After leaving the Columbia River Gorge, we drove up into Washington state and headed towards Mount St Helens. The drive itself was pretty disappointing. First of all, there was no "Welcome to Washington" sign. What?? How am I supposed to make a collage in the future of the kids entering all 50 states?? I even googled this, thinking we might re-cross the Columbia River for a photo op, but apparently other visitors are also frustrated. And then there was the weather - it was POURING rain, and we could barely see the cars in front of us, let alone any scenery. So I fretted for the most part of the next 1.5 hour drive about what to do. We were headed to Mount St. Helens, the volcano that famously erupted back in 1980, where the main reason to go is for the vistas of the devastation caused by the lava flows. At the cutoff from I-5 to begin the hour long one-way drive to the volcano, we pondered what to do over lunch at Burger King (yes, this was a *great* day so far). Since the visitor center run by the NPS got some rave reviews, we decided to go for it. That, and we read that you never know what will happen with mountains, so we could drive up and get lucky.
So we went. And got excited to see signs like these.
We geocahced a few times.
And got to the top to see fog, clouds, and rain. I had the boys pose with the interactive volcano inside the Visitor's Center, joking that they did get to see it, after all.
We watched a movie about the eruption, attended a Junior Ranger program, and learned a lot about that fateful day. The boys were fascinated, Carl was happy (this was his "must-see" addition to our trip), and even though we couldn't see the volcano, we felt the drive was worth it.
And then... during the junior ranger talk... a miracle happened. She pointed out that you could just start to see the right side of the mountain where the avalanche occurred (the sudden melting of the glaciers with the explosion caused an avalanche of water and mud and trees that caused more damage than the lava), and sure enough, there was the start of a mountain view.
As the talk progressed, the sky cleared even more,
And by the time we were outside...
There it was.
Mount Saint Helens.
You can see the lava rivers, the regrowth, the mountain.
We were so very, very pleased.
And a little awestruck over our luck. Fifteen minutes after this picture was taken, the clouds were back, and our views were gone.
We still had a good 1.5 hour drive to reach our lodging for the night, just outside Mount Rainier National Park. The two mountains are only 35 miles away from each other, but you can't drive as the crow flies, so it takes a while. We didn't mind this last bit of the drive, though. We had seen our volcano.
And a double rainbow to end the day doesn't hurt, either. Just another little sign that someone up there likes us.
More about this Trip:
- Summer Vacation 2014: the Pacific Northwest
- Heading North to Willow Creek
- Redwood National and State Parks, California
- Southern Oregon's 101 Beaches
- The Beautiful Rogue River
- Riding the Oregon Dunes
- The Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway
- Crater Lake National Park
- Mount Hood/Hood River, and the Fruit Loop
- Columbia River Gorge