Friday, August 30, 2013

Stonehenge, Saints and Seriously lost in Washington

August 8-12

After leaving Mt. Hood I crossed over the "Hood River" which is actually the Columbia River. You probably already know that the Columbia River is the longest river in the world having its start in Columbia,  South America, and finally ending along the Oregon/Washington border where it meets the Pacific Ocean. You definitely Should know by now that I often mix in a little fiction with my non-fiction so if you believe that last bit about the Columbia I have a bridge for sale too!

Stonehenge ala Washington State
Regardless of how long or wide the Columbia is, once you've crossed it you are officially in Washington State (no fiction, I swear). As I fought my way through Don Quixote's worst nightmare and emerged on the other side of a large wind mill farm I stopped in at Washington's Stonehenge War Memorial. It's an interesting choice of monument for a war memorial, but then again, as an exact scale replica of England's real deal it's just darn interesting no matter what it's dedicated towards. I stayed long enough to determine that the sun and moon azimuth's were set correctly and then used the Stonehenge to astronomically calculate the exact date for the end of the world. If you're interested I buried the calculated date under the 3rd rock to the left of sign. I also told one lucky Mayan!

Mt. Adams was beckoning me so I obliged and motored its way. I camped in its wilderness area which is sort of like a National Forest, but with about 99% fewer people. It's also similar to a National Park, but with 99.999999% fewer people and 100% less of EVERYTHING else. We are talking "WILDERNESS" people!

Deep in the Mt. Adams Wilderness Area
I weathered the rain, thunder, lightning and hail that evening and was thankful that I didn't literally get stuck there for another night after I found myself slightly lost the next morning amidst some wet and gnarly dirt roads. My guardian angels led me out of the wilderness and in return I made the promise to use GPS route recording in similar situations so as to avoid calling on them again unnecessarily in the future.   

Released from my wilderness captor I escaped and took refuge in the arms of Saint Helens. Of course, she last made headlines about the time I was becoming cognizant of headlines circa 1980 when she blew her top. Literally. Well, almost. She actually blew her side out and the fury unleashed is something to behold. Miles out as you approach you become surrounded by standing forests of dead trees. Large, formally majestic towering Old Growth trees reduced to dead branchless stark gray trunks in a matter of seconds. A little further into the "Blast Zone" the force of the 300 mile/hr gaseous dust storm was enough to rip the aforementioned trees up from their roots like they were tinker toys. A nearly infinite amount of former 2x4 stock, not to mention the countless homes to wildlife, lie strewn along the mountain sides arranged like magnetically driven metal filings clearly mapping the direction of the forces at work. Then things thin out as if the trees were instantly vaporized or carried miles away leaving mostly baron land which till this day 30 years later has little more than shrubs growing on it. As you get even closer you find that Spirit Lake is now the resting place of so many of those huge dead trees. An immense raft of tree trunks forms a floating wooden crust over one end of the lake while it ever so slowly claims the wood as it eventually rots and sinks to the bottom. Making their way toward their final resting place, alongside of Harry Truman, his lodge, custom 1956 Pink Cadillac and 16 cats who were all buried 150 feet beneath the lake by the blast. 
Remnants of St. Helens' blast in 1980

And then, if you're lucky, Mount Saint Helens will emerge before you and reveal herself. I say, "if you're lucky", because I found her to be very bashful and almost continually draped in clouds hiding her nakedness. I spent hours upon hours coaxing her, pleading her to drop her cottony dress even if only for a moment or two! I admit my carnal desires may have gotten the better of me, but what's a man to do when such an incredibly attractive form plays shy and hard to get? It wasn't like she wasn't in good company. The panoramas I will eventually get to share clearly show her companion, Spirit Lake as well as Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier all posing beautifully in the distance. Still she only teased. Now I won't go so far as to blacklist her, but if anyone asks I will have no choice but to say that she wasn't one of my most cooperative models.

Mt. Saint Helens- always properly dressed.
I don't want to make it seem like a regrettable experience. It most certainly was not. I got to meet and talk with some nice people. I also got to do a mountain bike ride on an "active" volcano! (You might ask why anyone in their right mind would go mountain biking along the rim of an active volcano which could blast out 300 mile an hour hot gases at any moment. My answer: 1) It was there! 2) I'm just that FAST! )
I even got to see and photograph a wild Bald Eagle for the first time ever! I started out this trip saying that I wouldn't quit before I got a good photo of a Bald Eagle. The photo I got is not what I would consider "good", but then "good" is a relative term. So I guess technically I'm off the hook and can quit the trip at this point. But I think I can get a "better" photo of an old baldie. Besides, I ain't ready to call it quits yet!

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