Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Experiencing the Four Seasons in One Week - Days 5 & 6

Day 5 - Sunday, October 21st
Mount St. Helens was on the top of everyone's wish list of places to visit while Greg's parents were here. You can see the mountain from downtown Portland on a clear day so it's always there, tempting us with it's flattened summit to come see close-up the devastation wrought by the eruption in 1980.
I took this photo at Hoyt Arboretum when my mom & step-dad visited in June. Mt Rainier is on the left (150 miles away) and Mt St Helens is in the foreground (50 miles away).
The day we had set aside for the 2+ hour drive to the mountain started out cold & gray. There was even snow in the forecast for the national monument, which had just gotten it's first dusting of the season on October 18th.
We chose to drive to the north (far) side of the mountain because it has the closest visitor center to the crater that you can reach by car, the Johnston Ridge Observatory. Due to the heavy snow it receives, this area is only open seasonally, typically from Memorial Day to late October.
we've reached the snow line on SR504
The landscape changed significantly after we got off the interstate and approached the volcano on Washington State Route 504. While much of the timber land has been replanted, there is still plenty of evidence of the eruption in the form of the scarred hillsides and mostly barren Toutle River valley.
Toutle River Valley
the scarred ridge to the north of Mt St Helens
It was snowing lightly as we climbed higher up the ridge toward the visitor center. We stopped a few times to take photos but didn't get a real glimpse of the mountain because of the low cloud cover.
It's snowing! And Mt St Helens is in the background somewhere!
Luckily, shortly after we reached Johnston Ridge, the clouds parted briefly and we were able to see the most of the mountain, although we never did get a full view of the horseshoe-shaped crater.
Mt St Helens peeks through the clouds
Johnston Ridge
At the observatory we toured the exhibits then watched two films, one about the eruption and another about the natural rejuvenation that has taken place in the 32 years since the eruption. Both feature a nice surprise after the credits roll.
checking out the lay of the land
Linda & Dave take advantage of the indoor viewing area after the film is over and the curtain rises
It was too cold and slippery from the fresh snow to go hiking so we started heading back towards home. We did pull off at a scenic overlook that marks the edge of the blast zone where we read about the timber company's efforts to salvage their trees after the eruption. A bit later we stopped at Patty's Place for a late lunch (Greg & I had elk burgers!).
it was a bit cold for a hike
this is at the western edge of the blast zone

Day 6 - Monday, October 22nd
After the previous long day of driving, the LaRowe's opted for a leisurely morning exploration of the area around their hotel before they came over to our house around noon. Greg was back at work at his downtown office and we were all generally worn out from our busy weekend. Wanting to show them a bit more of our neighborhood, I took Linda on a Hawthorne Boulevard stroll, dropping in or window shopping at some of my favorite places (New Seasons, Pastaworks, Powell's, Crossroads Trading, Presents of Mind, Memento, House of Vintage) while Dave napped on our sofa. After Greg got home from work I cooked dinner with some of our New Seasons provisions: bacon-wrapped blue cheese-stuffed dates, salmon, kale, butternut squash; which all went very nicely with the David Hill Pinot Gris that Linda had purchased at the winery on Saturday.
Linda checks out the assortment of locally-roasted coffee beans at New Seasons Market
I'll wrap up the LaRowe's visit in my next post. In the meantime, the link to all of the photos I took during that week is embedded in this post's title.

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