Our Travels West, Summer 2007 - David and Linda Young travel blog

View from Max - the train went by every day-Loved It!

Portland, OR - we like Harrisburg, OR best

Yeah - Another BRIDGE

and here we are - in Washington State

Bales of hay - probably from Oregon

He slept most of the day

No wonder I am stiff and sore after each trip!

Leaving for dinner with Ron and Connie - isn't he cute -

Took this for Ron - it must be a Passport America Park!

Rounded a curve, and There She Was!

At one of the Ranger Information Stations

View from an overlook

Another view of the volcano

Entering the zone Helen covered in the blast

Linda, David and Helen at an overlook

St Helen

Log in front was slung during eruption and stuck at this angle

Coldwater Lake created by the eruption, viewed from the visitor center

Coldwater Lake

Coldwater Lake, again

Connie took this photo of Ron in Ape Cave

Also this one - scary, rugged and dark

Great news today, Connie and Ron will meet us at the Mount St Helens RV Park instead of meeting up with us next week. However, later there was sad news. Connie called and said we won't have to worry about Ron's Raven any more. Ron killed him.

Ron was driving the RV headed to Castle Rock, 'minding his own business', and the Raven flew right at the RV and hit on the top of the front cap. The last Ron and Connie saw of the Raven, he was lying on the asphalt taking a sunbath.

As for Mount Saint Helens, you Just Will Not Believe the Pictures! We are so very glad we were able to view it! You go around mountain roads, weaving in and out, and then suddenly, off in the distance is Mount St Helens. We were awed by the scene, and it just got more exciting as the closer we got to Helen.

It has been 26 years since the 1980 eruption.The eruption was triggered by a 5.1 magnitude earthquake which caused the collapse of the volcano's north side. Explosive gases trapped inside the mountain were released in a lateral blast - yep, lateral. The blast area was as far as 16 miles to the north. Winds reached 670 MPH and carried temperatures of 800 degrees. In less than 3 minutes, 230 square miles of timber vanished, Plant and animal life in the blast zone was decimated. However, small animals survived the eruption because they were safe in their burrows, while birds and big game perished in the heat and ash. Fifty seven people were killed.

The blast completely changed Spirit Lake, enlarging it and washing over the Lodge that was on its banks. The owner of the lodge, Harry Truman, refused to leave and was one of the fatalities. He had built the lodge in 1926 and catered to tourists there beside Spirit Lake. He was described as 'crusty' and 'cantankerous'. He told the law enforcement officers he could not leave his lodge. If he did, it would "worry me to death". The blast obliterated all traces of his beloved lodge and buried the site in ash. Another fatality was USGS scientist David Johnston. He radioed, "Vancouver - This is it!" The blast caused the largest landslide in recorded history. It swept through the Toutle River Valley, choking rivers and lakes with mud, ash and shattered timber, killing all the trout and salmon. A vertical ash eruption rose to a height of 15 miles above the crater and continued for nine hours. Ash drifted to the northeast.

In 1982 the United States Congress established the 110,000 acre Mount St Helens Nation Volcanic Monument to preserve a portion of the blast zone for scientists, educators and visitors. Fish have returned to the water, wildflowers bloom. Elk and deer have returned.

Mount St Helen entered a new eruptive phase in the fall of 2004 resulting in a dome building period that continues today. Smoke, or steam, rises from the mouth of the eruption and can be seen from the Johnston Ridge Observatory. It is located just seven miles north of the volcano. David and I felt this visitors center was the best, providing us with close-up views, a history film which ended by asking everyone to stay seated - and then, with the theater still dark, curtain were drawn and Mt St Helens was Right There in front of us. The ranger there had many interesting tales of the eruption and its aftermath.

We stayed at the Mt St Helens RV Park in Castle Rock, WA. This is where we met up with Ron and Connie. As they had done the tour of Mt St Helens, the day we went, they went to the Ape Cave. It is the nation's third longest lava tube. The cave was formed 2,000 years ago when lava pouring off the south flank of Mt St Helens began to melt into the rock and soil. The thermal erosion created a tube that transported lava for almost a year. It is a 13,042 foot cave that is open for exploration. NOTE: Cavers must be capable of climbing over 27 boulder piles and scaling an eight foot high lava fall. SO, our buddies, Connie and Ron, took the tour. They were bundled up in their heavy jackets and they had to carry lanterns. Contrary to a Disney setting, there are no electric lights or fire lamps to mark the route. They both said they enjoyed it, and Ron was very impressed with Connie, climbing over the big boulders!

Awesome facts: October 2004 - Mount St Helens erupted after 18 years of quiet. Lava poured from the crater floor at the rate of one dump truck load per second. This built a new lava dome.

March 2005 - The dome continued at 1/2 dump truck load per second with small steam and ash eruptions lightly dusting nearby areas.

October 2006 - Seven massive lava spines have been extruded (114 million cubic yards), enough to fill Portland's Rose Garden Arena 150 times. At 1300 feet, the top of the 'new' lava domes are taller than the Empire State Building.

May 2007 - Lava extrusion decreased to a small pickup truck load every 2 seconds. No explosive eruption has occurred in a year. Dome rock falls produce small ash plumes.

Speaking of ash plumes - throughout the park there are signs warning of Volcanic Ashfall. It is explained the ash is rock dust blown into the air by a steam or gas eruption, rock fall or high winds. Their warning includes:

* Remain calm. Ash is not toxic.

* Seek shelter inside a building or vehicle.

* Cover your nose and mouth with a moist cloth or towel and wait until ash settles.

* Drive slowly, ash reduces visibility and traction.

It was a wonderful experience and the various visitor centers each provided interesting information to help us understand the massiveness of the initial eruption.

On a lighter note, on the way to Mount St Helens, we came across a large sign stating 'RV Park'. The sign was on the side of a building, and access was by a dock. It was surrounded by water. We took a picture for Ron and told him this was probably one of his Passport America Parks. (Remember the white-tire park detailed previously? Also the one with bathtubs lining the driveway?)

Before leaving the following morning, we drove to the next town over for breakfast at 'Stuffy's'. On of the best breakfasts we ever had! It is a fairly large restaurant, decoracted in the 50s and 60s theme. We had a great time, along with the good food. We asked, and that is the only location - most of the decor is from the private collection of the owner's wife. It probably is best though. If it was also in Florida we would be tempted to eat ourselves silly.

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