Our departure from Elk Lake found us in the middle of a massive bike race. It was actually no small feat to navigate without simply driving into oncoming traffic. Everyone seemed to be on the same page though and drivers were courteous and slow, at least from what we saw. Before leaving the Cascade Lakes region, I got in a few nice shots of Dory in her element, and then it was an easy descent into Bend. What a lovely place that seems.
We took a little lunch side trip to Cove Palisades State Park. From the map, and signs, it looked like just a little riverside detour off the highway, but it turned out to be so much more. We found a viewpoint that looked down into a huge canyon, towering high above a lake with all kinds of boats and water based activities. It was an unexpectedly scenic place to have a bite, though a bit more of a side trip than we’d thought. Somewhere in the back of our minds, we thought we might get to Seaquest before the Visitor Center closed at 5. Our little lunch stop caused us to readjust expectations for a morning visit.
We tracked north along highway 97, and then 26, through the eastern side of the Cascades, until we eventually hit I-5 past Portland, and took it north. Seaquest is a state park, but sits right across the street from an impressive visitor center all about Mt. St. Helens National Monument. We did get to experience it in the morning after we’d packed up. There’s a nice big parking lot with RV spaces, only a couple of which were taken by rude people with tiny cars.
We listened to a ranger talk and watched a movie about the 1980 eruption. I guess I must have been in high school at the time and I do remember it, sort of. But really only as a, “Oh yeah, did you hear Mt. St. Helens is erupting?” conversation starter. I did not realize the full impact on the area, nor the extent of how far the ashes traveled. The visitor center had video and photographic depictions of the explosion and it was frankly terrifying. The theme for this summer seems to be volcanoes, and I will say I have developed an acute appreciation of the massive, destructive power contained just below the surface.
As this was our first one night stand of the summer, it felt rather out of step with our nice, slowed down groove. It was a long drive from Elk Lake though, so for sure I was happy to stop and do an overnight. We think we might want to go back there at some point because there was a lot to explore. As such, it was still a lovely place for a stopover on our way north.
Total miles from Elk Lake: 256.2, 5 hours 51 min, 16.7 mpg. Site 3. Dump, electric hookups, very shady, good bathrooms. Ok and sporadic cell service, but better down at the Visitor Center.