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Mima Mounds
posted by John : October 19, 2008

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Two by two

In response to horrible new words like staycation everyone's favorite newspaper ran a series of articles on cool places to go when you choose not to do the cross-country spend-a-thon to go to Disney World. One of those was Mima Mounds just south of Olympia.

The Mounds are made by... um... nobody knows. Really. They're just freaky bumps in the ground that nobody can explain. (Well, at least there's no consensus explanation. There's plenty of whack jobs out there with their own reasons.) I figured maybe we'd go and take a stab at determining why they were there.

Why we were there was easy. After about an hour and a half in the car we would all be ready to get out and stretch our legs in anticipation of the final leg home from Portland. We even managed to con Nana and Papa into joining us. Suckers.

From the parking lot we could hear the gunshots ringing out from a nearby gun range (or execution grounds (or both)), but no trace of the freeway or the booming metropolis of Littlerock that we had passed through. Horrible bathrooms aside, it was a nice little park.

Ah, but no mere park was this! Mima Mounds is on the National Register of Natural Places (or something like that) and it even has a plaque to prove it. We read the fancy words just before leaving the shelter of the trees and entering the prairie.

It was kind of spooky. Mounds and mounds of mounds. Late in the season they were all topped by dried bracken and grasses long gone to seed, but there were a few flowers to be seen if you looked closely. We started at the interpretive center (shaped like a mound, of course), visited the upper deck, and then started around the half mile paved trail. (Yes, a second trip in a row on a paved trail, what's the world coming to?)

Lilly would run ahead to find the next number and Clara would hand me the pamphlet to read. Henry would try to break my glasses or camera or GPS (gotta know where we are!) or all three at the same time. He has skillz.

We talked about flowers and grass and butterflies, though none of the latter were evident. We never really delved into the mysteries of the mounds, which is probably not a bad thing. I'm sure Clara and Lilly would have come up with a theory that explained it perfectly and then I'd be responsible for talking with the scientists and that never goes well.

About half way into the loop it turns away from the prairie into the trees where the mounds still exist, they're just harder to see. In no time we were back at the car forcing Henry back into his seat. The three quarters of a mile that we'd walked (and he had part of) weren't enough to make him happy and the trip home didn't look promising. (He wound up falling asleep just south of Tacoma. Phew.)

Amy says she's not looking forward to our own cross-country road trip when I'll make us stop at every ball of twine and freaky car-henge thing. I reassured her that I had no interest in those things.

But if there's a lake or a mountain or a trail...

Totals were .72 miles and, brace yourself, three feet of gain. (We were good and didn't climb any of the mounds.)

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