A Travellerspoint blog

Mount St Helens

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So a lot of things have happened since my last entry. I ended up moving to Portland last August and I've been settling in here and making it a home. Whether this is temporary or permanent I'm not sure, but I'm taking advantage of my new location in the Pacific Northwest to explore the area. Just this weekend I did my first big trip in the region. I went up to explore Mount St Helens and it was amazing.

On the first day we headed towards Johnston Ridge Observatory. It is "the thing" to do in the park. It's named after David Johnston, a scientist who died during the 1980 eruption. He was stationed near the mountain to keep an eye on it because of its recent activity. When it blew he got on the radio and broadcast "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!" That was the last anyone ever heard of him.

The observatory is located directly in the blast zone. When it started to become active again in 2004 it had to be evacuated a few times. One particular bout of activity caused a 50 minute long tremor that forced hundreds of people to evacuate the area. Now that the mountain is quiet again, it makes an excellent place to catch some spectacular views.

If you aren't bogged down in fog, that is...


But at least we got to see some of the changing landscape through the fog.


I was also able to get some up close and personal shots of the rebirth in the blast zone. The first thing that came back to the area was Lupine, a purple flower that has a habit of blossoming in extremely harsh conditions. When Lupine gave the soil nutrients other flowers began to bloom. What resulted was a vast destroyed landscape covered in flowers.


The power in that blast was pretty epic.


When it became obvious that the fog wasn't going to lift we headed back down the mountain to our motel.

The next day we started bright and early and headed up towards Windy Ridge, the observation point on the other side of the mountain. It's not directly in the landslide area like Johnston Ridge Observatory is, but it's a few miles closer and I just had to see it. On the way up we were greeted with some amazing scenery that made me realize just how lucky I am to be living in the Pacific Northwest. This region is truly stunning.


The road to Windy Ridge was even more dramatic that Johnston Ridge. The mountain was still shrouded in fog, but the landscape around us was devastated beyond anything I had been expecting. I'd heard that there were downed trees, but I thought that the few I'd seen at Johnston Ridge were it. But this? This was insane. The closer we got to the mountain the more intense the devastation became. It looked like hill after hill just covered in little toothpicks. But those toothpicks are giant trees. Just imagine the FORCE behind the blast that caused that.


Further from the blast zone, trees aren't so much 'toppled' as 'burned where they stood and left for dead.'


When we finally got up to Windy Ridge we were greeted with yet another fog shrouded view of the mountain, but the sight of the landslide area here was much more visible and obvious. The man leading a lecture at the ridge said that people who say that it "blew it's top" are wrong because it really blew sideways. I like to say it "sh*t it's pants." It just sort of spilled out over the forest beside it and made a huge mess of the valley.


As we were leaving the sky started to clear. I got a few more shots of the mountain as we left, but we were too far away to return at that point so we just kept going. We had to have the car back by 8pm and there were still a few other things I wanted to see.


On the way back to Portland we stopped at the "Ape Cave." It's apparently the larges lava tube in North America. You can do the entire thing, which is only recommended for experienced hikers, or the "lower cave," which is sort of an easy afternoon family thing. We did the lower cave. I'm proud of myself for getting so far because it wasn't exactly a pleasant environment. It was cold and wet and slimy and rocky...


We took the long way home so I could see what this famous "gorge" is that everyone in Portland complains about when the weather gets cold. Turns out... it's a gorge! It was quite beautiful and I'd love to go back when I'm not exhausted like I was this time. I did, however, get to see Multnomah Falls. It is right off the freeway so we didn't really have to hike any further than the parking lot.


This trip was excellent. I hope I get to explore this region more.

Posted by scwilson86 14:34 Archived in USA Tagged trees mount oregon cave waterfall falls saint washington multnomah helens ape valcano Comments (2)

The Desert

sunny 80 °F
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I've been living the desert of southern California for two weeks now and I must say I am not a fan. It's hot and there are a ton of spiders and the public transportation sucks. If I'm not within walking distance of a bus stop or light rail system I am not a happy camper. But this place is only a temporary stop on my journey, so I won't have to deal with it for long. Just a few months, hopefully. The quicker I can raise funds the quicker I can move on to my next destination.

Speaking of that destination, I have three cities on my list of "places to go" after this. They are:

1) New Orleans

This is still my number one. It's the city I've dreamed of living in for over a decade so it deserves a spot on the list. The rent is affordable. The unemployment rate is good (4.9%). And the vibe of the city meshes with my personality quite well.

2) Austin, Texas

This city is on the list entirely because of it's reputation. It's got a very young crowd with lots of things to do and, above all, it's cheap.

3) Dallas, Texas

I have a friend in Dallas, so that's the only reason it's on the list. Will I be happy here? I don't know. It's cheaper than California though. That's for sure.

So which of those should I choose? Or should I go with something else entirely? I'm open to suggestions. It just has to be cheaper than California and preferably a large city with plenty of job opportunities and decent public transportation. Those are the only requirements, really.

As for now I'm sleeping on an air mattress on the floor living out of a suitcase and a backpack. Hopefully a job pulls through and I can move on to phase 2 of Operation: Life Reboot.

Posted by scwilson86 15:02 Archived in USA Tagged desert california planning spiders Comments (2)

San Jose: The Last Day at Home


Operation: Life Reboot

For anyone hoping to follow this blog, keep in mind it isn’t the destination that’s the important part of this trip. It’s the getting there part that’s important. I’ve recently gone through a dramatic change in my life and was forced to reboot everything. That means I’ll probably be remaining in the same location for several months as I gain funds to pick up and go. Then there will be a few short days of quick travel followed by a few days or weeks as I get use to my new home. I’m a traveler at heart, so I can’t pass up the opportunity to make an adventure out of this unexpected situation.

I’ve had friends online and in real life offer suggestions about where to go and there are a lot of good ideas out there. Some of the cities suggested include Austin, Omaha, and Portland. One person even suggested packing up and heading to Mongolia. Maybe that last one is a joke, but if there were decent jobs for Americans in Mongolia I’d be adventurous enough to try it. Unfortunately, there really aren’t any, so I’m going to focus on the United States for now. But by all means if you have a suggestion abroad feel free to suggest it. I just have to be able to afford to get there in a few months.

Right now I have my sights set on New Orleans. It’s a city I’ve loved since I first picked up an Anne Rice novel in Junior High and my appreciation of the city has only grown since. I first visited the city when I was 14 and I loved the food, the architecture, and the history more than I ever thought possible. After that first visit I promised myself that I’d move there someday. But, of course, things change. I went through high school, went away to college, became a film major, and started down a different path. I began working as a photographer in San Jose and began to let life guide me to my destination. But now my destination is up in the air and New Orleans is back on the table.

Thankfully I had family who was willing to take me in while I get back on my feet in southern California. I'm going to be staying with them for a few months as I build funds (working, selling things, etc). Then I'm going to rent a car and take off somewhere. Since this is such a big decision it's going to take months to plan it. Check back here for updates on how my plan is coming together.

Posted by scwilson86 16:51 Archived in USA Tagged planning Comments (0)

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