We left our Airbnb early to get breakfast from The Bridges Cafe in Portland, which was recommended by our hosts, and THEY HAD GRITS!! I loved grits while I was in Atlanta, and it was so nice to get them again! They also had tasty gluten-free bread, but the grits won out! Tim had a strange eggs benedict with peach dish, and wasn’t impressed enough with the grits in my opinion.
After my favourite breakfast in years we headed north-east up to Mount St Helens, an active volcano which blew up in 1980, years before we were born, but is still an important part of the history around here. The Mt St. Helens National Volcanic Monument protects the innermost area around the site (110,000 acres) which is being left to naturally redevelop under close scientific study, while other areas in and around the blast zone have been replanted to help restore wildlife and nature, as well as for commercial forestry. There are a series of viewpoints and visitors centres on the road leading up to the innermost Johnston Ridge Observatory, and we stopped at most of them to take photos and marvel at the views.
On the photos below you can see the volcano with its crater-like hole (which actually has shrunk as the volcano started to grow again), and the land scarred by the mud and dust flowing away from the volcano. In some areas there are still tree trunks or stumps flattened in the initial blast, looking grey and charred, and you can see how the rivers and seasonal ice melt continues to form the landscape. It is also really obvious where the reforestation stops and National Monument begins.
We learned quite a lot from the learning centres which were excellent. I did a great job of managing my own forest in a simulation game, while Tim had fun in a helicopter.
Having spent over 5 hours driving into and out of the park and on the various stops we expected to get back to the Cummings’ by 7, but having stopped at a Rest Stop for a bathroom visit we immediately ended up stuck in a jam on I5 moving about a mile an hour for two hours (it turns out there was a car vs. pedestrian incident, and it’s good we stopped or we might have been right at the front of it – or incredibly uncomfortable in the car!). After getting going again we stopped off at Starbucks for another toilet trip and to pick up some caffeine support for the driver (me), then got lost switching roads around Tacoma and ended up passing through the city centre, so didn’t get home until about 9.30pm, tired and hungry but so pleased to see everyone and the dogs!
After a cereal dinner, and a brief chat about weekend plans, we headed to bed. A lot of miles were covered today, and Tim has definitely earned his Roadtripping-with-Becca stripes over the week!