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May 17, 2009

Awesome Is An Understatement

Approaching Mount St. Helens
















The Day She Blew
















David Johnston USGS Scientist died in the blast May 18, 1980














     At 8:32 a.m. on May 18, 1980, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake shook Mount St. Helen's, triggering a massive explosion.  The release of gases trapped inside the volcano sent 1,300 vertical feet of mountaintop rocketing upward and outward to the north.  Super-heated ash roared 60,000 feet into the cloudless blue sky.  The cataclysmic blast--- carrying winds that reached 670 miles per hour and temperatures of 800 degrees Fahrenheit flattened 230 square miles of forest.  Elk, deer and other wildlife were obliterated.  Fifty-seven People were killed including USGS scientist David Johnston, namesake of the Johnston Ridge Observatory, and pictured above.  The largest landslide in recorded history swept through the Toutle River Valley, (where we are now camped), choking pristine rivers and lakes with mud, ash and shattered timber, eradicating trout and salmon.

     After the eruption, only a moonscape remained.

     It is somewhat ironic that almost to the day, 29 years previous on May 18, 1980 that I am visiting an area and reflecting on what happened that day and yet at my young age at that time, and busy life, I hardly gave it a passing thought.  I remember its day in history of course.  News coverage tends to embed in ones mind events such as Mount St. Helen's blowing her top, but Oh, how easy it was to not give it a second thought.  That all changes for me following the visit today, and the mental picture I now have of what happened on May 18, 1980.  I can't get out of my head the image as seen above of David Johnston sitting and watching the escape of steam just before she blew, and tethered only to the outside world with a two way radio to communicate his observations to the home USGS office in Vancouver, Washington.

     The following picture is what Johnston Ridge looks like today.  Somewhere under all the re birth of current beauty lies the remains of David Johnston and his humble observatory (never found).  His last radio transmission was: "Vancouver---Vancouver, this is it!" 




Rest in Peace, David
















Near Castle Rock is where we are Camped















     On our return back down Highway 504 from visiting the mountain and getting as close as the road would allow us, we stopped at the Eco Park Resort and not only enjoyed some good ol' ranch house cooking but had a great conversation with Mark Smith the owner/operator.




Great Food and Conversation
















      We had the place to ourselves, save for the "cowboy" who waited on us and Mark the owner until Jim and Robin (pictured below) from Castle Rock, Washington walked in.  They seemed to know there way around from the conversation they were having with Mark and when given the chance I asked them if they were in the area when the mountain blew?  Jim began to recount the day it happened and the impact it had on his life and from time to time Robin would chime in with her recollections.  There would not have been enough time in the day to have witnessed all the stories they could have told but the few they did share will have a lasting impact with me.




Jim and Robin















     Jim told of how on the day she blew he and some of his family were to join friends already up the valley camping near the mountain.  His job of loading shipping containers on freighters in Astoria, Washington had kept him several hours longer on his shift than usual and upon arriving back in Castle Rock with his family members ready to go camping, he suggested that they should enjoy breakfast at home while he caught a couple hours of sleep and they would then depart.  The rest is history.  He was awaken by the blast.  Among the 57 lives lost that day were several of his friends.  He talked about the many trips in ensuing days to try and help locate the missing, and witnessing first hand the destruction.  Robin told of the helplessness that people felt and the sadness at seeing what once was the beauty of tree's, lakes, rivers, and animal life, vanish.  The torrents of mud, twisted trees, and huge boulders blocking river ways were more than some in the area could handle and many of there friends who survived the day ultimately could not handle the loss of beauty and reluctant to wait and see what mother nature would have in store, moved on.  Some of their friends who escaped from near the "blast zone" but were caught in the ensuing ash fallout lived only in to their 50's before loosing their life to serious lung problems. 

     What brought Jim and Robin to the mountain this day was a drive in their open air jeep to reflect on the past but more so to feast there eye's on what "mother nature" is doing to recover from the destruction.  There eyes see it perhaps a little different than we do but they too are in awe of the beauty that has returned.

     Kathleen and I find the North West of our country (Washington and Oregon) to be breathtakingly beautiful at most every turn and at the moment are completely captivated by the shear beauty of the Mount St. Helen's re-birth.  I am including a slide show of the pictures that represent what our eyes saw on this afternoon's adventure.  Click on slide show below to enjoy.  We will be returning to the mountain again and again while in the area.


                                                     Slide Show 











May 12, 2009

Another Great Weekend

Future Gymnast















     Bill, Heidi, Mason and Maddie came to visit us for the weekend and gave a huge thumbs up to the Toutle River RV Resort and the area in general.  We had a great day cooking out and exploring the entire park.




Mason at the Fort
















Miss Madelyn Grace Brosius
















Grandpa's happy when Bicycle is around































      As an added note.  I have found a couple great places to fish and have been getting in some great outings.  No fish to report as of yet, but I continue to try.























May 07, 2009

1st Workamper Meeting

Linda and Don meeting with workamper crew















     Linda (standing with the red sweater), and Don (seated with the blue jacket) held the first official workamper meeting with those of us who are already on site.  There are a few who are still to be joining us in the coming weeks.

     Linda presented us all with a very well done "Workampers Newsletter" that included a Welcoming message from "the Charlie" (owner), of the Toutle River RV Resort.  Some of us have previously met each other through our paths crossing, but there were a few new introductions to be had.  As one would expect with this large of a workamper crew there is quite a cross section of talent present.  As the summer season progresses everyone will have an opportunity to showcase those talents and without a doubt each of us will leave in the fall, better for having had the experience.

     Don described somewhat his plan for scheduling some of the workamper tasks that need to be accomplished and will try to do so with the work desires of the individual workamper taken in to consideration. 

     These scheduled gatherings for the workamper crew are planned for at least once a month.  A barbecue will generally follow the meeting as was the case today.  You can tell by this months pictures that the temperature was a bit cool, but the new found friends warmed our first gathering.




visiting after the meeting 















small talk
















Don----our fearless leader















Kathleen helping with the food setup
















Don, are the burgers done yet.
















mmmmmmmmm good
















Back for Seconds













Workamper Task

New Picnic Table just Completed
















     One of the workamper tasks, especially when it is raining, has been to put together picnic tables.  I put in 10 hours and change this week putting together these tables and Kathleen did two hours of watering trees for our 12 hour commitment.

     Pictured below are two of our fellow workampers, Marvin and Marlin, getting in their workamper commitments.




getting started
















coming right along
















Almost Done















     The Sun is out----I think I will go Fishing!!!!!!!!

The Resort's Special Friends

The Pooch is Special Here















     Here at Toutle River RV Resort the "pooch" is special!  As I have mentioned before Charlie (the resident owner) has many unique features that he is incorporating in to the complex and from time to time I will blog about them with pictures.  Today I am featuring a deck, with a doggy shower, that is specifically reserved for the RV guests dogs.  It is here that the furry friends can mingle with others and get a shower to boot. 

     Need a doggy bed for your pooch to lay on outside your rig?  Call the office and one will cheerfully be delivered to your site.

     Charlie has two beautiful well mannered Black Labs and one of them is usually accompanying him when he rides throughout the complex in his golf cart.



















The Shower Area

















May 04, 2009

Settled In

Zak and Ellie find lots to do















Kathleen here


We are all settled in and beginning to enjoy the Castle Rock area and the beautiful Toutle River RV Resort. Green is the word to describe what we see when we look about. Towering green pines, thick green grass, young green saplings reaching upward to catch the rain drops. As I sit and write I am loving the sound of the rain as it hits the roof of our Tininthewind.


Our first guests at our new address were our son Scott, his wife, Angela, and Zak and Ellie, our grandchildren. They explored the whole park and gave us a thumbs up of approval. While I prepared lunch, George took them on a tour ending at the river’s edge, almost a mile south of our site. The Toutle River flows towards the Pacific Ocean via the Cowlitz River and finally the Columbia River. Fishing is fantastic. George is excited about that, as is Scott and Zak. A fun walk it is, as along the path to the river, one will find things to swing on, things to climb, and lots of things to observe.


We had a nice time with the kids and are looking forward to their return. When they left, George and I went for a drive up into the hills and through the valleys. What a spectacular drive it was. This little part of Washington State offers so much. Every road, it seems led us along either a creek, or a river. Happy cows and horses grazed in green meadows. We saw a deer nibbling twigs along a fence. Many of the trees were showing off their spring blossoms of purple, pink, and white. We were reminded of our homeland of Iowa and Wisconsin and the Mississippi River.


Today, George helped make and deliver picnic tables to the many sites in the park. I dragged a big hose behind me and watered the trees along my street. The exercise was invigorating for both of us. We will sleep good tonight.  This workamping thing is going to be OK.


Following are a few photos of yesterday.  Remember to put your cursor over a photo for a description.




Scott, Angela, Zak and Ellie Brosius















What Fun--Who will win Immunity
















Balance Beam Challenge
































Zak and Grandpa will be fishing soon
















Resting from the Hike to Rivers Edge
















Exploring the River Bank
















The Cowlitz and Toutle Rivers come Together
















Angela and Ellie Walking the Mount Saint Helens Ash Beach
















Castle Rock Park
















Castle Rock Street
















Cowlitz River
















Greener Pastures?  I don't think so!
















One of many intriguing little roads
















Ancient Barn
















One Little Family---One Big Family













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