Sutherlin, OR to Kelso, WA., Mt Saint Helens, Lewis and Clark, Astoria, OR
Kelso Travel Blog› entry 53 of 169 › view all entries
I stayed at the Elks Lodge in Kelso, WA because it was close to Mt. St. Helens and that was very high on my list of things to see. Kelso was located right on the Columbia River.
Visiting Mt St Helens is quite a moving experience. From I 5, the road is 56 miles up to the Visitors Center. On the raod up, there are three other visitor centers to stop and tour. the first is run by the State of Washington and here you can get a great overview of the events that horrible day. The second visitor center is run by Weyerhaeuser, the lumber cpmpany that owned all of the logging rights to the forests surrounding the mountain. The third center is privately run with a gift shop, restaurant and is the headquarters for the helicopter companies that give aerial tours of the mountain.
At the end of the road is the center run by the U.S. Forest Center. It sits on Johnson Ridge, named for the man who was there at the time of the blast and was killed by it. The ridge is about four miles across a valley from the crater and because of the elevation, you can see straight into it. I found the place very spooky because it sits directly in line with the blast. In the Visitor center, they show a very good film which gives the history of what happens. At the end of the film, the screen rolls up and the curtains part on floor to ceiling windows and boom, there she sits, the mountain! I was very lucky to be there on a perfectly clear day, it was spectacular.
The Monument was established in 1982 and covers 110,000 acres. It's purpose is to allow nature to reclaim the forest without any human intervention.
On another day, I followed the Columbia River to the coast. The river enters the Pacific Ocean at Cape Disappointment and is the place the Coast Guard train their lifeguard crews in what is described to be the roughest water in the United States. The tides, millions of gallons pouring down the river, winds and sand bars all contribute to water conditions that are quite unique. It is also here that Lewis and Clark ended their exploration west and they have established an interpretive center on the bluffs telling their story.
I then drove north along the coast to Long Beach where they were having a huge sandcastle competition. Hundreds of kites were flying at this beach. I thought I was on Cape Cod because it look so similar. South of the mouth of the Columbia, I visited a great maritime museum in Astoria, OR.
Summary: Elk Lodges: 28, Escapee RV Parks: 10, Public RV Parks: 12, National Parks: 29, Major Ships: 5, Forts: 15
Expenses: 15 months on the road with an average of $1868 / month