Carolina: Cruising Past 70: OLA: Viewing the Work of Man and Nature

Thursday, February 10, 2011

OLA: Viewing the Work of Man and Nature

Mt. St. Helen's sliced off look

Day 24 of the 2011 Regular Session
This week’s day trip took us east of Elma, to the state capital of Washington, Olympia, to watch the goings-on at the State Capitol. Then south we went to Mt. St. Helens, to see how much of the mountain was lost in the 1980 eruption, passing through the small towns of Tenino and Kid Valley. It was a day of viewing the forces of man and nature and respecting their contributions to the world.

the Washington State Legislative Building
Not wanting to be late for the opening of the House and Senate sessions on Day 24 of the 2011 Regular Session, we woke up early and hurried on to Olympia.  At the Senate, the ecumenical prayer was followed by the Honor Guard establishing the flag of the United States and Washington in front. There were many of us at the Visitors’ Gallery. It was exhilarating to watch the wheels of democracy turn!

the State Seal
Washington was carved out of the western territory ceded by Britain in 1846 and became the forty-second state in 1889. The beautiful Legislative Building houses the State Legislature where 48 senators and 98 members of the House from 49 legislative districts work. The executive branch is headed by a governor who has a corner office there. On campus also stands the Temple of Justice which houses the State Supreme Court. 

Olympic Mountains from the State Capitol
At the north end of the state government complex, one can look northwest and gasp at a picturesque scene in nature, the majestic peaks of the Olympic Mountains.  Then further south towards Tenino, are wonderful works of man. The first is the almost 200 fine sculptures in Monarch Sculpture Park, a 10 acre park where there are also a 1-acre maze of hedges, a butterfly haven, and a lagoon. The second is the International Wolf Haven which provides lifetime sanctuary to 150 rescued wolves.

the entrance to Monarch Sculpture Park
International Wolf Haven
Bill and I have wanted to see Mt. St Helens because its eruption (which he saw) was very much like that of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines (which I saw). We tried in 2007 but ran out of time so this time we took a shortcut and we were already an hour ahead from Olympia, 50 miles south of Seattle. On the way, we had glimpses of an unfamiliar southern view of Mt. Rainier in a pure white cloak of snow.

Mt. Rainier from the south
Very long-haired white, brown, and black llamas were silently witnessing all the beauty around them. Then, at 25 miles before the National Monument, we were surprised to see a 28-foot statue of Bigfoot in a little town called Kid Valley. Folklore has it that the legend perished here from the massive mudflow of Toutle River after the eruption. A buried A-frame house even stands as a gift shop beside him.

Bigfoot at Kid Vvalley
Mt. St. Helens is famous for its eruption on the morning of May 18, 1980, the most economically destructive in US history. 1,312 feet of its dome exploded, shooting 24 megatons of ash and pyroclastic flows sideways and not upwards, leaving a gaping mile wide horseshoe-shaped crater. Smoke still rises from this crater even today.
llamas along the road

11 years later, Mt. Pinatubo also erupted in the Philippines. Although it was half the size of Mt. St. Helens, this eruption is the second most destructive in the world in the twentieth century. It shot 1 megaton more but did so much higher up into the atmosphere, affecting other countries and destroying more parts of the country.
the crater of Mt. St. Helens coming up from the highway
Apart from the sliced off look of Mt. St. Helen’s and the still muddy Toutle River in the valley below, after 30 years, you see everywhere else bright new young trees and lush vegetation growing, testament to the life that continues to thrive even after such a destructive force of nature. And, 235 years after the US declared its independence from Britain, democracy still reigns supreme in the halls of government.

It was a winter day well spent! And we cannot wait for next weekend’s scheduled visits to Tacoma, Seattle, Roslyn, and Snoqualmie, Washington