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.
Remember 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.
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.
A viewpoint offers my first look at Spirit Lake.
This 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.
Not 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.
To be continued . . .
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