Saturday, April 5, 2008
In school we used to have Volcano drills. Kind of like a fire drill, but we'd all have to get under our desks as if there was an earthquake. The mountain used to have small earthquakes and sometimes "burp", as my mom called it. It would release steam and sometimes ash. One time it erupted such a large cloud of ash we could see it above the skyline in Portland. Wait, I need to backtrack. Something that used to get on my nerves, was that when family would come to visit, we'd always have to go up to Mt. St. Helens. It wasn't so much the trip itself that I didn't like, it was the drive. Things that beautiful are never in a straight shot. The road was curvy, full of sharp turns and bridges, and on the very edge of an extremely high drop off. Maybe it was my nerves that made me so sick on those drives, rather than the motions. My dads good friend lived in Ariel, which was in between us and the volcano. One time it was so foggy we couldn't see 10 feet in front of us. There is a one lane bridge that makes what I called "monster sounds" when crossed. My dad thought that would be the perfect time to tell me a story that has stuck with me to this day. Maybe he had heard it from someone else, maybe he made it up, I'm still not sure. "On a foggy night, just like tonight, a family was crossing this same bridge, at this same hour. Another car started crossing from the other side, but the fog was so thick that they had no way of knowing. All they heard was the bridge screaming, and then they collided. The car with the family went over the side of the bridge and plummeted to the ice cold lake below. When emergency rescue crews arrived, they could still see a tiny hand print on the fogged up window from the child inside. If you see a hand print show up on the window, brace yourself, because they might be coming to pull us into the lake". ....thanks dad. As a 7 year old, this was the scariest thing I had ever heard. I was positive that we were going to die. I kept my hand on the window crank so that if we went over the edge, I'd be able to get out. I didn't blink, so that I wouldn't miss the hand print. I could never look left or right, only forward, because I was afraid I would see the faces of the bridge ghosts looking back at me. I practiced holding my breath, in case I'd have to do it under water. I think maybe the bridge was later replaced with a 2 lane bridge, because as I got older, I don't remember crossing it again. After I was able to drive, my friends and I would drive up to Ariel to go to what I called the "D.B. Cooper Bar", right next to Merwin Lake (about 30 miles north of Portland, Oregon). Everyone knows the story of D.B. Cooper right? He stole tons and tons of money, hijacked a plane, and then jumped out with the loot, and was never ever seen again? Well they found some of the money at Merwin Lake forever ago, and ever since, they have D.B Cooper conventions at the bar there. The walls are plastered with old newspaper articles and photographs. Its one of those geeky things that I can't help but love. Its not only a bar, its a teeny tiny restaurant too. They used to have Taco Tuesdays, where you could have unlimited tacos for .35 cents each? Something like that. So we would go, and ooh and ahh at all of the D.B. goodness. And leave with heartburn. Did anyone see that movie "Without a Paddle"? That movie was about D.B. Cooper. The drive wasn't nearly as bad once I could drive myself, and was in control of the twists and turns. My first car was an AMC Pacer. That's right folks, my dad got me a junker bubble car for a small fee of $25. Jealous? I would be. One time I took it all the way up to the Ape Caves, which are big giant lava tunnels and caves that you can crawl and walk through, from the big Mt. St. Helens explosion in 1980. When my family would come up and we'd go, I'd get lost in the experience and pretend like the volcano was exploding and we'd have to run to safety. That was the fun part of the trips. The drive though, was not. As soon as we'd leave the caves, the roads only got worse. I don't remember going up to the actual mountain more than once. We went to a place called Windy Ridge, where you walk up more than 400 ladder type steps on the side of a mountain, for the best view of spirit lake. On one side you can see miles and miles of skeleton trees from the blast, and on the other side lush green forests. Its crazy. I wish I would have appreciated it more as a kid. Maybe next time I go home to visit my folks we'll take a trip up there. I hope its foggy and we cross a bridge so I can scare the crap out of Eleanore.