May 21, 2019

Mt. St. Helens and more....

Sunday, May 18, 1980 Mount St. Helens erupted.  I remember the year because in September 1980, when the new school year started, my class had a brand new red textbook.  The first chapter dealt with the geography of the United States.  One sentence read in essence, “There are no active volcanoes in the coterminous United States.” What a teaching point.  It amazed me that an author of a textbook would consider volcanoes extinct because they had not erupted in over one hundred years.  The previous eruption of Mt. St. Helens was in 1857.  The span of time was a blink of an eye in geologic time. 

On my recent trip to Portland we drove 50 miles north to Washington State and the visitor center for Mt. St. Helens.  The displays were fascinating. I remember seeing Harry Truman from Spirit Lake on TV.  Despite many alerts to leave the area he refused to leave “his” mountain.  I thought he was a hermit of
some sort but he owned Spirit Lake Lodge so he wanted to protect his business. He was just one of 57 who died.  It was too early in the season to drive closer to Mr. St. Helens but we could tell that Mother Nature is doing what it does best – recovering.  

On the way back to Portland we stopped at Troll Bridge which is listed in Atlas Obscura. It is located under an abandoned railroad bridge.  Where else would you find a troll? Under a bridge, of course.  It is located in Portland’s Forest Park, one of the largest urban forests in the United States with over 80 miles of trail. Portland has a lot of greenery.  The area where my son lives has many tree-lined streets dotted with attractive small houses, craftsmen and Sears homes. 

I loved Lan Su Chinese Garden. All Asian gardens are beautiful but I prefer Chinese gardens to Japanese gardens. Portland has both.  Lan Su Chinese Garden is a great place to sit and contemplate or for tea in the Tower of Cosmic Reflections. In addition to a wide selection of
teas they serve light meals of noodles, steamed buds, and soups plus mooncakes. 

The World Forestry Center Discovery Museum is the personification of the heavily forested Pacific Northwest.  There are many interactive displays that explain the lumbering industry and how they try to preserve this resource. I
found the display on the second floor especially interesting. It is set up so it seemed that I was traveling in Russia, China, and other parts of the world meeting people who are faced with trying to preserve forests in their countries.

When in Portland the Multnomah Waterfalls is a must-do. Around Portland the
mountains, often snow covered, are spectacular and easy to see from many places in the city but it takes a 30-minute drive to these beautiful falls.  The 611-foot cascade can be viewed from the base or to enjoy an up-close perspective people can take the paved trail to the
Benson Bridge. It is a popular site for wedding photos but in 1995 while the bridal pictures were being taken a 400-ton boulder broke loose and plunged 225 feet into the upper pool creating a 70-foot splash that made for some very wet bridal images. The hearty and fit may want to hike another mile up the steep path to the top of the falls. I passed on that.