2019 Sandy & Bill's West Coast Adventure travel blog

Mt. St. Helens before its eruption

Mt. St. Helens after the eruption

Lake Quinault in the Olympic National Park

Lake Quinault Lodge

Hairy Beastie in Lake Quinault Lodge's Great Room

Sandy and the world's largest Sitka Spruce tree

Sandy's friend, Kathleen, at the base of the Sitka Spruce tree

Rialto Beach with its rocky shore and many sea deposited logs

Sandy contemplating the sea & sunset at Rialto Beach


Leaving Portland behind, we donned our adventurer's metal and boldly invaded the state of Washington. Somewhat to our surprise, it was really easy!

Our first stop was Mt. St. Helens, the volcano that blew its top. We wound up only stopping at the Visitor's Center since the mountain was completely covered in fog. Looking at the camera some 50+ miles away at the mountain, one could not see anything except fog. Wisely, we decided to forego driving 100 and some miles to see fog. However, we did see a very good, short movie about the before and after of the volcano erupting. There were also informative pictures, artifacts, and data about the volcano, the area surrounding the mountain, and the sciences of plate tectonics and volcanology. All helped get a better understanding of what happened that fateful day.

It turns out that Mt. St. Helens is one of the most active volcanoes of the Cascade Range, which define the Pacific Northwest portion of the Ring of Fire. Subduction of one tectonic plate, in this case the Juan de Fuca Plate, slides about an inch per year under the North American Plate which eventually causes earthquakes and volcanoes. In the case of Mt. St. Helens, it gave many months of warning about its impending eruption, which took place on 18 May 1980. Two attached pictures show the mountain prior and after its eruption. The explosive eruption caused the largest debris flow in recorded history, destroyed over 185 miles of highway, killed 57 people (including Harry Truman...not the former President but a guy who lived near a lake that proved to be within the blast zone), and reduced the height of the mountain's dome by about 1/3.

The second stop, and one we all liked very much for its tranquility, was Lake Quinault in the Olympic National Park. The attached picture shows how beautiful the area proved to be, and we all liked the lodge of the same name, which was quite genteel and accommodating in its d├ęcor. Nearby is the world's largest Sitka Spruce tree, and the attached pictures of Sandy fronting the tree and her friend, Kathleen, perched at the base will show the tree's magnitude, which is over 58 feet in circumference, 190+ feet tall, and about 1,000 years old.

Our last stop was Rialto Beach, near the small town of LaPush, WA. Unlike its more southern and sandy cousins, this beach is covered in rocks and has a large amount of sea strewn logs. While that may not sound all that appealing, there is a certain charm to the beach atmosphere there. One can hear the different sound of waves washing over and then moving small rocks seaward, and this is a distinctly different sound than that heard at sandy beaches. Attached are two pictures, one of the beach and one of Sandy quietly contemplating the sea at sunset. The latter may appear to be black & white, but is really a color photo.

Tomorrow we continue through the Washington Olympics, ending in Port Townsend, WA. Thanks for reading.

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