Love, Laughter, and Life

The Writing Life of a Woman Who Might Be Missing a Few Brain Cells


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Sea to Ski: Anniversary Travel & Fun

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Pre-hike view of Mt. Rainier

While celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary last week, we experienced what I have tagged a Sea to Ski holiday. In our area, there is a Ski to Sea athletic event, and we certainly engaged in exercise during portions of our explorations, but nothing up to iron man/woman or triathlon levels. Not even close.

Fun, fast, feast, foray. That’s was our goal.

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Seattle from Alki (West Seattle)

Sea = Day 1 Trip to Seattle

We dined on extremely tasty blackened cod tacos and salad at Salty’s on Alki. We walked along the beach, rode the water taxi across the bay to the Seattle waterfront, hiked the Pike Street Hill Climb, enjoyed clam chowder at Ivar’s, and scoured an antique store for a tiny glass bottle. Parking was just fine at Salty’s and the water taxi was a treat.

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The Seattle skyline from the water taxi

Ski = Day 2 Trip to Mt. Rainier

Technically, we did not ski. But we hiked in the mountains. And saw plenty of snow. We parked at Ohanapecosh Campground and hit the trail leading through the hot springs, past Silver Falls, discovered a new trail (for us) to the Grove of the Patriarchs, and totalled over 6 up and down miles. About 60 floors in elevation gains, according to my Iphone. For hot days, this was perfect, as most of the trail was shade covered, gorgeous, and green.

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The hiking look

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See? A nice and shady path

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Waterfall and creek at Ohanapecosh 

Ride = Day 3 Motorcycle Loop

To make up for the hiking, we sat on the bike to see the sights. We traveled up Highway 410, gazed at the packed snow and ice gracing the top of Chinook Pass, followed Highway 123 to Highway 12, and returned through Naches to make a loop ride. We took the back road around Clear and Rimrock Lake. There was no lack for beauty, but it was getting pretty hot by the time we completed the ride.

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Mt. Rainier from Chinook Pass

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We left early to avoid the heat, so the morning hours required layers and layers! Which slowly came off as the mercury rose.

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Our shadows and us admiring the snow and Mt. Rainier

Watch = Day 4 Movie to Beat the Heat

As per suggested temps of 100, we hit the theater to take in the new Pirates movie. We both loved this episode as it tied in to the original three. AND we avoided the gagging heat.

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Ferns at Ohanapecosh 

All in all, we had a fantastic anniversary holiday, me and my honey. The northwest is full of gems, just ready for exploring.

Where do you love to go? All ideas are welcome…next trip is just around the corner.

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 Fish tacos at Salty’s


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The Day the Mountain Blew

Standing on the top edge of Mt. St. Helens, looking at Mt. Adams

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

What were you doing on May 18, 1980?

Maybe you were not even born yet! That does make me feel old, so let’s keep that to ourselves.

On that beautiful Sunday morning, so many years ago, I was at church with my family and friends. It was during Sunday school, so the time was early in the day.

Rocks, rocks, rocks!

Murmurs of something going on and the escalation of tension crept throughout the groups of people. We all went outside and saw huge, billowing, black clouds racing our way from the west.

Upon the advice of emergency officials and church leaders, everyone was sent home.

Soon, the entire sky was overtaken by the black gray heavy clouds. Not rain clouds as they appeared, but ash and smoke. Grit started to pour down. It wasn’t a gentle ash, but steady and thick.

Mostly we were excited to find out what was happening. I don’t remember being afraid at all, just curious. We got to skip out on church, and though we were all advised to stay inside out of the ash, we ventured out several times to check out the weather.

Volcano weather.

At that time, we didn’t have immediate access to world events. No one really had computers, just radios and the basic television channels. Phones were all old fashioned and connected to a wall phone jack. Information traveled much slower.

A view of what’s left at the top of Mt. St. Helens

One of my weekend jobs was to care for an elderly lady one street over. Mrs. Nelson lived by herself in a big house. She was alone that volcano-y day. I received a call asking that I go over and check on her. I did so, and explained to her what was going on and made sure she had her lunch and the things she needed.

My then future-husband was on his own for the weekend, as his parents were out of town. So he ended up at our house for much of that week. He was normally there, so that was nothing new.

As this was our first volcano eruption, we had no idea what we were in for. School was open as usual Monday morning. We headed to school. I remember trying to use the windshield wipers. Scrape, grit, scrape, grit. Not a good idea.

It was all excitement for the students. A volcano! Ash and grit. LOTS of ash and grit. A volcano ashfall.

The problems became evident soon enough. Students waiting for buses to stop were overwhelmed with clouds of billowing, drifting ash. We couldn’t breathe! People started wearing face masks just to be able to be outside. Vehicles were being damaged by the large amounts of ash and grit being inhaled and forced through the internal engines. Others tried to begin the clean up process, only to find there was nowhere to put their mountains of ash.

The girl with the cow shorts heading up Mt. St. Helens

So much ash. Inches fell on every little thing. Daytime looked like nighttime. Headlights had to be used to improve visibility.

After Monday, school was cancelled for the rest of the week in order to give everyone time for cleaning away ash. I’m sure officials were scrambling to figure out what to do with the ash, checking to see how dangerous it was for breathing, and searching to find out what damage was being done to the machines that were out working through the depths of the volcano fallout.

Things slowly returned to as much normal as could be expected. Mt. St. Helens was forever changed. Much of the mountain was spread throughout Washington state and the northwest. The Yakima Valley was in the ash fallout zone, while others on the opposite side of the mountain were hit by pyroclastic flows of steam, ash, mud, melted snow, and raging rivers. Lighter ash was transferred around the world by wind. Farmers washed off or plowed under the layers of ash all over our farmlands. People collected jars and containers of ash as momentos. Creative folks figured out ways to transform the ash into artwork and jewelry. Books were written, studies conducted, interviews given, and research began.

Not everyone survived that day. But for those of us who did, we remember the day the mountain blew.

So much information has been collected, stored, and shared. You can read more about Mt. St. Helens here.

Me (left) and Kevin at the summit of Mt. St. Helens

We have no personal photos of Mt. St. Helens the day it blew. If we did, we probably would not be alive to share them. We did, however, hike to the top of the mountain in 1993. After reading the warnings on paperwork from the ranger station, we seriously considered our health and personal welfare! Watch out for steam vents, thin crust, the edge of the top (where the edge often broke off), the dome in the center of the volcano (we couldn’t go there), and tremors. It was and is a live volcano, after all!

I’d love to hear what you were doing on the day the mountain blew.