Up Close and Personal With a Volcano

August came in with a rumble this morning. Tara woke me from a sound sleep to inform me it was “thundering out.” Before I could even question whether thundering was a legitimate word, it started thundering out. Woohoo! That woke me up. It was right overhead, too. That’s the best kind of thunderstorm.

So. August. Months ago, in looking at the calendar, I realized this would be the busiest month of the year for us. We have two trips planned (Oregon coast, Nevada). Two concerts to attend (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Beck). The Clark County Fair. The Bite of Oregon. And Heidi and Ross, whose wedding we attended in May, are planning a tentative visit. Whew! Somehow, we’ve got to squeeze other things in there. Like work. And breathing.

As busy as this summer has been, it doesn’t really feel like we’ve done anything. I mean, we have – there was that trip to California and all – but I think we set the bar high for ourselves the past two years. It’s harder now, especially with a kid (albeit a pretty special one) living with us full-time – not to mention Tara’s work demands. She’s been in the office more weekends than not. All the more reason why we are looking forward to our adults-only weekend getaway in Pacific City…which begins today!

I mentioned we set the bar high these past two years, but it was high even before Tara was part of my life. Truth is, I got in the habit of doing fun things by myself years ago – pretty much before the ink had even dried on the divorce decree. (Pretend for a minute the whole thing wasn’t digital. I’m going for drama here). Yesterday, I stumbled upon some photographs from the summer of 2009. You know what I did five years ago? This:

Loowit Falls

“This” is Loowit Falls, a waterfall located in one of the most inhospitable places on the planet: the crater of Mount St. Helens. And I hiked right up to it. Well, it’s a little distance away from where I was standing – zoom lens and all – but still. Impressive, huh?

For a few years there, I was a pretty avid hiker. I still love it, but it’s been hard to find the time to get out and do it. In the summer of 2009, I learned there was a “hidden” waterfall in the crater of Mount St. Helens, and decided to check it out. This was no small feat: it involved a two-hour drive to Windy Ridge, the non-touristy side of the mountain, and then a 9-mile hike across the pumice plain and back with no shade to shelter me from the blazing sun overhead. Even with hiking shoes, my feet were badly blistered – and I didn’t pack nearly enough water, which led to a near case of dehydration and heatstroke. It remains, to this day, the most challenging hike I’ve ever been on. But totally worth it.

So you see, I always think of summers as being filled with adventure. And this month, we’re going to start making up for a relatively slow one ourselves.

How has your summer been?

15 thoughts on “Up Close and Personal With a Volcano

  1. “Impressive, huh?”

    Wow Mark, impressive indeed! Gorgeous photographs!

    And what is it with this summer because I feel as though it’s flying by. I mean it’s already August!?

    Sounds like you and Tara have some great trips planned. Can’t wait to read about them.

    Have a super weekend, buddy!


  2. We have had a fabulous summer of hiking and biking and I will share some of it in a post later. I love that waterfall picture. Amazing when you see something beautiful in a barren landscape like that. August is busy here….our anniversary is tomorrow and so is my daughter’s wedding shower. Soon, we will take our son back to school and then my other daughter begins her student teaching (I’m her driver). I hate that summer is nearing the end. Wishing you safe travels and I’m jealous of the Tom Petty concert!


    1. I never would have guessed there was a waterfall in the volcanic crater! You know what else is there? A glacier. I swear, Mount St. Helens is amazing…where else can you find fire and ice in one place?


  3. These are gorgeous photos, Mark! What a cool experience – albeit scary with the heat stroke. All your trips sound fun and amazing and with awesome music along the way. Can’t wait to see more pics from your upcoming trips!


    1. I remember coming home that evening shivering and feeling dizzy. I had a few scary moments there, but in the end I was fine. Whew! And you’re right…there was definitely good music on that trip!


  4. I’m OBSESSED w/Becks new album! I love his old stuff too but this one is so beautiful! You’re lucky you get to see him!


    1. I like Beck’s new stuff much better than his older music. I’ll probably be the only one in the audience groaning when he plays “Loser.” But “Blue Moon”? Bring it on!


  5. Hello Mark, It’s very nice to meet you. I came from Being Ron’s blog to share in his Favorite Places Travelled and yours touched me so much. I loved Buddy Holly but had never taken the opportunity to visit. I felt, as you mentioned, the power of those musicians when the music died in this fairly deserted area. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing your journey. Thank you.

    And as for summer? Honestly, I’m looking forward to the changes. Autumn is my favorite season. As this is my first visit to your blog, I am being introduced to Tara, a name I adore as I’m a huge fan of Gone With The Wind. You may like to have a peek at how the incomparable comic, Grant Snider, feels about parenting at Incidental Comics http://www.incidentalcomics.com/ for some laughs.

    Again, Mark, it was very nice meeting you, and wishing you and your family a wonderful day!

    Sincerely, Petra :))


    1. Hi, Petra – and thank you! I’m not a big fan of summer either, and cannot wait until fall is here. It’s definitely my favorite time of the year, too.

      Ironically, I had never watched Gone With The Wind until I met Tara. I figured at that point it was a must-see.

      And thanks for the link to Incidental Comics. I’ve already checked it out and love it!


      1. Thank you for your reply, Mark. Isn’t Grant Snider a marvel? But it causes me to think that Tara isn’t a child after all, — “until I met Tara.” that Tara is your better half. I apologize for that and congratulations! You seem to have a wonderful schedule ahead of you. “Do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” Gone with the Wind
        Couldn’t help myself. Have watched that film at least a 100 times. Lol
        Sincerely, Petra :))


      2. I guess it does sound like Tara is younger with the whole “thundering out” comment. Maybe that’s just what I heard her say because I was half asleep. No worries! And I love that quote.


  6. My summer has been slow. This is the first summer I have not spent any time outdoors. We have had a lot of smoke in Northern Alberta this year, from forest fires in B.C. & in the Yukon. The smoke is very hard on my already compromised lungs, so I had to spend most of my summer in my apt. with the windows closed & the air cond. running. I’m glad you didn’t get sunstroke or heatstroke – I’ve had both & they are miserable!


    1. Summer is nearly over now, and we never did get a chance to do any hiking. But we did take that trip to Nevada and did a bunch of other things (August lived up to its “busy” billing), so it was not without adventure.


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