Posts Tagged ‘Mount St. Helens’

Jason was spending the night at his one friend’s house. There were things he hated about living in Oregon. It meant that his parents had split up and it meant that he had to leave Southern California with his mom. It meant that all his friends were a thousand miles away and it meant that instead of the “warm California sun”, he was stuck with the cold wetness of Portland where it rained from October til May. He hated that part the most.

One good thing about living in Oregon was that he didn’t have to listen to his parents fighting all the time. Here, with just his mom, there was a lot less stress and his mom was a lot happier. And he had a new friend; a new best friend that he was closer to than any of the friends he had left behind in Los Angeles. This friend, Andrew, was a lot of fun and his father was very outdoorsy. They included Jason in a lot of the stuff they did. Since moving to Portland the year before, he had gone hunting (he didn’t want to tell them he was afraid to shoot a rifle so he went along whenever they invited him but that was the one part he didn’t like, the rifle), fishing, rock climbing, skiing, and Andrew’s dad, who was also named Andrew but called Drew, had even taken them to hunt for mushrooms. Jason liked that. He liked having to hike and be on the lookout in the damp forest to find all sorts of mushrooms.

Jason’s mom had to work late on Saturday night (she was a pianist at one of the fancy restaurants downtown) so Jason was spending the night with Andrew and his family. They lived in one of the old buildings near downtown. The area had been run down for a long time but it was starting to come alive as people bought the old buildings and fixed them. There were plans for a lot of stores and businesses to move to the area. Jason liked it because he and Andrew always got to take their sleeping bags up to the rooftop to sleep, as long as it wasn’t raining anyway. He liked being up there because at night he could see all the lights spreading out below and he could see across the river into Washington. In daylight, he could see all around him and across the river to the east. Jason loved it up there because it was so different from living in Los Angeles where there was no nature unless you got in the car and drove for an hour or more. Here he could see patches of trees and mountains and volcanoes. He could see Mt. Hood which was a long inactive volcano (last minor eruption in 1907) and he could see Mt. Adams and across the Columbia, he could see Mount St. Helens which was in the news every day now. It was a volcano and it had been spewing steam and shaking up the area for awhile. Geologists thought it was going to erupt at any time but then there were other experts that disagreed, saying it was just venting steam and keeping the pressure down so it would not erupt. Either way, Jason thought it was pretty exciting.

That Saturday Jason and Andrew had spent the night up on the roof. They had a lot of snacks with them and Jason had taken his radio with him. The two had talked all night and listened to the radio, singing along with some of their favorite songs. Jason liked the Pina Colada Song because it made him want to dance and move like he was really cool but his mom didn’t like it because it reminded her of Jason’s father who used to order pina colada drinks for her every time they went out, even though she didn’t like the drink. The sang; they danced; they talked about some of the girls in their eighth grade class and about what they would do when school was out in three weeks. On Sunday morning, the sun came out bright and early and woke the boys up. They lay in their sleeping bags because although the sun was out and it was looking like it would be a warm day in Portland, it was only six in the morning and it was still cold. So they talked some more and they dozed off and on. By eight it had warmed up enough for them to venture out of their sleeping bags but they didn’t want to go downstairs yet so they sat up and turned on the radio again. They goofed off and wrestled a bit.

Suddenly, the whole building shook and Jason, being from California, yelled “earthquake!”. They jumped up and ran to the ledge, looking around then they saw it. It was across the river in Washington. It was Mount St. Helens but they couldn’t see any lava. There was dark grey smoke and clouds where the mountain should be but they couldn’t see the top, only the smoke and what they would later find out was ash. It had erupted. Jason thought it was cool and both of the boys started to whoop and and jump up and down, high-fiving each other. They had bet the kids at school that it was going to blow before school was over in three weeks. They had won the bet. They stayed up there trying to get a look at the lava when the smoke went away but it didn’t go away. It kept coming out.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, the music stopped on the radio and there was an announcement making it official. Mount St. Helens had erupted and reports from the bottom of the mountain were that damages were devastating but it would be hours and days before there were pictures and video and all the stories and a list of the people that were missing. The boys went downstairs then to wake Andrew’s parents and tell them about the eruption. Maybe they could drive out there and get a closer look. The two fourteen year olds could barely contain their excitement.
This is a fictionalized story based on actual events and accounts. When all was said and done, 57 people lost their lives on the mountain that day. The mountain lost over 1300 feet of elevation. Nature was destroyed for miles around the mountain; it included fish, deer, elk, plants, trees, and more. The entire area was changed forever. It was the first eruption in the 48 contiguous states since Mt. Lassen erupted in 1915. It also allowed modern scientists to study the build up to the eruption, the initial eruption on the 18th of May, as well as a series of eruptions that have continued to occur since that day, 35 years ago. It is still an active volcano. The last eruption occurred in 2008 but steam continues to vent, even now. We have not heard the last from this volcano.

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