Day 13 - Portland, Mount St Helen's, Seattle

The Plan (the whole Plan)
Wed 21 May : -> Mt St Helens -> Tacoma -> Olympic Mts (a day of rocks, and quite a bit of driving - 150-200 miles, depending on route)

Fred is fed in preparation for another long haulAnother long run - we set off bright and early, and headed up the interstate.  But the noise of hungry fat bastards from the back seat became intolerable after a while, and so we stopped off after a few miles at Rosie's cafe for a large breakfast and general supplies.  Since Rosie's was also the name of the restaurant where Rupert met the chocolate girl, this was the cue for more puerile jokes, with which we will not trouble the reader.  And then a bit further north, to find the turnoff to Mt St Helen's.

At which point Mark, who was navigating, discovered that the road layout of the area had changed quite dramatically due to great chunks of land being given over to the extensive logging interests around there.  (Or, alternatively, he just couldn't read the map properly.)  But after some faffing about, reversing out of dead ends and avoiding trucks carrying tree trunks, we were on the right course.

We've attracted widespread criticism from a substantial proportion of our massive worldwide audience (you know who you are, Joey) for not giving enough time to descriptions of the landscape.  But if any day provided us with the oppotunity to make up for it, this was the one.  Washington desribes itself at the Evergreen state, and it's easy to see why: the fir tress rise high up the mountains in varying bright shades, giving a very young feel to the surroundings.  Nowhere is this more true than around Mt St Helen's, where the destruction of the landscape 23 years ago is still very much in the early stages of recovery.  And the view of the heights are just breathtaking.  Here's some pix...
How green is my valley....
A dam has been built to silt up part of the river to protect the areas downstream - the new basin will take another 30 years to settle.
A new highway has been built to what remins of the mountain.
It's so beautiful it just drives you to take photos...
... but there's still a ruddy great cloud covering the top of the mountain!

Anyway, the weather waited until just after we'd left the Johnston Ridge observatory to clear and remove the cloud cover from the mountain.  Once we saw this, there was a frantic scramble to find a viewpoint.  And the result is here.  Yahoo!  Sorry about the four ugly blokes in the foreground.

How about that, then?

Then we went to Seattle, via Toledo, a small town in the middle of nowhere, south Washington, so that Rupert and Patrick could send some postcards. There, we were pleased to find the Post Office was open, mildly surprised that the lady behind the counter was half-British, and absolutely amazed to be engaged in a discussion about what a wonderful place Skegness is. We made our excuses and left...

Seattle.  Notice how small the Space Needle (far left) is in relation to the rest of the skyscape....Perceptive types will notice that Seattle doesn't feature in the plan at this stage.  This was the result of some last-minute replanning arising from the discussion with the guy who looked like Zeke (see yesterday's entry), who had warned us that we were carrying so much wine in the boot that we wouldn't be able to get in and out of Canada without paying huge taxes.  So the loop around Vancouver and Victoria and so on, scheduled for the last few days of the holiday, was reversed, basically to give us time to deplete some of the stock.  Which meant that the Seattle part of the tour came first.  An expensive meal in a slightly pretentious fish restaurant (but which did bloody good salmon) started off this leg of the tour.