Our first visit today was to the infamous Mount St Helens, another volcano in the Pacific Ring of Fire, which erupted in 1980 making catastrophic changes to the environment around the area.
Our original plan was to take a slow wander via the interesting National Forest roads but someone from a BMW forum said he’d like to meet us there and we were delayed trying to sort out the next night’s accommodation. That meant we needed to take the faster roads and didn’t have time for breakfast. No big deal except he arrived much later than expected so we missed him anyway.
We learned from a Park Ranger that before the eruption the area was a thriving tourist area with many parks, hotels, hiking areas etc. People were advised to leave their homes as the volcano began to wake up and it became obvious something big was going to happen. It took several months to finally erupt and by then many had got used to the grumbling. 57 people were killed, 50 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways, and 185 miles of roads were destroyed.
We spent over an hour there just admiring the view and watching a short film about the eruption. Today the volcano was peaceful and blanketed in beautiful white clouds.
The extent of the destruction is quite visible in the valley below the visitor centre. Many of the trees in the area were just blasted out of the ground by the force of the eruption and you can still see some of them, all facing in the same direction, as you wander round. The road up to the centre is newly built and is a lovely windy road through forests which show the various different phases of replanting. The trees all looked a lot more healthy than some of the forests we’ve seen – presumably no Spruce Bark Beetles survived the blast.
Since 1980 there have been other, smaller, eruptions which have regrown about 3% of the lost volume from the mountain and the area is still considered to be very active. The visitor centre is actually an observation post for the vulcanologists.
On the road towards Oregon we stopped for petrol and I spotted these birds in the back yard. We also started to notice adverts for items called Growlers which were Back on sale again!, Night Crawlers and Hoagies. We had no idea what any of them were.
Our final stop for the day was Fort Clatsop where our two intrepid explorers, Lewis and Clark, holed up for the winter of 1805/6. There were people dressed in period costume who were happy to explain the way things were back in those days. It wouldn’t necessarily have been cold but it rained for all but 12 of the 106 days they were there.
A replica of what they think the fort looked like has been built using modern materials where they think the fort might have been; apparently the records are very sketchy.
We’d wanted to go to the Air Museum in Tillamook but had really struggled to find accommodation in the area. After eventually settling for a very overpriced hotel in a place called Seaside (it was the only accommodation we could find online in about 50 miles) we decided to give the museum a miss and ride down to Coos Bay to meet Tom L. and his daughter instead.
As usual the early start gave us some very pretty scenery, well, what we could see through the early morning mist was pretty.
We arrived nice and early in Coos Bay and Tom and Emily arrived soon afterwards. Our evening meal was in a place with hundreds of discarded peanut cases on the floor – apparently a US custom.
We had a lovely evening chatting to Tom and Emily who were able to explain the odd signs: Growlers are large jugs for beer, Night Crawlers are some sort of worm they use for fishing and Hoagies are a type of sandwich. We were glad to get that cleared up.