A day that starts out getting arrested at the governor's mansion can only get better.
We actually got on the road before noon today. Destination: Mt. St. Helens. We had already determined that trying to do the mountain and stopping to see Gabi and Alec Clayton at night in Olympia was probably not the wisest move in the world. However, the weather was so gorgeous that we did make an unscheduled stop in Olympia to see the capitol building.
We were trying to drive around to the backside of the capitol building to see the lovely view across a nice lake when we got waved down by this officer, who said we were trespassing on private property and that we were about to drive toward the front door of the governor's mansion. He wouldn't accept our "dumb little old ladies" story, but insisted on checking Diane's license, her registration and her proof of insurance (??), and when Peggy wanted to step out to take his photo (because we were all holding back laughter), he told her she could not set foot out of the car. However, she managed to charm him and he did finally allow her to take his photo. I'm sure he'd be very surprised to find himself here on the Internet.
After our unscheduled hour in Olympia, we continued on down the road. Again, fall color was blindingly beautiful, the sky was blue, the sun was shining and Diane kept exclaiming that she didn't believe it could possibly be October in Washington.
We had lunch at the slowest-service Denny's I've ever visited and eventually ended up at the visitor center at Mt. St. Helens. It's about a 50 mile drive from the visitor center to the Johnston Ridge overlook, the end of the trail, overlooking the crater of the mountain. Around each curve was yet another gorgeous view of the mountain.
Twenty years after the fact, the signs of the devastation are still evident everywhere. The power of the explosion from the mountain can be seen in the dead trees, still lying like matchsticks everywhere, many larger trees uprooted (and this after years of clean up). There are burn scars on the walls of the opposite hills, and walls of silt/lava many feet tall seen on the floor of the valley beneath the mountain. I remember being in Portland some time after the original eruption and finding volcanic ash even that far away, covering all the greenery. It was an awesome sight seeing it up close and personal today.
We left the mountain around 6 p.m., into a glorious sunset, stopped for gas and dinner in Centralia, and returned home at 10 p.m., just 12 hours after we left Seattle. Now we are trying to pack up, finish the last of the computer stuff for Diane, and, with any luck at all, get some sleep before time to get to the airport tomorrow morning.