Take nothing for granted

Such a pretty name – Mount St. Helens. But such a scary girl! If you were here on May 18, 1980 – almost exactly 34 years ago this week – you got a vivid sense of what havoc our youngest volcano could wreak once she let loose.

It was really a tragedy, and 57 people lost their lives. But what shocks us today are the still-visible effects and the clear picture of the devastation that took place within the “blast zone.”

There is amazing film footage of the entire event and you can actually see one side of this huge mountain just melting off – creating the largest land slide in history.  What remains is a crater open on one side – not gorgeously bowl-shaped like Crater Lake. Of course, today’s snow cover helps, but this is not really a pretty sight.

The landslide caused one kind of damage.  The blast itself caused another with its incredible force.  And the heat from all of that created another zone of catastrophe where all the branches were just removed from forests of trees.

This was lumber land, and the hills were covered with old growth fir, which was continually being logged and replenished.  Some of it has now been replanted, and other parts are being allowed to evolve naturally.

From an ecological point of view, what exists now is a new, diverse eco-system, with plants and animals that would not have lived in under the canopy of the old forest. And it will continue to change as trees mature and the air cools.

One has to be able to see the way that the environment has adapted and admire that here.  There is no “right’ way for the land to look or a mountain to appear.  Mount St. Helens reminds us that the earth is old and it is constantly changing.  We just happened to be able to see and record momentous changes happening before our eyes and in our time.

Now, lest you think that our days are just spent looking at the wonders of nature, we thought we’d take you behind the scenes and show you the tough side of travel.  The last two days we spent in Vancouver were dedicated to catching up on trip planning (Don), French studies (Don), laundry (Jo) and enjoying a pool (Jo).

Here is the laundry room of Sunday – and this one was complementary!  (A biggie.) You have to go through the fitness room to the machines, so naturally I worked out while waiting for our clothes to refresh themselves.  (Chortle.)  Yesterday was the great pool day for me – had it all to myself for four hours!  You cannot beat that.  I didn’t have to give the stink eye to a single 8-year old boy who was reveling in the novelty of cannonballs.  Bliss.  And just look at all the reference materials Don has to consult to plan this amazing trip!  We had two desks and two computers going at this place.  But it was all worth it to leave today with fresh clothes and a solid plan for the rest of the trip. We’re not travelling light, but we are travelling clean! Onward!


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