Mt. St. Helens and a man who makes logs fly

Tuesday, September 3

I close up the laptop.

 “Well, crew.  Are you ready for another adventure?”

Bridget, Spike, and I are sitting in the Perfect Tow Vehicle parked next to the Randle library.

At that moment the heavens open up and rain comes down in torrents.

“Hoo-boy.  What a mess.”  The lights come on in the library.  “Hang on, guys.  I’ll be right back.”

I noticed previously the library sells used books.  Might as well see what they’ve got . . . I make a dash for the library door. 

I buy five paperbacks for $1.25.

Two of them are the next Sue Grafton mysteries in her sequence that I haven’t read!  What a find! 

The rain lets up a bit.

 I go back to the PTV and scoop up an armload of books that I’ve read.  They were given to me a few months ago by a fellow camper.  I deliver them to the librarian.

“Okay, cuties. Let’s try this again.”  I turn the key of the PTV.

“We’re off to Mt. St. Helens!”

Drizzle is our fickle companion as we follow the winding road through the tall trees and lush ferns of the forest.  Distant peaks wear scarves of low, thick clouds.   Gee, we may not be able to see much.  Oh well, we stayed an extra day at North Fork Campground to visit the volcano, so that’s what we’re going to do, dadgummit.

We’re going to the Windy Ridge viewpoint on the remote side of Mt. St. Helens.  After several miles, sunshine gives me hope.

 We pass a turn-out with a helicopter parked in it.

1-P1070052Remember Les?  The guy sleeping in his car because his friend loaned him a tent bag without a tent in it?  Well, Les told me the logging companies use helicopters to take out the logs in places where they aren’t allowed to bring in trucks. 

Further up the road, I pull into another turn-out.

A guy stands at the edge of a precipice.  Must be something interesting down there.  Okay. I gotta’ look, too.  Monkey see.  Monkey do.

1-P1070053I walk toward the man and say to his back.  “Gee, how can you stand so close to the edge? You’re making me nervous.”

He turns toward me and smiles.  He’s a pleasant-faced, black man in his fifties with a close-cropped beard.  He’s wearing a lightweight, black jacket and jeans.

I peer over the edge at the immense logjam below.

“It wasn’t the volcano,” he begins.  “The snow was so deep and heavy, it pushed all these trees and rocks and earth down through here.  It took that bridge completely out.”

I can’t stand it. 

“Um, pardon me for interrupting, but could you get off that rock?”  I make a face as if in pain.  He chuckles, steps down, and continues while looking over at the bridge.  “It was a year before they could replace the bridge and fix this part of the road.”

He asks me where I’m going and proceeds to give me detailed instructions where to make turns.  “Route 99 is easy to miss.  People drive up and down the road looking for it.”

I extend my hand. 

“Thanks for the help.  I’m Sue.”

“Jimmy,” he replies, shaking my hand.

“Well, Jimmy.  How do you know so much about this area?”

“I work for the logging company.”

I study him for a moment and remark, “You don’t look like someone who cuts logs.  What is it that you do?”

“Oh, I’m just a helicopter driver.” 

I’m struck by the humility revealed in his use of the word “just.”

“So that’s your helicopter back there, huh?  I took a picture of it.”

“Yeah, that’s mine.  We’ve been up here for four months now.  Almost done.  Can’t do much on a day like this though.  Can’t see what you’re doin.’”

“You live around here?”  He tells me but I can’t decipher the name of it.

“I used to live in Forks.”

“I know where that is.  I saw it on the map.  I’ll probably drive through there.”

“Watch out for the vampires.  It used to be a logging town.  Now it’s vampires.”

“What?  What are you talking about?  People go out at night and suck each other’s blood?” 

I laugh because it’s outrageous. 

Jimmy laughs because he obviously enjoys playing this on people.

“No, no.  Did you see the movie Twilight?  The woman who wrote it lives there (this is refuted by a reader in comments), so now the town is all about vampires.”  He pauses and looks at the logs.  “That’s okay, I guess.  People are making a buck.”

The light drizzle turns to rain.

“I’d better get going, Jimmy.”

Jimmy tells me to drive safely and I reply in kind.  I run to the PTV.  Jimmy doesn’t run to his truck.  Instead he stands above the valley of logs and watches me, his hands partly shoved into the pockets of his jeans and his shoulders hunched against the rain.

I wave as I pull out onto the road.  “Nice to meet you, Jimmy, the Helicopter Logger!”

Mt. St. Helens and Spirit Lake

Halfway to our destination, the sun comes shining through the clouds. I’m not going to give a lesson on volcanoes and what happened here in 1980.  If interested, do an online search.

1-P1070062This next shot was taken at one of the viewpoints.

"Hey, Bridge.  Did you hear that?  I think it's gonna' blow."

“Hey, Bridge. Did you hear that? I think it’s gonna’ blow.

A viewpoint offers my first look at Spirit Lake.

1-P1070071Logs float on the surface.  They drift from one end of the lake to the other, depending upon the direction of the wind.  The next viewpoint shows more of Spirit Lake.

1-P1070072This was once called Paradise.  The lake was much bigger and reflected the awesome peak of Mt. St. Helens which no longer exists.  People camped around the lake or stayed in cabins.  Now it is referred to as “Paradise Lost” . . . although it looks quite lovely to me.  That’s Pumice Plain at the end of the lake.

1-P1070070Not many tourists here today, the day after Labor Day.  That’s a good thing because Bridget screams every time I get out of the PTV.  People stare and it’s embarrassing.  Usually we have a viewpoint all to ourselves.

"Get in the PTV.  I'm driving us home."

“Get in the PTV. I’m driving us home.”

To be continued . . .



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58 Responses to Mt. St. Helens and a man who makes logs fly

  1. kgdan says:

    Living in Wapato in 1980 when the mt blew, within a short time morning turned to night and ash fell like rain. We were so frightened because we didn’t know if it would stop, if it were dangerous or what would happen next. Having graduated from Forks High School in 1965, it was astounding on my 45th H.S. reunion to see how the little town turned from a failing logging community to being “Twilighted”. No, the author never even visited the town let alone live there. Only one minor character from the films ever visited. The town, instead, became inundated with “fans” just for the mention of its name and a description of the geography. Go figure.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, Kgdan… The eruption must have been terrifying.

      BTW, I made a note re: Twilight author in the post. That must have been a shock to return to your town and see it so changed. Thanks for an interesting comment.

  2. mockturtle says:

    Wow, I hope you got to see the mountain!

  3. Tawanda says:

    Things have really come back since Mt. St. Helen’s blew, lived in Chehalis area at that time, it was scary as ‘kdgan’ describes, spirit lake actually boiled it got so hot. Some yrs later my lil’ brother who was a pilot took me in a small plane right into the crater around the steaming dome, that was awesome!!
    Amazing pictures…

    WTG on the book find Grafton is one of my favs..

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      What an experience — to fly over the crater in a small plane!

      Re: Grafton books… Once they started charging over $7 for the ebooks, I stopped reading them. So, yes, 25-cent Graftons, the very next ones, is quite a discovery!

  4. You certainly do meet interesting people! I love seeing Bridget behind the steeringwheel…. LOL! She wants to go with ya, but she doesn’t wanna let you out of her sight! Are you planning to head down to Oregon to visit Ann and Bill ??

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Geri!

      I haven’t talked with or emailed Ann and Bill yet about our upcoming travels through Oregon. Of course, I’d love to see them and their canine crew!

  5. cinandjules (NY) says:

    How neat is that? I’m sure that would be a sight to see…helo logging!

    The way you described his hands halfway in his pockets and hunched over…I just about felt the rain fall on my shoulders. Your ability to remember details and descriptions………… amazing!

    Looks like paradise to me. Enjoy your trip back to camp…..can Bridget reach the pedals or even see over that steering wheel? hah hah Now that would be a sight!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thank you for that nice compliment on my writing.

      I do believe Bridget could power the PTV down the road by virtue of her attitude alone. She gets mad at me for not letting her out at every single stop.

  6. Ladybug says:

    I think the reason she gets mad is because you take the keys, thus preventing her from driving! LOL

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      And to make matters worse, Spike refuses to hot-wire the engine. Good boy, Spike!

      • AZ Jim says:

        Technical injection: We don’t hotwire engines. We hot wire ignitions! Just a minor point of course. Sue, you know by now I don’t mean to be mean….just havin fun with ya…..

  7. We took a drive to Mt. St. Helens this summer. Beautiful drive. We lived in West Linn, Oregon when the Mt. blew many years ago. You mentioned passing through Oregon, would love to meet you if you ever get close to the Oregon City, Oregon area. I’ve really enjoyed your blog and agree with others, you have such a way with words, I can hardly wait from one blog to the other…

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Betty . . . You’ve been with me and the crew for a while now. Thank you for the compliment. It makes me smile to think you “can hardly wait from one blog to the other.”

      I’m terrible about arranging to meet people, mainly because I live according to whim from hour to hour, most of the time. Let’s see how it goes.

      I say this to everyone who wants to meet me. I’m not at all interesting. I hate that meeting me will be a disappointment!

      • EmilyO of KS says:

        You know Sue, you might surprise yourself about not being interesting. Look at all the folks you have met along the way and they have opened up to you; and you fill us in on some interesting conversations you have with these folks. When I met you almost 2 years ago, I didn’t really think you were that quiet and I was not disappointed, I was comfortable with you – and now 2 years later, look at all the experiences you have had that have made you really interesting. No, you are not the gregarious, bubbly, cheerleading type person – we would not be following you if you were. But you are our “bubble of happiness” in our lives. Thank you.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          How very kind of you, Emily. I’m not the one who is interesting. People are seeing the reflection of the interesting people I meet.

  8. Diane says:

    All I can still say is WOW…what an adventure you and the pups are on.
    I always feel as though I am right there with you guys. Thanks again.
    Also enjoyed your lyric descriptions in the begining of the blog, you have a master of words.
    Glad you got the mystery books, going to get mine now, have been waiting on the last of CJ Box’s Joe Pickett mystery because am going camping! Enjoy reading so much at night. Boonedock so No power, TV or anything but the sweet sounds of Mother Nature.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Diane . . . You know, early last Spring I wondered if it could be possible for this summer’s travels to be as fun and exciting for us as last summer’s. The summer of 2012 was fantastic.

      Now I realize that the summer of 2013 is fantastic, too. I’m really enjoying this trip!

      Have a wonderful time boondocking with your mystery to read . . .

  9. Mindy Reed says:

    I was in Portland at the time Mt. St. Helen’s blew and I had ash all over my car and some of my pt’s were having difficulty breathing. Sheesh that was soooooooo long ago LOL.

    Sue I know you’ve got a Kindle and here’s a thought for some FREE books, my library has free ebooks, all you have to do is go in get a library card and they will give you a code to log on to their site. I’m sure not all library’s do this but it’s worth a search to find a library that you can log onto and get some freebies!

    I enjoyed your photos they make me so homesick for the PNW though. I’m now officially addicted to RVSUEANDCREW.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’ll get no addiction counseling from me, Mindy. I love that you’re addicted!

      I should remember about the library freebies… especially for when our travel slows down during the winter months in southern Arizona.

  10. Caryn says:

    Beautiful country, your photos are making me homesick. Long, long ago I (we) lived in Oregon, a mile from Mt. Hood National Forest, and back in those days there’s wasn’t much money for entertainment other than filling up the gas tank and exploring the area. The day St. Helens blew we had driven down to the highway and sat for several minutes debating which way to go… should we go north toward St. Helens which was threatening to erupt, or south to Mt. Jefferson? We opted for Jefferson, and about 20 minutes later I happened to glance in the side mirror and saw the enormous plume of ash. We turned around and made it home just as the ash fallout started raining down.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Whoa . . . That’s was a close call. It must have been frightening to see that power, knowing how defenseless we are in the face of it.

      I hope you enjoy memories of the area as you look at my photos, Caryn.

  11. Timber n' Rusty says:

    The Skamainiac’s of Stevenson, Wash., say Mt. Saint Helens got real mad on May 12th, 1980 and blew her ash all over the North East, they say, it even got as far East as Upper State New York, in some places it look like dirty snow coming down. ,,,,And the forest slowly came back. Johnson Ridge is where he was filming when she blew, and Roosevelt refused to leave his cabin and his cabin and him are at the bottom of Spirit Lake. ,,,,Imagine what would happen if Yellowstone ever blew ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    • Timber n' Rusty says:

      P.S. , Pray that Bridget doesn’t figure out how to make the “horn” work like Timber did, I knew that I didn’t have a truck alarm and found out why my truck was a honking , it was Timber pushing on the steering wheel, funny, just lately saw the same thing on the TV, but it was a Bull dog in a Mercerizes, LOL ;~}

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Rusty… Very interesting comment! Too bad about that guy that refused to leave. I wonder why he didn’t.

      The ground where we camped next to the Tieton River has a thick layer of ash right below the surface from the ash settling over the area.

        • cinandjules (NY) says:

          Very interesting links…thanks.

          83 years old…stubborn…loved the mountain, his lodge, his cats and his whiskey.

          What a character! Bet he was quite spunky in person!

          • cinandjules (NY) says:

            Oh……. he was spunky alright!

            There is an interview on youtube titled:
            Spirit lake lodge & Harry R Truman

            May he rest in eternal peace.

      • Timber n' Rusty says:

        He didn’t believe the Geologists that St. Helen’s was getting ready to blow out and refused to leave his land, cabin and his home. And you mite be able to buy Mt. Saint Helen’s Ash Trays, or small containers of her ash, but be careful, the ash is adbraceive , if a person of that time got ash on their car windows, it was better to hose it off with water rather than brush it off, it’d do a real bad of messing up the glass, like a sand blaster,,,,,,,,Rusty

        • Timber n' Rusty says:

          Truman , that’s right, I get those Presidents names mixed up when it comes to that part of Washington’s History ,,,,My mistake, sooorrrreyyyy ,,,,,,,,rusty :~(

  12. AZ Jim says:

    I am now using Mt. Adams as a desktop pic. You are supplying me with constantly changing scenes….all good. Hi Crew…..

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m honored! I’ll be doing the same thing, Jim. Right now I have some Tieton River pics rotating on my desktop.

  13. Gaelyn says:

    I spent many a day, both rainy and sunny, at those overlooks and Windy Ridge as a Forest Ranger, many years ago. It’s nice to see so many plants have returned.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I can imagine how you would be interested in seeing the changes. It’s remarkable how quickly Spirit Lake healed.

  14. Connie & Mugsy (ND/MN/AZ) says:

    Nice to get caught up since my move to MN last week. Now I must empty all of those boxes that I spent the summer filling. blah… Some really great photos!!

    So Bridget is a screamer too. Mugsy has a screaming fit every time I stop the car or RV… and the volume doubles when I open the car door to get out to pump gas or whatever. People stare from all directions wondering who is skinning that live dog. LOL The funny part is that she stops as soon as my car door shuts and I move away. She puts her paws up on the dash to look around and everyone laughs to see the funny little creature making all that noise. Oddly I have no problem with her when I leave the house… crazy little furballs…

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Ha! That’s so funny! Bridget has Gas Station Syndrome, too! I’m in the habit of showing her my charge card before I get out to pump the gas. It calms her somewhat.

      • Connie & Mugsy (ND/MN/AZ) says:

        How funny… I wonder what she think the charge card is doing for her. 🙂 I don’t think it will work with Mugs.

  15. Allison says:

    Greetings from Hungry Horse, Montana; previously in Issaquah. I love this post. After living in the Seattle area for decades, I never got to Mt. St. Helens. If you don’t have guests who want to go there, one just never goes. Maybe next year! Great photos and the helicopter was very interesting. Looking forward to see where you go next.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Do be sure to go, Alison, if you have a chance. It’s something you could do when you don’t have guests. Standing alone viewing Spirit Lake, one understands how it got its name.

      I wanted to hear more about the helicopter logging. Now I know how Jimmy could stand on that rock at the edge… He’s up in the air, looking down, when he does his work. He was like a bird perched there, perfectly comfortable.

      Love that name, Hungry Horse.

  16. Rita from Phoenix says:

    I wonder why Bridget and other dogs scream/bark when owners leave them? All of the dogs we had over the years have never done that. My two terriers love to go for ride and they patiently wait in the car if I run to store to pick up something. In summer it’s impossible to take them with us cuz too hot for them to wait in car so we leave them at home. We were curious to see what they do after we leave so one day we left a video camera and captured them playing tug of war with their toys and racing around the coffee table and jumping on couch/chairs…it was hilarious!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Rita . . . I bet that was hilarious! I’ve watched Spike doing things he knows he shouldn’t do… like getting into fire rings. Then he sees me coming . . . .

      Bridget screams because she’s part chihuahua. Ever noticed how often she’s looking at the camera in photos? That’s because she watches me all the time. To her I should be with her constantly (which I practically am!)

      She knows I’ll come back whenever I leave. I believe that now she screams out of habit. Spike doesn’t get upset. He barks when I come back… probably wanting a rotisserie chicken picnic in the PTV. It’s all about Spike, you know.

  17. Cari in North Texas says:

    Interesting photo of Jimmy by the river. Just goes to show the power of nature and that man can’t control everything! I’ve watched a few episodes of Ax Men that document logging up in that area, and those helo pilots have to have nerves of steel. Not my cup of tea, but I admire those that do that kind of work.

    I too am a Sue Grafton fan; I’m eagerly awaiting her newest – W is for Wasted.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Cari . . . I admire Jimmy, too. He did have a calm manner. Maybe that’s a result of his line of work . .. or maybe he can do that work because he’s naturally calm. 🙂

      The two Grafton books I snagged for TWENTY-FIVE CENTS EACH… Heh-heh… are S is for Silence and T is for Trespass. I’ve already read U is for Undertow, which was the first one I read.

  18. Rattlesnake Joe says:

    I had a Native American medicine man tell me that Mt. St. Helens is going to blow again pretty soon, along with Mt. Raineer and Seattle will sink all at once. The tidal wave will be so big the west coast will be hit by sea water going up the rivers that empty into the Pacific ocean. Dams will be destroyed and water will be everywhere. I think I’ll tie a big helium balloon up to my Casita and when the first rumble occurs I’ll cut the rope and take movies of it all for the six o’clock news 🙂

    • Barb says:

      Oh say it ain’t so, RattleSnake Joe! I live on the coast, my kid lives in Orting (base of Mt. Rainer) and the other kid is on the bay of Tacoma.
      Our saying here in the Tsunami Zone? “RIDE THE WAVE”!!!

      I always tell people I am pudgy enough to FLOAT. LOL

      • Rattlesnake Joe says:

        Barb, I’ll betcha those poor folks that were burried by Mt. Vesuvius wished someone would have told them of what was coming. As for me I’m heading east, way inland and I’m getting up high too just in case. I hope it doesn’t happen of course but we are living in the End Times and Mother Earth is getting ready to shake these fleas off her back that have been biting her for so long.

  19. BJ says:

    Sue – I do have a request — as a loyal follower —- please continue providing some of the items that folks buy on Amazon through your blog. I know I have purchased several things that I would have never known about, if it was not for your viewers purchases and your blog. Look forward to every new entry with my morning coffee. Thanks

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi BJ . . . I will post links to Amazon purchases made by readers periodically. Sometimes I can’t post them because my internet is too slow. (It takes several steps to create each link embedded with my Amazon Associate code.)

      If we’re sitting in the PTV along the road in order to pick up signal, by the time I finish a blog entry, the crew stages a rebellion, even though I stop to walk them around. In some cases it adds another hour to making a post. I’m not looking for sympathy (LOL)… I want you to know I’m not ignoring your request!

      I appreciate the feedback…. that the links help you learn about things you can use. Thanks!

      I’ll take this opportunity to remind readers of the Shopping Links pages accessed from the header. I don’t know if people look at those pages.

  20. mockturtle says:

    Sue, I bet you’ve been getting some thunderstorms this morning. 🙂

  21. rvsueandcrew says:

    Thanks, Gina, for taking the time to provide these resources to me and my readers!

  22. Barb says:

    Sue, I wonder if anyone out there shares your reading enthusiasm and your authors and maybe they are also kindle users… that too could be a way of borrowing… I haven’t done it and our local library is sort of so-so on their lending ebooks… but maybe you could grab some of the cool kids books from a reader/friend!
    Rain here today, and looking at VERY windy and thunderboomers… be careful out there!
    Hugs from Hoquiam!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Barb. . . Thank you for the thoughtful suggestion.

      I’m a bit hesitant to pursue the free books through libraries option because Amazon sells ebooks and I don’t want to do anything that conflicts with that. I read on the associates forum of people being bumped from the program very easily. I’m thankful for each month’s earnings and remind myself it could be the last . . .

      I may be out of the area of thunderstorms… hope so!

  23. Barb says:

    Ahhh… very well thought out. Absolutely! I think it is awesome that Amazon shares so well! Waiting for a current package right now (and yep, I linked!). I adore their customer service and price policies.
    I will tell ya, I was one of those crazy ‘first issue buyers’ that were on the wait list for the first kindle. With my brain injury, the kindle truly helps me with neuro-plasticity improvement. So I am behind ya all the way!!!
    Have a great rest of your day!

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