Day Nine - Our GPS Says We're in Kansas...
Trip Start Jun 05, 2008
24Trip End Jun 24, 2008
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Today's blogger and photog: Kory
We logged about 225 miles on the car today, and several more on foot.
We left the Portland-Vancouver area this morning and headed back north to Mt. St. Helens. The first visitor's center for the Mt. St. Helens park is located only a few miles from the interstate. It consists of an exhibit area that tells the story of Mt. St. Helen's 1980 eruption on a frame by frame basis: first, everything seems normal in early spring, then there's an earthquake in the volcano area, then a crater forms, then a bulge forms and grows almost 5 feet a day on the north side of the mountain
We also watched a film which conveyed much of this same information. While I remember the Mt. St. Helen's blast - and how the ash affected the skies in Tennessee (and around the world, for that matter) - I didn't remember most of the powerful images. I didn't remember that over a 1,000 feet of the mountain blew off - 10 MILES into the sky and also into the valley below. I didn't remember than an entire lake disappeared and two new ones were formed. I didn't remember that ships got stuck in the Columbia River because the mud and sludge that flowed into the river made its depth decrease from 40 feet to only 15 feet in places. I didn't remember the scientist Johnston's last message: "Vancouver, Vancouver. This is it." Had he chosen to stay, thinking he would live to witness geological history? Or had he chosen to stay, knowing he was likely to become part of history? (This is something that may be documented - I sure did wonder today.)
From the first visitor's center, it's over 40 miles to the Johnston Observatory, which is only 5 miles from the volcano
Although the forest is definitely back, you can look in between the trees and see where old trees were broken off. Because the mountain was in the clouds - and there is only one road in and one road out - we turned around at that point. I understand that today there is still limited vegetation within about 10 miles of the mountain, because the ash doesn't sustain much plant growth.
Back at the interstate, we were still 120 miles or so to our next destination, Bellevue, WA, which is a suburb east of Seattle
More about the clouds: not only did they keep us from seeing Mt. St. Helens, we also have yet to see Mt. Ranier. A 14,000 foot peak that we've been in the neighborhood of several times now, and we still haven't seen it. I'm going to be pretty disappointed if we don't get a peek of it (pun intended) before we leave.
As today's headline says, I couldn't get our GPS to work from the hotel and cracked up when I realized it said we were in Kansas. "We're not in Kansas anymore," Matthew quipped. We decided we could walk and find something to eat, but the closest buildings (among them, several tall, glassy buildings) were more offices and stores and apartments than eateries