I saw a volcano.
And another volcano.
And I also saw the destruction caused by the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980.
All those white lines in the picture are trees knocked down by the avalanche of lava and rock that poured down the hills and valleys when the volcano blew. Anything green in the picture is less than 34 years old.
I also saw the other volcanoes in the region — Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams — and noted the presence of volcano evacuation routes around Mt. Rainier. While I have lived in areas noted for their hurricanes and tornadoes and spent some time in earthquake country, looking at these volcanoes and what they are capable of doing brought home to me the fact that Earth is a living planet and that we cannot assume it will be the same tomorrow as it is today.
I did do other things on my summer vacation. I saw the Pacific Ocean from several vantage points. The best picture I got was this one on the beach at Newport, Oregon.
I watched fireworks (later in the day after this picture was taken) near this bridge over Yaquina Bay, also in Newport.
I saw snow — on a warm day in July — beside the road in the National Park area around Mt. Rainier.
I even walked around in the snow. Just out of reach of the snow, bluebonnets were blooming.
I also walked through a rain forest on the Pacific Coast of the Olympic Peninsula.
The pictures only tell part of the story. We started our vacation by driving from Portland down to Newport, then up the Oregon Coast. We crossed into Washington over the (very scary to me, since I was driving) bridge at Astoria, spent a night in Long Beach, and then drove up (and eventually down) Route 101 on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington.
Along the coast we saw numerous signs for “tsunami hazard areas” and “tsunami evacuation routes.” Those gave me pause, though the scenery was gorgeous all the way up the coast.
We spent a night in Forks, Washington, where the Twilight series is set — a fact you can’t miss in Forks, which gives that series almost as much prominence as its timber industry. It was more or less clear when we were there, but I understand it is mostly overcast and rainy, making it a good setting for vampires.
We discovered that Sequim, Washington, just east of Port Angeles, gets only 16 inches of rain a year, making it unusual in a region where average rainfall might be 100 inches. Sequim sits in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, which is why it is so dry.
We spent a pleasant evening along the Hood Canal, then crossed through Olympia, Washington, over to the region around Mt. Rainier. In Packwood, Washington, we stayed in an old hotel (in one of the few rooms with a private bath) and saw elk munching in people’s yards. (The elk pictures are fuzzy, alas.)
We drove up a narrow, 17-mile road to Windy Ridge observation point in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest to see Mt. St. Helen’s from the best viewpoint and to hear a lecture by a ranger on the eruption. The lecture was sobering, as was the drive back down to the main road (steep cliffs, no guard rails).
We had great seafood along the coast, but much more ordinary hamburgers and such as we moved inland. However, I am pleased to report that every town of whatever size we visited in Oregon and Washington had excellent coffee and high quality beer. I was able to start my mornings with a good cappuccino and end my evenings (especially the ones with scary roads and bridges) with a good Northwest porter.
You can’t ask for more than beautiful scenery accompanied by good coffee and beer.