volcano gawkers

We live along a part of the Pacific Rim of Fire, a seismically active horseshoe of volcanoes and earthquakes.   Well before I lived here, in May 1980, Mt St Helens, one of the local conical volcanoes erupted so strongly that it exploded cataclysmically upward and outward, destroying 14 percent of its peak and devastating about 150 to 200 square miles of forested land.

Here’s a very short video that shows the before and after shape of the mountain (with amusing musical accompaniment).  Here’s a National Geographic gallery of pics.  Our pics upcoming will show only the after.

Last Friday we took the camper to a park about 50 miles from Mt St Helens, just to get out of Dodge for a few days.   Almost as an afterthought the next day, we decided to drive the 50-mile road that winds toward the summit and go nose around.

The only other time we’d been here was heavily overcast with no chance of seeing this volcano.  I’ve flown over the area many times, so have seen the destroyed peak and bleak landscape from 30,000 feet.  Our Saturday was clear and warm.

Herewith, perhaps too many photos to illustrate those 8 hours we messed about.  (N.B.  Click on any photo in a section and they’ll get bigger!)

We continued tootling up the road, along sections of the Toutle River that were devastated in the explosion.

For the gawkers, the smart powers-that-be constructed many waysides and several complex interpretive centers.  I kept wondering about having to rebuild if the mountain blew again….  We’re a peculiar species.  I digress.

bunker potty--I'm trying to imagine the request for proposal:  need blast-proof potty in case the mountain blows again

bunker potty near the end of the road–I’m trying to imagine the request for proposal: need blast-proof potty in case the mountain blows again.  Maybe we’re supposed to hide in their for a few weeks?!

We found a wayside about 20 miles (?) away from the mountain, just a parking lot with three interpretive signs, no facilities, and a knock-em-dead view of the peak and surrounding terrain.   We had the camper (with a potty!).  We lingered.  Had lunch al fresco, had naps, and I did laundry because I dumped a cup of tomato juice right into my only bag of clothes.  Sigh… !!

Our final view of the mountain at that spot:

late afternoon and the clouds bathe the broken peak

late afternoon and the clouds bathe the broken peak

The clouds continued to thicken.   Sunday the cloud deck was so low that there was no hint of a peak.   Weren’t we smart to go up the road on Saturday?!

We took kitty Calpurrnia with us because she needs three medicines twice a day, though we’d rather leave her home with Ooper.  They probably snuggle up when we’re not looking.  …  Nah…  Not sure how much longer she’ll be with us, our old girl, and it grieves me deeply to think of her fuzzy tortoise-shell self absent.

The camper road trips are quite demanding of me, but I recover faster now, which inspires lasting hope instead of mere pockets clung to in desperation.

thankfulness

Most of this year has been a big ole, limb-tearin’ bear.  I would not be where I am in my recovery if not for you who have joined me along a lengthy, unknown, and often very sad, road.

Thank you.

Tomorrow morning, Big Mister and I are taking the camper to our favorite out-of-the-way park for the Thanksgiving holiday.  I get to go on vacation!!!

our favorite camp site looks right over the bluff to this view. with all our storms right now, the waters should be roiling!

the packing list says…

◊ Comb or brush.

But I don’t hafta pack one because I just have to go floof-floof-floof and I’m done!

Ballard Street comic--very peculiar all the time and I love it!

Ballard Street.

planning and planning…

I’m going to be in Italy for a month and have plans for only the first 10 days.  The rest will fall into place!  This is the area I’ll concentrate on…  but who knows what could happen?!

After landing in Bologna, I’ll hop a train and bus to stay with a blogging pal in a tiny village in Tuscany.

 

A couple of days later, I’ll take the train to Ravenna where I’ll take a 5-day mosaics class that teaches the traditional methods.  I will also celebrate my 55th birthday there!  I’ll be staying in a small B&B right in the historical district and will quite likely ride a bicycle to class!

I’m hoping to apprentice in a mosaics workshop, which would require that I stay in Italy for longer than a month.  If I still have money, I may do that!

that is mosaics!

  Then, since Venice is just up the road, I’ll probably head there.  How could I miss Venice?!  Burano or Murano?

Siena?!   I have a guidebook that belonged to my uncle who visited there on a break from North Africa during WWII.    I’ve long wanted to see Siena….  but it’s south of that purply highlighted area!    hmmmm….  what to do?  what to do?

four Wednesdays hence

… I will be wishing I could get comfortable in my cramped Lufthansa airline seat so that I could sleep away the 10-hour overnight flight.

Lufthansa long-haul flight

I will also want to stay awake to watch icy white Greenland slide along below us, 41,000 feet under those wings.

Four Wednesdays hence I will be living my dream of spending a solo month in northern Italy.   I have the round-trip ticket, I have registered for the 5-day classical mosaics class in Ravenna on the east coast, and I know where the flight sets down outside Bologna, but I still don’t know where I’ll lay my jet-lagged head the first night or nights thereafter.  I don’t know if I’m renting a car at the outset or at all.

I do know I will be celebrating my 55th birthday in Italy.  Cinquante cinque ani!

This dream of going to Italy has haunted me for years.  Perhaps once I’m there I’ll be able to articulate the tremendous magnetic desire to be in that tiny country.  Life experiences to now have narrowed like a funnel to point to the concluding reason for the disparate events that all seem to make sense now:

Mom had us studying Latin when we were kids and I continued to study in college.  Gaudeamus igitur, etc. and so forth!

We lived in Taranto way down at the heel of Italy when I was a wee thing and apparently my brother and I spoke conversational Italian to our housekeeper, though we apparently refused to speak Italian to our parents!  Dov’è Laurio?    Andiamo bambini!

The Ancient Italians, those amazing, warring Romans, have had my attention for decades.  They knew how to use concrete as well as any modern concrete contractor!  Amazing!  Underwater!

Some years ago I wanted to learn mosaics, but since I wanted to do outdoor installations, I stopped what I was doing with mosaics to teach myself about concrete as a substrate for those mosaics.  I love working with cement!  I love the smell of admixture in my cement and sand mix in the morning!

Four Wednesdays hence, as I fly to Italy, it will be two years ago almost to the day that I was laid off from a quite fine job, a job from which I believed I would retire with a nice little 401k.   I at least have the little 401k!

These last two years have been an exploration, a rediscovery of the guts I possess that have allowed me to simply try something!  How hard could it be?!  

In an effort to become employable once more, I studied landscape design, but after the third quarter of commuting to school in unfathomable traffic, I called Uncle! and stopped.  Simply stopped.  Panicked.  Didn’t panic.  Wondered and thought and pondered in that nonmoving space and time.

Recovered from the exhaustion brought on by being caught up in the too many people in too-close quarters driving aggressively at 70 mph!   As I came out of the exhaustion, I returned to my spot in the garage and poked around with my concrete stuff again.  Created some oddball stepping stones.  Became inspired, at last being rested and refreshed after a difficult 1-1/2 years, to work on mosaics along with the concrete.

Full circle.  I know concrete as a substrate for outdoor installations.  I learn mosaics in leaps and bounds, absorb knowledge and wisdom from the teachers who have written books.  Knew I wanted badly to go to the seat of Byzantine-era (around 600 CE) mosaics and learn at the feet of master mosaicists.

Still have to earn a living and wondering what in hell to do at my age when I’ve effectively been shut out of the job market.

Boing!  Clink!  Bing!   I shall be a concrete and mosaics artist and I will call the business Concrete Couture (TM).

Four Wednesdays hence, I shall be on my way to Italy, to tie together those disparate experiences, to bring to the fore all the courage I’ve ever had, to try something new, to take a leap of faith, the only net being the Universe, which has cared for this Earthling all these years, kept me alive and showed me how to thrive.

© No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

on the road for Xmas

We’re in our stalwart camper and ancient truck–here’s a previous pic so YOU get the picture!

Along the way–

And here’s where we’re staying:

Looking over the bluff to the cove below

We hear the changing tidal actions

Total Eclipse of the Moon

Save the date:  10 Dec 2011!

A whole bunch of us Earthlings will be able to see this lunar eclipse.  (Oh crap, unless you live in the damn cloudy Pacific Northwest, US of A.)

Here’s a fun factoid sheet:  lunar eclipse.

I’m a weirdsmobile and proud of it!

Total Eclipse of the Moon – NASA Science.

Pacific Ocean

Ahhhhh….  this is where we have been for the last three days.  Well, actually, we’ve been down on that beach wandering and looking and just staring out to sea.

Ah, the truly pacific Pacific Ocean

We had an intense windstorm our first night, which was followed by an hours’-long intense rainstorm.  The next day the surf was high and pounded over into curls far away from shore.

Today, the obscuring spindrift has been absorbed back into the tides and the waters are calm.  That’s today, the picture.  Ahhhh….

© No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

News you CAN use!

Trying to leave on vacation, but had to dash over and get this pic:

Finally, a vacation!

We’re off.  Way off.

Plus, we’re leaving for vacation in the camper, an old friend that has taken us all over our state and a couple of states abutting.  It even has a propane furnace!

in the wilds of Montana where we were advised to watch for bears!

We take the Bajaj scooter for a get-around vehicle.

(This is quite a change from the frigid winter camping of my Alaska years, and it did take me a little time to come to terms with the idea that I was not carrying my belongings on my back…  in the quiet wilderness.  I cried the first time we parked the camper in a state park and cowered inside away from the crowds–it was a very small campground–maybe 20 spots–and I was overwhelmed.   But now I love it and can’t wait to get on the road!  Still don’t like the crowds, but I can get away from them inside!)

Calpurrnia the cat goes with us.   The first night nobody gets any sleep because kitty-Cal walks all over us and flips and flops trying to get unafraid of the change.

Our sweet Calpurrnia the Calico Cat

Cats don’t like change.  Boy, do we change the scenery for her!  She hates it when I move the furniture!

Calpurrnia's opinion of the walls we were taking down!

We’re leaving CosmoBuddy-BoopScooter at home because he is still a wanderer despite having some strong navigational equipment removed.  We can’t take the chance of losing him somewhere far from home.

He has good company.

We’re going to hear an amazing flute player, Hanz Araki as part of our trip!  And after that, we have no idea, just will wander until we’re there.  Again and again!

© No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Frozen nose hairs

The muted orange glow in the east tells me the time this morning.  At this 47-degree north latitude, the minutes in a day are changeable according to the tilt of the Earth.

Slow down enough to notice how the light changes as the seasons progress.  In February in Anchorage (latitude 61 degrees north), the sun comes straight at us; here at a lower latitude, that same straight approach comes a little later.

Slow down enough to gauge the temperature.  If the nose hairs are frozen, it’s at least 10 below zero F.  Important to know that for philosophical musings:  once while camping in February in the wilds of southcentral Alaska, my camp-mate and I were hanging around in the late afternoon dark, nose hairs frozen, having finished dinner in a plastic mug. 

We were bundled to the nth degree–on my feet, 2 kinds of socks, fleece booties, insulated soft over-booties, plus gore-tex knee-high overbooties.  Under our bums we each had a piece of blue foam thinsolite, keeping the frozen ground temps from seeping into our puny 98-degree F bodies.  He leaned back against a scrawny spruce trunk, sighed, and said:  “Life’s a bitch.  Then you die.”

© No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Italia

For many years, I have been fascinated by the early Romans.  Geez.  They beat up everyone;  created state-sanctioned marriage in order to encourage people to have children (to strengthen the empire); built huge structures, especially aqueducts.

The climate was one of war-mongering, slavery, and assimilation.

Another fascination is with the Ancient Egyptians.  OK, they were builders and intellectuals.  Why can’t I travel in time to see both the Library at Alexandria  and the Pharos Lighthouse?  That lighthouse was around 450 feet tall!   That took a lot of slaves because who would pay a living wage for that kind of labor?  As a young child, (early 1960s) I cut out pics from the National Geographic of the fantastic sculptures–I think a dam was being built and would flood ancient structures.  (Can’t remember.)  My impression is that the Egyptians stayed home and hosted guests from out of town such as Antony and Caesar, etc.  However, there was plenty of slavery, so I must be wrong about the stayin’ home.

Then there’s Alexander the Great.  Dang, what a guy!  Warmonger and traveler.   I even named my long-ago doggie companion after Alexander–called him Iskander.

Fascination with warmongers?  I’m one who was preparing in the late 1970s to register as a conscientious objector if the draft began to include women.  In the late 1960s, I protested the Vietnam War, even tho’ I was only a kid.   On and on I could go about war, but I do see that it is what we do.  We are a horrible species, I’m just sayin’.

OK, then, Italia.   Have you seen the movie “Gladiator”?  There is a particular scene where our hero is walking up a dusty lane lined with Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), with groves of olive trees on either side.  When I see that picture, I get the scent of that dry air, dusty, and a little rosemary-ish.  How is that possible to have an olfactory experience from a place I haven’t been?  An aside, my family lived in southern Italy, Taranto, from 1960 to 1962.  Did my parents take us to the countryside where that pungent air swirled into my memory banks?

All that studying of Latin, beginning when I was 7, with Mom at the kitchen table.  I still have that workbook.  Studied Latin in college because I wanted to (along with my dearest Mal), and even had to sing Gaudeamus Igitur.  Yikes!

I have to go to Italy.  How can I not go?  Something apart from me is drawing me there.  As I study Italian right now, I keep hoping I’ll stumble into the cache of Italian language left from my toddler-hood in Taranto.  I know it’s in there!

The northwest corner of the country is my goal–on the water or in the mountains.  Close to France.  (Studied French, too; we lived in Toronto, Canada around 1970.  That’s a whole other story.)

©  No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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