July 30, 2012

7/13/12 - Mt. Rainier NP

When my family first moved to Washington, my daughter was 8.  We lived in Renton where there's a great view of the mountain when it's out.  Laura said she had learned in school that Mt. Rainier was a volcano.  She then said (all in one breath), "My-teacher-says-it's-due-to-erupt-anytime-in-the-next-10,000-years-we-have-to-move."

The gateway at the Nisqually entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park was built in 1926.  That's older than everyone I'm related to!
We walked the Trail of Shadows to see where the Longmire medical springs were.  (Ain't no way you could get me to drink out of that thing!)

We stopped at Christine Falls and Narada Falls.  Lots of water falling down.
Sometimes we could barely see the mountain through the clouds.
Through the window of the visitor center at Paradise, we saw most of the totally snow-covered mountain (for a few minutes.)   Then it got a really funky-looking cloud over it.

Reflection Lakes weren't reflecting much anyway (too much ice!)

Usually by mid-summer, you can walk up some of the trails without snowshoes.  Usually by mid-summer, the base of the mountain is covered with wildflowers.  This was definitely not a usual summer!   The ranger told us we could find avalanche lilies along the trail to Bench Lake without freezing our you-know-what's off. 
In spite of the earlier concern, it was Mount St. Helens, not Mt. Rainier, that most recently erupted.  Give it another 10,000 years, I guess. 

More pictures of Mt. Rainier are here:  Rainier NP 

July 29, 2012

7/11/12 - Mount St. Helens NVM

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is NOT part of the National Park Service.  It's administered by the Forest Service, which is part of the Department of Agriculture.  And, no, I don't know why.  Maybe the NPS doesn't want to give it full park status because the whole mountain's not all there anymore? 

George and I had visited it once before, but neither of us can remember exactly when.  (Let's see...the eruption was in 1980; we got married in 1990.  It's 2012 now...maybe you can figure it out?) 
George & me at Elk Ranch Viewpoint
We stopped at all the viewpoints, just to confirm that the mountain was still there, then drove up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory.  That's one impressive mountain, even with a chunk of the top gone and a big hole in it.

View from Castle Rock Viewpoint

We walked the Eruption Trail, and a little ways farther on the Boundary Trail, but not all the way down into the valley.  (Yeah, I know--we wimped out.)


There are LOTS of wildflowers blooming, and there are tent caterpillars (yuck!) everywhere!  Apparently they're more worried about the oxbow daisies and sheep sorrel than they are about the caterpillars and the damage to the trees.  Go figure.

Click here to see more of the pictures I took:  Mount St. Helens NVM  

July 24, 2012

7/7/12 - Astoria Column

It's a short drive to Astoria from where we were staying in Seaside, so we drove up Coxcomb Hill to climb the Astoria Column in the City Park. 

Built in 1926, it was the pet project of the president of the Great Northern RR.  (I think he was playing with real monopoly money.)  He built 12 of these historical markers between St. Paul, MN and Astoria, OR. 

On the summit of the tallest hill in town, it's a memorial to early explorers and settlers.  It's decorated with a frieze of 22 significant events in the region.

Climbing is kind of weird.  The stairs are a right-hand spiral and the part of the wedge next to the center column is pretty narrow.  We went up the 164 steps as lots of other people were coming down.  I held on to those knobby things in the middle.  I don't know how George got those size 15 feet to fit!

On a clear day you can see forever...well, anyway, to Mount St. Helens & Mt. Hood.  It wasn't very clear but we could see the Astoria Bridge across the Columbia River.   George and I showed up pretty good.

Back downstairs, we headed to the Bowpicker for fish 'n' chips again.   The line was longer, but it was still worth the wait.

If you'd like to see a few more pictures, click on this link:  Astoria Column