Day Twelve – September 21, 2012

Finally, she makes an appearance and in grand style

She bitch-slapped the Pacific Northwest and caused destruction beyond comprehension. Trees were SCORCHED BARE up to 17 miles away. Enough ash was thrown out to fill a football field 150 MILES high. Mt. St. Helens – it has always had a fascination to me. I cannot explain why because I just have no idea why. I remember seeing it on TV as it was happening, and in National Geographic. I have seen movies about it on TV. A co-worker once brought a small container of ash to work that his aunt had sent to him. I remember it was just like talcum powder it was so fine.

When I left the KOA about 8 AM it was 51 degrees, dreary and drizzly. I was not expecting much when I made the hour drive to see her. When I got there I had to dress like I was going skiing – coat, hat, gloves… the works. Spending 16 years in Colorado I got used to dry weather so this is a huge change for me.

It was miserably overcast when I got there – so much so that I thought about just turning around and leaving. Instead, I waited and wandered around for about an hour until the visitor center opened. I am glad I did.

I checked out some exhibits and then watched a couple of 15 minute films about the mountain and am even more fascinated by it now. This is basically taking a piece of Earth, wiping out most everything there, and starting over and watching what happens. If I were looking at biology as a field of study, this is THE place to do just that. One of the videos in there was the guy who took the pictures of the explosion. You have all seen them… they have been put into what looks like a choppy video (and I believe may be some of the few pictures of the actual eruption). He said he took all the pictures and had to manually advance the film between each shot. It had to have been quite a feat to do that amongst all the excitement of what was happening.

I went into the movie theater to watch a couple of films. As I suspected by working in the industry and looking at the curtains with the sunlight translucent through the curtains, after a film is over the screen AND the backing curtain both rise. This gives a dramatic entry to the mountain. When the first film ended the curtain rose to a solid white dense cloud bank. It was rather anti-climactic. However, when the second film was done, the curtain rose once again and the sun was brighter and we could see the top of the mountain poking through the clouds. I dashed outside and stood there in amazement as I watched her partially emerge from the clouds, looking dark, pissed-off, and mean as hell – another, different side of the mountains I had never felt or seen before. I stood there just staring at her, captivated and curious and wanting more. It was a spiritual experience. I looked at the valley below, covered in ash, sediment, and regenerating life. She then pulled the clouds back in and hid a little longer, then emerged a little more than the next time. She repeated this a couple more times and then finally it looked like it would last a while so I hiked down a trail and headed out back to the KOA. I am glad i stayed to see her. I will be back to hike the base, maybe farther.

An interesting thing here in the Pacific Northwest is that there is a National Forest pass that covers parking. I have never seen that before, so I guess that is one more thing I need to get along with a Washington State Parks Pass. I usually buy a National Parks Pass every year, and it pays for itself quickly if you go to 3-4 parks. I bought the Canada National Parks Pass since only four days in Banff costs more than the pass itself (US parks is about $20-$30 for a week of admission, but it was about $20/DAY to visit Canadian parks! OUCH!).

Got back and had a huge salad for lunch. Mighty tasty. I just woke up from the nap I took afterwards. I have not been sleeping like I should and I think all the driving is catching up with me on top of not sleeping in a normal bed for two weeks now. I am getting used to it, but I may need to invest in some good foam cushions for the bed.

Had some good news today. As I sat there waiting for the clouds to part my real estate guy called me and said that we are a go with the bank. Yay! One huge step closer to signing the final papers and the house sale will be done. That should help with the sleeping as well.

More good news… well, for me, anyhoo. I finally have figured out the picture thing. I am trying to get the pages updated.

Tomorrow I leave here, probably headed, as I stated yesterday, toward the coast. I want to get to Olympic and spend a few days there before arriving at the new job. It is not far so I am not sure where i will stop tomorrow night. Might need to make, gasp, a reservation. I might even treat myself to a hotel for a few nights. I have enough points for at least one night, maybe two.

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