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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 18, 2012 8:03 AM. The previous post in this blog was Out by the compost bin. The next post in this blog is Wonder what's being sold here. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Lucky to be here

Thirty-two years ago, we were too close for comfort.

Comments (9)

Wow - great story! You escaped a catastrophe that killed many people who were not that far from your location. I am sure that has given you an special appreciation for the power of nature and the randomness of death. You were very close to a big historical event that people around here all remember the same way people remember the Kennedy assassination or the Pearl Harbor attack. Very cool - thanks for sharing your story.

I remember that all too well, and not just because I was (and still am) a geology and palaeontology junkie from way back. At the time, I was getting ready to start high school the next August, and my father was spending a lot of time in Beaverton for Grandma's Cookies. (My father was a packaging engineer for Frito-Lay at the time, and was called in to help solve issues with Grandma's soft cookies in airport vending machines. The next time you see an aluminized Fritos or Doritos package, you're looking at the end-result of the research my father and his team did toward that issue.) He came back to Dallas the day before the eruption, and only went back when Frito was assured that St. Helens wasn't going to explode again. That was the point where my dad decided not to take the job offer to move to Portland permanently: between that and the Baghwan, he figured it was too weird up there for him.

I played Trout Lake once (Cobalt Blues Band), but it wasn't that weekend - I think I would have remembered that gig!

Jack...I was working at a radio station in Chehalis, WA (KITI-AM) when the mountain blew in 1980. Got a call at about 8:45am from the weekend DJ and I raced to the station. Didn't go home for three days!

I had an aunt and uncle who like in a cabin on the Toutle river. They just made it out ahead of the debris flood.

Interesting Mt St Helens trivia...the Portland edition of TV Guide for the week of the eruption had a forest service ad for the Toutle river campground calling it the "loneliest campground in the world". As of May 18th, 1980 that was an understatement!!!

I was camping at the potholes and heard the initial blast. Unbelievable clouds. We got out about 20 minutes before they shut the roads down. I understand cars suffered engine damage from the ash.

I was stationed at Ft Lewis, down in Portland at the parents for the weekend..
Got home from church and turned on the TV for some NCAA games and there it was.
When I left town going north I5 was reported closed at Toutle river so I went up 30 and hoped it would be open when i got to Longview. If not it was going to be a long drag out through Aberdeen and up to Olympia.
Fortunately I5 was open and I was able to scoot across and continue north.
Couldn't see much past the hood of the car so 5 or 10 mph was all a sane person dared. Except those fools who would pass now and then going 40 +

...don't know who was playing Trout Lake, but the night before at the Paramount (now the 'Schnitz)was Reggae bands Third World and Toots & The Maytals...Rastaman brought thunder, lightning and brimstone!

I was just looking forward to graduating high school back in Wisconsin during the lead-up and final eruption. A few weeks later, my father, who worked for the Wisconsin Public Service, the power company, brought a bag of ash home that he said was all over a truck that came in from Washington. It was pretty interesting, very fine, glassified, grey powder that you knew would just wreak havoc on anything it got into.

Since moving out here in '87, I've climbed and skied the mountain many many times, and I'm still amazed every time I sidle up to the rim and look straight down into the crater.

What a day, and what a string of memories that flow from it. Finished a gig in K Falls the night before and took off early to drive home to Seattle. We were well on the way when we heard about the eruption. Stopped in Portland that afternoon and called to ask if the fine young lady I'd recently met would join me in Seattle the following weekend (she did - 32 years later we're still together), and then drove north through the ash. I still have a bit of it somewhere, likely collected at a rest stop near the Toutle River.

I had previously climbed the mountain (77?), then reclimbed the remains with my mother in about 1987. She was about 60 at the time, but had just done the Annapurna Circuit and pretty much kicked my butt. Saw her today in New Haven and told her about the climb. She smiled like she remembered - I really hope she did.

As Gerry & Co. would say, what a long strange trip its been.


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