Mount St. Helens, Washington

- 17 June 2001 -

Geographical note: 

Mt. St. Helens is conveniently located in the Evergreen State, the Sales Tax State, the Flannel-and-Coffee State, the Other Dot-Com Recession State... a.k.a. the lovely and beautiful state of Washington.

Washington is composed of the renegade northern counties of the Oregon Territory. Its major industries are Microsoft. Its major industries were Microsoft, Boeing, and dot-com companies. ;)

Washington's people are required to pay a strange, confusing, and savage tariff when purchasing things. This tariff is popularly referred to as the "sales tax". Anthropologists who have ventured into the wild forests and urban areas north of the Columbia River claim that a Washington youth's first payment of "sales tax" is an important ritual marking the transition into adulthood. ;)

Alrighty then; enough silly stuff! ;) On with the photos! :)

There are a lot of conical hills along I-5 between Eugene and Albany. This is just one of them.

I-5, south of Salem... just so you get an idea of what I-5 looks like :)

WA 504, on the way to the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center.

Part of Mt. St. Helens is visible in this picture -- the snowy base of the mountain is above, and to the left of, the pickup truck.

It was bigger (and a lot more visible) in person. 

Same truck, same road, same mountain. You can see it a little clearer in this picture.

Tangent: I was in Washington, so I was listening to my Foo Fighters CDs :)

A view of Mt. St. Helens from the Hoffstadt Butte Visitor Center.

The gray stuff in that valley? It's all volcanic ash... volcanic ash from May 1980, volcanic ash from the Carter Administration era, volcanic ash that fell a couple of weeks before my second birthday. And it's still there.

Hoffstadt Butte Visitor's Center, and a hill.

Washington's forested hills tend to look different than Oregon's, for some reason. Maybe their trees are from different species than ours are, or something. It's hard to describe the difference. The trees are a slightly different shade of green, and their branches are more noticeable from a distance, or something.

This is an example of a very Washington-looking hill.

Facing westish, from the back deck at the Hoffstadt Butte Visitor Center.   

This is the same story as the other picture: ash from 21 years ago still covers the entire valley here. That river (or creek, or whatever) flows on top of the ash.

Same place.

Ash, and lots of it.

Same valley, different view.

Trees, hills, river, ash, ash, ash.

Typical Cascade Range roadside view.

This picture was taken at the Hoffstadt Butte Visitor's Center, but it's pretty typical of what the side of the road looks like along a highway up in the Cascades: tall trees close together (along the highways, the trees are usually a lot bigger, though), with ferns and other small plants beneath the trees. 


If someone was selling one of these ferns, and you wanted to buy one, you would have to pay sales tax, because this picture was taken in Washington

They have a sales tax in Washington. ;)

Mt. St. Helens, mountains, valley full of ash.

The base of Mt. St. Helens is visible on the left side of the picture, just to the right of the first green hill. The summit was covered by clouds the whole time I was there. :/

This was taken at a viewpoint along WA 504 between the Hoffstadt Butte Visitor's Center and the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center.

Hills, road-cut, and Mt. St. Helens.

This picture was also taken at the same viewpoint as the last one.

The road-cut on the hill in the distance is the road-cut for WA 504. I actually drove way up there. Jinkies!

Look, Ma, no ash!

These are the hills to the west of Mt. St. Helens, at the same viewpoint. When you've taken a lot of pictures of ashen things, sometimes you want to get something else in the picture for a change. ;) 

Oregon looks like this picture, too... but in Oregon, we don't have to pay sales tax. ;)

Mt. St. Helens from the same viewpoint.




"Mt. St. Helens... Mt. St. Helens has blown her top..." Thus go the lyrics to a bluesy semi-folk song that is used in just about every documentary about Mt. St. Helens that has ever been made. :b 

Mt. St. Helens from the Forest Learning Center.

The Forest Learning Center is a public-private partnership (I didn't find out who the partners were) that apparently, um, teaches people about forests, and then lets them see Mt. St. Helens. 

I only looked at Mt. St. Helens while I was there, since Coldwater Ridge was my main goal. Here is Mt. St. Helens again -- it's the best picture of the mountain that I got all day.

I never did get in to Coldwater Ridge. It was a fee site, and it closed at 5:00pm. I got there at 4:58pm. I could've paid $3 to take 2 minutes worth of photos from a somewhat better viewpoint, but I figured it wasn't worth it. :b

Kitschy theater sign in Castle Rock.

Castle Rock is a fairly standard Cascade foothills town (population about 2,500)... except for two things. 

First, Mt. St. Helens erupted nearby in 1980. Second, if you want to buy something there, you must pay sales tax, because it is in Washington

Castle Rock chose to publicize the former of those two attributes. ;) Hence, this theater sign.

The theater shows normal movies (e.g., Pearl Harbor), but it also apparently shows a continuous loop of Mt. St. Helens eruption footage.

The city that rocks, the city that never sleeps...

This is the I-205 bridge over the Columbia River, going back into Oregon (where you don't have to pay sales tax!) 

In the distance is the city of Portland. I used to miss Portland, but after living elsewhere for almost 10 years now, and after having driven in what was merely its Sunday afternoon traffic, I don't ever want to move back there. :b

Text written 19 June 2001.
Last updated 19 January 2006.

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