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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Farm and Mt. Saint Helen’s National Park (Northern Portland & Southern Washington) – Nov. 20-22, 2011



We had heard rumors about the beauty awaiting us at Sue & Rick’s farm in Northern Oregon, but we still were unprepared for the delight of it all.  They had invited us to stop by on our way up, well, it was more like, “You better stop by” and when Rick is part of a statement like that, you just listen.  (Retired from the State Police with a dog named Sniper, you see?)

We were unsure if the invitation included staying the night at the farm and, knowing the maintenance quotient of our two terriers, we just decided it would be best to assume we were camping nearby and arrive on Sunday for dinner.  So we dropped Salt at the Champoeg State Park (lovely, rolling hills near the Willamette Valley [i.e., wine!] region) before heading up to the farm.

Driving down the windy driveway, I was ever so glad that Salt was not in tow. However this decision was an immediate disappointment to Sue & Rick, followed shortly with more disappointment when they heard of our plans to sleep down at Champoeg.  Of course they had prepared their lovely guest room (King size bed!  Flannel sheets!)  which were indeed tempting, but little did they know that I was hooked the minute we walked into the living room and saw the giant HD TV broadcasting a football game.  (Oh, and by the way, there is an awesome view of the valley and a cozy fire in the wood stove in the corner.)

After a tour of the grounds in the Polaris (a short video of this ride will be available on Movies! soon), they graciously invited both dogs inside to meet their two dogs and two cats.  Ours jumped out of the car and immediately chased the turkeys before coming inside and messing on the floor (River) and jumping the cat (Rosco.)  I was back to being glad we were staying at Champoeg.  

It was lovely to visit with friends, enjoy good food and drink and the feeling of your arms flying out to the side and hitting nothing, nothing at all.  We showed up the next morning for breakfast, Salt in tow, but left the dogs in the car so we could truly relax.

Had we not driven more than 50 miles the next day, we surely would have been back at Sue & Rick’s to ride out the storm.  The weathermen predicted 1-2” of rain and they were not disappointed.  However, we had a goal if seeing Mt. Saint Helen's and stopped for the night in Castle Rock (Silver Lake RV Resort), hitting Mt. Saint Helen's the next day—yes, right in the middle of the downpour. 

We drove to the Johnston Ridge Observatory and observed the low clouds, rain and fog hugging the mountains so close you could barely see the snow piled at the edge of the road.   However, having woken up and weighed myself that morning, I was intent on getting in a hike (despite the rain and my cold) so we dropped down to Hummocks Trailhead and hiked 2.5 miles in the downpour.  We were soaked and couldn’t see much, but what we could see was spectacular:  Vistas of hillsides ripped of trees from the volcano now growing green with moss and grass, huge dunes of ash and views down to the Toutle River.  On a sunny day I could have spent hours on these 2.5 miles, as it was, it was the fastest hike we have done yet.

A note here:  The trail is listed as 2.3 miles but we had a detour to chase after R&R who, in turn, were chasing after two elk.  There is a $100 fine for having dogs on the trail, imagine what the fine would be for setting two free?  They eventually returned (River first, if anyone is counting.)
  
We returned to Salt soaking wet with the rain still coming down.  The Pacific Northwest is not an easy place to live in your trailer.  We have lots of good friends and family to visit in Seattle but I will be ready for sunshine soon after that:  Can anyone say I-90 to Eastern Washington?  Cold for sure, but I’ll take snow and sun over rain any day!

-K

PS:  There are no pictures of Mt. Saint Helen’s, but what we could see hinted at grand, so it is on our list for a re-visit.  And yes, that will be more like 2013.  We have seven days left of our “three months minimum” deal but neither one of us can find anything wrong with this life.  As a matter of fact, the Future Farm of The Bryants is beginning to look just a little stationary.