Updated on October 1, 1998.
When we got up to go to Ranier TTN, we had been retired and on the road for 150 days. We had only 55 miles from Chehalis TTN to Ranier TTN, so we were a little relaxed in getting on the road. I went down to the Adult Center and visited the Internet. I was finally able to get some messages out.
During the early morning we watched the market start to melt down as we finished packing and headed out. The road was good, just like the weather, and we made good time. I was satisfied at 50mph most of the way. The Pac Brake worked as required in the few places I needed it.
We dropped down to Highway 12 and headed east towards Randle. We followed the Cowitch River the last part of the trip in a flat canyon in the Cascades. At one point on the way we were able to see Mt St Hellens in the distance.
There were almost no signs announcing we were near the Ranier TTN Resort, but we did not overshoot it. We checked in and went down to the "meadows" area recommended to us by new friends at Chehalis. We found a fine place with a bit of shade and backed in. These long delays between travel are affecting my backing talents, and I had to take three tries to get it right. We are on a nice flat, grassy meadow over a quarter mile from the highway. The Beaver Pond is directly behind us.
I was able to get the satellite up quickly, and just as the market closed we found out what a day it had been, a drop of 350 points. I checked prices on our stocks and stayed calm. The folks on TV seemed shell-shocked.
We soon had met several of the people around us, and I showed off the Air Ride Suspension on the trailer to a Country Aire owner. Later we walked back to the Family Center, played some pool, had an ice cream cone, and found out where the Internet connection was. In the evening I went back down for a check on email.
On Wednesday we went to see the Mt Ranier National Park. We drove east through Packwood, where Labor Day weekend they were to have Washington's biggest flea market, then north to the entrance to the park. The day was clear and the trip was delightful.
We visited the Patriarchs Forest to see the big trees. The walk was quite pleasant and the sights were interesting. The forest is on a small island that has been left untouched by the loggers, so some of the really old tress can be found there. Of course, we had to do some trick photography to show how big the trees were.
We then drove on up to Stevens Ridge. As we drove closer to the mountain, we were presented with greater and greater views. We found out later that the clear air we had was in fact rare, and we were seeing sights that many native Washingtonians had not seen.
Mt Ranier appeared as we drove around the corner of the mountain. It is quite a spectacular mountain, when you can see it. We were on the southern side of the mountain.
We continued on to the box canyon of the Cowlitz River. It is 180 feet deep and about 30 feet wide. We were able to see the water at the bottom of the canyon because we were there right at noon, and the sun was shining down into the canyon. At this point we were also able to see Mt. St Helens in the distance to the south.
We drove up to the lodge and had lunch. I don't recommend it as a gourmet place. From the lodge we had a good view of the Paradise Glacier. The info panels explained that the ice caves were no more. They had been a big attraction in the past, but they had melted and the glacier no longer came down to where they had been.
This is another view of Ranier. We were further around the mountain at this point, but there was little change. The mountain is so big that even though we drove 40 miles across the park, the view did not change a whole lot.
A couple of days later we drove south from Randle to Mt St Helens. We were on the east side, heading for the Windy Ridge outlook. When we came around the corner to the first observation point, the view of the destruction was awesome. The first observation point was at the edge of the area blasted by the hot cloud from the volcano. There were green trees up to the edge, then a mix of standing and fallen logs, then everything was on the ground from there to the volcano.
It has been 18 years since the eruption. Though it happened in May, much of the land was covered by snow, and immediately life began to recover from the blast. The oldest of these trees are 18 years old. Fire weed is everywhere. The lumber companies have been into some areas and have replanted trees. In 100 years it will be hard to tell that there was a recent eruption.
There are still remains from the day of the eruption. This is the miner's car left on the road to Spirit Lake. It is only about a mile from the first observation point. The people who owned the car were killed. It now sits there rusting. It was crushed and thrown about by the blast.
Spirit Lake is still covered by logs over half its surface. It is also 250 feet higher. When St Helens erupted, the blast blew all the water to the north, and the pyroclastic flow filled in the lake to a depth of 250 feet. Then the water came back. But in the beginning, the entire lake was covered with stripped logs from the forests around. They estimate that in 10 or 20 years those that remain on the lake will sink to the bottom, and once again the lake will be clear.
We climbed partway up the observation hill at Windy Ridge, and this is one of the better pictures of the mountain I took. The blast was to the north, and took away over a thousand feet of the height of the volcano. The volcano is still active, and there are continually small earthquakes in the region. The mountain often has dust coming from small landslides off the slopes as a result of these quakes. There is a new cone building in the center, but we were unable to see it.
Of all the sights we have seen, Mt St Helens is the most impressive. The power of it is so apparant, and the area of destruction so huge. It makes you realize how insignificant one person really is.
Back in camp, we had a chance to meet some of the neighbors. Misty was especially interested in the ferret that came to visit. They had a good visit, but she never did learn how to play with the weasel as it ran around.
We stayed around an extra day to let the Labor Day crowd clear out. It was pleasant and peaceful at the Ranier Park. Our friends John and Marie Stewart came by to say goodbye. Marie plans to work at Ranier next year, so maybe we will see them here next time.
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