A Little Place Called Vertigo

The Big M and I had a lovely anniversary trip to Seattle. He may be the gambler on a hot streak lately, but most of the time I feel like the lucky one.

Feel free to roll your eyes.

Sunday, what was supposed to have been U2 day, we drove down to Mount St. Helens. This May marked the 30th anniversary of the explosion. I was in kindergarten when it happened, and I remember knowing that it was a big deal. They rolled a TV on a cart from the A/V room and set it up in the hallway outside my classroom so we could watch news coverage on the eruption. I remember it looked like a lunar landscape, although I probably wouldn’t have thought of it that way at the time. Everything was gray and dead-looking.

Later my Aunt Carolyn, the world traveler, would bring me a little vial marked “Mount St. Helens” filled with gray volcanic ash, and I kept it in my room for years.

Today you can see the ash along either side of Coldwater Creek. We got this shot from the deck of one of the visitor centers:

Coldwater Creek dumps into Coldwater Lake, a new lake created after the eruption:

I took their word that the lake was comprised of cold water. It was June 20th, and 49 degrees out. And raining. I wasn’t about to touch that water.

Sometimes as we walked we could see the debris of trees that were swept downhill in the explosion. On the hillside you can still see hundreds of standing stumps.

Here are my attempts at arty shots of the lake:

Any of you who are good at PhotoShop, please feel free to do whatever it is one does to make shots like these look awesome. ‘Cause I don’t know how to do it.

As we drove toward the final visitor center, the one that gets you five miles from Mount St. Helens, we seemed to ascend into the cloud canopy.

By the time we pulled into the parking lot, it was looking a bit ominous:

Not ominous in the “we’re about to be struck by lightning” sense, but more in the “are we going to get to see this mountain, or what?” sense.

We approached the Visitor Center:

We went inside and listened to Ranger Nik (seriously) tell us about the crater and how the mountain is regenerating itself. It could look whole again in 200 years. Maybe less.

By the way, it’s actually a volcano. We were going to see a volcano!

Then we went into the massive movie theater (massive for a visitors’ center, anyway) and watched a movie on the 1980 eruption and the activity since then. At the end, the giant screen rose to reveal the wall of windows beyond and the much-anticipated view of Mount St. Helens. Which was this:

Everybody laughed.

We went out and took pictures of the whiteness. I decided to believe the volcano was out there. It seems like an awful lot of trouble to go through, building all this stuff, just to prank some visitors. So yeah, it’s there.

But I still have never seen an actual volcano.

When we got home and our boy asked what the volcano looked like, his father told him to close his eyes. Then The Big M walked him over until his little nose was about six inches from a white wall and told him to open his eyes.

“That’s what it looked like.”

We still had a good time at the national park. On our way back down, we went into a visitor center put together by Weyerhauser, the lumber company that reclaimed most of the fallen trees and planted thousands of new ones. One of the exhibits was a room where you could touch various wood, rock, and animal specimens from around Mount St. Helens.

That’s when I spotted the animal pelt file:

It is a literal file of animal pelts. I found this extremely funny. I like that it’s even alphabetized. I don’t think I’ll ever see something like it again.

It was a good trip.

Categories: Uncategorized

6 replies

  1. I was in Seattle last month and had a great time.

    Instead of doing something educational though, I spent most of my time at Pike’s Market eating!

  2. I am so glad you love your hubby so much. It’s truly wonderful to hear you gush about him.
    Glad you enjoyed Seattle and sorry about Mount St. Helens. That’s a bummmer. But at least you had good humor about it. :)

  3. There is still a chance that you saw a volcano. Did you happen to see Mt. Rainier when you were in Seattle? If so, you saw a volcano. OR….when you were flying, did you spot Mt. Hood in Oregon? Also, a volcano. Oh oh oh!!! Last year, did you fly anywhere near Mt. Shasta in California? Volcano. I bet you’ve seen one. I bet you have! You just didn’t realize it.

    And that Mt. St. Helens is elusive to say the least.

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