Sunday, August 24, 2008

At Long Last, Driving Out to the Volcano

On May 18th, 1980, after weeks of Pilinian-style ash eruptions and ominous swelling, Mt. Saint Helens detonated. Corresponding with a 5.1 earthquake, the largest avalanche in historical times exposed the volcano's central chamber, unleashing a blast that propelled the mountain's northern mid-section and northern glaciers north towards Johnston Ridge at the speed of sound. Over a nine-hour period the volcano unleashed the equivalent explosive force of 27,000 Hiroshima bombs and sent a miles-wide column of ash into the stratosphere.

I have wanted to see this mountain ever since I was a boy.

Looking into the devastated area. Mt. Adams is visible on the far left.

Driving in the blast zone, 28 years after.

A side view of the avalanche and the initial blast that it unleashed.

An odd aspect of the explosion is that its noise was carried upward into the stratosphere, creating a sixty-mile cone of silence around the event. A survivor, standing 14 miles away claimed that he could hear the roar of thousands of trees being ripped out of the ground, but he heard nothing of the blast itself.

This was a heavily forested mountainside clad in several meters of soil until it was scoured clean on the fateful morning.

Johnston Ridge. You can see where the avalanche flowed up and over this 1,500ft ridge.

The scrap marks are from the avalanche's impact, which blew away several feet of soil and carved into the base rock itself.

Mt. Adams (12,276ft) and the remains of Spirit Lake. The white plain is actually hundreds of thousands of bleached logs.

A USGS photo of the mountain as seen from Johnston Ridge a day before the blast

As it looks today to my camera

Visible within the crater are two domes, the growth of which have helped to slowly rebuild the mountain. These active, steaming structures are now surrounded by the Shoestring glacier

A morphing map of the second dome’s 2004-2007 growth within the crater. This new Whaleback dome is located behind the first dome left over from the 1980-1986 eruptive phase. The lobes moving down the crater’s sides are the Shoestring glaciers.

The Johnston Ridge Observatory webcam captures a days worth of steaming and lava flows during October, 2004.

Pressured from below, the second dome undergoes a partial collapses as a team of USGS geologists looks on.

The volcano as seen from the Johnston Ridge Observatory

The observatory itself; the home my favorite web cam

Leaving the blast area

Some USGS photos of the mountain, some of which also show Mt. Rainier

Mt.Rainier above Tacoma. Hopefully I can make it up to Paradise Lodge on the south side before the cloudy season cloaks the mountain in unpredictable mists.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Because Nothing is as Cool as a Vervet

I have fallen in love with the vervets. They are awesome to look at and endearing interact with. Definitely the most aesthetically pleasing monkeys by far. Now, we just need to get some gibbons, and then we'd have the coolest of apes as well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August on the Coast

On the beach at Pacific City during a day of just-for-the-fun-of-it exploration

A gianourmous sand dune! Possibly 400 or 500 feet high.

The climb up was brutal as every footstep would slide back down, necessitating three steps for every foot of altitude gained. The only thing more fun than going up was sprinting back down at breakneck speed. It took nearly eight minutes to climb, and somewhere around 15 seconds to run back down in an insane blur of headlong motion. I have never gone anywhere close to that fast before on two feet.

The view from up top

One massive block of sandstone

Looking north

Farther north...

...Ocean City

Between 17 and 14 million years ago, a series of rifts flooded the Pacific Northwest with flows of basalt lava. These fluid masses poured out of Western Washington, eventually covering some 63,000 square miles with multiple layers of a kilometer or more in depth. This is where those flows met the sea.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Wandering PDX

Aside from spending sometime up at the Portland VA, pondering my future, I've been walking the streets and taking in the spirit of the place.

This walking about includes discovering and cataloging all of the city's small monuments. A plethora of monuments, after all, is what makes a big city big. This includes monuments to city fathers, to pioneering feminists, pioneering families as well as pioneers in general; to engineers, to firefighters, to 19th century industrialists and ship's captains; to forgotten warships named for the municipality and the state; to drowned fishermen and other mariners; to former presidents, to military heroes from wars long past and to the fallen of more recent conflicts, to wartime interned Japanese-Americans and displaced Indians; to the documents of laws, manifestos of rights, and to letters of national apologies; to farmers, to markets, as well as to the spirit of commerce herself. All of these small civic and national shrines are part of the warp and weft that helps to weave the raw material of nature into a distinct cultural space.

Note the salmon punching through the building. Yes folks, we really are in the Northwest.

These foot journeys also include learning the feng-shui ley lines of commute, of mass transit, of snarled private transit, and of peak hours and quiet minutes in which to travel unmolested.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Candy Cigarettes

Wow, I haven't seen these since the 70s.

I thought that they quit making candy cigarettes when the state of California started executing manufacturers. Oddly enough, I found this pack in an artisan cheese factory's store out in Tillamook when out driving the coast.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Weekend in the Countryside

Spending the weekend in the country

Making wine

Peach wine and cherry pies

Sterilizing bottles

The sweet yeasty smell of fermented cherries

A highly unmotivated dog

Heading home. Two hours is much better than twelve on the road.

OHSU’s city on the hill. My future?