The boat is headed to Kalama WA to dock for the day. We'll be off to see Mt St Helen's this afternoon. There are 116 passengers on board the ship, only 4 levels of cabins with the crew below, of course. There are several little lounges where you can sit and see the shore as we go past. Seating is a little tight in the dining room but other than that it seems pretty roomy. Our room is small but adequate with twin beds against opposite walls and a small aisle between. A desk and chair, small closet and compact bath. But all very functional. The common areas of the ship are very cool, we turned the AC off in our room so it's comfortable. I packed for hot weather so when I was in Astoria yesterday I stopped in the JC Penney store and bought long pants and a Liz Claiborne short sleeve shirt. I think I'll wear long pants on the bus to the volcano, it's an hour and a half ride one way and the bus stays cool as well.
We went by a big Georgia Pacific plant on the riverside, looked like they were bringing in wood chips probably to make paper. There was a talk about Lewis and Clark this morning, I skipped it and took advantage of some alone time in the room to take a shower and straighten up. The advantage of a small room is there are not a lot of places to put things so everything pretty much stays in place. We'll have some time to watch the scenery as we move toward Kalama, then an "express" lunch and back to the bus.
The "dock" in Kalama consisted of the boat pulling in to the shore head first and extending the landing ramp off the front of the boat. There was a line of rubber matting to get up the incline, then a short asphalt path to the road where the buses were waiting. Almost everybody must have gone to Mt St Helens because they took 3 busses. It was a little strenuous for Mom but the nice young men are always there to help. I asked the one about his future plans: his girlfriend is on a boat in the Mississippi and they are saving money to travel. First to Machu Piccu, then India, Italy and Spain and a walk from there along the El Camino trail . How wonderful for the young uns to travel like that.
The bus ride to Mt St Helens was about 1 and 1/2 hours, we went up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory run by the National Forest Service. It's named after the man who was on the ridge monitoring the mountain when the side blew out. They say the force of the blast literally disintegrated him. There had been days of seismic activity and small eruptions, then the side of the mountain started to bulge and there was much speculation about what would happen. The gov't tried to evacuate people from the area but many people refused to go. The way the side blew out was unprecedented and so no one thought the area of destruction would be so large. There were loggers on the hill and some people fishing in the Toutsie River in the area. 57 people died and those that survived were burned or nearly drowned in a log jam and most had a very difficult physical and psychological recovery.
You can't fathom how wide an area was affected until you see it. The mountain stands there with one side blown out, 30 years later the area right in front of it is still barren, covered in miles of silt and ash. As you look around, the outer areas are starting to recover slowly. The geologists have never had an opportunity like this to study natural recovery from so large of a blast so are keeping data and will continue to for years to come. Some of the rock and dirt that blew out of the side landed in a nearby lake, causing the water to flush out in a huge tidal wave, that swept up the blown over timber and sent a huge wave of ash, silt and logs down the Toutsie River. A couple fishing were caught in it and got battered by the logs heading downstream. They barely survived, but hung on and made it.
The Toutsie is still full of slit. As you go by you can see how the river has had to carve a new path thru all the debris. A couple of the loggers survived but were badly burned by the ash. The rangers talked about the way nature recovers and you can see the progress, some of the grass has come back on the valley floor, the wind and birds bring seeds and flowers and shrubs start. The elk come through and leave fertilizer and more diverse seeds. The trees start to grow back. But it's only been 30 years so the immediate area is still very barren looking.
After Mt St Helens we came back, there was nothing to see or do in Kalama, very small town. We had a good dinner for a change and called it a night. The boat left Kalama at 11 PM and motored all night. At breakfast this morning we watched the boat go through a lock and have just now landed in Stevenson. We'll go off to see a waterfall, then this aft I'm headed into town to do some laundry and have a massage. The walk up all the inclines, even with the help of a wheelchair in some places, really wore Mom out yesterday. We asked and they said today will be even more strenuous so I think she has decided to sit this one out.
|putting green on the ship|
|Mt St Helens|