Trip summary: I can’t wait to move to the Pacific Northwest.
Though we did notice how green Portland was. I’d say environmentally friendly, but at times they didn’t seem too friendly about it. Some of the anti-littering signs seems border line threatening. There was part of the highway where we saw angry sign after angry sign, and being from Indiana, we all were expecting them to end in some angry Christian “You’re Going to Hell” sign – but it ended in a “Don’t Litter” sign. We did get a kick at how the fine for littering on the high way was orders of magnitude higher than the fine for not wearing a seat belt. But as biologists, we oddly approved of caring about the environment more than reckless humans. Oh, and I was very amused by the toilets that you could flush in two different ways depending on your…contribution. And apparently the toilets at the convention center used collected rain water to flush – neat!
It was amazing seeing the difference between the area affected by the blast zone and the untouched area. Even after thirty years much of the blast zone looked completely destroyed, void of any growth more than some grasses or shrubs. Parts of the trail were full of eerie dead tree stumps, made all the more ominous with the still-active volcano looming in the background.But you know what was super eerie? The hill-sized chunks of mountain that were scattered across the landscape. Can you imagine hill-sized chunks of mountain being exploded out at you? I guess you wouldn’t have too long to contemplate it.I learned a very cool fact while there, though. About 11% of the mountain has been recovered since the eruption in 1980. You can see it in my photo – it’s the little bump in the middle of the crater, the lava dome. This was super cool to me. I mean, I know geological structures form over time, but the idea of a mountain growing before our eyes was just so bizarrely cool.
We quickly started coming up with out disaster movie scenario. Nick would play the part of “Dude, there’s nothing wrong” comic relief. We imagined his demise would come while obliviously looking at some bird through his binoculars while the rest of us ran away from the ash and lava. I’d be the next to go due to me being the least in shape (Seriously, do not do a 5 mile 1,000 ft increase in elevation hike when you’re out of shape and have a sinus infection, ugh). The final scene would be Ben sacrificing himself to help Anna over some ledge, since that’s just how nice he is. And then Anna would have gone to the Evolution conference and nonchalantly informed our professor that two thirds of the lab had perished, with our advisor lamenting the fact that our research papers weren’t finished yet.
Yeah, we’re a little weird.
On the way out we stopped at this little restaurant on the side of the road called 19 Mile House, mainly because they claimed to have the best cobbler ever, and we wanted to test their claims. Their fries were insanely good, and their had a delightfully quirky owner:
Ben: So, what cobbler do you recommend?
Owner: Oh, they’re all horrible.
Ben: Well, which is less horrible?
Owner: The marionberry. It has cocaine in it.
Ben: *laughs* Oh yeah?
Owner: Yeah, the other ones only have methamphetamines.
Me: And then tomorrow morning [our Professor] reads a story in the newspaper about four Purdue students stranded on Mount St. Helens high and naked…
Needless to say, the cobbler was delicious. I went with apple blueberry, mmmmm.
It was overcast, but still beautiful. All the little shops in the town were cute, too. We at at this place that had the most delicious clam chowder – if I ever go back, I’m definitely stopping there again (On Hemlock St next to the library, can’t remember the name). We left early in the afternoon, and of course it proceeded to clear up and become a beautiful blue-sky day after that. Ah well. On the way back to Portland we stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, mainly because we all thought free cheese was a good idea. We ended up getting ice cream which was delicious (do you see a theme yet? We’re all bad food influences on each other).
Then we all remembered we were actually in Portland to go to an academic conference, not bum around, so we all started frantically practicing our talks for the conference.