You are here

National Park Mystery Spot 40 Revealed: A Building In Paradise

Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center. Wikimedia Commons photo by Acroterion.

You were told that Mystery Spot 40 is a structure in a national park and given these clues to work with:

You will get more if you live on the upwind side.

You will get nowhere if you are fool who lives there.

You will get one in trade for your two sawbucks if just one is what you want.

You will get just one if a double dip is one too many.

The answer is the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center in Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park. The Jackson Visitor Center is named in honor of Washington politician Henry Martin "Scoop" Jackson (1912–1983), a U.S. Congressman, Senator, and twice-unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Located in the park’s Paradise area, this traditional-looking, energy-efficient building was completed in 2008 as a replacement for an obsolete Mission 66 structure that had a controversial round shape, some serious design flaws, and intolerably high operating costs.

Here’s how the clues take you to the answer:

Precipitation in mountainous areas is significantly higher on upwind slopes than on downwind (lee) slopes. Consequently, you will get more rain if you live on the upwind side. In other words, your weather will be rainier.

A person who is happy because s/he harbors false hopes is said to “live in a fool’s paradise.” “You will get nowhere if you are a fool who lives there.”

A person orders a single scoop of ice cream if s/he thinks a double dip would be one too many.

A $10 bill is usually called a ten, but is also called a "sawbuck." A $20 bill is usually called a twenty, but is also called a "Jackson" (because it features President Andrew Jackson on the front). If one bill is all you want, you can trade your two sawbucks for one Jackson.

Congratulations to the Traveler readers who solved this one: celbert, RangerLady, Pie, richp39, and viewmtn. All are eligible for our monthly prize drawing.


I was thinking it, or at least the older round building that the new one replaced. I should have just thrown out everything and saw what stuck to the wall.

Thanks a lot, y_p_w. My weaselspeak meter just pegged out and blew up. Probably take me the rest of the morning just to find all the parts.

Seriously - I was thinking everything that related to "Jackson" in some way. Nearly anything that was around Grand Teton, Andrew Jackson's place in Tennessee, anything in D.C. remotely related. And yeah - the visitor center at Mt. Rainier did come to mind too.

I haven't been there either. When I visited Mt. Rainier, only the old round building was open. It was funky, but at least it had pay showers. Now there isn't a single public shower in the entire park. It's like they really don't want anyone camping there.

I have yet to visit Mount Rainier myself, y_p_w, but when I eventually do I am certainly not going to be worrying about finding a shower. I've showered at least 20,000 times already, and by God, I think that's enough.

Bob Janiskee:
I have yet to visit Mount Rainier myself, y_p_w, but when I eventually do I am certainly not going to be worrying about finding a shower. I've showered at least 20,000 times already, and by God, I think that's enough.

Ah - nothing quite like the smell of someone who's been out and about for a week without a shower. I've heard of backpackers in Yosemite who reveled in their absolute ripeness, and enjoyed getting on the Yosemite Valley shuttle to see how people reacted to their week-old buildup. Probably smelling like the homeless guy I once came across on public transportation. I wasn't quite sure why the train car was empty until I got within 10 feet of the stench.

So you don't exactly stand that close to your students, right? With your admission about taking enough showers in your lifetime, I'm sort of imagining that you smell like Indiana Jones after three weeks in the jungle.

Really though - they had two pay showers at the old visitor center. It was a quarter for what an employee there called "7 minutes of barely lukewarm water". The mechanism was also somewhat funky in that it had to be wound in one direction first, before turning all the way back till it hit a stop, then turning it some more past a spring mechanism with a quarter in there. I think this was to wind up a mechanical timer.

Now the closest public shower is in Ashford I think.

No problem there, y_p_w. When I return from the backcountry, Sandy makes me bathe regularly. Shave too. Helps to explain why I'm so grouchy. Why can't people just learn to stay the hell upwind? ;o)

Y'know, gang, you don't have to shower to clean yourself . . .

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide