Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mt St Helens and Windy Ridge

A couple weekends ago we decided to head out for a day of exploration around the backside of our favorite local volcano – Mt St Helens.

Mt St Helens sits on the horizon where we live. It is something we see every day (along with Mt Hood and Mt Adams), and everyone took it for granted until 1980 when it started huffing out clouds of smoke and eventually exploded in an eruption that gave us all a very graphic example of what the word ‘devastation’ really means. Ridge after ridge around the mountain was cleared down to bare rock or covered in ash. Some of the ash even rained down over our homes. When we went to see it a few years after the eruption, it was like a desert where once a beautiful forest had stood. Now when we look at the mountain it’s flat top reminds us at a glance that we have a real live volcano in our backyard.

For many years we took an annual trip from Yakima up to Windy Ridge, often with our Miata friends, and admired the view looking down into the crater. We have also come in on the West side to the observatory. It’s an amazing place to visit, from either direction. This time we decided to wind up the backroads to Windy Ridge and see how it was doing. So we packed a picnic lunch, grabbed the camera, and headed out for a day of adventure.

Driving around the backside of Mt St Helens takes you through woods that were pretty much untouched by the blast, except for creeks and rivers that were flooded by the sudden glacier melts that occurred, causing mud flows to tear down the canyons and valleys. Everything is recovering so well though, that it is hard to see the damage anymore, even at overlooks that were established for people to stop and admire the changes in the landscape.

Then you come to the Muddy River at Lava Canyon

 Can you see Dave on the rocks looking over the canyon?

 We added a rock to a cairn we passed on our way along a trail that took us to another vantage point of the muddy river. Too bad the clouds were hiding the mountain at the other end of the canyon. We should have realized then that this just wasn't going to be our day for viewing the mountain itself.

 On to Lava Canyon, where water has carved a steep channel through lava rock.

 Very cool place, with lots of signs warning you that if you fall in that water, you will die and they will never find your body, or something to that effect. That was the take-away, anyway. That water was fast and furious as it disappeared into the bulbous lava forms sticking up out of the forest.

We backtracked out of the Ape Canyon / Lava Canyon area, and continued heading East towards Windy Ridge. We stopped along the road at this still wiped out canyon and ate our lunch while enjoying the complete peacefulness of the forest. I don't think a single car drove by while we were enjoying our lunch. It was just us and the birds in the trees.

Further up the road we stopped at a wide spot to enjoy this overlook of  what I think was the Clearwater Creek drainage. What an amazing view!

Our sturdy Flex made the ride nice and smooth over the terrible forest service roads, which had a lot of broken pavement. It was the right choice for this trip! The Miata would have been beat to death.

 Finally we arrived at Windy Ridge, with it's amazing view of...clouds. Lots and lots of clouds.

 Beautiful view of Spirit Lake though. We had a lovely panorama of the devastated area.

The devastated area has recovered considerably. There was a time when this was all just covered in brown ash. The effects of the eruption are still clearly visible in the three zones. Zone 1 - the ridges were blown clean down to bedrock. They are still bare of trees, but starting to show a cover of green.

Then there is the zone farther out where the trees were all knocked down, and still lay pointing away from the source of the blast. More baby trees are popping up in this area. 

In the third zone the trees were killed by the heat of the eruption, but remain standing. This area is recovering even better. It's amazing to see how one ridge is in the blowdown zone, and the next the trees were left standing. 

That is Mt St Helens for you - such a beautiful, amazing place. We stopped at another overlook on the way back from Windy Ridge and enjoyed the peacefulness of the scene, the little pops of color from wildflowers appearing on the hillside. We waited a little bit, but the mountain remained hidden in the clouds. It was just one of those days.

 But we had a great time anyway, as we always do when out adventuring together.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Lazy Saturday around the house

Dave walked around the corner to get a glass of water, and when he came back the top piece of bread on one half of his sandwich was gone! How could such a thing happen? Navi says it was aliens.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Miata Show!

I don't do this very often, but our local Miata club was holding their first show at the Mazda dealership in Beaverton, so I decided to give The Squirt a bath, put on our snazzy red hard boot, and head on over there.

There were about 40 Miatas there, from mild to wild.

I drooled over some fancy interiors!

And an actual '93 LE, which is what my Miata wants to be when it grows up!

There was even a car with teddy bear wheels!!!

I won a raffle bag, got a sunburn, and a great time was had by all! It was so much fun to be surrounded by other people who love these fun little cars!


Thursday, June 04, 2015

Trout Lake 2015


Time again for the annual trip to Trout Lake to hang out with my Airstream friends. We packed up the trailer, the dogs, and it seemed like more miscellaneous ‘stuff’ than ever before. Maybe it just felt that way because the Flex is so small and the Van was so big! We headed off after work on Thursday so we could get in an extra day.

We rolled into town to find a thunderstorm hiding the mountain top and obscuring the sunset.


We got settled in, said hello to everyone, and soon after crashed for the night. As I lay in bed in the complete darkness, I thought my eyes were playing tricks as I saw flashes, but the thunder told us it was the lightening storm. Kind of cool.



The next day the Airstreams kept rolling in. All our usual friends, and a few we had missed last year. A sad trip for our friends Carolyn and Loren, as they had just lost their beautiful German Shepherd Cosmo. Cosmo had been a fixture at the rally for 7 years, where he would hang out by the campfire with them, but if Mom and Dad weren’t together, he would patrol the camp going back and forth between them, checking on them. Such a good boy. It was so sad to hear of his passing.



Soon there were enough people to stir up a card game, which Dave got in on.




Puzzles came out too …



and guitars. Camping is the life!




The dogs hung out in their dog-yard. I had started prepping the trailer a couple weeks before we left, and was happy to find everything worked. We used the fridge all weekend, and only needed to run the furnace a couple nights because the weather was so mild. With the LED lights, we didn’t even come close to running out of power.




Our friend Chris showed up with his Caravel, and his new/old Bronco.



Cory, Carolyn, Jerry, Patsy, Karen, Dave and Loren entertain themselves. I think this was shortly before they decided to ‘make it interesting’ and start playing for pennies!



Barclay can watch the activities from bed!



When we have the dogs we usually fold the dinette down into a bed all day.



Both dogs like laying in the ‘doghouse’ under the bed. Navi decided it was hers and growled furiously if Barclay tried to invade it. Which he occasionally did, just to annoy her.




Airstreams of all shapes and sizes – vintage, Interstate, and Argosy!



Greg got the fire all stirred up



Sunset over the creek behind the campground



So many friends, good food, jamming around the campfire at night (I even brought my guitar this time) – wears you out. I’ve never slept so well in my life!


The next morning we headed over to the county park to partake of their showers. You can shower in the Caravel, but why make a mess in there, when you can make a mess in someone else’s shower instead? Seemed like a good deal to me! Then we went to the Ranger Station and got a map and directions for the local attractions.


We wandered off into the woods to find the Big Lava Bed. Turns out it is indeed big, but hard to access, and I didn’t even really get any pictures of it!



Back to camp, this is the view at the porta-john – one of the prettiest in camp!



Flags were flying in the wind. All that wind blowing through the trees around camp made for a fabulous afternoon nap while Dave went and played cards.



Peanut butter kongs keep the dogs occupied.



In the evening I play guitar until my fingers were too sore to play anymore, so I packed it in, and grabbed my camera. The wind had blown away the clouds. I finally had a chance (and the equipment and know-how, to do this:




Cozy little trailer.


The next morning we headed up to see Langfield Falls. Along the way we stopped for views of Mt Adams and Beargrass.




Thanks to the dry winter, the falls was only running down one side, instead of covering the whole rock.





We saw a sign to Mosquito Lake, and decided we HAD to check that out. A whole lake of mosquitoes, how fun! (sarcasm) But alas, there were no mosquitoes. It was actually very nice. Must have hit it at just the right time of year. It made us wish we had a kayak!

On the way up there we had to stop to let a small group of Elk stroll across the road. Of course I didn’t get a picture of THAT!

On the way back, we stopped by the Big Tire. Seriously, it’s on the MAP.


Yup, that’s big alright.



Coming back we had a peek at Sleeping Beauty from a different angle. Not quite as face-like from over here.

We went back through town and headed out past the campground in the other direction looking for the biggest Ponderosa Pine in WA – known as The Big Tree.


I suppose it’s kinda big.




Pretty, delicate little flowers in this area.




Back to Trout Lake, to stop for lunch at the Café/Gas Station/Espresso/Ice Cream Shop


As you might guess, the only place in town. But actually kind of awesome.



Back to the trailer for lunch..



And Siesta. I cleaned out a drawer in the trailer and found a bunch of paperbacks. Dave started reading a Star Wars book he had tried to read on previous trips, and I found an old X Files novel. What a great way to geek out during afternoon downtime!



I take this picture every year!



I never get tired of looking at the mountain!

At sunset I took the dogs for a walk, looked up, and saw the setting sun had somehow created a rainbow in the clouds, right over Sleeping Beauty’s face! I ran the dogs all the way back to the trailer to get my camera and get a shot before the phenomenon disappeared!



I love it! And I love Sleeping Beauty.



One more night of singing around the fire, followed by a peaceful night’s sleep, and in the morning, it was time to go.


Trout Lake is always over too soon! We love visiting with our friends, catching up, singing songs, watching the campfire, sharing potlucks, playing games, taking naps, and playing music. We will get together again before summer is over, but Trout Lake is an awesome start to the season. Many thanks to our friends Janet and Gary for pulling us all together for another year.