. Nothing needed and I regret spending money there. I really don’t like Walmart. Maybe I’ll go back in another 20 years. Except, I did take Blaise and his buddy to a different Walmart last week. Mr. Beast sells his chocolate at Walmart only (or online). The novelty of buying Mr. Beast chocolate in-person has been met. Online only from now on.
Back in Shelton at the Little Creek Casino. We decided we should gamble, casino and all. Except we had no idea how to gamble. Haha! We walked around looking to see how things worked and thought we needed a special card or something for the slot machines. The gift shop lady was helpful, as I bought Brian some local coffee, we asked her how to gamble. She looked at us like we were idiots, rightly so, and told us to insert money into the machines. She was certainly nice about it but clearly we weren’t in our element.
Karann spent five dollars on roulette, no luck. I spent a whopping one dollar in a penny slot machine. I was up 80 cents and then down to 40 cents. I cashed out. Haha. Well, I have a paper ticket that says I have 40 cents. I didn’t bother getting the change from the cashier. I’m not one to shy away from spending money but gambling just feels like throwing away money. And it’s not my idea of a fun night out to spend the money as entertainment. I can see doing this if it’s enjoyable. But it’s not for me.
It was time to call it a night. Rail riding, dinner, Walmart, gambling… bedtime. We called it a night around 11pm after sharing a few TikTok videos. Late for us, haha. Last year in Leavenworth we were both in bed at 9pm.
We were up and out by 9am. The plan was to get a hike in before heading home. There are so many options around there. We settled on two short excursions. First, Brewery Park in Olympia. Second, Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. And then home. After Burger King Impossible Whoppers for lunch. We had to make Burger King happen.
Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls. How unexpected, a beautiful smallish park in the middle of Olympia. And not the nicest part of Olympia. At least that was my impression. I could be way off here. It’s easier to just look at the photos. The only thing to note is there is a walking trail that loops. At the end of the trial where it loops back around is a bridge. The bridge is closed off with a sign and hazard tape. As we were looking to see if there is another way around, a group of five 20-somethings walked across the bridge and climbed over the tape. They said they’ve lived around there all their lives and didn’t know why the bridge is closed. My guess is it’s closed because it’s not structurally sound?! Whatever the reason, we followed suit and hopped over the tape. My rule-following self was SO conflicted. I was a rebel this day, haha.
The bridge isn’t high up so even if it happened to break while we crossed I wasn’t worried. I did book it across as quickly as possible, and crossed the tape on the other side. I watched Karann check out the bridge and take pictures; I relied on her pictures because I couldn’t let myself break the rule that long. Haha! I need to get over following rules.
Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls.
Brewery Park was a perfect place to check off. A place I didn’t even know I needed to check off. An hour or so later, we were loaded in the car for the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. About 20 minutes north off the 5. I always see it when we drive south. And we had seen it the evening before heading back to Shelton from the RAM (and Walmart).
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. No idea who Billy Frank Jr. is but probably someone noteworthy. Not interested enough to Google him though. Except I just did because I felt bad not caring. All about him here.
Again, pictures are best. Two things though. 1. I LOVE all the boardwalks! I’m a sucker for bridges and boardwalks on trails. I suppose it’s like all those people who love feet?! I don’t get it at all but clearly feet do something for them. Same with bridges and boardwalks for me. They’re nothing special but I cannot get enough of them. Not in that way but same idea. I once worked with a guy who, looking back over the years, must be a feet guy. I’m not a huge shoe fan so I always wear some form of flip flops (mostly Birkenstocks now, embracing the PNW). He would always comment on my feet, telling me I have Athena toes. Whatever this means?! Haha! I do have good feet, the one thing I’ll actually admit to liking on myself. I have good hair also—long and thick—but I cannot stand dealing with the hassle maintaining all of it, but I do. I always think of that incredibly gay man who ran up to me on the street in Downtown Seattle, to excitedly tell me I had the best hair. I’m sure he was a hairdresser. And he tried his darnedest to not touch my hair. I could tell he wanted to though, haha. Billy Frank Jr. had great hair also, looking at past pictures of him. Maybe he had Athena toes too.
And 2. I got stung by a bee! I hadn’t been stung since I was maybe four?! I remember being in our backyard, playing on the grass with clover flowers. There must have been a bee on a clover flower where I stepped because I was stung on the bottom of my foot. I don’t remember the pain; I only remember playing on the grass. At the Wildlife Refuge, Karann and I were walking on the first boardwalk when all of sudden I had this incredible pain on my ankle. It had to have been a bee. There was a small dot where I must have been stung and then it started to swell around the sting. It was so painful. I’d rather have another baby than get stung by a bee. I mean, it was bearable and I dealt with it just fine, but the pain was not cool. It kept radiating down to my foot and up my leg. Man, it really hurt. Thankfully Karann had a first aid kit and we cleaned it with an alcohol wipe. That helped. We continued on and I could tell something happened but I was able to deal with the pain. It eventually stopped swelling and the pain subsided.
Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.
It was time to head back home. But not before getting the damn Impossible Whoppers. We ended up in Southcenter, at the Burger King there. We ordered at the drive-thru and then parked in the adjacent Target parking lot. So of course we went into Target after downing our Whoppers. We found more questionable items, but not food at least. And I scored with some outfits for Maive. She keeps growing! Like toddlers are supposed to do, so no big surprise there.
Another successful Karann trip down! Until next time. We have a tentative weekend blocked in the spring, with no idea what we’ll do or where we’ll go. But I’m sure it’ll be a good time, like always!
I had never heard of those rail cars! How fun!!! Places like that should not allow people to bring/play music. I’ve hiked when someone has music and it was definitely beyond annoying.
And now I’m craving Burger King like a fiend. I want one of their new chicken sandwiches.
It was super fun! Highly recommend, minus the music. And yes, you need Burger King now. Enjoy the chicken sandwich!