August 1st - 2nd
Mount St. Helens and the north slope. Notice the huge hole in the mountain just to the right of the clouds
The mud slide traveled from left to right down the Toutle River
The destroyed trees were still evident on the mountain sides, but as you can see, 20 years later the forest is beginning to come back
Linda (left), Sissy (middle) and Lorren (right) inside the lounge at Silver Shores Resort
Sissy and her first fish from Silver Lake ... her only fish, hah, hah ... John caught 2!
Whelp, it wasn´t raining yet, and it was time to break camp and start heading north toward Washington. We wiped the seat of the bike off (had a little dew) and John put it inside the trailer while Sissy packed up our other stuff. Then, it was out of the park and north on Highway 101. A Texaco station was on the agenda first to fuel the truck, and there was one right up the street in Lincoln City. John knew better than to do his own fueling (Oregon law), so he told the attendant, who was fueling another vehicle, to take his time. Promptly, the 82 year old, gray headed gentleman responded "I will, I don´t rush for anyone!" Originally from Montana, the attendant had moved to Oregon 18 years ago because of the snow. John broke out the windshield squeegee and washed the windshield. He also put some water in the windshield washer container. Then, alas, the attendant began fueling the truck. That guy didn´t move in overdrive ever!
After getting directions about the best route to take toward Mount St. Helens, we were off again through the foothills inland from the coast. The temperature began rising, and the wind subsided. We traveled through some beautiful Oregon countryside before reaching the border of Washington at the Columbia River. It was huge! We saw farms, waterfalls, logging towns, saw mills, logging trucks, marinas and many miles of evergreen trees the entire way. The first rest area in Washington (just north of Vancouver on I5) was absolutely gorgeous. Nestled in the woods on the side of the highway, it gave John a feeling of serenity while Sissy used the bathroom in the trailer. She´d gotten sick all of a sudden and had to physically remove her stomach contents (nice way of describing she had to barf real bad).
We broke out our map while at the rest area and decided to call a couple campgrounds near Mount St. Helens. The first was full to capacity and the 2nd had a recording (which we never received a call back from). Ok, trying our luck again, it was to the Seaquest State Park across the street from Silver Lake at exit 49 from I5. Up the hill we went to the entry station. The sign read "Open Hours 0900 - 1000 and 1400 - 2100." We also discovered from the sign the park had electricity and water hook-ups and a dump station. The park ranger Robin (not the one who takes money from tourists) said the other ranger would be back at 1400 and directed us to the Day Use area until then. It was 1330 by our watch so we had a half hour wait. On the cell phone it was again to check out some other parks in the area with full hook-ups. We called the Silver Shores Resort & RV Park and spoke with Linda who said ´come on down´ we´ve got a spot for you. No further prompting was necessary.
Checking in was a breeze, and we could tell this was the place to be. Linda, the manager while the owners were vacationing in Florida and California, was very nice and helpful. She was also funny and having a good time with us southerners. John bought a jar of salmon eggs for trout fishing in the lake, Sissy bought her usually shot glasses for herself and friends, and we got a map of the Mount St. Helens area for touring on the bike as soon as the rig was parked.
Off we went on Route 504 toward Mount St. Helens after wrapping up real good in our leathers. Linda told us to dress warm because the higher up the mountain we got, the colder it was going to get. John was sweating at our campsite because of the hustle and rush to get the rig parked and the bike out. We chilled down real quick however, as we rode along the Toutle River, through Kid Valley, past Sediment Retention Dam (quick stop for pics), Hoffstadt Bluffs, the Forest Learning Center and finally to Coldwater Ridge at an elevation of 3200 feet.
The pics we took along the way and at the mountain were awesome! The destruction caused by the eruption was still evident on the mountains and valleys, and the mud and ash still painted the banks of the Toutle River. The 80 mile ride on the bike was a very nice highlight, but arriving back at the resort met for even more enjoyment. We opted to have dinner in the small lounge right at the park because Linda had told us the BBQ Ribs were to die for. The small lounge was very rustic with wooden walls, ceiling and beams, and the entire place was dotted with animal skins, fish, antlers and mountain folk photos.
We discovered that the ribs weren´t being cooked our first night, so we opted for sandwiches instead; they were delicious. Excitement was brewing because the locals were piling in for the Thursday night Karaoke session. As the sun set over the mountains and the chilly air arrived, we decided to stay a while longer and enjoy the evening. John rode the bike back up the hill to our trailer and walked back down while Sissy socialized with Linda and a local; Lorren. Lorren, a union electrician and democrat at heart, was 61 years old but solid as a rock. We could tell he cut wood in his spare time along with restoring antique automobiles just for fun.
The country star impersonators all evening long were in their element. One right after another for hours were each met with applause even though none of them could sing worth a s..t (darn). Oh well, everyone was having fun and so were we. Lorren was a blast (reminded us of a friend of ours; Ray) telling jokes and laughing to the top of his lungs all night. We also met Gordy, his wife Sandy and Robin (remember the state park ranger)? Then, at about 2230, it was time for us to hit the sack and get ready for fishing in Silver Lake in the morning.
We´d planned on getting an early start on Friday morning because we wanted to check email, update the web site, purchase our out-of-state fishing licenses and rent a boat for a day on the lake. Whelp, we accomplished everything except getting an early start. The night before caused us to sleep in, but we managed to head down to the data port hookup by 1030 and hit the water by 1300.
The small metal boat with the 9 horsepower motor was perfect for our day on the lake fishing, cruising and enjoying the sights and sounds. Sounds you say? Yup, water lapping on the hull, waves rippling up against the shoreline, wind coming down the valley, fish jumping in the lily pads, birds singing and chirping in the trees, Sissy standing up in the boat, losing her balance and crashing into the seat with her butt and back. "That didn´t hurt" she said! The landscape was perfect with rolling valley hills carpeted with evergreens, Mount St. Helens in the background, puffy white clouds dotting the sky, lilly pads along the shoreline and small ripples across the entire lake. The breeze was nice as the sun beat down on us, but the temperature was in the mid to upper 70´s all day. There were no rain storms or gusty winds, and there were very few people on the lake. There were also not many fish to be had, but we caught 1 trout and 2 catfish; all three caught using night crawler worms we´d purchased at the Texaco station in Castle Rock.
At about 1700 it was time to head back to the boat docks because we´d made dinner plans with Loren and Linda at the resort restaurant for ribs and BBQ at 1900. We arrived at the docks just as the wind stopped and John took some pics of the reflections on the water. They were beautiful! Then it was to our trailer for showers and getting dressed for dinner. To our surprise, the restaurant was closed due to some employee problems, but we managed to find a nice pizza parlor in Castle Rock. We´d expended so much energy enjoying ourselves on the lake, we didn´t feel like cooking ourselves. After dinner, it was back to the homestead for TV and crashing. Our next day was going to be spent at Mount Rainier and then evening fishing on the Cowlitz River for salmon.
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