the other half of an epic celebratory weekend

The Seattle half of our weekend was so fun, I expected that the second half would be more laid-back. I don’t know what I was thinking.

We made dinner plans with dear friends in Portland and planned a day trip to Mt St Helens. I have lived in Washington for nearly three years and Krista has lived here forever, and neither of us had ever been to Mt St Helens even though from my front door to the peak is just about 100 miles. That’s absurd, don’t you think? So we packed a picnic lunch of fancy cheese, organic grapes and root beer, and headed out along Spirit Lake Highway.

We stopped in Toledo to snap this photo. We share a love for kitschy roadside attractions, and the entire town of Toledo (population 653) scratched that itch. Behold, this mural.

Starting Mother Nature and Father Time!

We stopped at the Forest Learning Center (very obviously sponsored by Weyerhauser) which featured an ERUPTION CHAMBER theater complete with a fake volcano-destroyed jeep, and statues of loggers who salvaged the wood from trees destroyed by THE BLAST. We learned about salvaged wood and hand-planting the 18 million tree seedlings. I’m not being hyperbolic – they really hand-planted 18 million trees!

I picked roadside daisies and twisted them into my braids. We couldn’t have picked better weather for the drive. It was SO scenic. I have driven many scenic byways in my day, but this was really high-quality scenery. The volcano in the distance makes for a picturesque drive.

We drove out to the Johnston Ridge observatory, which is ~5 miles from the peak of the mountain. They gave us matching bracelets.

We picnicked. Smoked blue cheese + pink lady apple + sea salted cracker = best picnic ever.

The weather was so perfect and clear. You could see the new glacier forming inside the crater, and watch the steam clouds drift out of the volcano and across the sky. It was epic, terrifying and beautiful.

On the way back to the highway, we stopped at the North Fork Survivors Gift Shop. As amateur cryptozoologists, we are inclined to stop every time we see a Bigfoot statue, but this is a really impressive specimen. Over 20 feet tall, this Bigfoot is adorable with a goofy grin. And as icing on the cake, there are photos of the lady who built the statue during the process.

Such a cute Bigfoot.

But that’s not all! Bigfoot shares a parking lot with a gift shop and an A-Frame house that was buried in mud about 8 hours after the eruption. The family finished building their new home 3 days before the mountain blew, but they never got to move in. The mud is still there, several feet deep through the house.

Finally, we continued on to Portland. We ate vegetarian dumplings and gelato and laughed a lot.

I feel like the birthdays and anniversary were properly celebrated. Now, back to that chicken coop!



Filed under family

11 responses to “the other half of an epic celebratory weekend

  1. Happy Birthday and Anniversary! Looks like fun times :)

  2. Toledo is my stepmom’s ancestral home. If you like the mural you should try and attend Cheese Days, their annual parade and festival to celebrate cheese.

    • It would be really great if I had known about Cheese Days a week ago! I guess it’s on my calendar for next year. Apparently we just missed it. There’s almost nothing I love more than celebrating cheese.

  3. Behold! I love that word. Beautiful shots of the area. I can imagine it might be sort of creepy to stand right where it blew. Also, now I am craving smoked blue cheese, Pink Lady apples, and salty crackers. There are worse things. Happy belated birthday celebration!

  4. Happy anniversary!

    Also, your post inspired me to watch “Mt St. Helen, Back from the Dead: NOVA” on Netflix (it’s on the watch instantly list). It’s pretty cool, particularly their CGI model of the massive landslide and then (about 35 minutes in) the footage they have of the 2004 eruption, which doesn’t explode, but pushes these massive rock spires up at an alarming rate. It’s really cool.

    • Shit, that was actually me, not Anahi.

      • Ha, I thought it was a little funny that she suddenly started commenting on our blog! I have been meaning to watch that NOVA show since we went to the mountain. Maybe I can fit it in this week. I am a lil bit obsessed. I find my mind wandering to Mt St Helens a few times a day.

        Hope your summer is going well! Xoxox

        • To be honest, a lot of it was pretty cheesy and didn’t go that deep into stuff, but I do recommend watching it. There is a lull in the middle, but it gets cool again when they talk about the 2004 eruption and show some amazing time-lapse footage.

  5. My parents honey moon was on spirit lake. They tell me it was so so so beautiful. I was born a year later… two more years and kaboom!

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