Sunset in PV

Sunset in PV

Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 24 – 30, 2012 "Portland, OR and Mt. St. Helens"

My hopes that the weather would be nicer / drier in Portland were quickly diminished on arrival with two more days of rain. We decided that we NEEDED to get out of our quickly shrinking 450 square feet when CC started pacing; that’s my gig and mine alone. She called our new friends, Pat and Joyce, parked next to us, that we met in Crooked River, and the girls came up with an indoor excursion to the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum. As you can see from the picture, it’s wet; typical weather in the Northwest. I probably shouldn’t be whining, as temps across the Midwest have been in triple digits, while we have been in the 60’s and 70’s. (Click on any image to enlarge.)

After paying our entrance admission, we spent the next two hours discovering who had settled the gorge, their impact, and their dependence on the natural resources in and around it; mainly logging and salmon fishing. Other exhibits were personal possessions from early settlers, including this rare 1919 Cunningham.

Fish wheels were water-powered nets that automatically scooped up migrating salmon and steelhead that were funneled into the "wheel". After netting, the fish were dropped into a holding bin. This method was very productive, but nearly abolished the Columbia River of salmon in the late 1800’s, as very little was known at that time of their reproductive habits; the practice was later outlawed, and salmon once again began to flourish.

Logging was, and still is, the predominant industry in the Northwest. An early “chain driven” logging truck used to transport timber to the mill. 

As we exited the museum, noticed the rain had subsided, and decided to explore Beacon Rock, the core of an extinct volcano, located on the north shore of the Columbia River in Washington.

The placard at the base claimed there were 52 switchbacks, and some 15% grades on the ascent to the summit 900 vertical feet above. On the way down, CC counted each and every one……..yep, 52.

Henry Biddle bought Beacon Rock for the phenomenal price of $1, shortly before he began building the trail up the sheer rock face to the top.

Almost an hour later and a 9/10 mile hike, we arrived at the summit. What a view of the Columbia River Gorge!

Pat and Joyce weren’t even winded from the hike. I think he is part mountain goat the way he scrambled up the trail.

What a day! We returned home, and had happy hour with Pat and Joyce. As the temperature cooled to the 60’s around 8:30 pm, we all decided tomorrow is another day, and retreated to our rigs for some much needed nourishment.
The following day after watching the weather, which was predicted to be cloudy with a slight chance of rain, the girls decided on Pioneer Square, Powell Books, and the International Rose Garden ….(Oh whoopee!) We arrived downtown Portland and drove around for at least 15 minutes looking for a parking spot, and finally found the Hilton parking garage open. OK, off to Pioneer Square where we found this directional post, indicating we were indeed in Portland.

The downtown area has many, many (hundreds) of sculptures in a variety of mediums. We could have taken a few days to explore them alone, but thought a couple unusual ones would be apropos, as time was of the essence.

This kinetic art was created from stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, and bronze. Can you identify what parts are which? The center pendulum, with a little LOT of persuasion, actually moves and is adjacent to a Portland landmark; Powell Books.

This store is huge! It’s a Barnes and Noble on steroids with every book imaginable on the shelves. It was very busy with all ages and socio-economic backgrounds, (Politically correct term for homeless), as well as “Sheldon” wannabees.

We walked a few blocks to Chinatown, and couldn’t help myself when I saw this sign; sometimes the original meaning is lost in the translation. But then again, maybe not; what an egotist!

As noon approached we decided to walk the 8 blocks to Paddy’s for lunch, and a bit’o libation. Me? Balvenie Doublewood 12 with a Sherry finish. And Pat? Top shelf all the way; Glenlivit 18. I think we’re going to need this before our next stop at the Rose Garden.

By the time we arrived, it was late in the afternoon, and finding a parking space was akin to finding a needle in a haystack. But, perseverance and intestinal fortitude prevailed, and finally CC and Joyce were in rose heaven. As for Pat and me; thank you Paddy’s.

I will admit the gardens were well taken care of, and cover 4 ½ acres with only one full time employee, and the assistance of over 80 volunteers.

Of the hundreds of rose pictures taken, CC chose this one as her fav. Me? I thought they all looked like roses; from very small to very large.

Back at the rigs, exhausted, we once again celebrated happy hour and planned activities for tomorrow. It looks like the weather is finally going to break, and be sunny for a change. This means our postponed week long plans to visit Mt. St. Helens may become a reality. After watching the 10 o’clock news and weather, it’s confirmed; we will depart manana at 9 am for the 100 mile drive to the Mt.

Our first stop was at the visitor’s center, approximately 17 miles for Mt. St. Helens. In the valley, pictured below, where the river runs, was a giant mud flow after the eruption, raising the valley floor some 30 – 40 feet.

The view below is from Johnston Ridge, just 6 miles from the original “peak”. In the lower left corner is the top of the original mountain, after the eruption.

At 8:32 Sunday morning, May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted, shaken by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, the north face of this tall symmetrical mountain collapsed in a massive rock debris avalanche. In a few moments this slab of rock and ice slammed into Spirit Lake, crossed a ridge 1,300 feet high, and roared 14 miles down the Toutle River.

The avalanche rapidly released pressurized gases within the volcano. A tremendous lateral explosion ripped through the avalanche and developed into a turbulent, stone-filled wind that swept over ridges and toppled trees. Nearly 150 square miles of forest was blown over or left dead and standing.

At the same time a mushroom-shaped column of ash rose thousands of feet skyward and drifted downwind, turning day into night as dark, gray ash fell over eastern Washington and beyond. Wet, cement-like slurries of rock and mud scoured all sides of the volcano. Searing flows of pumice poured from the crater. The eruption lasted 9 hours, but Mount St. Helens and the surrounding landscape were dramatically changed within moments.

A vast, gray landscape lay where once the forested slopes of Mount St. Helens grew. In 1982 the President and Congress created the 110,000-acre National Volcanic Monument for research, recreation, and education. Inside the Monument, the environment is left to respond naturally to the disturbance.

Standing on the ridge, it’s hard to imagine the energy needed to move this much mass, and pictures do not paint the complete picture. Scientists, engineers, and mathematicians have calculated that Mt. St. Helens erupted with a force equal to 500 atomic bombs, similar to the ONE dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, ending WWII.

Well folks, there you have it; our week in and around the Portland area. We had a great time, and enjoyed it even more so with our new friends Pat and Joyce. They are headed to Calgary, and then to Cheyenne for the rodeos. We, on the other hand, will move northward to Centralia, WA, and spend the week of the 4th in Hoodsport, WA. Until our paths cross once again, hasta luego mi amigos!

Thanks for stopping by; until next time, take care and stay well………….


  1. I'll take the rose gardens over the MT anytime ! Sounds like you guys are having a great time !! Amazing that you always seem to run into some great people along the way too !!

  2. Love your blog! Amazing country we live in...come visit us on Tiki Island, exit #4 on I-45, anytime!
    Karen Poole Morrow & John Morrow