Aug 17, 2011 – At the end of Part 1, we were zipping along the Spirit Lake Highway on our way to the Johnston Ridge Observatory overlooking Mt St Helens. The highway itself was pretty new, the original track out this way was severely damaged by the eruption. The scenery changed mile by mile the closer we got the mountain – fewer trees and more barren landscape.
By mid-afternoon, we rolled into the parking lot and made the short hike up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory.
The stump on the right side of the picture was one of the trees that was blasted by the eruption.
We spent a good hour wandering around the Observatory, surrounded by people of all ages and kinds – it’s a popular place. And here’s the vista we all came to see …
– extremely disfigured mountain, scarred terrain and mudflow channels. Awesome, spectacular – and strangely disquieting, it could erupt at anytime! Although, we’d probably have at least enough warning to get back west out of the danger zone – we hope!
Some lady walking past Louise taking my picture offered to take a picture of us together, and for whatever reason, Louise closed her eyes! She does hate her picture being taken, so maybe this was her way of saying “if I can’t see it happening, maybe it isn’t happening!”
By 5pm or so, after a quick Latte and snack at the curb side trailer diner place, we mounted up again and headed for the coast. What I thought would be just a quick 1 hour run to Raymond actually turned out to 2 hours of riding into the setting sun. The last few miles of the road was pretty boring too, mostly straight, few turns and not much scenery.Finally by 8pm or so we arrived in the little town of Raymond. The original plan was to camp at the local municipal campground, but once we found it, (GPS directions have issues with small city blocks!), it turned out to be … a parking lot for RVs and 5th wheel units, no grass anywhere. So after a couple of minutes of barking at each other, we decided to head back to the town proper and check out the Golden Lion Inn, whose sign we saw from the highway going past.
We went in with pretty low expectations, which were confirmed when I paid for the room – $65 all in. But we were pleasantly surprised with the room itself! The main room was old fashioned but clean, and the bathroom was recently renovated and was bright and clean with big fluffy towels! Excellent – expectations exceeded!
After getting all unpacked and stuff, we set off in search of some food, but all we found was some junk food at the local 7-11. Tomorrow we’d be heading for Vampire country, so we figured we’d better some sleep!