Category: Mountains

Glacier National Park

“So I’m packing my bags for the Misty Mountains where the spirits go now. Over the hills where the spirits fly, oh, I really don’t know.” Misty Mountain Hop Led Zeppelin

(July 15, 2015) I stepped out of the van, took a stretch and like a punch to the face I was taken by surprise. Whilst picking my jaw up off of the ground, this glorious and wondrous feeling swept through me. It felt like butterflies fluttering through my stomach and up into my heart; this was Glacier National Park.

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There’s absolutely nothing else to say. Any more words would be lost by how amazing this place looks and is. Truly, this is one of the most beautiful sites I’ve ever seen.

Kalispell, MT

“In a big country dreams stay with you, like a lover’s voice fires the mountainside. Stay alive.” In a Big CountryBig Country

(July 14, 2015) state has a not-so-nice area or region, however I have not found it thus far. Montana amazes and astounds at every turn. This wasn’t lost in Kalispell.

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This town gives you the feeling that it possesses history while also displaying modern living. Mountains play softly in the background of what looks to be a town that stepped out of the old west. In fact, there is one place here named, “Moose’s Saloon” where they have saloon doors and there was some talk of having those same swinging saloon doors since their established date but of this I am not certain.

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We were hungry and in need of nourishment and this place looked cool. It was definitely different because the people were NOT friendly who were serving us.

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It may have been deliberate or unintentional, either way it wasn’t my favorite place but I definitely appreciated it for what it was. We made it a good time anyway 😊

If I lived in this state I would sit outside every day­ ­­- on not so cold or hot days – and gaze at these mountains. I have fallen in love. Too bad I have no interest in ranching. :/

Wynoochee Dam

“Well, way down yonder on the Chattahoochee it gets hotter than a hoochie coochie.” Chattahoochee – Alan Jackson

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That song was all I could think of when the family told me we would be going to the “Wynoochee Dam” to swim and picnic!

The dam is made up of glacier water that has come off of the mountain and rested in somewhat of a lake. People swim and boat in it and that seems okay but you can imagine  my concern; for what else would I be worried about than how COLD that water would be?! YES! It was definitely cold. Tolerable but cold. It is definitely not like rivers or lakes in NC but it’s to be understood because of it being glacier water!

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Swimming was fun and I have to say I’ve been swimming more this summer than I have in the past two summers combined!

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It’s really cool because there are picnic tables set up at different locations for people to eat, hang out and grill if need be. I kind of thought it was odd that you could grill out in that heavily wooded area. This summer has been considerably dry and everyone in our party was a bit worried about sparking up the grill. That worry left when the stomachs began to growl.

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It was absolutely beautiful…looking around at all the trees and even the dried up light brown grass. LOL

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The trees are definitely beautiful in Washington; like no other. And THIS guy seems to be in ALL the shots! (Kenny)

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So we’re swimming in the dam and all of a sudden Kenny says, “Hey look! It’s Smokey!”. We all thought he was teasing but he wasn’t! It really was SMOKEY THE BEAR! He was walking around the beach and greeting everyone.

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I was lucky enough to meet him and get his picture. I can’t believe I’ve met Smokey The Bear 😉

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Basically I really enjoyed the Wynoochee Dam.

Mt. Rainier

“Comin’ down the mountain. One of many children. Everybody has their own opinion…” Mountain SongJane’s Addiction

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Like most fantastic sites to see, Mt. Rainier is coming in hot on the “fantastic sites” meter. Boy what a huge volcanic mountain! I tell you, along with Mount St. Helens this place is just as enormous and wonderous! One thing I noticed after we left, was how mysterious Mt. Rainier is! It’s this huge, gigantic mountain that seems like it has its own personality.

While we’ve been here it feels like I’ve been “chasing” this mountain for weeks now. You can see the mountain from hours away because of how large it is. We can see it here in Aberdeen, which is about 3 hours away. You can definitely see it from Seattle, 2 hours away and so it seems as though in specific spots you can see the peak or part of this amazing wonder. However, at times it has been hidden by fog, clouds or darkness; the one time I got to see it before we actually went to it was on the Bremerton ferry to Seattle (check out Seattle Part 1 to see what I’m talking about). This elusiveness kind of gives it an interesting trait. It’s like it’s playing a game with you and knows you want to see it but won’t come out until it feels sorry for you and only then will it let you glimpse at it. But on the flip side, it seems to be quite visible from every direction – thus giving it it’s elusiveness. It only took a couple of hours to arrive at Mt. Rainier and so, like most of the attractions, there are many pull-offs you can stop at to get out and take pictures. On route you can see that everything is quite rustic: the cabins, houses, food places etc. It’s not only rustic but it’s VERY green! Along the way you can see moss growing on all the trees inside of the forest area. And no, this is not spanish moss.

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Whenever I end up in a spot so beautiful that I have to make an image, I say to myself, “Gosh I want everyone to see this.” And so it goes that I have to show you this beautiful image with the light busting through and hanging over the trees and spilling onto the little walkway.

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That was our first stop coming into Mt. Rainier. Our next stop was directly in the national park. You do have to pay to go through it:

  • Vehicles: $20
    Motorcycles/ Walk-In/Bicycles: $10
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There are four entrances to Mt. Rainier, we went in through the “Paradise” side. It’s not as beautiful as the “Sunrise” side but it was still beautiful…as you can see 🙂

We kept on going until we reached a place where we could have a nice picnic. We had quite the caravan with us; 10 people. But we found a place – a NICE place!

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Here are some of the picnic crew.

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What you DON’T see is that FANTASTIC “Yeti” cooler to the left-hand side of the image. That cooler is the end all, be all to coolers! I highly recommend it. My friend Kelly and her husband Heath have one and swear by it. We do as well. It has kept our food cool for at least 4 days like it was the first day! We haven’t gone longer than 4 days but we will find out when we go camping at the Clearwater if it can keep the cool longer.

You would have thought I was the paparazzi the way I was snapping pictures (and I’m sure you can tell from the images above). It’s the same mountain just different angles. LOL, it was so magnificent I just want no one to miss anything!

Info on the Mountain:

*In Mt. Rainier, 97% of the park is wilderness and is protected from development. It became an official national park in 1899. It’s an active volcano and has repeated eruptions! When it erupts again they say it could be devastating. Geologists also say that Lahars will be the devastation that comes from the eruption (a slew of material looking like wet concrete).

Engineers designed the roads specifically for view and not by how easy it would be. Even though these roads are nice to drive on, it’s because of the winter snow and ice that much of the park is inaccessible. They say that sometimes you can hear the glaciers pop and crack as they move as well as avalanches! Another thing that I thought was pretty neat was that the mountain creates its own weather system. I think that’s clever. I never knew that.*

We finally arrived at the visitors center at “Paradise Inn”.

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This is the final stop to see her in all her glory.

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These signs are plastered all over the picnic tables throughout the entire drive up:

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These are obvious warnings but if you’re unfamiliar, wildlife inhabit this entire national park and so when you picnic, you are not picnicking alone. 😉 Somewhere there is a bear smelling your food like Yogi and wanting to get your “Pic-a-nic Basket!” Just make sure he doesn’t have a sidekick named “Boo Boo” or you may have bigger problems than wildlife.

When you leave the visitors center, just a little ways down there is an area named, “Packwood” where there sits a BEAUTIFUL little waterfall and a nice tall view.

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I thought it was kind of neat how the wind had blown in just one direction that the branches permanently face this way.

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And of course, there is the tallness of everything that really puts you in your place.

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Mount St. Helens

“Giving up a verse the curse occurs a thirst to burst first breaking through the center of the universe” Freak Out311

Before I tell you about this amazing thing called Mount St. Helens, I have to let you all know that I’ve been sick with some sort of cold, which is why I haven’t posted in several days. I may have picked it up from my niece or from something else, either way I’m sick and am currently on the mend. I feel better than I did a week ago but am not sure if I’m going to get better without seeing a doctor. Hopefully I will kick this and be ready for anything! So here’s to feeling better! *raises imaginary champagne glass*

Have you ever seen how small you are compared to this world? Or have you ever thought about how tiny we are compared to the earth below our feet and above our head? I have. I have thought about it before. I never really had anything to compare myself to except for the ocean. I always looked at the ocean and thought about how small I was…until this past Saturday when we visited Mount St. Helens. For the first time in 34 years, I felt/saw/experienced how small I really was.

Mom, dad, Rayann, Hayley and I all took the drive over to Mount St. Helens with eager anticipation. For me I was very exited but like everything else on this trip it was an empty canvas waiting for a paintbrush and paint. I have always heard of this place from my mom. I also knew that it had erupted in 1980 (one year before I was born). Because of the stories and knowing about it, naturally I would be curious, thus propelling eagerness into motion.

We stopped in Oakville and had lunch at a place called “Loretta Eagan’s Diner”. A little hole in the wall burger place was completely okay with us. Sometimes I prefer them to bigger nicer restaurants because they usually have that down home taste! Have you ever watched that T.V. show, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri? He definitely provides inspiration and courage for me to test out some of these not-so-popular dives! It’s funny but why not right? Just as I thought, the food was GREAT! It was like having home cooked food and we enjoyed it!

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We continued our trip and the scenery was fantastic. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was to see. When we arrived at the visitors center at Mount St Helens, there…sitting quite perfectly displayed was Mount St. Helens.

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You can tell that they purposefully cut out this, well…hole like thing for you to view the mountain! I thought it was perfect and was much obliged to the people who did so. It’s a great image. And of course we had to get the family in there 🙂

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As I stated in a previous post, I used to be so worried about looking like a tourist when I was on vacation, but honestly, that’s what you are! You’re a tourist. I felt so much like one when one of the employees jumped in and made us get together for this picture. I didn’t even have to ask. After it’s all said and done, I will be so thankful that I have these images to remind me of that day 🙂 So I honestly don’t mind at all. Where’s my fanny pack?

There was a show playing in the theater inside of the center that really gave you a nice detailed footage of what happened in 1980! I don’t have that footage but I’ve found a video on YouTube that tells you what actually happened that day. Check it out here: Mount St Helens Eruption

Once I watched the video I was HOOKED! The last experience that hooked me was when I went to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. It literally changed my life. After I went through and saw what I saw, some sort of passion was ignited in my heart and I took interest immediately. I kind of feel the same thing has happened here. After being here and seeing this volcanic, living, breathing thing, I am wanting to know more and more!

Here are the images they had in the visitors center. You can see the sequence of the eruption. It started at 8:32:38 (I believe), then 8:32:47 > 8:32:49 > 8:32:53 > 8:33:03 > 8:33:18.8

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HOW AMAZING! Look at that burst! It’s just crazy. Mount St. Helens had 3 small phreatic eruptions in 1893, 1902 and 1921. It had been quiet since the mid-1800’s. Apparently 123 years of no activity is a long time for us, but according to geologic time, that’s just a “nap”. At 3:37 p.m. an earthquake, measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale hit, coming directly from beneath Mount St. Helens. Then there was another earthquake and then another one which led scientist to believe that this volcano was waking up. So, these earthquakes eventually led to the first eruption of Mt. St. Helens. It ejected steam and ash along with rock fragments and ice blocks on the slopes of the volcano. Within hours of the first eruption, residents within a 15-mile radius of the volcano were advised to leave. Because of the continued activity, the Governor of Washington issued a State of Emergency. Craters had formed and eventually a “bulge” formed on the north flank of the volcano (probably due to magma rising in the volcano). They used comparisons of the pictures taken in 1979 of the mountain to see what kind of differences were happening with this bulge and found that it had grown outward and upward about 250 feet as of April 12, 1980 – and it continued to grow 5 to 7 feet per day since April 25th. During this time people were to have evacuated, but after a period of time of nothing happening, they started letting people back in to get their things or do what they needed to do. On May 18th, the volcano erupted. The “bulge” had exploded sending ash and rock rolling down the side of the mountain. Some witnesses said they saw lightning bolts shooting through the ash.

I would like to take this time out to draw some attention to a guy named, David Johnston, who was a Geological Survey Geologist who died during this eruption. His name is continuously brought up during videos and in information given to you on this volcanic mountain. He died doing his job and for some reason I just really admire that. His famous words, “Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!” seems to ring many times through the tour of the visitors center and is pretty famous when talking about Mount St. Helens. The pictures above are his images and are displayed in the visitors center. He last radioed in at 8:32 which was when it happened. (All info stated above is from the visitors center at Mount St. Helens)

After the visitors center we drove up to Johnston’s Ridge (named after David Johnston) to see her up close and personal. We stopped at a pull off before Johnston and got a couple of great shots as well as some along the way.

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You know that this is tourist attraction when the local chipmunk comes up to you begging for food. LITERALLY, the chipmunk saw us, ran up to us (about 1 foot away), stood on the stone wall and did all but ask, “Do you have any food for me?”. LOL I swear, when he stood up on his hind legs, if he could have spoken, that’s what he would have asked. So funny and cute.

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Johnston’s Ridge is the up close and personal view.

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You can see, directly in the center where the explosion happened. It used to be a mountain at one time but now is looks a bit open. I found a before image for you to see (taken from Wikipedia).

Helens before

The visuals of the mountain are just insane. I think that’s what really blows my mind. That is what makes you feel small.  A mass of ash and rock, reaching heights of 50,000 ft. can really put you in your place. People who were 35 miles away from the mountain said they felt a temperature increase of 30 to 40 degrees higher than usual. What can do that? I can blow air out of my mouth and it may reach a foot away from me? I am an ANT in a wilderness of monumental size. God’s creation is so fantastic that to think this all happened just by chance, to me, is a foolish idea indeed.