When I fly into Sea-Tac Airport, I like to be in a window seat. I generally am an aisle-seat person because I like to stretch out and see what’s going on in the other rows and be able to stand up immediately once the plane lands.
But I make an exception for Sea-Tac. As the plane begins to descend, the almost-straight-line of the Cascade’s volcanoes come into view from above the clouds. There’s Mt. St. Helens, its once impressive dome blown half to pieces during its last eruption. There’s Mt. Baker or Mt. Adams–I get them confused–and then, unmistakably, there’s the gleaming white fist of Mt. Rainier. “The Mountain.”
I love The Mountain. I miss it when the never-ending cloud cover blocks it from view. I go to great lengths to catch a glimpse of it on clear days. I have vague aspirations to circumnavigate it on the Wonderland Trail and to climb to the top of its crater.
I’ve seen The Mountain during sunset from Queen Anne Hill. I’ve watched it puff pancake-shaped clouds like Alice’s caterpillar. I’ve watched it disappear into self-made snowstorms. But the best view of The Mountain is, undeniably, from the window seat of an airplane, flying just above its peak. It’s the best way to appreciate its hulking mass towering over the other mountains and its somewhat unassuming attitude.
I can’t think of a better way to be welcomed to the Pacific Northwest.