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On Thursday, May 19, we decided to drive in the rain to Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. When we stopped at the state-run visitor’s center near the edge of the park, they showed us the view we could expect at the observatory, which was solid white. We decided to go anyway, and I’m glad that we did. The ride was beautiful and by the time we got to the top it was snowing.

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In the observatory center, we talked to a ranger, looked at exhibits telling the stories of people who did and didn’t survive the blast, and watched a film about how the biodiversity in the blast plain increased because of the introduction of sunlight. Some burrowing creatures and those on the sides of the mountains away from the blast survived. Many new species moved in.

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When the film screen came up after the first film, it showed a wall of white cloud behind the large windows. We decided to watch the second film, which was focused on geology. This time, when the screen lifted, the clouds had cleared up just enough for us to see the plain in front of the blast, not the mountain. Everyone hustled outside and we took a few photos before it faded back into white.

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On the way back we stopped at Patty’s Place to have some delicious cobbler. When a man at the table next to us asked for Texas Pete for his elk burger, Sandy asked them where they were from. Lexington, NC, right down the road from Greensboro. Patty’s Place had a big wrap-around porch and I’ve never seen so many hummingbirds in one place in my life. I’m sorry that I didn’t have an elk burger. Sounded good.

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Then we headed to Astoria, Oregon, driving along the Columbia River on the west side of I-5. I could see living in that area if it wasn’t for earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, landslides and volcanoes. Those make me a bit nervous.