I remember where I was..my former husband and I, along with our young son were driving around the Olympia-Lacy, Washington area looking at homes. The Milwaukee Railroad had folded on April 1, 1980 and my husband was sort of in limbo...looking for a job. We were considering a move about 20 miles south and opening an equipment rental store. So on this beautiful May Sunday afternoon we took a drive to look at houses. For some odd reason I don't remember that we had the radio on in the car as we drove around from house to house...so we were unaware of what was going on less than 100 miles south of us. Later in the afternoon we decided to head back home and one of us flipped on the radio. There it was...the news we'd been expecting. Mt St Helens had erupted big time. It wasn't the little puffs of steam that had been reported but the big eruption they'd been predicting.
My first thought was the old man named Harry Truman that had been refusing to leave his lodge on beautiful Spirit Lake. His family and the authorities had spent weeks trying to get him and his many cats to leave the area, warning him of the consequences if he stayed. Harry came to the area in 1926 building a log cabin, a grocery store & gas station and a boat rental business. In 1939 he built a lodge and people would come from the city for weekend and vacation fun. He eventually owned 54 acres and had 100 boats in his rental fleet. It was his home and by golly he wasn't leaving. Follow this link to a You Tube Video about Harry, Spirit Lake and the mountain.
I think the saddest thing I ever saw several months after the eruption was his family climbing into a helicopter and being flown over the area where Spirit Lake had once been and dropping a floral wreath in Harry's memory. How sad it must have been for his family and the families of the other dear ones killed that day.
Anyway, my husband pilled the car over along the freeway and we looked back at the darkened sky to the south of us. The prevailing winds blew most of the plume to the east , blotting out the sun in cities across the Cascades in eastern Washington. The people wore masks, there was concern about ash ruining vehicle engines and destroying crops. North of the eruption we did get a light covering of ash...I have a picture of our BBQ where I wrote the date in the ash covering it's black lid. But the cities near the mountain and those across the Cascades really got it.
Later that summer my husband did go to work for the Union Pacific Railroad and on trips to cities south of here , the guys would walk thru 2-4 inches of ash that covered the parking lots, etc. In fact somewhere here I still have a milk carton of Mt St Helen's ash that he collected for me in the train yard in Longview, Washington.
In almost a single moment this beautiful, pristine mountain and the surrounding area was devastated by the blast. The mountain itself was reduced in height by 1,312 feet, 57 people lost their lives, 250 homes were destroyed, 47 bridges were wiped out by the flow of mud and trees, 15 miles of rail line was wiped out and 185 miles of highways were lost.
For more on the unforgettable event stop over at; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_St._Helens and read more.
The mountain has rumbled to life several times since that day 28 years ago but today, I'm happy to say that the old girl is sitting calm...but who knows what tomorrow, next week or next year will bring ?
On another note; a new temperature record was set yesterday in Seattle. The official thermometer (probably at Seattle-Tacoma Int'l Airport) hit 90 degrees. The warmest May 17th on record. I think my house was 190*...poor Gabi was really dragging (as was I.) I was able to get the living room down to about 78* by about 10 o'clock last night and she really perked up. Today is supposed to be cooler.