Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mount St. Helens National Monument

It has been 31 years since the eruption of Mount St. Helens and in some places it looks like it happened last week.  The Johnston Observatory overlooks the mountain on the north side where it caved in, started by an earthquake that caused the largest avalanche in recorded history that triggered the blast of magma out of the side of the mountain.  There were great exhibits and films that showed the biological, geological effects and survival stories that were amazing.  The theater is built in such a way that at the end the curtains rise on a glass wall overlooking the volcano which makes a dramatic impact.

In the picture below, these trees still show the effects the stone-wind had several miles away.
Closer to the blast everything was destroyed by the wind of several hundred miles per hour, then covered with pyro-plastic mud and hot ash. Several thousand tons of ice and snow melted, flooding down the mountains in torrents, carrying trees and rocks with it for miles.  The picture of Spirit Lake below still has thousands of logs floating on it after all these years.

On the drive up windy ridge, we saw the eerie landscape that is slowly returning to a living forest. At this altitude we were able to see Mt. Rainier to the north, Mt. Adams to the east, and Mt. Hood to the south; their snow covered peaks in the blue sky towering above the forests.  We circled the mountain on beautiful forest roads with large trees giving you an idea of what it looked like before 1980. We are staying in Cougar, WA for 2 days. We walked to a nearby park this morning where an outdoor church service was taking place and we were happy to join it.  God always provides, like the last site in an RV park because someone cancelled right before we arrived.  We are enjoying our retirement very much and send our best to all who read this blog.     Ida & Ty

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Washington's Pacific Coast

For the last two and one-half weeks we explored the coastline of Olympic National Park.  Tide pools  at low tide were decorated with orange and purple sea stars plus anemones, mussels, oysters, and many other creatures.  The huge haystack rocks were home to colonies of many alcids and other sea birds, the rocks below were rising 100 feet above the water.  The beaches were strewn with huge tree trunks as pictured below which was 33 feet across.

Some of the wonderful creatures we observed were gray whales, sea otters, harbor seals, river otters and porpoises.  We spent hours scoping the ocean waves for birds and were rewarded with record numbers of Pacific & Red-throated loons, Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Sooty, Buller's & Pink-footed Shearwaters, Heermann's Gulls, South Polar Skua and numbers of shorebirds.

In between coastal areas we visited the Hoh Rain Forest with beautiful moss covered trees and observed our 52nd bear for the trip and saw the Roosevelt Elk (a herd of 16 cows and calves).

We are now at Copalis Beach for the next few days, ready to explore the endless beach that is crowded with shorebirds and gulls and not too many people.  Our best to everyone. Ty & Ida

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Olympic National Park

 At 7,000 feet, we felt like we were on top of the world, great view of the Olympic mountain range with it's snow and glaciers.  Yes we walked on snow in August.  It was a beautiful drive up Hurricane Ridge through old growth forest and beautiful wild flowers along the road sides ( as seen in picture below).
The week before this we spent at Birch Bay, Washington, enjoying the sun after many days of rain on our travels south.  We had beautiful weather the whole week. After crossing on the Port Townsend ferry, we are traveling northwest along the coast of Washington, we are finding many birds, already 140 species in the state. This weekend we are camped along Crescent Bay looking at sea birds through the scopes; Ancient & Marbled Murrelets, Pigeon Guillemots, Rhinoceros Auklets, Surf, White-winged, and Black Scotors, Harlequin Ducks, Heeriman, Mew, California, and Glaucous-winged Gulls, a few shorebirds.  Also watching cruise and cargo ships pass by in the Juan de Fuca Strait on their way to Victoria, Canada or Seattle.  Looking forward to spending more time along the beautiful coasts of Washington and then Oregon.  Our best to everyone.  Ty & Ida