Kalama, WA - Portland, OR
With the goal to be in Albany, Oregon, for the solar eclipse, I planned one fishing/birthday stop and one stock-up/bucket list stop after leaving the Hood Canal. Expecting the smoke to move out, and the temps to drop down, I am much happier to be moving inland than I anticipated.
We set up at our level grass site with 50 amp and water on the Kalama River, at Camp Kalama RV Park, mid-day on Friday. There are very few places we don't like, and I can't really say what it is about this park, but it's not a place we'll return to. Of course I picked it for Bill's birthday so he could fish, and there's minimal river access even from our "river front" site. Oh well, we make do.
And for our Saturday day-trip it is ideal.
Bill's best friends from high school were hitchhiking in Washington when Mt St Helens blew in 1980. I was planning a move to Missoula, Montana that same week (that changed). So although they are "distant" connections, we've both wanted to visit the volcano for years.
Smoke on Friday and rain on Sunday mean our Saturday is the only day the mountain is visible - and we have perfect views all day. From the Visitor Center in Castle Rock, to the Forest Learning Center, to the Johnson Observatory at the end, Spirit Lake Highway is 52 miles of awesome.
And the clear skies are wonderful!!
|"Before" photos begin the story told in the VC (Spirit Lake was completely buried in mud and debris, but has returned over the years in a higher location)|
|Volcanoes on other planets is an interesting exhibit - Olympus Mons is the largest volcano in the solar system at six times taller than Mt Rainier, and twice the size of Washington state. Why do we want to go to Mars?|
|The mountain's history is told through the lives of Native Americans, explorers and settlers, miners, and forest rangers. The life size mannequins are really well done.|
|I forgot that there was so much seismic activity prior to the main eruption.|
|The pyroclastic ash clouds would eventually circle the globe!|
|Even with the advance notice, and closure of the area to the public, many people were caught in the massive mud flows. This man and his dog were both rescued just hours after the blast.|
|There isn't a lot of information "inside" the volcano, but the geologic layers are really cool ('cause it's not a real volcano).|
|While the VC focuses on the volcano, the Forest Center is all about salvaging and restoring the devastated trees.|
|Weyerhaeuser salvaged over 21,000 acres with 1000 loggers from October 1980 to December 1982. Replanting and restoration would take years.|
|The restored forests are lush, but look like a pixelated canvas having all been planted at the same time.|
|The route treats us to many views as we get closer.|
|In addition to repositioning Spirit Lake, the eruption formed two new lakes. This is Castle Lake. Coldwater Lake is just off the highway. Note the steam on the mountain above the left of the lake.|
|Loowit Point has the best view of the mountain and mud flows.|
|The remaining cinder cone in the center of the crater.|
The Johnson Observatory has incredible views from the large deck, and the long line convinces us that we don't need to see any more.
We have a wonderful meal at Guadalajara Restaurant in Kalama for Bill's birthday eve. Excellent margaritas and yummy eats. The service is the best we've had anywhere, and I go back inside as we're leaving to tell the manager how much we enjoyed it. It costs nothing to appreciate others.
Rain!! Early Sunday morning we get a few good showers, and then lovely drizzles all day. Unfortunately Bill isn't feeling great for his birthday, but it's the perfect day to hang out at home.
Monday he's up early to fish for a couple hours before we continue south to Portland. Just 40 miles gets us to Columbia River RV Park where we have to wait to check in at 1 PM. Our GPS routes us through four large loops to get there - later we find a direct route from the interstate (sometimes I think the GPS gremlins get together and laugh at where they get us to drive!).
Several other bloggers recommend this park for being close to town. It is very clean and well maintained. Our back-in site is tight all the way around, but other than the road on the other side of the wall behind us, it's very quiet here.
Expecting there to be hordes of people at our next stop, Tuesday we run errands and stock up on groceries in case we want to avoid going out. OMG Portland is so busy! And crowded.
But they have a Trader Joe's so I love Portland :-)
On my bucket list (the original one, it's grown since we got on the road) is Multnomah Falls in the nearby Columbia Gorge.
Wednesday is the day!
We're not surprised by the crowds, this is the most visited site in Oregon. There's no parking on the south side so we continue to Horsetail Falls where we snag the last parking space.
|The crashing water is loud in the small pool.|
|The unobstructed views make this a special spot.|
|The temperature drops 6 degrees from the car to the pool - glorious :-)))|
The lodge is Disney-esque and seems to be trying too hard. Over priced kiosks line the patio. People fill the space in front of the falls. The sun is just over the falls, right in our eyes.
Still, I'm excited to see that the falls live up to my years of expectation!
Although the upper falls are visible from the highway, it's the iconic bridge crossing the water that confirm you're at Multnomah.
|Tall and thin view from the highway. The upper falls drop 562 feet - combined with the lower falls they are the second highest in the country.|
|The lodge originally opened in 1925, but lacks the feel of an original structure.|
|The lower falls drop 69 feet.|
We backtrack to the scenic highway and Crown Point. Now this looks like a building built in 1916. Even with some residual haze, the views of the river gorge are spectacular!
|Vista House designed by architect Edgar Lazarus "to recall the ancient and mystic crown of Thor".|
|The wetlands add another layer of color in the gorge.|
|The ceiling and windows are stunning.|
Thursday we head into the fray!!