A good friend from Wisconsin was in the Seattle area for work recently so of course I wanted to make the short three hour drive up to see her. Even more predictable, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to sneak in some "naturey" things along the way.
Mount Saint Helens
Located about an hour North of Portland in Washington, my first stop was at the visitors center. While eagerly awaiting the informative film to start, I read through the timeline that covered the walls which detailed the events leading up the the eruption in 1980. The film gave lots of good additional information and included commentary from people who were there when it happened. It also commemorated a few that did not survive. After the movie, I headed east on Highway 504 toward Mount Saint Helens, stopping at each viewpoint to take photos and enjoy the scenery. I didn't have enough time to go all the way to the mountain but what I did have time to take in was pretty spectacular, especially after knowing more about what happened there.
Mount Rainier National Park
I'm fairly certain this may be the most beautiful place I've explored yet! The area is full of waterfalls, creeks, trees as far as you can see and snow-topped mountain peaks in every direction. Although rainy most of the day, it was still a beautiful experience, one that was unexpectedly emotional. I am still struggling to find the right words to communicate the visit. The John Muir quote in the picture above speaks volumes about this place. I'm in the process of doing some more reading of Muir's reflections in hopes of finding inspiration to help describe my own feelings about these magnificent places in the Pacific Northwest. If you are ever in this area, I would definitely add this park to your "must do" list. There are many trails that I did not have time to explore so I will be going back when I have more than a half-day of time so I can wander the mountaintops and truly breathe in the experience.
Oregon Wild Fundraiser
After spending a couple of days enjoying some of the most beautiful places here, it felt good to volunteer at Oregon Wild's Call of the Wild fundraiser helping with the silent auction tables. Oregon Wild is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of Oregon's wildlands, wildlife and waters. At this fun event, a brand new, one-of-a-kind beer from Migration Brewing Company called "The Wilderness" was unveiled. There was also a silent auction featuring all kinds of outdoor gear, rafting adventures, date packages and so much more - it was a nature junkie's paradise! There was a live blues performance by Joe McMurrian, a trail mix bar, food from local caterers and a special video presentation highlighting the importance of preserving Oregon's wild places. My favorite part of the night though was the announcement of the photo contest winners whose framed prints were available for bidding on in the silent auction.
The rainy season is beginning to get underway here in Portland and unlike most of the natives here, I am excited to say goodbye to the hot sunny days and welcome the cooler, wet weather. That may all change after the sixth month of rain but only time will tell. The fall colors are not as abundant as they are in Wisconsin but that's a small price to pay for all the lush greenery which smells heavenly here. The rains were particularly heavy at times the past couple of days and there was even a little bit of thunder, a rarity I'm told here. Also rare are tornadoes but Longview, Washington had one of those today too. Ever since I arrived in June, the weather has been unusual and crazy. Rumor has it that they are predicting a warmer and dryer winter in the Pacific Northwest this year but even if it turns out to be a normal Pacific Northwest winter, it will still be warmer than all of the Wisconsin winters I've struggled through in the past and definitely will be less snowy. That is something to look forward to!
To see more of my nature photos, please visit my Flickr page by clicking here.