Friday, 29 November 2013

Mount St. Helens and into Oregon

 Mount St. Helens and into Oregon

          We headed south in Washington towards Mount St. Helens. I-5 was much improved after we left the Seattle area. We decided to stay in Seaquest State Park, just off the I-5, opposite The Mount St. Helens Visitors’ Center. It was a relatively easy drive on a good road and we arrived in daylight to choose our site.
Our choice of site at the end of the row

The Park - tall trees, very little underbrush
Only one section of the Park was open. There were 6 or 7 RV’s there, and the Host. Apparently it was Elk hunting season. The hunters were up and mobile before 5am, back by 4pm or so, and soon, quiet for the night. We talked to a couple, who had not had much luck, but were hopeful. One fellow had a bull tag (a licence to hunt only bull elk), but had seen only several groups of cows.
We drove over to the visitors’ Centre, but it was 10 to 4pm, almost closing time, so we just looked around the gift shop, promising to come back.
The Visitors' Center
They had wifi and a live feed to Mount St. Helens, but it was ‘socked in’ so we just saw a grey screen. It was cloudy and drizzly by this time, so we looked at the trail nearby, but decided to go back to the Runaround Sue.
Early [for us] the next day we went back to the Visitors’ Center. Mount St. Helens was still socked in, so we went through the extremely informative displays and watched a short film of the 1980 eruption and the subsequent devastation. Then we walked the trail around the Silver Lake marsh in front of the Visitors’ Center, and got caught in a downpour.
A beautiful walk over the marsh

The marsh turns to a lake

The next day when we checked in at the Visitors’ Center, we had fog, but we could see Mount St. Helens on the live feed, so we hopped in the car and headed up! As we drove closer, the terrible devastation became more evident.
a stump torn up
Miles from Mount St. Helens

Another section of the devestated area

Scientists had been watching the mountain change, as a bulge appeared and grew on the west side of the mountain.
Zoom in and see the sequence

The bulge in March

The whole area
By May, residents and scientists had been cleared beyond the danger line. However, no one expected the volcano to blow laterally. Much of the damage was caused by the initial land slide which released the pressure, causing the blast of hot ash and gases as the side of the mountain blew out, not up, removing, toppling and scorching 370 square km of forest in 3 minutes.
Before and After the Explosion
Many new valleys, rivers and even new lakes were formed.
Coldwater Lake

Castle Lake

You can’t really get a sense of the destruction and its massive size from pictures. We saw it on TV and in pictures; it’s quite different being there. It is enormous. Magnificent.
Mount St. Helens 33 years later, as we saw it from Johnson's Ridge Observatory
A storm came through the next day, so we stayed in, just went to the Visitors’ Centre and to the Castle Rock Library to use the internet. I was just told “Welcome to the Pacific Northwest Rainforest”.
The next day we headed to Oregon, only stopping at the Vancouver, WA Costco to stock up on the lamb shanks and beef. We drove through Portland, and decided to stay at Champoeg [pronounced Sham-POO-ie] State Heritage Park, SW of Portland.
Paths through the Park

-still in Rainforest Country with lots of moss

The only wildlife we saw, a tiny salamander
Our site of choice backing o to a field- note: no deciduous leaves to fall
It includes the site of the town of Champoeg on the Willamette [pronounced Wil-LAM-ette] River. This was one of the important towns in Oregon in 1860, with 29 houses, 60 buildings, a population of nearly 200 from all over the world, and was a gateway to the fertile prairies of the Willamette Valley. In 1861, Floods washed away most of the wooden buildings, and the townsite was abandoned, but the important transportation link remained. In 1892, another disastrous flood resulted in the site being abandoned.
The Willamette River- the marker on the pole is the height of the 1892 flood
The Visitors’ Centre in the park has excellent historical exhibits of the development of this region of Oregon.

The next day we headed for Lincoln and the Oregon Coast. On the way, we discovered, in McMinnville, the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum
This is the first thing you see as you come up to the Museums
- the home of the Spruce Goose, Howard Hughes’ Flying Boat, manufactured in 1947, with 8 engines, a wing span of 319ft. 11in., 79ft. 4in. Long and a gross weight of 400,000lbs.
The Spruce Goose- note the US Coastguard plane under its wing
It is massive. For flotation in case of an accident, Howard Hughes had beach balls placed in the wings and some in the lower compartment of the fuselage.
Some beach balls were actually found in the Spruce Goose when work was done on it
This gives a sense of its size
The Museum includes displays ranging from the elegant aeronautic designs of two unknown bike mechanics – Orville and Wilbur Wright – to an actual Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird that can fly at speeds of over 2,000 miles per hour. Founded in the memory of Captain Michael King Smith, the exhibits celebrate the lives of innovators, pilots, and veterans who pioneered flight in these remarkable machines. There are four buildings:
The home of the Spruce Goose

The Museums
one dedicated to flight from 1909 to 1945, and Commercial Aviation, home-built machines and the Capt. Michael King Smith firearms collection; a second dedicated to the Space Age and Rotary Flight; the third, a theatre, where films are shown several times per day; and finally the Wings and Waves Waterpark.
The Wings and Waves Waterpark
This is an indoor, all-season educational waterpark that includes ten waterslides (ranging from slides for the little ones to slides for daredevils), a wave pool and a children’s museum dedicated to teaching students about the power of water. On top of the building is an Evergreen B747-100 aircraft, which houses the top of some of the slides.
Having spent most of the day here, we left to head to Devil’s Lake State Park in Lincoln to begin our exploration down the Oregon Coast.

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