Portland was having some cultural events that we got to enjoy. We went to something called Sand in the City, a collection of sand sculptures made as a fundraiser for an educational puppet group called Kids on the Block. Molly and Brooke had their faces painted and got balloon animals. We wandered from ther
e up to an art museum festival where they were featuring culture and art from India. The kids made some art out of clay in the park outside the museum and danced to Indian music before we entered. Because of the festival we got to enter the museum for free! Inside we saw works of Asian art and modern American art,
but the best part was the Impressionist collection. We saw Monet's Water Lilies, works by Renior, and even a sculpture by Picasso (I know, he isn't an impressionist, but he was in that section).
We ate a late lunch then drove across the Columbia river into the state of Washington to see Mount St. Helens. It has been nearly 30 years since it erupted and the devastation is still something to see. Trees, miles from the explosion, blown over like matchsticks. A river of lava ash can still be see below the mountain. 1300 feet of mountain was blown away when it erupted, the before and after pictures are amazing to look at. I didn't realize it continued to erupt for
a few years after the original explosion, until 1986.
We noticed a bed of what looked similar to a
dried river bed, but it is actually the dried bed where the lava flowed. It was a bit eerie. The river stays in it's bed, and nothing grows on this dried lava flow. They have planted trees along the road to reforest the area. We have found that hillsides of Noble Firs are hard to look at, our eyes can't seem to focus correctly on them. Very strange feeling.
Instead of driving east as we had planned we decided to drive farther north and west to Seattle. Why? Well, we seemed to be pretty close anyway, within 150 miles, and the road from there east into Idaho and Montana looks like a good way to get near Yellowstone. We settled for the night in the city of Tacoma, about 33 miles from Seattle. They have a casino near our hotel. I didn't realize that so many states have turned to gambling to put the magical fix on state budget troubles.
Today we plan to see the Pikes Place market, the original Starbucks, and the space needle. After Seattle we will head east for two reasons: one, we need to come home at some point and two, we can't go any farther north and west or we will leave the country.